Breast is Not Best, It’s Normal

Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe’s Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com. For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today’s post is about language and breastfeeding. Please read the other blogs in today’s carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st!


First off, if you haven’t read Watch Your Language by Diane Wiessinger, I thoroughly recommend it. It totally changed my view on how I need to present breastfeeding to others and we actually made it a required reading for volunteers at the Breastfeeding Cafe this year.

I never used to think about the language of how we present breastfeeding. Breastfeeding was always presented to me as a best or better option, so that’s how I presented it to others. We speak of the benefits of breastfeeding not even knowing that by using the word benefits we’re verifying in women’s minds that breastfeeding isn’t normal, it’s best.

So what’s wrong with best? The article linked above talks about how best is not part of normal life. It would be best if my toddler didn’t watch any TV at all, but that’s not a goal that’s reasonable for us. Instead, what I realize really gets to me is when the American Academy of Pediatrics tells me that once she gets beyond a certain amount of hours a week, she’ll be more likely to have problems.

Of course we always strive to do what’s best for our children, but when something that seems easier is still perfectly acceptable, we let go of our goals and do the acceptable thing. That’s why we need to stop referring to breastfeeding as best, but as normal. In other words, formula-feeding is deficient.

Yes, there’s the problem with mama guilt. There’s always that obstacle when we’re talking about anything breastfeeding. I often write a post that I go over 3 times to get the language right and then still get comments from formula-feeding moms saying they’re offended. Would I ever write the AAP telling them I’m offended at the amount of hours they say I should limit my child’s television time to? Would I tell them she watches much more than that and I am insulted that they are questioning my parenting? No.

It’s the same situation here. Every mother does what she deems best in her situation. The problem is that in a world that breastfeeding is treated as a better option rather than the option and on top of that we don’t have enough support and on top of that we have formula companies and hospitals working against you, many moms aren’t given the information and help to choose the normal option. So they end up going with the deficient option, all the while not even knowing that it’s deficient.

I feel bad for the moms with mama guilt. I have friends that I know wish they would have known then what they do now. I try my hardest not to make them feel bad about it. In this situation though, I think referring to breastfeeding as normal rather than best trumps avoiding mama guilt.

So here it is.

Breastfeeding is not best, it is normal. 

Formula-feeding is deficient, incomplete, and inferior. 

Breastfeeding does not reduce risks of SIDS, formula-feeding increases risks of SIDS. 

Breastfeeding does not reduce the risk of illness, formula-feeding increases the risk and duration of illness. 

Breastfeeding does not higher IQ, formula-feeding lowers IQ. 

Yeah, it stings. It even stings for me. I was formula-fed and I would never want my mother to believe she did anything other that the best for our situation. But those are the facts. We need to accept them and move on, because only when we start treating breastfeeding as the norm will we see the rise in numbers of moms breastfeeding that we need.
 


 
Here are more post by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival 2011

This year I’m heading the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival again and it starts in 9 days! Don’t worry though, there’s still plenty of time to participate!

The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival works like any other blog carnival. There is a specific topic on a specific day that everyone posts on. Then we all link to each other’s blogs so people can read lots of posts on the same subject. The twist with the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival is that we do this every day for 2 weeks. Don’t worry, you don’t have to participate every day, just as many as you’d like to. Though there are some over-achievers out there that post every day for two weeks.

If you don’t have a blog (or don’t feel comfortable posting on your own blog), you can still participate! We are still looking for guest bloggers for the Breastfeeding Cafe’s blog. Just let me know as soon as possible. Topics are first come first serve! Spots are filling fast, but we still have plenty left. We will not need guest bloggers for the Wordless Wednesdays posts.

This year the Breastfeeding Cafe’s theme is Mothers See! Mothers Do! In public, in pictures, and online too! The topics for the carnival are attempting to stick along this theme. Thanks to all of you who contributed topic ideas! Here is our list of topics:

Monday, July 18—Mothers Before Me: How were you influenced by the mothers before you when it comes to breastfeeding? Did you witness breastfeeding as a child? Was breastfeeding considered taboo in your family? How did this influence your choice to breastfeed?

Tuesday, July 19—Eco-Breastfeeding: The environment is a hot topic at the moment. Was the environment something you considered when you decided to breastfeed? Does the environment come into consideration for other parenting choices you’ve made?

Wednesday, July 20—Wordless Wednesday-Breastfeeding Photos: Show us your breastfeeding photos! Maybe just your favorite or maybe every photo you have, up to you!

Thursday, July 21—Language and Breastfeeding: Most people don’t realize how their language can influence our ideas of breastfeeding. Do you feel this is an issue in our society? If so, how can we change our language to rid our community of the bias against breastfeeding? How do you feel breastfeeding is portrayed by the language in our media?

