Strong Opinionated Rant alert...
I've mentioned this before, but one of my biggest pet peeves of late is how much bullying seems to occur in the 'Mommy World' - both online, and in 'real life'. I've spoken to my Grandma about what parenting was like when her kids were babies, and she thinks mothering came with much less pressure back then, because either there weren't as many different views on how to parent - maybe people who lived nearby each other simply parented similarly, so there was nothing to really debate - or people just minded their own business a little bit better.
I came across an article recently about breastfeeding, and how commonly mothers still choose to formula feed. It discussed how it should be more acceptable to breastfeed anywhere - and everywhere, and how it is becoming less and less widely accepted for hospitals, etc. to supply free formula for new mothers.
There are two things that bug me about the whole breastfeeding discussion that seems to pop up all over the place.
1. Although breastfeeding mothers should have rights and are completely justified in wanting others to be sensitive to them, they should also be sensitive to other people.
I completely agree that in a perfect world, women should be encouraged to breastfeed wherever and whenever it is necessary, without feeling any pressure to hide or cover up.
HOWEVER - we do not live in a perfect world, and to exercise all of our rights and freedoms is sometimes not the kindest thing to do for the people around us.
My daughter hated to breastfeed under a blanket - she fussed and pulled at the blanket and tried whatever she could to stay uncovered so she could see what was going on. Ideally, I would have loved to always breastfeed completely uncovered and have no one think twice about it. But there are some people in my circle of family and friends who WOULD think twice about it, and who would be made seriously uncomfortable by the sight of an uncovered breast. Some of these people have severe moral issues with any kind of nudity, and I feel as though for me to cross this line of making them uncomfortable is just rude and unkind. Even when we had company in our own home - a place where it is completely within my rights to breastfeed as I wished - I tried to stay sensitive to what my guests would find comfortable. If I wished to breastfeed uncovered, I would take my daughter to her room and close the door while she ate (which sped up the process anyway, for her to be able to eat without distractions), or if I wanted to stay among company I would cover up with a blanket - out of respect for my company.
Certainly I COULD have breastfed any way I chose, but I felt it was my job to make the people around me as comfortable as possible too - I think it's just part of life to try to be kind to those around us, despite what we feel is our 'right' to do.
I would love to see a world where no one is made uncomfortable by a nursing mother - and I think gradually, this will happen - but realistically, there are so many people who still grew up in very conservative homes and backgrounds and it's really not as simple as just telling people to 'get over it'.
From the other side of things, it drives me crazy when people wear profanity on their clothing, or swear publicly. Is it illegal? I don't think so... Is it their 'right' to express themselves pretty much however they want to? I guess so.
Is it fair to expose my children to words that I might prefer they learn later in life, and to take away my choice as a parent to make this choice? I think not. But that's another rant entirely...
My point is, sometimes doing what it is your 'right' to do isn't the kindest thing to do - and I personally think kindness should be more important, when it's at all possible.
2. Why is it anyone else's business if someone else is formula feeding or breastfeeding their child?
I absolutely agree that if the health benefits really do side with breastfeeding over formula (and I believe they do), it should be the responsibility of the government and organizations to educate people about, and support breastfeeding as much as possible.
However, this is NOT the same thing as criticizing mothers who make a different choice.
I was never breastfed, not even once. I have never had any serious illnesses, and my immune system as I was growing up, and even now, seems to be stronger than that of most children today. I also assume that formula has come a long way in the past almost-30 years, and is likely much healthier for babies now than it was when it was being used to sustain me.
What this tells me, is that formula is NOT poison, as I have heard some say. It is NOT a death sentence, or even a health concern necessarily.
There are a million reasons why a mother might choose not to breastfeed, and I don't think any of those reasons should be judged or criticized - ever.
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