View Full Version : An observation about BF vs Formula discussions
06-16-2006, 12:11 PM
I just read the whole thread about the NY times article and BF campaign and all the responses. In general I think we keep it very civil about a topic that can be very emotional to mothers. I'm posting this as a seperate thread because there are some meta comments I want to make.
There are concrete benefits to BF that are fairly well established an others that may/or may not turn out to be true. However, I can't help but feel there are probably other decisions/policies being promoted by government or businesses that are much more likely to harm my child in the future than my choice to BF or not. (Mercury loads in the environment by not upgrading power plants, the policies to stockpile Tamaflu for avian flu epidemic, which will probably make things worse, things I don't even know about yet, and on and on.) I'm not making this statement to downplay the importance of BF but to wonder why it gets so emotionally loaded.
I can't help but compare it to breast cancer. Breast cancer is NOT the leading cause of cancer deaths in women, or the the leading cause of deaths in women period, but many people still think so. I got students who still get that stupid question wrong on tests even though I make a big deal about it. I can't help but think it has something to do with the idea that my femaleness is threatened if I loose a breast. Generally it pisses me off that somehow that's viewed the worst cancer I can get because it involves my hooters. Heck, we had everyone doing self breast exams every month for decades with no evidence that it would make a difference in the final outcome of whether a women would live or die. And guess what. After some study, it doesn't appear to make a difference mortality and morbidity. (mammagrams do)
OK, I know you are thinking, what does this have to do with BF and formula. I just can't help but feel couple the whole breast/motherhood thing together and there is a strange dynamic that happens in our culture. I feel like it becomes a lightening rod for so much that it almost becomes disportionate among all the parenting decisions we must make. I not sure if anyone is going to understand what I'm trying to express, but I thought it was worth a post.
Mom to Harvey
06-16-2006, 12:23 PM
I think you made some great observations.
I do think that a lot of parenting topics get very emotionally charged though. We've seen them here on circ/intact, vax/non vax, elective C vs. vaginal birth, so I don't think it is all that unusual that it gets emotionally charged. I think those topics demonstrate it extends beyond breasts.
We all try to do the best we can for ourselves, our children, our families, and I guess to have anyone put forth information from the other side stirs up some strong emotions, understandably. I think we've seen that on both sides of the coin on numerous topics.
I also agree that the govt could step forth on any number of other health issues that may have as big or a larger impact on public health.
06-16-2006, 12:33 PM
I think I get what you are saying. I see it as almost issue of the decade, or something - and I don't mean that in a disrepectful way or anything, it was important to me to breastfeed, and I had to fight my husband every step of the way who was against it for various reasons. I think its just that most people can't learn everything about everything (I sure can't, that's why I like coming here, to learn so much), so tend to become more interested in, and form stronger opinions about the topics that they have chosen to research and espouse, if you know what I mean.
And, hmmm, if I were govt, I think I might want more focus on those decisions impacting our families' health that can be made by individuals, as opposed to those issues that may have a little more to do with govt and big businesses' policies. But I am certainly not suggesting a govt conspiracy to push bf-ing to cover up other questionable policies or anything. just wondering "aloud" on the keyboard. when i should be working. bye !
06-16-2006, 01:13 PM
Women, and everything pertaining to our sexuality and our fertility is medicalized to the nth degree. For example, women get mammograms starting at 35 or 45 but are not similarly screened for heart disease, a much larger risk to women's health than breast cancer. We get annual paps starting in teenage years when the necessity is not really there for all young women. 21 yo girls who do not want to have babies are admonished to take folate as is they are a pregnancy waiting to happen. Men do not get similar mandated medical screenings and warnings. Things that do not pertain to sexuality and babies for women get less attention. It sucks all the way around and it is called s-e-x-i-s-m. ;)
06-16-2006, 01:26 PM
ITA. I think, for whatever reason (and I lump myself in this category, FWIW), we seem to define ourselves by our parenting decisions an inordinate amount (flame away, but i have always found the creds people have at MDC in their siggys a little bit comical "Look at all the things I have accomplished, I am therefore a bonified parent", and I myself cannot tell whether the motivation is truly to help someone, or to make ourselves feel like it's one more thing we can cross of the list of our self-sacrifices :) :)
There is one piece of wisdom I heard here in the BBB a while back, and I am pretty sure it was from Beth (egoldber) that I think went something like: with the exception of eggregious stuff, not one single parenting decision will have a defining, irreversable effect on our childrens' lives (Beth I hope I am not butchering your thought there).