Friday, July 22—Nursing in Public: What are your views on breastfeeding in public? How do you feel a mother breastfeeding in public influences others in public? Do you feel breastfeeding in public helps to normalize breastfeeding?

Saturday, July 23—Birth Experience: How did your birth experience affect your decision to breastfeed? Did the people present at your child’s birth truly support breastfeeding? Did you get off to a good start or did you have to fight to figure things out? Did you receive good information on breastfeeding from your birth attendants?

Sunday, July 24—Online Breastfeeding: This is the internet age. Many of us log on more than we’d care to admit, but in the case of a new mother that can possibly be a good thing. How did the internet influence your breastfeeding? Did you participate in online forums, Facebook, Twitter, or any other kind of online community? Did this influence your parenting choices? Did these influences help or hinder your efforts?

Monday, July 25—First Nursing in Public Experience: This could be anything from the first time you witnessed a mother breastfeeding in public to the first time you did it yourself. How did you feel about it then? How do you feel about it now?

Tuesday, July 26—Breastfeeding and Multiples: No we’re not just talking about twins, triplets, etc. Any way that you breastfeed with multiple children. Maybe you’ve breastfed while trying to conceive, maybe you’ve breastfed while pregnant, maybe you’ve tandem nursed, maybe you’ve just breastfeed a younger child while chasing the older one. How does breastfeeding help you parent? What are the challenges?

Wednesday, July 27—Wordless Wednesday-Babywearing Photos: Let’s see your favorite babywearing photos! This year at the cafe we will be having a special top-secret babywearing flash mob! There’s still time to participate, so let me know if you’re interested!

Thursday, July 28—Importance of Breastfeeding: Why is breastfeeding personally important to you? Who helped you to first see why breastfeeding would be such a benefit? You know what they say–there’s nothing like word of mouth.

Friday, July 29—Reliable Online Breastfeeding Sources: We all know that it is a mutual blessing and curse that anyone can post on the internet, so what do you do to shield yourself and others from the ones who are wrong? How do you find a good breastfeeding resource online? How do you help other new moms to find good sources of information?

Saturday, July 30—Book Review: Books are a large influence on how we parent and can bring new ideas into light (or help us to shun old ones). Maybe it’s your absolute favorite breastfeeding/parenting book or one you recently read. Maybe it’s one that helped you through the hard times or maybe it’s just advice on what kind of breastfeeding/parenting books to read. Let’s talk about books!

Sunday, July 31—How You Influence Others: What do you think is the most important thing that you do to influence pregnant and new moms to breastfeed? Do you have a story of a mom who you feel you’ve really helped?

Email me at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com and I’ll add you to the email list. I will be sending out a reminder email one week before each topic is supposed to be posted. Posts will need to be up before 12:00pm (noon) Mountain Standard Time on the day specified. Please email me a link to your post as soon as possible (preferably before the day it will be posted) and I will make a list of links (in HTML) that everyone will put on the bottom of their posts. We will also have a blurb about the carnival for you to put at the top of your post (also in HTML). Please make sure that you add the code at the top and bottom of your post so that others can see that you are participating in our carnival and when you receive updates, update them as soon as possible!

Warmly,
Claire
Blog Carnival Mistress

Call For Breastfeeding Photos

Hello All!

As you know, I am heavily involved with the Breastfeeding Cafe. If you go to their site, you can see that in the space that we do the Cafe each year, there are two large glass walls. We’re hoping to fill those walls with photos of moms breastfeeding!

If you’d like your photo(s) to be on the wall, here’s how it works. You’ll send your favorite breastfeeding photo (or favorite per child) to clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com by July 17th along with a release that says it’s okay for us to post it in the Cafe.

Just print off the form at the bottom of this post and sign it, then either take a picture or scan it and send it back along with your photo. If you took the photo or have the rights, all you need to do is sign the release yourself in the first section. If you don’t have the rights to the photo, you will also need the photographer that has the rights to sign the release in the bottom section.

Then tada! You’re featured in the Breastfeeding Cafe and doing one more thing to normalize breastfeeding.

Fill in the information below (please print clearly) photograph or scan and return as attachment:

Name:  _______________________________________________ Phone Number: _____________________________

Home Address: _____________________________________City: ________________________Zip: _________________

I hereby release to the Utah Breastfeeding Coalition and La Leche League of Utah, the right to display, reproduce and publish photographs of myself and my child or children, during the Breastfeeding Cafe. I agree that I have no legal or financial right to the photograph once it has been submitted.

Signature of Breastfeeding Woman ______________________________________________  Date _____________

Names of child/children in photo  ____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________ Date ________________________

Signature of Parent or Guardian

Name of Photographer:__________________________________________ Phone Number:_____________________

I understand the above release and give my permission for these photographs to be reproduced by Utah Breastfeeding Coalition and La Leche League of Utah.

