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Thread: 10 things breastfeeding advocates should stop saying

  1. #1

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    Default 10 things breastfeeding advocates should stop saying

    This article was posted by someone on Facebook. I loved it so much I thought I'd share it.

    Top 10 Things Breastfeeding Advocates Should Stop Saying
    by Amy on May 27, 2011

    1. “Everyone can breastfeed if they try hard enough.”
    No, everyone can’t. Yes, the percentage of women who physically can’t is very small, but until there are no more Booby Traps – cultural and institutional barriers to breastfeeding- that entire line of thinking is off-limits. See also: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” and “If you want to badly enough, you can do it.”

    2. “Formula is poison.”
    How would you feel if someone called the food you feed your infant “poison” or “garbage”? Talk about the facts on formula? Yes. Use pejoratives? No. We can discuss the risks of using formula without simultaneously shaming and belittling the moms who use it.

    3. ”Moms should be smart enough to see through formula marketing.”
    Formula marketing is insanely effective. These companies wouldn’t spend bazillions of dollars on it if it didn’t work. And it doesn’t just work on the uneducated; it’s very savvy and appeals to moms of all backgrounds. It’s not a matter of being “smart enough”; it’s so pervasive that we can’t blame moms for not always seeing through it.



    4. “Breast is best.”
    No. Breast is normal. Breastfeeding is the biological norm. Anything less is inferior by default. “Best” conjurs a notion of something that only a select few can achieve and sets formula up as the norm; we want to talk about breastfeeding as something that’s achievable for almost all moms. See Diane Wiessinger’s game-changing post on why this language is so problematic, “Watch Your Language.”

    5. “Formula-feeding moms are lazy.”
    If we’re comparing using formula to directly breastfeeding the healthy, full-term infant, breastfeeding is a heck of a lot less work than formula-feeding. (Moms who pump a lot have more work than the direct breastfeeders, no doubt.) But preparing bottles, washing bottles, having to go buy formula: that’s more work than just putting baby to breast.

    6. ”Moms who use formula don’t love/value their babies as much as moms who breastfeed.”
    Seriously? Come on. By and large, all moms are trying to do right by their babies and love them in ways words can’t fully describe. Sure, there are bad apples; but they’re on both sides of the feeding debate. Breastfeeding ≠ good mom. Formula feeding ≠ bad mom. Parenting is so much more than how we feed our babies. Edited to add: See also, “Formula-feeding moms are selfish!”; how we feed our babies isn’t an automatic gauge of character. (Thanks Jessica from The Leaky Boob!)

    7. “Take some fenugreek!”
    Insert any number of other token pieces of breastfeeding advice here. It’s downright dangerous for moms to speak in prescriptive terms when it comes to breastfeeding problems. Most of the time, it’s not that simple, anyway. “Eliminate __[diary, gluten, etc-]___.”; “Buy Reglan/Domperidone online.”; “You have too much foremilk.”; “You only make skim milk.” Some of it is innocuous enough (albeit wrong) and some of it stands to be pretty damaging. Sharing stories peer-to-peer is one thing; discussing things a professional should be addressing is another.

    8. “You could have breastfed if _____.”
    Along the same lines as #7, Monday-morning quarterbacking a mom’s failed breastfeeding experience is a good way to rub salt in the wound. Unless she’s asking, and only if you have her whole history, it’s probably best to keep quiet with opinions – opinions! – on what might have saved her breastfeeding relationship.

    9. “You’ll be able to breastfeed. It comes naturally, so don’t worry about it.”
    This gem is usually one that expecting moms encounter. We lost a whole generation – if not more – of breastfeeders. We don’t know how to breastfeed anymore (in general) because most of us didn’t grow up seeing it. So today, moms do need to study up and prepare. That’s not to say they need to research every worst-case scenario, but some prep is likely necessary. Breastfeeding might be natural, but it definitely doesn’t always come naturally.

    10. “Facts don’t hurt. You make yourself feel guilty.”
    Really? A lot of moms use formula and they know the risks and the facts. They don’t feel good about them and they probably feel guilty. YES, we absolutely need to keep talking about the risks and the facts. But IGT, jobs without maternity leave, being misinformed by doctors: those things don’t discriminate. It could be any mom. Similarly, because one mom made it through X circumstance, doesn’t mean another mom should or will be able to.

    Lactivists, advocates, breastfeeding supporters of all kinds (yes, including the ones who’ve used formula!): What do you think? Is it time to put an end to the phrases on this list? What would you add?
    Before anyone goes down the 'you choose your own emotions' road, stop and think about how YOUR words come across and how you would feel if they were said to you.

  2. #2

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    Awesome post. Thanks so much for this! I have given you rep points. Nice to see something like this on here instead of the usual blah blah blah about BFvFF

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    thanks for sharing

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    Do people really say some of those things?

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    I'm amazed that any advocate of breastfeeding would say those things. Surely it's obvious to them that such retoric would immediately alienate rather than draw people to their cause.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by Artechim View Post
    Do people really say some of those things?
    Many of them have recently been said in current threads.

