Quickhit: more mummy wars re breastfeeding

A very heartfelt yet also very antagonistic column from one mother who was unable to breastfeed her child, and who is hugely unimpressed by the National Breastfeeding Strategy announced last week.

Breastfeeding just doesn’t work out for some mums

Why doesn’t the Government just butt out? By all means give women the information they need, but let them make their own choices for their own children and don’t make them feel bad if they fall short of the mark.

Trust me, there are enough people out there only too willing to make women feel guilty for the choices they make.

Sure, breast is best. It’s impossible to argue otherwise; after all, our breasts are designed for that purpose.

But that doesn’t make the alternative — the bottle — bad.

Before I quit, I did a fair bit of research. I wanted to be certain I wasn’t doing my son a disservice.

I came across plenty of information — most of it loaded with guilt-inducing language.

She then goes on to lambast the Australian Breastfeeding Association, with repeated phrases of “I’m not buying it”. Well, I’m not sure I’m buying that the ABA is all about taking mothers on a monumental guilt trip, either.

Your thoughts?

Categories: media, relationships


22 replies

  1. I read about the NBS release last week, and thought to myself “I can fix that for you with one simple edit.”
    ”Mothers will be encouraged to feed their babies only breast milk for the first six months as part of an ambitious new national breastfeeding policy”
    should be:
    “Mothers will be supported to feed their babies only breast milk for the first six months as part of an ambitious new national breastfeeding policy”
    And that’s where national breastfeeding strategies have gone wrong, over and over and over again. I’ve written at length on this before, so I’ll just link: “Flimsy. Wimpy. Weak. The Parliamentary Breastfeeding Inquiry Report.” If the government is going to back off the moment they’re getting near treading on corporate toes, or the moment it might cost them money, or the moment it looks like they might have to challenge the kyriarchy in some sort of meaningful way, nothing’s going to change dramatically. Sticking with a simplistic individualistic “choice” approach (the “educate women” approach) while failing to attempt to address all of the structural factors and pressures will fail.
    Having said that, yes, I had the same reaction to the column that you did. Her reasoning is hopelessly muddled, but you expect that when deep in grief and anger – and she has a perfect right to be grieving and angry, a right that our society tends to deny women in her situation; instead we insist that all those strong emotions should be labelled “guilt”, because it absolves everyone else of responsibility for the lack of support that Carmody, one of many in her situation, endured.
    If anyone’s looking at it and nodding along to “there’s no hard info available” – something that I believe is largely a side issue in this case – check out promom.org and kellymom.com.

  2. I am sadly reminded of women who, when suffering from infertility, were offended by being invited to baby showers, or seeing pictures of babies, or hearing about other people’s children. None of that is to make them feel bad. The facts on breastfeeding aren’t to make people feel bad, and even if they do, it does no one a service to not tell the truth.

  3. Among the things she objects to are statements like this, from Australian Breastfeeding Association:
    Breastfeeding… promotes a special loving bond between mother and baby.
    So… I love my older daughter more because I breastfed her, and I don’t have a loving bond with my younger daughters, who I bottlefed?
    There’s a lot of emotionally laden stuff in that site, and if like me, you have been unable to breastfeed, you become very sensitized to it, so it does make you feel even worse. So it’s not a matter of just not taking offence because you’re not the target… actually, you are the target – you are one of those wicked women who didn’t do the best for her baby. And that again, is the difference between “encourage” (we’ll urge you to do it but we won’t actually help you) and “support” (we’ll work with you to ensure you have the help you need in order to be able to breastfeed your baby).
    Carol, when we were working through our infertility, I didn’t get offended by babies/baby pictures/ talk/whatever, but sometimes the grief of infertility would overwhelm me. It’s triggering. Sometimes they didn’t affect me at all; other times I would have a quiet little weep. That could be mistaken for offence being taken. The best invitations were the ones where people telephoned me, so I could keep my physical reaction private.

