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Thread: Mummy Guilt Culture - Protecting or Patronising

  1. #19

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    I 100 & 10% agree with you.



    Based on my knowledge now I believe my son has autism because of me. You know what, that hurts. It certainly makes me wish I had known more before and I could have avoided him going through what he is experiencing. BUT it is also empowering. Because I am open to that knowledge I understand WHY is autistic and HOW we can fix it.

    If I could turn back time, I would. But I can't so there is no point wallowing in guilt or denying the truth so we just get on with making things better.

  2. #20

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    Sorry feeding at keys (fak) so I have to be brief.

    Guilt comes from judgement, either perceived or real, and until we can spread information in an unbiased way there will always be an implied judgement about the information. A breastfeeding mum can't be unbiased about the risks of formula any more than a formula feeding mum is unbiased about the difficulties of breastfeeding.

    I encounter this with vaccination and home birth and many other parenting decisions.

    My main issue is that breastfeeding is the MINORITY, so the message about its benefits has to be loud. But who is able to give that information in an unbiased way. I'm so sick of hearing about the 'breastapo' or breastfeeding nazis (aside from the insulting aligning of breastfeeding advocates and mass murderers) because the insinuation is that to be impassioned is to be militaristic and dictatorial - because no one likes being 'told' what to do.

    If we just looked at what was biologically normal and accepted that, we might come a long way in parenting, and then those who 'have' to choose hospital births or formula are actually doing it because there is a real need, rather than just a cultural assumption that 'thats what you do'.

  3. #21

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    Hi Armadillo and welcome!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaytee View Post
    I think I'm one that kind of 'sugar coats' when others bring up these topics about their own children. Eg at Mother's Group people speak about when to wean, or basically when to introduce formula. Most have introduced formula by 6 months. I'm happy to say I won't be weaning until DD chooses to and I give my reasons, but I don't feel comfortable saying something along the lines of "ideally mothers should exclusively breastfeed for six months, with the child naturally weaning, and I don't believe formula should be introduced as it is unnecessary and increases the risk of health problems now and down the track."

    I don't want to be seen to be judging other mothers, because I'm not. They can make their own choice, but I sometimes feel as though when I present facts that are opposing the choice they want to make, I'm seen as preachy. This happened in a discussion of turning baby seats - my DD is the only one still rear facing, and when I said it was because of the risk of internal decapitation and that I'd leave her rear facing as long as possible, the response I got was "well the law says 6 months, so if s/he wants to sit up then that's what I'll do. S/he's happier now s/he can see out the window." I just left it, but I certainly felt as though I my opinion was not at all wanted!
    Kaytee, I don't think you sugar coated things, I think you realised that the group you were with wouldn't be receptive to a debate on the subject, so you gave your reasons for doing what you do and left it at that. Sugar coating would have been to say "Oh yeah, using formula is just as good as breastmilk" and validate their choices for them.

    I totally agree with using anything you are told, even if it hurts, for future reference. However, I still think there is a time and a place to share that knowledge. I never felt guilt about the choices I made, but there was still an internal struggle to come to terms with the choices if that makes sense. So if anyone had of said to me at that point in time when things were still a bit raw, I would have told them to bugger off. Not that I wouldn't appreciate being told, but rather that I have too much going on to accept the information. But at the same time I wouldn't like things sugar coated or be patronised, I would prefer they are just not said at the time.

  4. #22

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    Wow, I wish I had known that before. Yet another thing to tell my Mum and sister when they tell me to "just give him/her a bottle" next time. People need to know these things! We do so many other things to reduce SIDS risk (provide education I mean), why not this?

    Gigi, I'm with you - I tend to step back and if people show interest in MCN I'll give them the info they need to get going. Even though I wasn't a successful breastfeeder with DD I have educated myself so friends who have had babies recently I have been able to help with tips to increase supply etc... I just hope I can be as supportive of myself next time!

  5. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rouge View Post
    Patronising. And breeding ignorance.
    Agree. I had no idea that FF increased the risk of SIDS so I totally agree. How can I make an informed decision based on wrong information? I can remember looking at the SIDS website when DS was born to make sure I was doing the right thing. Even though I did BF him, I'm annoyed that I might have made a different decision based on incomplete info.

    Quote Originally Posted by MadB View Post
    My current favourite quote:
    Most people would rather die than think: many do. Bertrand Russell
    Love it I might have to steal that one

    Quote Originally Posted by fionas View Post
    So I'm all for giving people all the information and letting them decide for themselves.
    Agree. As per above.

    Quote Originally Posted by AnalyticalArmadillo View Post
    The same goes for a lot of things baby related I find eg controlled crying - pretty sure cavewoman without a clock nor any pressure from social norms, who would have fed LOTS at night due to dangers during the day, wouldn't have practised sleep training. Therefore we need extensive, solid evidence this isn't going to cause longer term psychological damage.
    I have never thought about raising babies in terms of how a cavewoman would have done it. That's strange since I often think about other aspects of life in this way especially in regards to diet, exercise & entertainment. I will be incorporating this into my thinking more often now.