Signature of Photographer:_______________________________________________ Date _________________________

Some Random Links

Hello All! It’s finals week around here, so I don’t have time to write my own posts, but here are some articles I’ve read over the last few days that I think I should share with you all. I also decided to try to potty train again and give Peanut a real shot to get it. Not the best idea with finals coming up. :-/

We already knew that breastfed babies had a lower risk of SIDS, but now this new study finds there is an actual component in infant formula that increases the risk of SIDS.

How we word things as breastfeeding advocates is very important. There’s always the risk of offending a mom who didn’t breastfeed or didn’t breastfeed as long as she would have liked. This article goes over another aspect of watching your language. It’s about watching your language to normalize breastfeeding.

I’ve already linked this article in a past post, but I think it’s important that everyone reads it so I’m linking it again. Infant formula companies boast that they have DHA and ARA in their formulas. They make the consumer pay more to have these nutrients in the formula. The formula companies, of course, don’t tell the consumer that this extra nutrient (in the form it is in the formula) can cause diarrhea and even death.

Have you come across any interesting articles lately? Feel free to post them in the comments! 

The Benefits of Breastfeeding {a Sick} Toddler

As I mentioned yesterday, we have the flu around the LG household. Lucky us?

Over this week (and past sick-times for that matter) I’ve really learned a great benefit to breastfeeding a toddler: breastfeeding a sick toddler.

No, I’m not saying I enjoy breastfeeding my toddler more when she’s sick. Actually, sometimes when she can’t breathe it’s annoying that she won’t stay latched and if she’s in pain at all, she certainly makes it known to my nipples. Really though, it’s a great benefit to still be breastfeeding. How so? Let’s go over some of the things that suck about having a sick toddler (and a sick mommy for that matter) and how they’re remedied with breastfeeding.

1. Sick kids don’t like to eat. I know of many-a-parent that give their kids pretty much anything they want when they’re sick because at least they’re eating. Actually, my in-laws brought Peanut gummy candy and chocolate cookies the other day probably with that same thing in mind. It’s hard enough to get any toddler to eat, let alone a sick one. This is where the breastfeeding comes in handy. Even when they refuse the yummiest candy in the world, most kids won’t turn down some milk. I was actually reading this funny thing online regarding breastfeeding sick toddlers. The toddler gets sick and they revert back to drinking mostly (if not only) breast milk, so they start having breastfed baby poo again! That actually happened to Peanut once over this ordeal so far and it was nice to not have a stinky diaper! My husband almost thought it was diarrhea though, so make sure not to take them back to the doctor for a new symptom that’s really nothing!

2. Sick kids don’t like to sleep. This one sucks anytime, but I would say especially so if mama is also sick. Last thing you need when you’re feeling awful is to be kept awake by your kid who is also feeling awful. Throughout this illness, it seems like Peanut is constantly on the verge of passing out, but won’t do it. All it takes is to get her to relax just a little bit and she’ll be knocked out. Guess what gets a grouchy kid to relax a bit? Breastfeeding! I swear Peanut falls asleep faster when she’s sick than when she’s well! I even used this just to calm her down for a bit. I was napping on the couch and she wanted me to get up, so I offered her milk and fell back asleep for another 20-ish minutes!

3. Giving sick kids medicine sucks. Medicine is often a necessary evil, but when we can avoid it and still get healthy, it’s definitely for the best. If you’re reading this blog, you probably already know about all of the goodness inside of that awesome breast milk. The important part in this sense is the antibodies. I have yet to have Peanut be sicker than me. Any illness in a small child is definitely cause for alarm, but she never gets super bad. I’m certain that a part of that is that I’m giving her antibodies through my milk that help her to get better faster. I also notice that her stomach and throat never seem to upset her very much, even when mine are killing me. Maybe this is because they’re frequently getting coated with the good stuff? As I said in my post yesterday, when considering whether or not to give Peanut the anti-viral medication, we specifically took breastfeeding into account. Do we really need to give her this medicine when she A. Doesn’t seem that bad, B. Is getting antibodies through my breast milk, and C. could have serious side effects from it? We decided no. Without the breast milk there giving her antibodies for the exact illness she had, we may have chosen differently, regardless of the possible side effects.

 

There are a lot of reasons that Peanut continues to breastfeed. I know that we’re getting to the edge of a lot of our friends’ comfort zones, but I want you all to know that I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. We will stop when Peanut is ready and not a day before. I will spend all the time up until then cherishing not only the special bond that we have through breastfeeding, but also the physical benefits we continue to get from it every single day (and the convenience of it for that matter). Weaning is not an active process, but something that happens gradually with time.