  4. breast is best, but not by a huge amount.
    There is waaaay too big a serving of guilt for women who choose to not breastfeed. Myself, i just could not fit it into my employment. But even without that as a reason, it’s so taboo to even reveal you’re not going to breastfeed even though it’s possible.
    The message is across already, thanks! now quit with the excessive guilt.

    • @Person,

      Myself, i just could not fit [breastfeeding] into my employment.

      And that’s what the strategy to support breastfeeding is all about – ensuring that employers offer more consideration and flexibility for breastfeeding mothers at work, so that it is less difficult to continue breastfeeding than most workplaces currently make it. Surely you don’t think it’s right that employers force women to choose between earning an income and providing breastfed nutrition for their infants?

  5. The sad bit is how little support she got from everyone – midwives not caring about the damage to her nipples, her partner reaching for a bottle instead of a real lactation consultant, only doing 8 feeds a day for whatever reason. Terrible support and terrible information, and somehow it’s the fault of an organisation she didn’t actually contact for support or help?
    Deborah – promotes is not the same as ‘is the total of’ – nothing ANYWHERE on that site says you love/don’t love a child based on breastfeeding. It’s about promoting and supporting breastfeeding and part of breastfeeding is the relationship between mother and child (which is one of the reasons why painful feeding is so bad and why it’s something that does need to be fixed). The ABA has been incredibly helpful for me as a breastfeeding mother AND as a new parent. The ABA runs counselling lines, research help and a forum – what else should they be doing if that isn’t support? Stating the facts about breastfeeding isn’t about making you feel bad, it’s about the facts and about disseminating the truth.
    When women still get told that formula is ‘just as good’ or even ‘better’ than breastmilk, or that they need to wean because they have mastitis, or that their milk is like water, or that they need to wean at 3/6/12/18 months or they shouldn’t breastfeed a verbal/walking child, or that feeding in public is exhibitionism, that they can’t breastfeed because their breasts are too small/too big/broken, or that they need to toughen up their nipples, or that pain is normal or that they have no milk because it hasn’t come in yet, or a million other variations of “YOU CAN’T DO IT DON’T TRY” there is a HUGE need for truthful material that supports breastfeeding mothers.
    In my new mother’s group I was the only one still exclusively breastfeeding. The rest had either started with formula before they left the hospital, at the first growth spurt or when the heatwave hit. At the last meeting before I refused to attend again I sat through 10 minutes discussion on how WONDERFUL AND AWESOME FORMULA IS and HOW SHITTY BREASTFEEDING IS and HOW THOSE HORRIBLE BREASTFEEDING PEOPLE MAKE US FEEL BAD. And how all of my daughter’s (completely normal developmental behaviours) were fixed when their child went to formula. Or changed brands. Or bottles. Even though I wasn’t actually complaining, just discussing how the four month growth spurt changed my routine for a while and how the heatwave totally changed her feeding patterns and my milk supply. No, that was evidence of my supply dropping and I should supplement. Supplementing is awesome because you can go out! Someone else can do the feeding!
    If I didn’t have the support of my partner, the support of my family, my doctor, the paediatrician, my maternal and child health nurse, the ABA forums and a whole lot of education, the relentless “why are you so MEAN to us formula feeding mothers” and the total misinformation from my mother’s group and most of the other parenting sites, would be a lot harder to deny. Promotion of breastfeeding isn’t about making women feel bad (we’re pretty damn good at that without prompting) it’s about counteracting the shitty ‘support’ given to most women and the HUGE amount of misinformation. Providing information that doesn’t support YOUR choice isn’t about making you feel guilty – it’s about supporting those who haven’t made that choice yet.

  6. It seems like a good moment to post one of my favourite breastfeeding photos ever, a woman engaged in debate with the leader of her country as he visits her town, all while breastfeeding her infant and nobody cares that she is doing so (except perhaps the photographer).

