Thursday, June 15, 2006

Breast-Feed or Else

In case you’ve missed the brouhaha on guilting women into breastfeeding, you can read the article in the NY Times here. As you know, I’m a big advocate of breastfeeding, even extended breastfeeding---we’re closing in on 2 years now, although there are absolutely no signs that the milk bar is going to be “closing” any time soon.

That said, I’m not a fan of the new government policy of telling women that not breastfeeding is as risky as smoking during pregnancy or that “you don’t risk a baby’s health while you’re pregnant, why risk it afterwards.” It’s not that I’m concerned that the campaign hurts women who couldn’t breastfeed due to low supply or nipple pain. It’s because the problem is not the women (Blame the Mothers once again!). The problem is that our low breastfeeding rates are a systemic problem not an individual one.

In talking with women who have had problems, here is an incomplete list of where lack of support plays a crucial role: husbands/fathers, grandparents and friends don’t support bfing; nursing in public (NIP) is a problem, companies don’t provide women with enough paid time off to help establish and continue breastfeeding and the government doesn’t mandate it, companies don’t provide private spaces to pump, pediatricians and OB/GYNS hand out formula like candy and don’t adequately support women in those first few weeks where if the woman stops breastfeeding she can never start again. And don’t even get me started on the formula industry sponsoring research that co-sleeping is evil, because that’s the only way most women can breastfeed and maintain their sanity. (And did anyone else hear the NPR story this week about the astronaut dealing with zero-gravity and coming back to earth and on his first night back sleeping with his wife and 8 year-old son? Yeah, Right. The family bed is so freaky, astronauts do it and share it on national radio.)

But, noooooo! Let’s not address the problem in societal terms! Let’s blame those poor women and make them feel like even more shitty-ass mothers than we already do. SO if the government wants to help women breastfeed, then why doesn’t the government do something truly meaningful and mandate paid maternity/paternity leave.

More Government Crankiness

And on that note, I need to confess. I have spent the last 3 to 6 years saying that my beliefs will be vindicated when in 30 years, modern historians look back at what this administration has done in Iraq and to our civil rights and call this President the idiot that he really is.

And then I thought, what am I going to say to my children and grandchildren who ask me what I did to stop it? And I’m going to say, I did nothing but wait for vindication. But that’s not enough.

So, no matter what your beliefs, whether you agree with this administration or not, I encourage you to write your Senators and tell them how you feel.

Be a little active and make this world better.


OneTiredEma said...

Ok, I'm going to have to blog about my fabulous idea that I had while I was pregnant with AM...(it's related to the subject at hand).

gabriella said...

i hadn't considered that the formula manufacturers are sponsoring the anti-co-sleeping 'reserach'. also, since in the U.S. 'maternity' leave is what? 6 weeks? how can anyone work and breastfeed under those circumstances. mat leave really should be 2 years.

Anonymous said...

While I understand and agree that the latest breastfeeding campaign by the government is not well executed, I support the government's efforts to bring more awareness to the benefits and importance of breastfeeding. Such awareness is the necessary precursor to obtaining support of the electorate in government mandates that facilitate breastfeeding, such as those you mention.