    Redrobinridinghood - I share your cynical view. Money makes everything different. The cavemen didn't have money.

  6. #24

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    Though I have to say that it perplexes me when people say that BFing is in the minority and they are surrounded by people at their mothers groups who don't BF or wean early.

    That's absolutely NOT my experience in my sociodemographic. It's the norm to breasfeed - the message IS getting through to my peers. Ten out of ten of the mums in my mothers group tried to BF. Two of us 'gave up' early because of hideous problems and lack of support. The remaining eight breastfed for much longer than six months, I think all breasfed for over a year. So I don't know if giving this message will make much difference. I think this type of message will be preaching to the converted - but that's not to say that it shouldn't be added to the mix.

  7. #25

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    fionas, the statistics on breastfeeding are pretty clear.
    from 2010 infant feeding survey

    24% exclusive breastfeeding at 5 months
    60% of babies receiving some breast milk at 6 months

    I'm not sure what the figure is at 12 months, but I doubt it's more than 10%

    So 40% of babies are fully weaned within the first 6 months and 76% have started weaning within the first 5 months. Probably at least 90% fully weaned within the first 12 months. That's a lot of bottle feeding.

  8. #26

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    I'm not doubting the stats MadB, I'm sure they're true. What I'm saying is that's not my experience in my sociodemographic so putting my old communications manager hat on I would have to say that the message is not being correctly targeted if there are groups where BF is almost 100% the norm and in other groups the rates drop considerably. I'd like to see a breakdown by sociodemographics because the messages should be tailored. One size does not fit all.

  9. #27

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    I'm sure I've seen stats that those in higher socio-economic groups have higher BFing rates.

  10. #28

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    I found this article around guilt and motherhood.l worth a read
    \
    Last edited by onthefly; March 17th, 2012 at 08:52 PM.

  11. #29

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    yes, rates are higher for older maternal age and higher education

  12. #30

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    ETA: Patronising

    Personally I am not keen on E. Badinter - I do actually agree with her views on food while pregnant (I read the info and chose to take some small risks in having a coffee a day, the occasional wine, and only avoided soft serve icecream), but really dislike her views on breastfeeding in particular and feminism in general particularly disliking these statements

    "Badinter's theory about breastfeeding goes to the very heart of her argument against modern motherhood: that it destroys women's independence"

    "Between the protection of trees and the liberty of women, my choice is clear," she stated recently. "It may seem derisory, but powdered milk, jars of baby food and disposable nappies were all stages in the liberation of women.”

    The liberation of women in my mind is all about women being empowered in making their own decisions and not giving two hoots about other peoples opinions - powdered milk, jars of baby food and disposable nappies are not liberating in my book at all - maybe they are liberating to some people but I don't believe that "things" really liberate us, is more thoughts and ideals.

    I don't use any of those, I don't subscribe to mummy guilt and I don't feel any loss of independence at all (as I sit here feeding my DS while typing with both hands I feel very liberated actually :-) ),or any pressure to 'be' anything apart from what I want to be. It seems to be a family trait to make informed decision but not care what other people think, have noticed it in both my siblings, I hope that I can some how manage to convey this to my two as I think it certainly makes being a parent far easier.

    I like some of the points in that article about working and being a mum, but none of those are by Elisabeth Badinter. We have been talking about the article a bit at MG because one of us is French and in her words "dislikes Elisabeth Badinter with a passion" and also finds all this stuff in the media about "perfect French children" a bit comical.
    Last edited by wysiwyg; February 13th, 2012 at 12:29 PM. Reason: To answer original question.

  13. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by chody47 View Post
    I wish I had have known this when I was breastfeeding. My husband had a massive accident when DD was just 9 weeks old and, with all the stress, I gradually started weaning at 4 months until, by 6 months she was completely formula fed. If I had have known this info I may have tried harder to keep up with the BF. It is easier to say in retrospect though. I would have at least liked the info so that I could have made more of an informed decision.
    I also know about having serious upheaval in the very early weeks of a being a new mum. I'm sorry you had to go through it. The thing is even if you had known this information, you may well have still weaned - and that would have still been ok, because you would have done what was, at the time, necessary for you and your family. But for some reason you were deemed to fragile and precious to be given the truth - and allowed to make your own mind up. That's not right! You (and me, and everyone else) should be told more, allowed to be educated about these things, and then left to decide on our own. We are, after all, the ones who have to live with and possibly repeatedly justify, our decision to.

    I hope you don't mind me using you as my example ()

    And it's not just breastfeeding, but many other aspects of our lives. I was fascinated to learn about the new information regarding 'The first nine months" - how a person's live can be irrevocably shaped during pregnancy. It's great to know this stuff. Would it have changed the way i behaved while i was pregnant? Probably. Bring on knowledge and education. Then let us decide for ourselves.