    The different attitudes in Venezuela and other countries towards breastfeeding – that it is not something that must be hidden/discreet/dignified, just a natural and wholesome function that is a normal part of daily life – those different attitudes are the reason that such countries have very high rates of breastfeeding compared to industrialised “advanced” nations, where breastfeeding women have been pushed into the background and told that they can’t BF and still take part openly in community/workplace life.
    It’s those attitudes that are wrongheaded, not the women who choose to conserve their energy for other challenges instead of battling through all the prejudices about breastfeeding mothers which mean that a woman has to “retire” when breastfeeding her child.

  7. nothing ANYWHERE on that site says you love/don’t love a child based on breastfeeding.
    Of course not. But it does say things like: The special loving bond between you and your breastfed baby is only the beginning.
    The unspoken corollary is that mothers who bottlefeed don’t have a special loving bond with their child.
    My experience as a woman who was unable to breastfeed the second time around (in part because of lack of support, in part because I have only one breast that works and that made feeding twins very, very difficult indeed), is that I felt incredibly guilty about it, and very very sensitive to the implied criticism. Of course people don’t say it out loud. The site is all aimed at promoting breastfeeding, and it has heaps of positive reinforcement for the good mothers who breastfeed – they’re environmentally sensitive, and they’re doing the best thing for their babies, and they’re showing their love, and it’s all so natural.
    And that really is the difference between “encourage” and “support.” If the support had been there for me, perhaps I would have been able to breastfeed my twins. It wasn’t, so I found I couldn’t, and all I got to hear was the implied criticism.
    Or does my experience not count as a source of insight into why some women feel so bad about not being able to breastfeed?

    • But it does say things like: The special loving bond between you and your breastfed baby is only the beginning.
      The unspoken corollary is that mothers who bottlefeed don’t have a special loving bond with their child.

      Reading it pedantically, as is my wont, I perceive it as saying that mothers who bottlefeed will not have that particular special loving bond with their child. It says nothing about the multiplicity of other special loving bonds that mothers all develop with their children, bonds that in my own experience differ from child to child even with two breastfed children (edited to add – not that I love one any more than the other, just that they had very different personalities right from the start, one was a vaginal birth while one was caesarean which made for very different first weeks, and there were plenty of other differences that make some of those various loving bonds unique to each child.)
      But I can understand how in your situation it would be natural to read it more personally and take it as an implied criticism. I’m just not sure how they could have worded their supportive statements differently so that no implied criticism could possibly be inferred.
      The ABA offers both encouragement and support. It’s not either/or, is it?

  8. Here is what I wrote in response to the article.
    As to people being “made to feel guilty”, I do feel compassion for anyone who feels sad that they didn’t breastfeed, for whatever reason, but my desire to promote and support breastfeeding does not mean that I am “making you” feel guilty about your experience.
    The new strategy is about supporting new mums, so they don’t get this stupid advice. If Rebecca had good advice and support when she was trying to get breastfeeding established (or even before the baby was born), her story might have been a lot different.
    I too struggled to get breastfeeding established, and suffered for nearly three months. Before my baby was born, I attended a Breastfeeding Education Class run by the Australian Breastfeeding Association, and when things got hard, I turned to them for support and advice. My baby is just about to turn two, and he is still breastfeeding. It is my intention to follow World Health Organisation guidelines, and feed him at least until his second birthday.
    This new strategy has looked at the “hard evidence”, and has come to the conclusion that formula use places an unnecessary strain on health services. Artificially fed babies do have worse health outcomes (and so do their mothers) – so of course the government wants to encourage and support women to breastfeed.
    And if you’re after scientific evidence that formula feeding carries risks, read this article – http://www.onemillioncampaign.org/doc/RisksofFormulaFeeding.pdf The information is easy to read, but each point is referenced with the research papers so you can look up the results for yourself.
    As for the ABA using emotive language, that is a no brainer. In my opinion, saying that breastmilk is a gift that a mother can give her baby is much nicer than saying giving formula to your baby increases his risk of diabetes, obesity, asthma, SIDS, hospitalisation for upper respiratory illness, childhood cancer, reduced cognitive development, allergies, infection from contaminated formula, altered occlusion, nutrient deficiency, etc, etc.
    It is interesting to note that Cuba, which has strong government support for breastfeeding, has a lower infant mortality rate than the USA, where breastfeeding rates are even lower than they are in Australia. Breastfeeding saves lives, and I think that it is time we stopped pretending that artificial feeding is “just as good”. Hiding these facts from women who are making a choice to artificially feed their babies is patronising, and dangerous.

