Thursday, July 1, 2010

Breast is best - please turn on sense of humour!

This isn't a satire of non-breastfeeding mums!  As I was writing this, I felt mostly the total disconnect of communication that we have between these two "sides" in the mommy wars.

BF mum: “Breast is best.  After all, as mammals we…”
FF mum: “I am NOT a bad mother!”
BF mum: “What?  No, no, but studies show that…”
FF mum: “I had nipple problems.”
BF mum: “Ah, you see, the correct latch can be…”
FF mum: “My nipples fell off. They had to be surgically replaced.”
BF mum: “OH!  Umm, well, breast surgery can cause complications, but generally…”
FF mum: “My baby lost lots of weight.  When he was down to ½ kg, my doctor made me use formula.”
BF mum: “Oh dear.  You see, weight loss in the newborn is usually…”
FF mum: “I had to go back to work within 3 hours of delivery.  The only place I could express was in the construction workers’ lunchroom!”
BF mum: “Wow.  Did you know that employers are required to...”
FF mum: “If I don’t get 10 hours sleep a night, I attack people at random.  I just got out of prison.”
BF mum: “I see. Sleep deprivation is always…”
FF mum: “My religion forbids seeing my own breasts or I will go to hell and my soul will be distributed between legions of demons.”
BF mum: “I see.  There are often sensitive cultural aspects…”
FF mum: “My baby was born with three heads and I couldn’t feed and I wish people would stop looking at us like she’s a freak!”
BF mum: “Mothering multiples can be tricky – there are sometimes different positions…”
FF mum: “I’m an orphan solo mum living on a desert island…”
BF mum: “Isolation from the community is a very difficult…”
FF mum: “My baby was kidnapped by aliens and it was too late by the time we got him back!”
BF mum: “OK, but sometimes after periods of separation, bonding can be assisted by relactation…
FF mum: “My family owns a formula company and if I’d breastfed, my husband would have divorced me.”
BF mum: “Often your family isn’t where your best support…”
FF mum: “So you see, I had to use formula.  The most important thing is that the baby is fed!”
FF mum: “Hey sista, chill out, I had formula and so did my babies and we’re all Olympic champions!”
BF mum: “But, but, breastmilk has amazing properties formula can never match, and for most women with the proper support…
FF mums: “Stop making us feel guilty, you militant breastfeeder!”


  1. :D
    It's true that you can't state the fact that mother's milk is the best nutrition for a baby without making someone feel guilty. But it IS a fact, though I would never suggest that formula fed babies couldn't grow up healthy and happy as well. I had lots of problems in the beginning, my baby would not learn to suckle and she would just sleep, not eat, and when she tried it hurt me like hell. I pumped milk and we fed breast milk to her with a syringe for the first week! But I had made up my mind that I would bf her. I have Crohn's and I read that bf:ing can protect the baby from that.
    Now my girl is 19 months and I still nurse her :)

  2. Thanks for sharing your story, I love hearing them! We had a rough road with my first too (going to post a bit on the Carnival of Nursing in Public when it's my turn).

    It's sure hard to give up! I haven't yet. :-)

  3. LOL. Sounds like Penelope from Saturday Night Live!!!!

  4. Okay, if I had to choose a reaction from the reaction bar at the top I would want to choose "not cool". This is insulting to those of us who formula feed - we are not stupid or ill-informed and have heard all your "BF Mum"...rebuttals before. Might I suggest reading the Fearless Formula Feeder blog to try and help you understand that formula feeding mums are not ignoring you and that often the 'total disconnect in communication' is not coming from the side of the formula feeders. Shame on you.

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  6. Hi Anonymous,

    Thanks for your beautiful illustration of the communication disconnect. This is not "stupid things FF say" and "calm reasoned BF rebuttals."

    Many women have problems with BF that they cannot overcome on their own and see no alternative but to FF.

    Lactation experts have their big handy book of answers and their trained counselling skills.

    Too often, those answers are not enough to address real life issues for real life mothers - sometimes all the facts and best intentions in the world don't help.

