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Lactivism Part II

Now, where was I? Oh, right. I was lactating.

Carside To Go
Let me preface this next rant with a brief disclaimer: my dad, despite being the sort of person who sighs loudly and changes the channel when a Tampax commercial comes on (because anything that hints at any female bodily function is patently offensive to his sensibilities), has been extremely supportive of all of my parenting decisions and has not once made me feel awkward about breastfeeding my baby in his vicinity. Nor has he made any snide comments about our co-sleeping habits or anything else for that matter. Surprisingly, the old grump has been nothing but sweet about everything having to do with Precious McGrandbaby.

Now that that's out of the way:
A week or two ago I was over at my parents' house and my dad launched into a tirade about a woman at the golf course who was breastfeeding her child in front of him. According to Steve, the kid was, "old enough for a coke and an order of fries." To be fair, breastfeeding wasn't the only offensive thing this lady was doing -- she also had the gall to have hairy legs. My dad actually referred to her as a hippie, which nearly made me choke because I thought, "Have you SEEN photos of yourself from the '70s?!"

But, I digress.

The core of his offense seemed to be twofold: one, he made it sound like she flagrantly whipped out her boob on a bench right across from where my dad and some other gentlemen were teeing off. Two, it seemed to make him very uncomfortable that she was nursing a child that seemed "too old."

I was not there, so I can't speak to how brazen this woman may have been with her milkbags, nor can I say with any authority how old this kid really was. (I'm willing to admit that it's a bit odd when a kid can walk up and say, "Good morning madam, may I please nurse for a while?")

Whatever the case may be, I stand by what I said earlier: if you have a problem with it, LOOK AWAY.

Is a mother nursing her child any more offensive to the eyes than some hairy dude walking around shirtless? Is it more uncomfortable to see a mother nursing a child you think is "too old" than it is to hear stories about a mother leaving her child in a hot car while she goes to a bar?

We have a problem in America. We have been brainwashed by advertising to believe that formula is just as good as breastmilk. In fact, in the '40s and '50s we were told it was BETTER than breastmilk because it was more "scientific." During that time, less than 25% of babies were being breastfed when their mothers were discharged from the hospital.

The tide is beginning to turn, but even today, most babies in America are only breastfed for the first 6 months, despite the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least a year. Not up to a year, at least a year. The WHO and UNICEF recommend two years. Following those recommendations in America today makes you a borderline freakshow.

Photo by dezeroex.
While pregnant, women are given free samples of formula from their OB/GYN (I know this because I got one, too), along with other "essential" supplies in a formula-company branded diaper bag. Know why? Because formula makers know that breastfeeding is not always easy. It's sometimes hard to get baby to latch on. Sometimes it hurts (there were days that it hurt so bad, I cried). Sometimes it's a pain in the ass (can you say pumping at work three damn times a day?!). And if -- like so many women -- you find yourself frustrated and tired, and there happens to be a can of formula sitting in your pantry, it's oh-so-easy to reach for. And once baby gets a hit off that easy-delivery bottle, the hard work of nursing looks less appealing to both of you. And next thing you know, the two of you have a twenty-bucks-a-can formula habit.

Let me interject here that the origins of formula are good. Henri Nestle invented it in response to high infant mortality rates in Swiss orphanages. The guy was saving babies who had no access to breastmilk -- that's a good thing. And for babies who still have no access to breastmilk, it's still a good thing. (Especially seeing as wet nurses are hard to come by these days.)

My point is this: mothers make what they think are the best decisions for their child. NOT YOURS. And in the end, isn't it much better to see a mother caring for her child than it is to see her smacking her kid upside the head at Kmart?

That statement segues nicely into my next vitriol-filled rant: the fact that mothers seem to bear the brunt of the criticism and responsibility for parenting decisions overall. Stay tuned.

Posted August 18, 2006 8:54 PM | On This Day: 2003



I love that you're back. I love reading your rants. It's like we're out on the stoop discussing life again, except that it doesn't involve a box of wine and I'm not falling down on the ice.

Seriously, quit talking about your jugs. Not everyone has a plentiful rack from which to feed a baby.

I am a little late on the commenting of this but Holy Crap lol@the kid was, "old enough for a coke and an order of fries." Made me laugh for a good 10 minutes. I love that line!

I couldn't agree with this rant more!!! Same thing happens in Australia - there is even a formula ad on Aussie TV featuring a PAEDIATRICIAN espousing the virtue of a particular formula (Nestle no less). Ye gads. what next? A dentist advertising the virtues of falsies over a real set of teeth?

::cue Little Britain::