  9. You feeling bad isn’t the point – this isn’t about guilt, or anything like that. It’s about working out what support you should have had. Blaming information for being guilt-inducing doesn’t help support breastfeeding, it helps support the lack of information that actively reduces breastfeeding rates by demonising the positive information about breastfeeding in favour of unfair ‘neutrality’. It sucks that your breastfeeding relationship didn’t work out, it really does. And it isn’t your fault. And you can go on the ABA forums and talk to other mums who are or were in similar situations. An example would be the mum I know who has huge problems with her supply so she supplements – some with EBM from donors, some with ABM before the donor situations were able to be put in place. No-one gives her shit for being unable to feed. No-one blames the mums who weaned early because of lack of support or other reasons. The system is the shitty bit here – the one where the second and third preferences for feeding a child are quite often left out of any support given to a mother who is struggling with breastfeeding (mothers own expressed milk or donor milk). Not to mention a society whereby women shoulder the guilt for the system and blame themselves (and each other) when the system is at fault.
    Continual cries for ‘balance’ where neither the research nor the goals of the organisation support that don’t help anyone. How is a breastfeeding support network supposed to work if they are constantly supposed to balance any assertion about the well-documented and proven benefits of breastfeeding with something that weakens their message by either undermining it, or by outright contradicting it?

  10. Adding more pedantry, because I’m fond of it too, if it had said, ”A” special loving bond…” instead of the ”The” special loving bond…” then it might not have had the implied negative corollary.
    Support would have made a lot of difference to me. I sailed through feeding my eldest, with just one very minor episode with a blocked duct, which resolved itself, or more accurately, was resolved by my daughter at the next feed. But this is why I am suspicious of government actions to encourage breastfeeding, if those actions are all fine words and no concrete support for mothers.
    Looking back, in my new parents group when my eldest was born, about half were breastfeeding and half bottle feeding. And I can’t recall any conversations about how easy bottle feeding made things.
    Providing information that doesn’t support YOUR choice isn’t about making you feel guilty – it’s about supporting those who haven’t made that choice yet.
    But that’s just it. For a lot of women it isn’t a choice at all. In fact, they chose to breastfeed, and weren’t able to. I felt so bad about my failure that I wanted to carry a little sign around with me to hold up when I was feeding my babies in public, saying, “I tried. I really did. I did my best.”
    Where does that come from, when I am a highly educated, articulate, reasonably strong minded woman?

  11. Longtime reader, first time poster, and new mum 🙂
    It sucks that the way the societal conventions are currently, there is no way to say ‘it’s great that you are breastfeeding’ without implying ‘it’s bad and your personal fault and you should feel guilty that you are not breastfeeding’.
    I blame the patriarchy.

  12. Damn! Missed the edit window. There shoudl be another sentence or two in my second paragraph, so it should read (extra sentence in bold):
    Support would have made a lot of difference to me. I sailed through feeding my eldest, with just one very minor episode with a blocked duct, which resolved itself, or more accurately, was resolved by my daughter at the next feed. But I wasn’t able to feed my younger daughters, in part because of lack of support, despite all the pro-breastfeeding commentary and material around. But this is why I am suspicious of government actions to encourage breastfeeding, if those actions are all fine words and no concrete support for mothers.

