Monday, September 27, 2010

Why I'm (apparently) not a lactivist

Today, I was on one of my favorite breastfeeding support Facebook pages. The moderator of the page posted a link to this article. I read it, and agreed wholeheartedly.

Then I read a comment that basically said that you can't be ok with any kind of formula feeding and still be a breastfeeding advocate or lactivist.

Most of you know by now that I work as a peer counselor. And I advocate breastfeeding every single day. I think breastfeeding is normal, and should be encouraged. I think more companies should allow babies at work, so that breastfeeding continues longer. I proudly nurse in public. I'm all for extended breastfeeding. I want to make sure that every woman has the tools she needs to meet her breastfeeding goal. I want to stamp out every silly breastfeeding myth out there.

But there are exceptions.

I myself had to supplement with formula. Several times, with Miss Rhiannon. It sucked. I had been so sure that everything would work out well that I can remember standing in the formula aisle in tears, feeling so judged, like I was a terrible, terrible mother. I hated every second of supplementing. I worked so, so, so hard to get Rhi back to just breastmilk. But I did it. Know why? Because, in the end, formula feeding didn't make me a terrible mom. But NOT feeding my child so that I could keep some silly ideal alive totally would have.

And before anyone scoffs at that, yes, that *has* happened. I remember reading of a vegan family who were so against using any animal products (including breastmilk) that they used a homemade formula and killed their child by malnutrition. Killed their baby. The cause was so important to them that they allowed their child to DIE for it.

I see moms daily that want to breastfeed. And most of them do. But some of them don't wind up being able to. Sometimes a well-intended bottle turns into horrible nipple confusion. Sometimes they're victims of a sexual trauma that makes breastfeeding a horrible experience for them. Sometimes they're simply low income and working at jobs that make it next to impossible for them to pump.

It reeks of over-privilege to say that all mothers need to breastfeed exclusively unless they literally cannot produce milk. Because, you know what? There are a multitude of factors that lead to women using formula. And not all of them are as cut and dried as some lactivists want us all to believe.

I am a proud breastfeeding advocate. I am pro-breastfeeding. I am a future lactation consultant. I am, and will remain, committed to helping moms breastfeed and normalizing breastfeeding. But if being a lactivist means shoving all moms into groups based on hasty generalizations, well, then, lactivists can suck it.


Making It Work Mom said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I hate how all formula feeding moms feel the need to be so apologetic with me. I just want everyone to feel like they made the most educated and best decision for their family!
Thanks for a great post!

Summer said...

Word to that, homie.

I had the damndest time nursing Lola. It was awful. For that reason, i am not at all excited to do it again. Srsly, at all. But I will, because the little fella deserves the best I have to give him. Even with all the issues, I made it until 17 and a half months, when Lola decided she was finished. I was a freaking rock start to make it until she chose to stop.

And yet, I still heard from people, "Well, *I* made it 24 months..." as if this was better. What was I supposed to do, force a boob into her mouth to make lactavists proud??

This same mentality bleeds over into the great C-Section Debate of which I am not playing along either.

Yes, these people can suck it.