I am a breast feeder. I breastfed my first until she weaned herself at 9 months and I am feeding my second at 14 months. I am all about being visible, being vocal and supporting other breastfeeding mothers who might have concerns about modesty and public comment and all that jazz.
Image: Aimee Low, MorgueFile
But breastfeeding does not define me. And it does not define my daughters, who are as healthy and snotty and happy and tantrummy and brilliant and ‘Oh wow, no, she did not just do that!’ as any other child, breastfed or not.
I get really annoyed at sanctimonious mothers who think that because they have the ability to sit and nurse their babies, or pump, that they have a right to tell others how to feed their children.
Image: SQUAIO, MorgueFile
When I was diagnosed with Post Natal Depression and anxiety I was advised to go on medication,which I was not convinced (despite medical advice to the contrary) would not affect my daughter through the breast milk. I had the choice: to not take the medication; to take it and worry; or to take it and stop breastfeeding. I chose the former, which was probably not the best decision – but there isn’t a cheat sheet on parenting, so I did the best I could.
However, would I have been wrong to discontinue breastfeeding? To look after myself and probably get ‘better’ sooner; sparing my kids the pain of seeing my panic attacks, spare them the sight of me lying on the floor with the police shining a light in my face trying to figure out if I was high or beaten or just raving? How is ‘breast best’ in this situation?
I think it’s disgusting the way that women’s breasts are deified in the media when their primary use is to feed infants, and the reason that straight men are attracted to them is because they are a symbol of fertility and child nurturing. Conversely, I think it is disgusting that women who have to work, have to take medication, can’t get the rhythm of breastfeeding or just plain don’t feel comfortable breastfeeding, are seen by some as second class mothers.
Image: FidlerJan, MorgueFile
While I am in no way a proponent of Big Pharma (the pharmaceutical industry), I say a resounding 'thank you' to the technology that allows the women in developed countries (who have access to sterilization and clean water) to feed their babies with formula. Thank you for the orphans fed, the hungry made full and most of all for my children, because without formula, my husband would never have survived babyhood and grown to be the father of my breastfed babies.