Monday, April 05, 2010

Boobs, Babies and Unreal Expectations

I am very pro-breastfeeding. The benefits for mother and baby are well documented and cannot be replicated by formula, no matter how much science the formula companies put into developing new concoctions.

I am not pro-guilt tripping. We walk a fine line between encouraging and teaching and creating guilty feelings in exhausted and confused new mothers.

I read this article with mixed feelings this morning.

I agree with everything the article says. But I also know that it is almost impossible to accomplish in our society today.

Why? Well, for one, new mothers are sent home within 24 or 48 hours of giving birth and that is not in any stretch of the imagination enough time in the hospital setting to get a good start in breastfeeding. Some moms and babies have no problems at all, but the majority need a lot of practice and teaching and support. I've seen mothers and babies discharged who I've had to spend hours at the bedside assisting with latching. What are they to do all alone at home?

And our schizoid society simultaneously shames mothers who do not breast feed and provides almost nothing in the way of support. Few mothers can stay home longer than eight weeks. Few have supportive employers who will allow the time and space for pumping. Yes, white collar mothers can usually count on some support, but what about the working class mom who works at McDonalds or WalMart or in a gas station?

And it really sort of hacks me that there are now all these compliance requirements being placed on hospitals that measure rates of exclusive breastfeeding during the hospital stay (exasperated by the fact that my hospital is extremely pro-breastfeeding and I know we do better than most, but still feel "judged" for every mom who decides not to breastfeed).

Those 24 or 48 hours are not what is going to determine length of breastfeeding. The support at home, on the job, in society is what is going to decide.

Let's put the blame where it deserves to be: on the hyper-judgmental attitudes of other mothers that make women who don't really want to breastfeed feel they have no choice, on the grandmothers who spew negatives on the struggling new mother (you are starving your baby), the fathers who get jealous of the baby hogging "their" breast, the boss who does not provide time or space for breast feeding, the coworkers who feel the pumping mother is getting special treatment, the people at the restaurant who complain to management about the "obscenity" of a discreetly breastfeeding mother.

Thor sez: Yet most humans found it adorable when kittens breastfeed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

many ....MANY.....good points !!