Let’s face it, having trouble breastfeeding can be a downer. But is it also a red flag that you are at risk for postpartum depression? Yes, say researchers from the University of North Carolina whose recent study of over 2,500 new moms found that women who admit they don’t like to breastfeed–or who experience breastfeeding difficulties during the first few weeks after birth–have much higher rates of postpartum depression than moms for whom breastfeeding comes easy.
I’m a transgender parent: not the parent of a transgender child, nor a parent who transitioned after having kids. Rather, I transitioned from female to male, and then later became pregnant—as a trans man. I had a healthy pregnancy, and birthed my baby naturally. And in that first moment when I saw my baby and held him in my arms—smelling his amazing, newborn baby smell—I became addicted to him.
Just last week, my little guy turned 1 years old, and I can say that my initial intense feeling toward him has only become more powerful over time. Part of its effect is to make me highly sensitive to my child’s needs, despite the awkward moments we sometimes endure in public as a nursing couple.
Even now, almost two years later, I feel a twinge whenever I see a woman whip out her boob at the playground. Why couldn’t that have been me? I briefly fantasize about having another baby (could I maybe get it right the second time around?), before reminding myself that the dream of breastfeeding is possibly the worst reason to have another child. But then I look over at my son, roaring with laughter as he whizzes down a slide or shouting out a new word from the top of the jungle gym. My inability to breastfeed seemed so do-or-die when he was an infant, so all-determining. But I don’t think my strapping son has suffered in the long run, not even a little bit, from what I saw as such a horrendous deprivation at my hands. Breast milk or no breast milk, he couldn’t possibly have turned out any better, and these days that’s the only consolation I need.
many mothers state that they feel guilty because they had to stop breastfeeding for one reason or the other. they say that for those of us out there in the trenches desperately working to promote and normalize breastfeeding, our thought-provoking one liners and quotes of encouragement further cement their guilt.
i’m hear to tell you dear mothers, that what you feel is not guilt.
no, it isn’t.
what you do feel is regret, and that my friends, is a horse of a different color.
All Germans were not Nazis, and obviously, all lactivists are not engaging in fascist or supremacist behavior. It sucks that some bad eggs are ruining what should be a really healthy, wholesome omelette. But we also cannot sit idly by and watch a subtle form of fascism grow. So while I am ardently against indiscriminate hurling of the “boob nazi” label, I wish breastfeeding advocates would please consider why this term has gained popularity.
I would love to see breastfeeding advocacy (and birth advocacy, and educational advocacy, and others) fit into the context of what I hope is the larger goal: healthier children and strong familial bonds. In that context, lactation professionals and peer counselors can be trained in the benefits of breastfeeding and provide breastfeeding support, but also be watchful for the signs that breastfeeding isn’t an appropriate course of action (severe PPD, medical contra-indications, true insufficient supply) and provide support and guidance (how to combo-feed, information about milk-sharing, and reassurance that formula-feeding a baby is not a “failure”).
Until that is in place, we run the risk of our advocacy having a conflict of interest with compassion, which will always be a detriment to our cause.
Even though I breastfed exclusively for the first six months, the miserable time I had with it makes me completely understand why someone wouldn’t want to do it. For one thing, all the mother-child bonding studies aside, the pain associated with it could easily make one resent her newborn, and thus hinder the bonding experience. While exclusive breastfeeding (and “exclusive” makes the whole practice sound so much more chic than it actually is) might not be as problematic for other women, it still requires a lot of a mom, both physically and mentally. If anything were to dissuade a new mother from breastfeeding, it’d probably be the pain and fatigue, not a hospital sample of Similac. But, you know, either way: Her body, her choice. And well-meaning consumer advocate groups should maybe focus their efforts on causes that don’t interfere with that.
Our bodies treat the birth of our silent children the same as it would a living child. Second trimester miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death brings with it an added trigger of milk production. Typically, 2-7 days after birth, milk production starts and it can not only be a big trigger, but physically painful as well. There are ways to ease the engorgement and transition to drying your milk, or other options that may be a help to your grief.
If we as a society truly place a high value on nursing — if the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation that mothers breast-feed for 12 months or more (and breast-feed exclusively for six months or more) is meant for all women, not just those with the resources to withstand economic loss — then we need to support breast-feeding by putting in place laws, policies, programs and social structures that make it easier, rather than attempt to gloss over its hidden costs. Breast milk isn’t free. But it’s within our power to make it affordable for all.
I was just telling Kevin today that I truly believe that my body is more beautiful after giving birth to Lucas. There is nothing more empowering than knowing that I gave birth completely naturally to my beautiful little boy! ♥
Here’s an article that “talks about how we need to do more than just not talk smack our bodies in front of kids; we need to actively model self-acceptance”!
It’s me, your child. The one who wakes you up at 3 a.m. because my stomach is the size of a golf ball or being held five times tonight isn’t quite enough. The one who finds it hilarious to dump oatmeal all over the floor and your hair if I can manage it. The one whose diapers tempt you to contact your country’s military research department because that smell is a good candidate for the next devastating non-lethal weapon. Put down the Dr. Sears tome, the iPhone on that sanctimommy blog, the e-reader with that book about breastfeeding being a womanly art on screen. Do I have your attention? Good.
Mothers today, she says, are experiencing more pressure, guilt and anxiety than ever before. Motherhood has become a “tyrannical state”, in which women have become “slaves to l’enfant roi” - the child-king. They are pressured to run their pregnancies like dietary boot camps, made to feel guilty unless they insist on natural childbirth, and are filled with anxiety about their ability to breastfeed. They are directed to allow nothing non-organic to pass their baby’s lips or touch its skin, and encouraged to regard external childcare as an unforgivable sin. Any hint of personal choice is lost before the onslaught of directives and rules. “Thirty years ago, we lived our pregnancies with insouciance and lightness,” Badinter has remarked. “Today, to be pregnant seems not far from entering into a religious order.”