    Yet that's all there is to give, and so it keeps coming. And it needs to, regardless of whose toes are stepped on.

    Disagree, dislike, as you please. But I am not accepting shame for insulting FF mothers, because that chip you brought on your own shoulder when you came here.

    Best wishes,

  7. Hi Jess,

    I think we will have to disagree here. This, unfortunately, really does read as a "stupid things FF say" post as opposed to an illustration of the communication disconnect that does exist. The BF mother is coming across as calm and reasoned and the FF mother is portrayed as ill-informed and full of excuses. Many of us FF mothers are not uninformed and make a huge effort to educate ourselves about both breastfeeding and formula feeding.

    This post is an insult to formula feeding mothers and that is a sad thing. Mothers need to be supportive of each other and accept that there are different ways of doing things.

    Ideally, there should be no "mommy wars" at all. Unfortunately, this sort of post just fuels the fire.

    I would suggest educating yourself further in terms of what "the other side" in these so-called "mommy wars" often goes through - again I suggest you read the Fearless Formula Feeder blog or check them and/or Bottle Babies out on Facebook. The blog postings on Fearless Formula Feeder are, in particular, very illuminating - and often illustrate why this whole divide between BF and FF mothers is ridiculous and demeaning to women.

    Also, toes do not need to be stepped on. There is a way of getting messages across that is gentle and kind, not insulting and guilt-inducing (this is not directed at you in particular, so much as lactivism in general). As a vegan I would assume you would have as much compassion toward people - other mothers in this case - as you do toward animals.

  8. Hi Anonymous,

    Due to life experiences, perspectives will naturally differ.

    You see the Fearless Formula Feeder blog as something special. I've had a good read and to me, it is not only nothing new, it is also at least as guilty of waging the mommy wars as my little contribution. It is as full of myths, attacks, and unfounded assumptions as can be expected from a formula protectivist.

    But we need strong voices from all perspectives to protect mothers and babies. I'm glad you're here to do that. My voice reaches others in a different way.


  9. Hi Jess,

    It's been an interesting conversation and I will respectfully agree to disagree, for the most part. I do agree that we need voices from all perspectives. I just want to make it clear that I do fully support BF mothers - I just think FF mothers need more support also.

    All the best.

  10. Love it!

    I have been a FF mum - wish I could say not but I did ff my first born after 3 months of BF - wish I had then what I know now - after almost 14 months of breastfeeding bliss with my number two

    I think anonymous missed the title - and forgot to turn her humor on

    I find my FF mum friends are often defensive about their choices - I have know idea why - I think all mums should make informed decisions about what they want to do with their babes - its no one elses business - just not sure why it has to be I made this decision so yours must be wrong

    The thing with FF mums is you do have the support - from a million commercial entities
    My only critic was myself - because I knew that Breastmilk was better for my baby - mummy guilt is a killer - but dont put the mummy guilt on someone else - hold your head up high and say I give my baby the best I can!! - after all the little ones are the ones whose opinions count and they will only get grumpy when you dont offer bottle or breast

    I would like to see a word of breastfeeding Mums too - because besides allthe wonderful health benefits to mum and baby - its just so nice to do :)

  11. Jo,

    One thing we should never beat ourselves up about is what we didn't know before. :-)

    Nobody walks your path but you, and nobody has the right to judge your steps.

    Great to see you here and thanks for your contribution.


  12. Sorry I disagree too, I don't find this amusing, just mean.

    It portrays FF mums as pitiful excuse-makers and frankly, the BF mum is pushing unsolicited advice on someone. If the FF mum wanted advice and asked for it that would be fine and appropriate, but we shouldn't push advice that is an annoying and often condescending habit. Reminds me of this...

    Formula feeding is NOT child abuse but the way this country is going it's starting to feel as thought it is.

  13. Hi Anon,

    Humour with a point is rarely kind. You can see that both BF and FF mum in this piece are playing exaggerated roles, not admirable, logical, or even helpful ones.

    With this, I acknowledge the truth of my own behaviour at times as BF mum and lactivist.