  13. I will say I do sense some amount of… not intentional guilting, but certainly some insensitivity and presumption, on the part of BF advocacy as a whole. However, as a whole, I don’t think it’s overwhelming or enough to turn me off BFing.
    I am terrified that I won’t be able to breastfeed because of pain — I have always had particularly intense pain around the area, with a slight brush or serious pressure or anything in between. I did instruct my breast surgeon to make the lumpectomy incision such that it would not interfere with my ability to breastfeed later, because I don’t want to rule it out before I even get to try — and I will be trying no matter what.
    I do think some of the presumptuousness could be toned down — because the message is sent (not in all advocacy! but definitely in enough to send a message) that you are not a wholesome mother if you do not BF, that love and bond between baby and mom are formed in whole or part by BF specifically, etc. when instead one could say: BFing can be an enjoyable experience for the mother and child, it can feel good emotionally and physically, etc. Is my distinction making sense? Rather than speaking about the end result (bond with the baby, baby well supported and loved and healthy and etc.), identify what the benefit actually *is* — which is that enjoyable experience. (Gotta be careful there too, because for many, BFing might not be enjoyable — because it hurts, or because it is time consuming, or etc. But that doesn’t mean you can’t acknowledge the incredible thing it can be in the absence of those confounding factors.)
    I tend not to hold it against BF advocacy as a whole because I know the science is sound, and I know there are severe social barriers in place of BFing that need, desperately, to be broken down. But, yes, sometimes a bit more attention/sensitivity could be paid to how the message is delivered, lest the wrong message be delivered.
    ETA: There is also a huge amount of problematic messaging on the other side of things, including the incredible pressure and misconception from other mothers, which is also why I don’t hold it against BF advocacy too much — the situation as a whole is Complicated with a capital C. And in trying to improve that situation, sometimes we’re gonna make mistakes. And that’s OK — as long as we listen to each other, and make a good-faith attempt to rethink proelmatic strategies.

  14. some with EBM from donors, some with ABM before the donor situations were able to be put in place

    [just translating here for those unfamiliar with this terminology: EBM = Expressed BreastMilk; ABM – Artificial Baby Milk.]

  15. tigtog:

    ”The ABA offers both encouragement and support. It’s not either/or, is it?”

    The ABA definitely does, in my experience! It’s the government I’m not convinced about, and it’s their NBS.

  16. I think that perhaps this has to do with the massive, massive amount of pressure around parenting more generally. It seems to me – as a non-parent – as a space in which hierarchies of good and bad are very swiftly and very definitely put into place, but are often evoked more through the ‘you could be doing better’ line (because that’s positive, right? Right? It couldn’t possibly have any negative effects! Yes, because none of us ever feel like someone telling us we should and could and would do better if we tried hard enough actually means that who we are and what we do now is inadequate. /sarcasm). The thing is, as with anything, there is always a better. The ideal, as it is imagined in these contexts, is not achievable, and/or not achievable all of the time, partly because it inevitably makes contradictory requirements, and partly because all the time’s a big call.
    I’ve watched a friend of mine struggle with expressing milk because she couldn’t breastfeed. Partly this was due to a pretty nasty caesarean, and long, painful recovery. She felt awful about it; as far as I could see, it was a major factor in her postnatal depression, and set a painful (and problematic) course for her continuing parenting, in the sense that she consistently feels behind the 8 ball, like she’s never quite good enough in a dozen different ways. She had experts try to help; and then she wound up feeling bad because with bottle-feeding, her child allegedly wasn’t getting enough to eat…
    I guess I just mean that this spot seems hyper-surveilled. It’s examined and measured, and in the process, I think most mothers feel examined and measured. And parenting is so often sold as a ‘you must do your absolute best, because it’s not you who will pay the price if you don’t.’ In that context, I have to say that as much as I am totally behind the BF movement, and the need for support for women to breastfeed (actual, actual support!), I think that language like that commented on by Deborah is incredibly damaging. Yes, all other things being equal, breast is best; but let’s actually acknowledge that all others things are not equal, and at the same time as we’re working for more support for women to breastfeed, let’s make sure we’re not failing to acknowledge that the way you address women and their parenting can contribute to an already overdetermined, hyper-normalising area of women’s lives. Supporting women to breastfeed shouldn’t be at the cost of supporting women generally; supporting breastfeeding ought not to be contributing to a context in which women are made to feel that whatever they do is never quite enough because it’s not ideal. And as Amandaw points out, that language isn’t entirely necessary.
    ETA: I remain a bit ambivalent about this, in some ways, but I still do think that there are other options in terms of the language used, that might actually assist mothers who have difficulty breastfeeding in understanding that it’s a lack of support, not a personal failing, that causes that hardship. And that, in turn, might help untangle the guilt that can surround parenting, and the normalising approach the mainstream appears to encourage.