So I wonder how many things we are doing "wrong" while we argue (again and again) about the ones we got "right".
06-16-2006, 02:47 PM
>So I wonder how many things we are doing "wrong" while we
>argue (again and again) about the ones we got "right".
Well-said and ITA. :)
~Connor's Mom 02/2004~
Agency paperwork completed - waiting (and waiting) for another baby!
06-16-2006, 04:32 PM
I can't agree more with this post.
I want to say that I purposely chose to stay out of that discussion b/c I really feel that my decision whether it's right or wrong was mine to make. Do I think there needs to be more information out there? Yes. Does everyone here need me to defend my decision? No. I didn't BF and I really did weigh my options. I knew the risks, but it was something that my doctors agreed w/me on.
Long story short everyday there is a decision I make for my boys. Sometimes it's am I dressing them right for the weather and sometimes it's how many times will I say no before he gets punished? I know that one day I'll choose the wrong one learn from it and move on.
I'm happy that someone pointed out that the BF debate is just a small debate in a world full of parenting debates. As far as other women's issues I think there is a lot more information that needs to be out there other then the importance of BFing. I hope this isn't offending anyone it wasn't meant to I SWEAR!
I agree with you.
I would like to add more, but I don't think I can be as eloquent as others.
06-16-2006, 05:39 PM
Honestly, until about the past year or so, I haven't seen that much encouragement for mothers to breastfeed from the government or non-profit organizations. If anything, it seems like the huge focus is on obesety in childhood. At least in my neck of the woods. I did see one billboard that said something like "Babies are born to breastfeed." but that's about all.
Most of the breastfeeding discussions seem to stem from the media. The media which often tries to create contraversy (reminds me of the whole mommy wars topic that the media is gobbling up!)
But I'm in a situation where I've seen and actively been involved in breastfeeding legislation, and was sickened by excuses given by a handful of ignorant politicians. One politician tried to add an amendment about bestiality to our breastfeeding bill. Not kidding.
06-16-2006, 11:56 PM
>But I'm in a situation where I've seen and actively been
>involved in breastfeeding legislation, and was sickened by
>excuses given by a handful of ignorant politicians. One
>politician tried to add an amendment about bestiality to our
>breastfeeding bill. Not kidding.
Seriously??? What was the reasoning? I always thought beastiality was sexual in nature. BF is not sexual and it's the same species. <insert head scratch> How in the world did he/she think that was going to fly? Just curious... :)
06-17-2006, 01:17 AM
Oh it was interesting! Senator Jack Harper thought that an amendment about bestiality would be appropriate on a bill that was intended to make it legal for a mother to breastfeed in any location she is otherwise allowed to be. Luckily the entire committee thought he was nuts and voted against his proposed amendment.
This all came about because some guy in a suburb of Phoenix was having sexual relations with a sheep (OMG did I just type that?!!) What Sen. Harper didn't get was that putting anything about bestiality into a bill intended to protect mothers breastfeeding from harassment isn't a good idea. He ruffled a lot of feathers!
06-17-2006, 02:19 AM
What's crazy is the people who elected him! ;p
06-17-2006, 10:54 AM
Thank you for this post! To me there are definitely issues of sexism at play. It has something to do with true, free choice. As a culture it seems that there are always things in place to distract women from their real power, from feeling good and confident. For example, just as women started to achieve more equality in the workplace came the new emphasis on thin-ness and an athletic build. Think how much time we spend obsessing about our appearance, what if we were to dedicate that energy to other things? I think the breastfeeding issue is similar. Motherhood is HUGE and HARD- the most important work a woman could do. Feeding a baby is just one part of it. And yet many of us have been brought to tears of true despair over breastfeeding and the associated emotions, keeping many women from enjoying those precious early weeks and months. And then down the road it becomes clear that parenting is much more than the feeding choices we make in the first year or two. Which brings me back to choice: I think if it were truly a free choice, the emotions would not be so loaded.
Mom to Norah 5/23/03
and Leah 3/24/05
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