An Irish woman's social, political and domestic commentary
Sunday, February 29, 2004  

Mommy Myth

Interesting article here about the pressures on mothers. Might check out the book; looks like I'd be in general agreement, altho' I'd be interested to see her opinion on breast feeding.

I've been getting a bit annoyed recently about the attitudes of other women towards breast feeding. I've done 4 months exclusive and am embarking on my 5th. I'm going to remove some of the pressure from myself and get a bottle and some formula for emergencies, but I'm quite proud of what I've achieved to date. There have been a few tears, but overall its a wonderful experience and I'll really miss it. What's so great, you might ask? Well, firstly its our private time; exclusively, since its the only thing no one else can do for him. He's thriving, so I feel really proud that not only was he literally built inside me, but I'm continuing to be solely responsible for his life. There is a pretty powerful sense of ownership when I look at him. But I'm also really happy knowing that its the absolute best thing I can do for his health. Breastfeeding protects him from disease, reduces allergies, is better nourishment, better for his digestive system; its just incomparable with formula feeding. I'm also happy that its the best thing for my health as it reduced significantly my risk of getting breast and cervical cancer.

So why are the bottle feeding Moms bugging me? I can understand the ignorant remarks of older women who were told that bottle feeding was great and that with breast feeding 'they didn't really get enough'. Newer moms know that breast is best. But they have adopted an attitude that most women 'can't' breastfeed and only the lucky can manage it. I've spent the last 4 months practically apologising to the bottle feeders for my success. The admission that I'm still feeding is followed by a string of guilty excuses as to why I'm still doing it (oh its easy for me with Dad around to help - he's a very easy baby - I'm lucky I suppose). Because God forbid I should be seen to judge the bottle feeders.

Luck had nothing to do with my success. I went to two classes before I had the baby, studied several times the best book on the subject, phoned La Leche beforehand and kept the phone numbers of 2 'lactation consultants' close at hand. Then I accepted the fact that having a baby and feeding it myself would entail 24 hour care for 3 months and abandoned any hope of a social life. Everyone knew where I was if they wanted to see me. And I didn't begrudge one hour; why have a baby if you don't want to change your life?

This did take effort, and the phone numbers were required, so why should I have to voluntarily dismiss this effort so I don't make the others feel guilty for not trying? I've no doubt some people have an awful time and despite all my determination I was still pretty vulnerable to the 'not getting enough' remarks. But the most recent figures show that about 35% of mothers are breast feeding at discharge from hospital and only 10% are still feeding at 4 months! I refuse to believe that 90% of mothers are so ill or traumatised that they are incapable of breast feeding. They just think it doesn't matter and they don't put it in the effort. And they seem to think that those of us who keep at it do so out of affectation. I swear that even some really nice women that I know are looking at me with a mixture of puzzlement and resentment as if the mere fact that I continue to feed, even with my apologies, is a rather unmannerly, show-off, stubborn, judgement on them. Well guess what - I am judging them. Especially if they start rabitting on about the dangers of immunisation and why they have to have the huge SUV so their little brats are safe. If they fed the said brats properly they'd be doing a lot more for them. Here's a report on the status in Ireland.

posted by Sarah | 00:29 0 comments
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