    • @WP,

      I think that perhaps this has to do with the massive, massive amount of pressure around parenting more generally.

      This, in spades.
      It intersects with the very human habit of extrapolating one’s own personal experience as being how others would/should respond as well, and how that results in people saying/thinking “that can’t possibly be right – I don’t feel that way, so how could s/he get it so wrong?” and “I don’t feel that way, so other people couldn’t possibly do so”, which we see all the time in discussions of common cultural tropes regarding sexism, ableism, racism etc.
      Parents find that one behaviour/method works well for them with managing their childcare and child-training routine, and get evangelistic about it without considering how the intersection of their personalities, their own childhood conditioning (we tend to either repeat or reject what our own parents did, rarely in a wholesale and consistent fashion, let alone a consciously analysed one) and the individual needs of the child/ren combine to make that particular behaviour/method work for them, and how those particular circumstances will not be the same for other families. Becoming evangelistic about a particular parenting success strikes me as a compensatory behaviour for all those underlying insecurities about our parenting capabilities – at least we’ve got this bit right! Like most forms of evangelism, the proselytisers can become so carried away with their enthusiasms that they lose tact and sensitivity, and this can elicit resentment.
      So I guess I’m saying that I just don’t see this as a problem unique to the breast vs bottle debate, or even the many other parenting methodology debates. It’s a very common behaviour amongst humans with just about any endeavour into which people invest a huge amount of resources (financial, emotional, time). And since evangelising for religion is considered not just acceptable, not just normal, but as a behaviour that the rest of us should be persuaded by and if we are not we are hard-hearted, it’s going to be difficult generally to call people out on insensitive evangelising for just about anything else.
      (ETA: Sorry for the length!)One of the problems specific to parenting evangelism is that it strikes at a time when parents simply are not all that analytical – our response to our infant children is non-rational, a cognitively encompassing empathic and deeply emotional attachment, and it’s a damn good thing for the survival of the species that this is the way that it works. Thus we are more likely to latch onto one methodology or another as a form of magical thinking or totemism – if I do all this perfectly, my child will be happy and healthy and grow up to be beautiful and beloved and will change the world for the better.
      Of course, the above statements about evangelism come terribly close to a “tone” argument, but I think there is a crucial distinction between evangelism and other forms of persuasion and debate. Evangelism presupposes a “one truth” above all others, which is where one of the lines between conservatism and progressive politics lies. Conservatism has a hard, bright line professing “we know this way works, therefore this is the only way that things should work” whereas progressive politics has a fuzzier collection of concepts, professing “we know this way has lots of problems, so let’s explore other ways to organise things that could be better”. As we now know from computing studies, fuzzy logic has some great strengths (OK, that could be drawing an unjustified bow, but the phrase is most rhetorically alluring).
      Evangelism is emotionalism. Anyone can fall prey to it, but it’s our good friend FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) that sows the seeds most abundantly, and parenting is definitely a time of FUD for most of us. It’s not surprising that others react to being evangelised with strong emotions too.