Friends and Breastfeeding

I’ve been trying to be friends with a girl. We know each other through friends and seems to have a lot of similar interests, but she’s just not going for it. Today my husband told me his theory on why: breastfeeding.

To be honest, I had almost forgotten that people get freaked out by it. I’ve already converted all of our main friends to at least not caring when I do it. Most of the time, I don’t realize that I even started breastfeeding Peanut until letdown. It’s just such a natural thing to me that I don’t worry about who could be getting offended.

I know that sometimes I startle people when they see me do it. I know that it’s probably weird especially for the people around me because being in my age group and having a child means that I’m likely the first person their age that they’ve ever seen breastfeed—if not the first person of any age (which is just sad).

But for someone to actually dislike me because of it? I just don’t know what I feel.

My initial reaction was “thank goodness” because it meant that it wasn’t that it wasn’t me. Thought, really it is me. Breastfeeding is a big part of what makes me, me. At least it wasn’t that I’m horribly annoying or something?

Immediately after, I started to just feel sad. Sad for her future babies that probably wouldn’t breastfeed if their mommy was so against my breastfeeding. Sad that someone would dislike me because of something to wonderful and beautiful. Mostly, sad because we live in a world where breastfeeding is seen as gross, inappropriate, and sexual.

Of course, all of this is just a theory. Maybe she doesn’t dislike me. Maybe if she does, it’s because of my bad jokes.

Have you ever had an instance where someone doesn’t like you because of your breastfeeding? What did you do about it? What would you do about it if you were in that situation?

This Is Why I Do It

Peanut has a best friend—let’s call her Squeed for the purposes of this blog because that’s what her mommy calls her. Squeed is my best friend’s daughter. She’s almost two years older than Peanut, but they have a ton of fun together. Peanut says her name. She gets excited if I ask her if she wants to go play with her. She’s happy playing with other kids, but Squeed is by far her favorite to play with.

Even with them living so far away, we try to get together on a regular basis. This is once every week or two, sometimes more. Quite often when we do hang out with them it’s all day long since it’s such a trek for them to get here. This means Squeed often sees Peanut breastfeeding.

At first I felt a little awkward about it. Not because of breastfeeding in front of Squeed, but because I know that my friend didn’t breastfeed Squeed for very long. I’ve often wished that I could go back in time with the knowledge I have now and help Squeed’s mama because I know she wanted to breastfeed. In hindsight I can clearly see all of the booby traps the hospital and our society put in her way.

My worry was unneeded. She immediately made it abundantly clear that she not only supported my breastfeeding Peanut, but she was happy about it. I guess I spend so much time on the internet battling people who are anti-breastfeeding (or at least anti-NIP) that I forgot that not everyone who bottle-feeds hates breastfeeding. (Actually, it seems like most moms who bottle-fed (or -feed) don’t hate breastfeeding, but that’s another topic for another day.)

We quickly fell back into our routine as friends. We were the exact same people, just with different priorities. We started hanging out pretty frequently and my worries of breastfeeding in front of them quickly fell not only to the side, but entirely off the chart. I didn’t even have a second thought when breastfeeding around them. It stopped crossing my mind that I was breastfeeding in front of them at all. I just did it like I would any other time—often not even realizing I was feeding her until letdown.

One day when they were over a couple of weeks ago, I was asking Peanut if she wanted to lay down and have some milk (it was time to go to bed). As she’s following me into the room, I hear Squeed say something along the lines of “Mommy, can I have milk from your boobies too?”

Seriously?! ZOMG that’s awesome!

Her mommy gave her a quick explanation that she didn’t have milk in her boobies and that was that. Squeed gave up on the quest and continued to get ready for bed. Or at least she gave up on the quest for the time being. Apparently Squeed as asked her mom a couple more times for “milk from her boobies like Dea”. At first this just seemed hilarious and awesome, then I realized there’s a deeper meaning.

Normalizing breastfeeding. I think root of all breastfeeding problems is normalizing breastfeeding. If breastfeeding was the norm, there would be proper support for new moms to succeed at it. If breastfeeding was the norm, no one would care about nursing in public. If breastfeeding was the norm, formula would be used as a substitute for breastfeeding like it’s supposed to be. In the past, I’ve used the need to normalize breastfeeding as my confidence booster to nurse in public in situations where I feel awkward.

So I don’t know why it took me so long to get it—I am normalizing breastfeeding for Squeed. Yeah, she probably won’t remember me breastfeeding Peanut when she’s old enough to become a mommy herself, but subconsciously she will. Maybe she’ll grow up without the notion that breastfeeding is weird or gross. Maybe it will just seem like another part of life to her. That’s all I can really hope for.