This comic is a little bit of a mishmash of different stories, posts, and comments; so bear with me, it requires some background links.
It was inspired by this post on the Psychology Today Blog by Darcia Narvaez Breastmilk wipes out Formula; What’s the Controversy? It’s a response to comments on this series of posts also by Ms. Narvaez:It’s breastfeeding week, why you should care
There are 8 posts (9 if you include the response post) and I didn’t read any of the comments. I try to never ever ever read comments, unless it’s the lovely commenters on this here blog, then I not only read them, but also have been known to print them out and lovingly tape them to the refrigerator. (let that be a warning ;o)
I was clued into the fact that the comments must have been troubling, because the blogger wrote the reasoned response, but then I still didn’t read the comments.
So, then I went to this blogger’s (Sasha Brown-Worsham on The Stir) post about the Psychology Today response: Breast is Best, saying so isn’t bullying I liked the title so I read it, and then having a bit of time on my hand I thought, “what could the comments possibly say to this?” So I broke my “no comment reading” rule and read them. Holy canoli! The fourth comment said this:
It becomes bullying when women who don’t breastfeed are decried as “selfish”. Same with using pain relief and induction in labor. The adjustment of a new baby is difficult enough without strangers calling you names on the webistes you turn to for encouragement and information. I’m breastfeeding but lord help me, if I hear one more person slam a formula feeding parent for being some sort of self-serving monster mommy I’m gonna lose it. Women should be supporting and encouraging to new parents. When one begins to name-call and pass judgement it not only smacks of insecurity but it fosters doubt in people who need answers the most. It feels like the high school cafeteria all over again on some of these comment pages. I, for one, believe we deserve to treat each other better.
And this one (who is inspiring a whole comic of its own):
As someone who was bullied for the entire first year of my daughter’s life, I do agree there is a difference between making a point and bullying… however, why is it a stranger’s business to make this point?
I was admitted to the ICU after my emergency C-section for post-partum preeclampsia, a condition I didn’t even know existed (I knew all about the PRE, never the POST). I was there for almost a week and due to that and the meds I was on, never had the chance to breastfeed. It was the most difficult week for my husband, my baby, and myself and, ultimately, the choice of what to feed my daughter was the LEAST of our concerns.
Yet, for the next year, I had strangers come up to me and say “you know, breast is best”, “Why don’t you love your child enough to give her what she REALLY needs?”, “It’s so convenient to formula feed… no one wants to hassle with what’s best”, and (my favorite) “I loved my child enough to do right by him”. Nevermind my daughter was growing fine, progressing well (in some ways ahead), and was just overall happy. Nevermind that we still did skin-to-skin feedings, still took efforts to buy the best formula we could, and have a happy, well-adjusted 4 year old now.
Long story short, it bothers me more that strangers feel they are allowed to offer unsolicited advice without finding out all the information.
I find it shocking, in that whole, what-dictionary-are-they-using-for-the-term-bully? way, and in the whole, where-do-they-live-that-they-are-accosted-for-feeding-formula? way. I’ve been a lactivist for 13 years and I’ve never brought breastfeeding up to anyone who is feeding a baby with a bottle, because that would be insensitive and hopeless. Pretty much every lactivist I know knows that you have to help mothers to breastfeed before they start or before they quit. Who are these people that are accosting strangers in public every day for the first year of their baby’s life?
They don’t exist, that’s who they are. It’s a made-up boogie-man to excuse away the guilt of this mother in particular and many mothers everywhere.