  17. Just on parenting being hyper-surveilled, a psychologist from ADHC said to me that motherhood is constantly studied and researched but there is very little done on the topic of fatherhood. He saw the weight of research bearing down on women as another element in the enormous pressure of societal expectation that mothers experience. Cf fatherhood where there is much less research and there are so many ways of being perceived as a “good” dad. Work full time?- good dad, Stay home some of the week- excellent dad, look after the children while mother has some time to herself – saint in waiting.
    It is also literally true that we are hyper-surveilled and I’m not just thinking of The Nanny and other video based reality shows, videoing is now used a lot in intensive therapy with children with disabilities from the Hanen programme to Marte Meo and Floor Time. These therapies involve minute dissection of the interaction of (almost invariably)mother and child with a view changing parental behaviour and communication. I don’t have any problem with the basic import of these techniques because I have experienced how the strategies that are suggested really do have a positive effect but I suspect that the surveillance part is actually unnecessary. I know that Marte Meo was brought to people in India and adapted by women there so that the same information was given to mothers without the need for video technology.
    I think there is a real danger of the intensity of the focus on mothering techniques, whatever they may be, making interractions with your child even more strained, more fraught, and that is not good for either child or mother. There are just so many ways of feeling a failure that I know each time I approach my son it is like I am going into an exam and I have to practice relaxation techniques and keep reminding myself that loving him is enough.

  18. I agree that there’s a huge disconnect between what’s being said and what’s being heard, and perhaps if we could get to the bottom of that, it would help. It’s hard to hear, “Formula is bad” without hearing “you’re a bad mom for feeding formula”.
    I tried to breastfeed, and couldn’t, for a number of reasons. But I tried damn hard, and it hurt me that I couldn’t. But it wasn’t a choice for me; rather, it was, but it was a choice between “feed formula” or “someone will end up dead” (probably me, as I had horrible postpartum depression). I agree that there’s a TREMENDOUS lack of support. The lactation consultant wasn’t educated enough to know that a baby with a high palate makes breastfeeding much harder. I was incredibly stressed (because seriously? you put a postpartum woman off her antidepressants in a postpartum room with a roommate?) and nobody had a clue how to help, least of all me.
    It’s such a complicated issue, and so much responsibility is put on women’s shoulders when it should be spread around more: lactation consultants who are better educated, home visits to see how everything’s going, education for fathers as far as how to support breastfeeding (hint: it’s not “leave her alone with the kid and/or wait on her hand and foot”), and society changes so breastfeeding women don’t get nasty looks for feeding a baby. But there again, the patriarchy demands that boobs are viewed as strictly sexualized. And with all that being put entirely on a new mother’s shoulders, a new mother who is likely in pain, has hormones swinging her mood all over the place, and is often terrified she’s going to irretrievably damage this tiny little being with the smallest decision she makes… all that pressure means something’s going to give. And if the choice is between the woman’s sanity and breastfeeding… a mother with a hold on sanity is a lot more helpful than breastfeeding.

  19. Kitrona, I agree, the followup help with breastfeeding just isn’t there.
    I fell foul of some baby manual, I think it might have been Penelope Leach (P.L. I apologise if it wasn’t!) which asserted that if one comped ones baby with formula, THAT WOULD BE THE END FINITO as far as breastfeeding goes – all downhill from there baby and then you’re stuck with the bottle system.
    So when my second child refused to suck and refused to suck, and then started getting weak and thin, I probably waited a bit too long before I decided I really had to comp him. Yeah thanks Manual writer. It was a complete crock. Once he had one bottle a day, he got stronger, he started sucking, we were off again. I think we even phased out the one bottle as we went along (my memory gets hazy but I remember a lot of afternoons breastfeeding to the Senate on TV – Sorry Boychild.)
    So I discovered you can kind of suck it and see, no pun intended. Also note you young uns that was the second child. You can get quite up yourself with success first time around and then fall on your arse with the second.

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