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.