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Tit Terrorists?

Breastfeeding Nazis. Being called superior, condescending and judgmental. These are just some of the not-so-nice things I have heard said about lactavists.

I have counted myself amongst lactavists for the past 4 years. In the beginning, my first thoughts when hearing those kinds of insults about lactavists were defensive ones. People that would say that about lacatvists obviously don’t understand. They don’t understand that we are coming from a place of passion! If they really knew what I KNOW then they would feel the same way I feel. Blame it on ignorance, because we all know that if every woman were as smart as me, then they would obviously think exactly the way I do. (Sarcasm) I say that sarcastically now, but there was a time where I really felt that way.

Some people might assume that those kinds of remarks would come only from women that are hard-core promoters of formula feeding. The mothers who formula fed all their children and firmly believe that there is no notable differences between the two. I have been noticing though, that that doesn’t alway seem to be the case. There are many women that support breastfeeding, have breastfed their children or are currently breastfeeding their children, that don’t have positive feelings towards lactavists and wouldn’t want to count themselves amongst them.

Why is that?

Recent events have shown an upsurge on Facebook amongst  lacatavists , posting about the horrors of formula feeding. I really have to take a moment to thank a friend of mine. Reading her blog this past year about her trials, her thoughts & feelings about a breastfeeding relationship she had originally wanted and ended up not having and the emotions she has felt through it all, has gone a long way to opening my eyes about the WAY we talk about breastfeeding and the profound effect that it can have on all different types of women.

 

These ads were created to demand honesty in formula advertising. Who is the demand being made to though? Are formula companies seeing these ads? Or just thousands of mothers across the internet? False advertising isn’t a new idea. Check out most items on any given shelf in your grocery store and you will see some. If we want there to be more honesty in advertising, is this the most productive way to try and achieve it?

Is this about educating mothers? Pretend for a second that you are a mother who doesn’t know about the awesomeness of your breasts and how amazing breastfeeding is… yadayadayada. What would you think if you saw this posted somewhere? Do you feel educated after reading it?

Does it strike you as condescending? Or would it?

This is the ingredients off of the back of a formula can. So, what if this were captioned along the lines, “Another baby died from formula this week. Crap in a can.”?

So, what does that make mothers feel? To read that? For us breastfeeding mothers, it surely makes us feel even more awesome and superior for our choice to do “what is best for our baby”. What about every other mother out there?

Do we care?

I love breastfeeding. I breastfed my son until he was a few months shy of 4. Those last 3 months for him, he was tandem nursing with his sister, who is still nursing at 22 months. I probably have quite a bit more nursing to look forward too. I think that it is important for women to breastfeed in public so that other women can see it. The more often it is seen, the more it will seem less of an oddity. I think sharing the positives about breastfeeding is important. There are so many. I just also think that the way that we approach talking about breastfeeding and formula feeding should be and can be done in a more thoughtful and considerate way.

Think… COMPASSION. Because at the end of the day you can’t force women to think the way you do. You can’t strong arm them into it. You can’t treat them like they are stupid in hopes that they will believe it and then want to be “smarter”. Just like you. And many of them do know what you know. Maybe they made a different choice or they didn’t really HAVE a choice.

Obviously, not all women will be offended by those kinds of lactavist tactics but I think the numbers are higher than most of us would  think. Some people will be offended no matter what you say or how you say it, but I know it is hard for me to remember that not everyone thinks and feels the way I do. Or the majority of the people that make up “my world”. My world view has become very narrow. I know that in the past I have made similar types of posts or said things that weren’t very thoughtful. It makes me wonder how I have made people feel. My friends? My family?

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5 Comments

  1. I thought you said this would probably offend? 😉

    Seriously though, this reminds me a lot of the Feminist Breeder post from a year or two ago about breastfeeding, that if someone really wants to be a lactavist, stop blaming moms and start pointing the finger in the direction the problem originates from. I’m all about personal responsibility, but I’d love to see a little less outrage that so many women choose to formula feed and a lot more over the fact that those who should know enough to be reliable sources of information are telling them it’s just as good or better.