Put up a poster promoting breastfeeding, though, and suddenly people complain it is only being done to make those who are artificially feeding feel guilty! Why is this? How can just another health message seem personalised and threatening? The answer might surprise you. There is certainly emotion involved but it is nothing to do with guilt. Guilt is how you feel having committed an offence; remorse caused by feeling responsible for some offence. It is an internally created feeling and can only occur if the culprit recognises they have done the wrong thing. Surely this description would only apply to the smallest number of mothers who have not breastfed? The real emotion felt by the majority of women who resort to premature weaning is regret: feeling sad about the loss or absence of something treasured or valued. Put simply, when these women see promotion of breastfeeding, it reminds them of a time when they experienced sadness. This can lead to feelings of anger, as unresolved emotions come to the surface. What they need is support and understanding of their grief, recognition of their regret. Unfortunately, what they usually get instead is reassurance about the decision to wean and assurance of their baby’s health and wellbeing despite being fed artificially. This failure to acknowledge their true feelings goes a long way to delaying their emotional recovery. Raise the issue of breastfeeding in a group of women at any life stage - those emotions will come flooding out just as fresh in the retirement village as in the new mothers’ group.
According to Dr. Laura Jana pediatrician and co-author of the book, Heading Home with Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality, published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, being a new parent is challenging and can be frustrating. For a mother faced with the additional challenges associated with breastfeeding, sometimes the extra time, effort, appointments/instruction can prove to be too overwhelming. The bottom line: if a mother wants to be able to breastfeed in the face of physical limitations, she should know that there may well be ways to make that happen. However, for the mothers that can’t either physically or emotionally, Dr. Jana feels very strongly that there should be no guilt involved!
I thought I’d start compiling a list – for me to revisit and read when I’m in sleep-deprived psychosis, flying off the handle at every little thing, weeping over the dirt on my floor, and telling the cat that I’m going to sell him because he’s such an obnoxious freak of nature.
And for the other new moms out there who are at this very moment yelling at their pets and spouses, wondering if they will ever feel normal again.
One of the main reasons breastfeeding advocates are negatively judged by the mainstream media, is due to their attack on formula feeding mothers, as part of their defense. This really angers me, because I feel that some breastfeeding mothers are aiding in the attack and judgement of my family (a family that practices extended breastfeeding) through their malicious statements directed at formula feeding mothers.
New research at the University of Warwick into 50 years of motherhood manuals has revealed how despite their differences they have always issued advice as orders and set unattainably high standards for new mums and babies.
And in other news… fire is hot, water is wet, and the sky is blue!
"Breast is best." Such a simple fact. If you are planning to be an attachment parent, you want to breastfeed. It’s at the very foundation of the philosophy.
But sometimes, things aren’t that simple. Perhaps you have a medical condition that won’t allow you to breastfeed. Maybe you are an abuse survivor who has unresolved issues that are hindering you. Or, as in my case, you and your baby have breastfeeding problems that never get fixed. You may find yourself holding a bottle for your baby, wondering how you got here, worrying that you and your baby will never truly bond because you aren’t breastfeeding.
Bottlefeeding with love is possible. It’s not the ideal situation, but you and your baby can have a loving feeding arrangement.
When you have a baby, you know that you are in for lots of things. Sleepless nights, being peed and puked on, having your heart broken, laughing your biggest laugh, and crying your hardest cries ever are to be expected. One thing no one tells you is that you will be judged by every single person that you come into contact with for just about every single decision you make in regards to that baby.
“Thought of the Day: One thing I have learned is that being a good mother does not come from the way you give birth, breasts or bottles, what nappies you use or anything that so many seemed to become obsessed with to the point of attacking each other or doubting their own abilities. Being a good mother comes from your heart. Your children will not remember how they were born or what sort of milk they had for the first year of their life or what nappies you wrapped their bottom in. But they will remember the cuddles, the kisses, the games of peek-a-boo and your warmth, smell and safety they feel when they are with you. They will love you because you love them. That’s what matters.”— Lisa, Bottle Babies
“Over the past months I’ve realized that the ‘best’ that I can give her isn’t always what can be written down on paper or put in a category like natural birth, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, etc. The best that I can give her is an emotionally stable and content mother.”
Some of the strongest advocates in the intactivist movement are mothers who circumcised their first children. Marilyn Fayre Milos, for example. Some of the strongest advocates for gentle discipline are those who chose corporal punishment first. Some of the strongest proponents of natural birth are those who experienced an over-medicated labor or an “unnecessarian”. Many cloth diapering mothers chose cloth because their babies’ bottoms reacted badly to disposables.
Many lactivists have never fed their babies an ounce of formula, and some (certainly not all) really seem to enjoy making that fact very known. They should be proud, but sometimes comments cross the line. Formula-feeding mothers are referred to as “lazy”, “selfish”, “lame”, “stupid”, “irresponsible” and worse. I’m not pulling this from my own imagination; I am a member of many natural parenting groups and have seen all of these accusations in the last month. I am not an advocate for formula-feeding, any more than I am an advocate for cesareans. I believe that supporting breastfeeding means supporting breastfeeding. No more, and certainly no less.
So, if you want to be a lactivist without pissing off us lazy, irresponsible mothers who didn’t try hard enough (ha-ha-ha-ha-ha), what else can you do?
A true lactivist does not seek to demonise women, but to empower and support those who need help. To present accurate, unbiased, unjudgmental information on which parents can make a truly informed choice.