  14. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaytee View Post
    Eta: Then again, I'm not a health professional. I certainly feel that health professionals should give all the facts so that we can make the best possible choices for our little ones.
    You are right. Good on you for not rocking the boat at your mum's groups! However, if someone in you mum's group asked you specifically for help or advice, then i'm sure you'd be able to gently let them know all the things you have learned.
    We need the information from our medical professionals and our governing bodies etc. It needs to be published a easily accessible. (Funding anyone?)

  15. #33

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    I subscribe to the belief that you choose how you feel. If you choose to feel guilty well that's your choice. No-one is standing over you with a rifle saying "you didn't BF. You must feel guilty." Turn it around, say instead "I chose to formula feed because it was best for my baby in my circumstances."

    I agree wysiwyg. Badinter seems to be the extreme opposite. I almost feel guilty for not placing my kids in childcare from 3 months, giving them formula & pureeing some apples. Almost, lol! Those quotes stood out to me too.

    I guess the point is not to feel guilty as long as you have made an informed decision and weighed up the risks vs benefits for your own particular situation. If information is being withheld as in the case of the increased risk of SIDS for FF vs BF because it might make some mothers feel guilty, then it is not fair to those who are trying to make an informed choice right now. As a PP said, we are all big girls, we can handle it.

  16. #34

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    Gigi, you sound very similar to me and my Mother's Group! I'm the only one doing a lot of things, DH calls me the "group hippy" lol. I generally do the same as you - I won't jump in if people are talking amongst themselves about something if they do it differently to me, but if they ask I give whatever info they're asking about.

    I've been thinking about this a little more, and I reckon some of the problem is that the info needs to be given early. E.g. Our ante-natal class was run by a fantastic community midwife who outlined every reason why breastfeeding is the normal way to feed a baby, and gave us all the facts about formula. No one felt judged, she was just helping us make a decision about how to feed our baby.

    Another example, yesterday DH and I went to buy a new car seat for DH's car (so he can pick up DD from childcare when she starts). We had planned to get one that suits from 6 months/8kgs until 7 years. Technically she fits, she's 8 months & 8.5kgs, and then we won't need to get another one later. But the woman explained to us the facts about forward facing seats, and how seats are now manufactured with shoulder heights/limits. DD is still a cm or two too short according to the lines on the seat, so we chatted with the woman, and decided to get another convertible seat. I think, if we'd already gone and put her forward facing and were then told the dangers of it, we'd be more likely to get defensive about it.

    Sent from my GT-P7510

  17. #35

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    Of all the information out there regarding SIDS (i read the brouchers in my bounty bag) i, to this day was not aware of the increased risks with formual. I have breastfed all of my children, the youngest one to wean was 13 months. Good old BellyBelly once again has been a wonderful tool to enable people/parents/mothers to have access to information they may have otherwise never known. WHY would 'they' not tell someone this? Why HIDE it? It's a horrible thought but in ways it makes me feel like i'm a puppet to someone a whole lot bigger than i'll ever be. As a group maybe we'd be able to get somewhat close to challenging these [email protected]$tard$??

    The guilt part of this makes me quite angry. I'm one who can lay a lot of guilt on myself and how i'm able to care for my children, if i choose to lay guilt on myself that is my choice but don't hold information back incase i do. I love seeking knowledge and when it comes to my children and their health and well being in can't get enough (DH and i aren't too far behind that either ) so i would much rather know than not know. Knowledge is power.

    As has already been mentioned you do wonder about the agenda of allowing us to know and not know certain things and as always it would most definately come down to the $$$$.

    Since becoming a member of BB i have learnt so much about life as a whole. I too am one who gets the feeling i need to tip toe around topics such as breastfeeding and car seats with friends unsure how they may take the information. I don't want it to seem that i am judging their decisions but if they actually knew the information for themselves because it's readily available then maybe i wouldn't have to feel like such a minority amongst them. There's a part of me that feels obligated to at least say what i know but then a part of me that thinks maybe i'm best to let them figure it out for themselves.

    So glad i found this thread, it has been such an informative read. So much intelligence amoungst us all, helping eachother to become well informed parents/women/human beings.

    Thanks ladies

  18. #36

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    Great thread MadB!

    I have found similar issues with relation to drugs given during labour. we are told that they are 'safe', or that they are out of the system at time of birth, only to find out through later research (and a baby that almost died) that that is in fact, not always the case. I am beyond angry that I was given pethidine in labour (against my will but that is another thread) when my baby was no doubt going to be small birth weight (she was a couple of weeks early). The impact that it had on her was horrendous, and continued for much, much longer than the prescribed "5 hours" that I was told in the antenatal classes. in some cases it can take days.

    We have issues in our MG about the different methods that babies make their way into the world. i found it funny how as i was having a HB with my second child, it was up for comments and questioning etc, but the girl having a VBAC (and then told baby was too big for her pelvis at 36 weeks had to go and plan her c-section) we werent allowed to investigate or even talk about.

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