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  2. I think we are slowly moving towards a time when breastfeeding will be the norm again but in the mean-time I don’t think appealing to formula companies will do any good. It doesn’t monetarily make sense for them to try and persuade women to breastfeed. I would love to see more OB’s influencing women to breastfeed. Women place so much faith in their doctors, their influence could go a long way towards changing our overall cultural reaction to breastfeeding. When I was pregnant with Haden I had no plans to breastfeed. The idea sounded foreign and odd to me. I had never known anyone that had breastfed. I had never seen anyone do it. I knew in a vague way that breastfeeding was “better” but it didn’t have a huge influence over my decision. The only thing that made me consider it was my OB. She was the one that said I should breastfeed. She told me to at least try it and so that is what I did. Funny that I have come such a long way since then. 😛

    What kinda went unspoken in the post is that I think we overall place to much emphasis on breastfeeding. There are worse things we could do to our children than formula feed them. I think that for some of us our passion has turned into something almost ugly. Where all the focus is placed on the baby and the mother doesn’t fit into that equation at all. It makes me think of that quote… ” While breastfeeding may not seem the right choice for every parent, it is the best choice for every baby.”

    When I really think about that quote now, and it is one that I have posted numerous times before, it makes me sad at what the implications of it are. Not sure if any of my rambling made sense there… 😛

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  3. I definitely agree that the formula companies aren’t going to change their ways, but it does annoy me to no end that we have healthcare pros working with moms and babies that will freely tell them that formula is the same or better.

    In any case, I see what you mean. I’m finding myself repeatedly having to remind myself lately that it is okay to wean one of my babies when she really does not want to. Part of me feels really guilty about it, but it’s only recommended as long as mutually desired. That mutually part seems to be forgotten all too often. If the woman is feeling absolutely done with breastfeeding, it is no longer mutually desirable and there are plenty of other ways to nurture babies.

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  4. Exactly. It does bother me that some providers outrightly promote it but at the same time I feel like many of them are just products of formula propaganda as well. So then I wonder… how do we change the information that is being drilled into providers when they are the most susceptible, which is during their schooling years. Ideally, they should be learning more about breastfeeding then but then ideally they should also be learning how to catch breech babies vaginally and they aren’t. I haven’t the first clue how to go about inflicting changes like that.

    Don’t feel guilty about trying to wean Melly, but I totally understand. I was once so gung ho on child-led weaning but then I couldn’t take tandem nursing Haden and Addison and I forced it. He adapted pretty well because of his age but he is still overly attached to my boobs even now and I still feel bad about pushing it because I know HE wasn’t ready. I just try to remind myself that everything doesn’t have to be all about him. Or even both of them. I am important too. 🙂

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  5. I don’t mean to be flip – but where, exactly, are these “healthcare pros working with moms and babies that will freely tell them that formula is the same or better”? I see them referred to often, and I’m sure they must exist somewhere, but to me they are starting to seem a bit like unicorns. I was the same way when pregnant, all fired up about it… then my son and I couldn’t breastfeed. And suddenly I became very aware that all the healthcare and childbirth professionals were telling me not to worry, to just keep trying, that it would be fine… when it clearly wasn’t fine, when there was clearly a problem. It was like they had so much invested in making breastfeeding seem natural and normal that it would somehow hurt them to admit that there could be problems.

    It was such a relief to hear, from an IBCLC of all people, that formula is okay. I hadn’t heard that from any health or childbirth professional yet. And since becoming involved in the formula feeding community, mainly via the Fearless Formula Feeder blog (which is a *wonderful* resource), I have seem similar stories time and time again… women who are pressured to breastfeed and are not treated as individuals. Here is a particularly upsetting example: http://www.fearlessformulafeeder.com/2011/11/tale-of-asshat-pediatric-gi.html

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