This post is dedicated to my newest mom friend, Lauren.
If I lived in a house, it would be toilet papered after this post. Since I do not, I fully expect to be lynched by a crowd of angry mothers who will run me down with their double-wide Bugaboo strollers on Broadway. Why? Because I am about to tell you something that you may very well condemn. Prepare to break up with me now. Here it comes. If and when I have a kid, he or she will be fed … brace yourselves … formula.
That’s right. I said it: the F word. FORMULA. Go ahead, call Social Services – I am not going to breastfeed my theoretical children. (And yes, now and for the foreseeable future, that is all they are.) I’ll wager that I’ve read more on the topic than any other non-moms out there. I get it, but I maintain my position. There will be no pumping. There will be no nipple confusion, nursing pads, clogged ducts, latching issues, lactation consultants or trips to stores with names like Tit for Tot, Nip It in the Bud, Mom’s Breast Friend, or Yes Siree, That’s My Booby. No, I do not want to try it. No, I am not going to change my mind, and no, I am not going to tell you why. I have my reasons and you shouldn’t care.
But, to quote my college roommate, you do care and that’s the sick part.
That’s also my point.
I am not arguing for or against breastfeeding and I am not here to discuss the pros and cons of either choice. If you are a mother and you choose to breastfeed, great! If you are a mother and you can’t or choose not to breastfeed, that too should be great. But it isn’t. And I cannot understand, for the life of me, why so many people feel so strongly that what a mother feeds her baby — assuming it isn’t crack — is even remotely their beeswax. I know that when babies are involved, everyone has an opinion. But this topic in particular seems to be attached to an alarming level of militancy. The lacto-fascist movement (thanks for the term, Lew) has come to equate breastfeeding with good mothering – which is absurd. I assure you there are horrible, Joan Crawford-esque mothers who breastfed and loving, wonderful mothers who did not. This should not be the defining factor.
Again, please understand, I am not anti-breastfeeding. I just don’t think it’s for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s not for you. I’ve watched many a friend nurse and pump and wean, and I’ve supported them all. What I’m against is the immense pressure to which women are subjected at a time when they’re already overwhelmed and vulnerable. I’m against bullying and the manipulative use of guilt. I’m against other people telling women what they “have to” do with their own bodies. I’m against lacto-fascism.
Neither I nor most of my friends were breastfed. All of us have managed, miraculously, to remain rickets-free for almost 40 years. But times change, and most of my friends did breastfeed their own children. A smaller number did not. Of those who couldn’t or chose not to for various reasons (also none of your beeswax), almost all were accosted at some point, forced to sit through the Spanish inquisition, and made to feel like total failures as human beings.
I just read a column written by a successful journalist who actually was breastfeeding, and pumping. At a Mommy & Me class, a few of the other mothers saw her give her child a bottle, assumed it contained formula, and cornered her for a vigilante lecture as if she had just put a lit cigarette in her infant’s mouth.
A sampling of things I’ve heard when I’ve mentioned that I myself have no plans to breastfeed any future offspring.
“Formula is for poor, uneducated people.” (Do I not have a master’s degree from an Ivy League university?)
“What do you mean you’re not going to?! You HAVE TO.” (Newsflash: you don’t.)
“What is WRONG with you?” (A lot, but none of it has anything to do with my views on breastfeeding.)
And my personal favorite, “You shouldn’t have kids.” (Really? REALLY?!)
Regardless of how deeply you’re sure that “breast is best,” FORMULA IS NOT LETHAL. The ingestion of formula by someone else’s baby does not in any way, shape or form affect your life or your child’s life. In fact, if you didn’t know the difference, you’d never know the difference. Whatever formula-related side effects you’re convinced exist are my problem, not yours. So honestly, lacto-fascists, WHY DO YOU CARE?