Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Boob Juice, Part Two

In case you haven't already clicked on the link from the Warner piece, this is the original article by Hanna Rosin from The Atlantic. Here are my two cents. I agree that we should not be fascists about anything, especially breastfeeding. If a woman doesn't want to breastfeed, or can't, or chooses not to for whatever reason, she shouldn't be made to feel like a bad mother because of it. And this happens all the time. Opening a can of formula should not be akin to opening a giant can of BAD MOM.

When Penny was tiny, I attended some La Leche meetings with my friend Mindy, and I felt a little uncomfortable about the tone of some the meetings. I felt the information was useful, but I already felt like my success as a mother was being measured by whether or not I was nursing, and how much I was producing, and how much weight my baby was gaining, etc. In the end, I decided La Leche wasn't for me. So I can relate to some of the things Rosin is talking about, I really can.

But I get nervous about making a "case" against breastfeeding. I agree that we shouldn't get carried away by hype or buy into claims that are not scientifically founded. However, I am still more likely to trust the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization more than a journalist who has done her own casual meta-analysis of articles from medical journals. Rosin says herself:

"My best guess is something I can’t quite articulate. Breast-feeding does not belong in the realm of facts and hard numbers; it is much too intimate and elemental. It contains all of my awe about motherhood, and also my ambivalence. Right now, even part-time, it’s a strain. But I also know that this is probably my last chance to feel warm baby skin up against mine, and one day I will miss it."

And that is the key for me, the warm baby skin. The bonding, the cuddling. The connection that transcends any other tangible experience, which in my mind, is the same connection that started in the womb. I grew my baby myself, with my body. I am still "growing" my baby, with my body. We live in an amazing time, in an age of pumps and formula. We have options and we can choose the one that best suits our needs and our lifestyles. We can also adapt and make compromises, if one option doesn't work out the way we originally planned.

We also live in an age where one person can write an article, another person can post an opinion about it online, and the whole Internet can explode in anger or in support. Amazing.


Momcat said...

T read "the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" when I was pregnant the first time and I was an instant convert. Even then when I was in the middle of the roses and rainbows stage with the angels singing in the background, I recognized that the La Leche league were a bunch of fanatics. The book had - and has- great information. The parts that don't sit right or are unrealistic- you just leave them lie.

All of our kids weaned themselves by the time they were a year old. They started out by looking around the room and getting distracted by things which interested them at about 6 months. Of course, that is part of the natural delelopment of their vision and thinking. You can't deny them that no matter how much you wisdh to prolong the mother child boob juice bond.

With our last- because I knew it was our last- I determined to breast feed her until she started school if that were what she wanted. She just didn't want to. As a nurturing figure, I felt very undercut; but I had to realize I was dealing more with my needs here than the child's She was doing just fine and off to the next stage of development, thank you very much.

Of course, I had one all knowing friend who told me if I were exclusively breatsfeeding- and I was- that one year simply was not enough to give babies the oral stimulation they needed to have. There's always one friend who tells you things like that as gospel truth. I just had to say that they cut me off not the other way around. And if they all became assassains and bank robbers due to insufficient maternal bonding; well, that's the path they chose.

It all works out. It has so far.

Amber/Dia said...

I wish that we as modern women could just realize that each parent and each child is different. We all do things our own way and as a parent we spend a lot of time trying to figure out what your childs "way" is. I wish we could all support each other no matter if we are co sleeping or crib, breast or bottle, cloth or disposable. We are lucky to live in a time in the world where many choices are available. It seems to me sometimes that other women are more detimental to feminism than any man could be.