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    Great post. I especially love #10. Plenty of mums DO NOT feel guilty for FF their baby. Why is that so hard for some other women to believe?

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    Quote Originally Posted by meow View Post
    Many of them have recently been said in current threads.
    Yeah, they have!

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    Interesting I am a BF'er but from observation/conversations with others I do agree with most of the points on the list, in particular agree with point 2, 3, & 5 (as in agree they are things that should not be said) - however also as a BF mum I think it would be great if the article also showed the opposite and have a list of 10 things breastfeeding advocates should say (or just any BF mum can say)- as unless you have walked in someone else's shoes is difficult to know how they feel and what are useful/helpful things to say.

    Number 9 - about it coming naturally and finding it easy, I find interesting, as I hardly ever hear this said, and personally I think sometimes the impression that BF is always difficult does put some people off - when for some people (probably not the majority though) it can be easy. If you believe something is going to be difficult it often is, but also the better informed you are the better you are able to cope with the difficulties so it is a tricky one.

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    I could write a novel to express how much I agree with that. Thanks for posting Tinks.

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    wyiswyg - I'd educated myself and thought I knew some of the hurdles which I was all mentally prepared for. What I wasn't prepared for was my particular hurdle which is that I have very large nipples and couldn't attach either of my DDs until about the seven week mark. And I do mean couldn't attach at all, not just occasionally. No-one talks about this and what to do. What they do talk about is how giving bottles can lead to breast refusal so meaning that by the time they could attach, I thought that I wouldn't be able to BF at all. Also not true.

  12. #12

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    Yep. Sadly they do.

    I was lucky enough to bf my DD for 4 months and really enjoy it with very few problems until I went back to work fulltime - try as I might I could never quite get pumping to work so eventually had to put her onto formula. The backlash I copped from some mothers was quite nasty, saying I wasn't trying hard enough and that I was being selfish to sacrifice feeding my daughter for going back to work - heartbreaking for a mother who was already feeling bad enough about the situation but *had* to work to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wysiwyg View Post
    Number 9 - about it coming naturally and finding it easy, I find interesting, as I hardly ever hear this said, and personally I think sometimes the impression that BF is always difficult does put some people off - when for some people (probably not the majority though) it can be easy. If you believe something is going to be difficult it often is, but also the better informed you are the better you are able to cope with the difficulties so it is a tricky one.
    For me, I think what they're getting at are the comments about BF being convenient. You can just lie your baby in bed ith you for a night feed, it's always available 24/7. Those kind of comments.

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    Interesting thoughts, definitely understand most of them.

    In regards to the convenience comments Tinks (which I personally don't see falling under any of the above points but wouldn't want to offend unintentionally so am trying to clarify), is breastfeeding not convenient? Would it be better for people to say "I found breastfeeding convenient because..."? I just don't see how denying its convenience helps anyone or how highlighting some of the benefits of breastfeeding detracts from formula feeding. What is it about those comments that is offensive and how would it be better to phrase them?

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    Thanks for sharing.

    xox

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    Quote Originally Posted by Artechim View Post
    Do people really say some of those things?
    I've had every one of these said to me. And yes I did choose to be upset by some of the comments...and I OWN that choice because for someone not to be upset by many of the comments I've received they'd have to have a rhino skin. Thank you so much for posting this. I had the choice of bf taken away from me (although I did choose not to use a milk bank). It will always be a sore point for me. I've accepted it but it is still a sore point.

    I would really like a similar list from the bf pint of view ie things that shouldn't be said to bf mothers. I'm sure they get a lot too.

    Wysiwyg- great suggestion for the list of things TO say to a ff mum. I'll start it off - say nothing unless it's brought up by the ff mum! easy! Hehe

    At the end of the day, a baby is being fed. The way some people have spoken to me about ff you would think they believed starving them is better.

  17. #17

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    Thank you for posting.
    I have done both BF and FF.
    I did find it came naturally but my tiny prems did not thrive on it (they got 7mths) so had no guilt swapping to high fat formula.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jellyfish View Post
    Interesting thoughts, definitely understand most of them.

    In regards to the convenience comments Tinks (which I personally don't see falling under any of the above points but wouldn't want to offend unintentionally so am trying to clarify), is breastfeeding not convenient? Would it be better for people to say "I found breastfeeding convenient because..."? I just don't see how denying its convenience helps anyone or how highlighting some of the benefits of breastfeeding detracts from formula feeding. What is it about those comments that is offensive and how would it be better to phrase them?
    I think it's more that many people do actually believe that ff is more convenient than bf (I don't agree but anyway). Many people have made comments about ff mums being lazy and taking the 'easy' way out by ff when in reality bf can be extremely convenient...once you and baby get the hang of it
    I think it's the intent of the comments rather than the phrasing most of the time (and no I don't mean comments being taken the wrong way!!) some women will say outright that ff mums are lazy. Others say it in a roundabout way. I think the best thing to do is just not comment unless it's brought up. Each to their own and all that jazz

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