ParentingSkepticism

Boobs Undercover: Exposed!

Fortunately for me, my mother-in-law gave birth to my husband. Unfortunately, that means that I am forced to spend time with her for Mothers’ Day. Trust me when I say that, since our last encounter on Christmas, I’ve missed her in the same way I’ve missed 7:30 am gym class in high school. Though, in fairness I have to admit that getting smacked in the face with a dodge ball is far more pleasant than my MIL, but I will spare you the rant on my dislike of the woman and get to the point.

Yesterday at lunch she asked a question that I found particularly annoying. This is a question that I’ve been asked on several occasions and each time I’ve found it to be annoying, even though (and especially because of the fact) it seems like such a normal question.

We were eating some delicious Indian fare, and I was sharing my food with my son giving him little bite sized pieces of potatoes and peas and cheese naan. Suddenly he started fussing. I had no idea why and still don’t. All we knew was that he was certainly still hungry. So my MIL asked the question, “Did you bring a bottle?”

Now, in the interest of keeping the unpleasantness of this meal to a minimum, I simply replied that no, I did not and that I never do. Of course, I was given the look saying nothing less than what the hell is wrong with you? With some obvious assumption that I am a neglectful mother who doesn’t care enough about her son to feed him. Mr Elyse tried to recover my apparent fumble by explaining that he won’t take a bottle if he is not at home and that I share my meals with the Moose (my son) whenever we go out. I knew what he was doing, and I appreciated him coming to my rescue.

The truth is, I don’t take bottles with me because my Moose is very particular about taking one. He’s not a fan. And I dislike toting around bottles that will just end up going bad. So, if we’re out and he needs “a bottle” I just nurse him. And it’s way less of a big deal than I ever thought it would be. In fact, I look back at the days when I would bring bottle along and think, “Man, I was such a n00b.”

Moose and I would get into power struggles, I’d try to get the bottle into his mouth, he’d spit it out and start gagging (his way of saying “Shit that’s cold!”). He’d crying, still hungry, angry that he’s being teased with food and frustrated that I’m not getting it. I’d be frustrated that he’s not getting it. Meanwhile my boobs would be filling up, starting to hurt and sometimes start to leak.

Finally I realized that, if I just whip a boob out, he’ll eat. Then I can go back to what I was doing and everyone is happy. What really bothers me about the question “Did you bring a bottle?” Is society’s assumption that bottles are how babies are fed. I never realized how bizarre the question was until I gave up attempting to bottle feed in public.

Apparently though, feeding my child in a way that is easy, convenient, natural and effective is a huge big bad deal and is just as offensive as smoking a cigar two feet away from my emphysematous grandmother and exhaling directly into her Oxygen tubes while kicking puppies.

The emotional response to public breastfeeding is amazing. I don’t get how, in the 21st century, people still have hangups about possibly accidentally viewing a nipple. Even more amazing is that, in my life, I’ve never once noticed a woman BFing in public though I’m sure (and I hope) it’s happened many times. In fact, no one has ever noticed when I’ve done it either. When the Moose starts fussing, I just throw on my Hooter Hider, grab him and feed away. Either he’ll fall asleep or emerge happy and playful.

When I’d try to give him bottles, he’d just keep crying until I’d give up and go home, exhausted, frustrated and with errands unfinished. Being a stay-at-home mom, I cherish every single moment I get outside of the house. I am not going to screw it up anymore. And there’s no reason to.

I don’t even understand how bottles became the norm. Giving Moose a bottle just seems strange and awkward to me, even though I’ve done it a million times. In fact, I do it every day. But to insist that he must be fed by bottle simply because I’ve left my house? It’s unbelievably offensive.

Granted I do not have the tits of a 19-year-old porn star, but they’re not so grotesque that a split second glance at some side-boob would cause anyone’s eyes to burn. The thought that I need to hide them at all cost, act as if they don’t exist or as if they have no function is disturbing to me.

It’s just a boob, folks. It’s feeding a baby. It’s not a big deal. Get over it.

Next time you are with a new mom with a fussy baby, instead of asking, “Did you bring a bottle?” (As in, “I sure hope you brought a bottle because how else is your baby going to eat?”) Ask, “Does (s)he need to nurse?” She may or may not be comfortable nursing in public yet… or ever. But a little encouragement and support is always a nice thing to have.

(BTW, I was totally breastfeeding while I wrote this… and you didn’t notice at all.)

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Elyse

Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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49 Comments

  1. BTW, I was totally breastfeeding while I wrote this…

    OH GOD, MY POOR VIRGIN BRAIN!!!

    No, but seriously. I just can’t understand the bizarre denial that some people have about this. I mean, breastfeeding is literally what boobs are for. That they happen to have some very entertaining secondary uses is quite beside the point.

    All these anti-breast fascists are ever going to accomplish by getting all uptight like this is to remove all the non-fetishy aspects of breasts and remake them into purely sexual glands. I mean, again, as sexual organs brests are fun, but their natural, non-“dirty” uses shouldn’t be banned just because some frigid busibodies hate sex.

    You know what else? I’ve seen women breastfeed in public before. And somehow I didn’t see enough of their breasts to drive me into a rape-crazy lust, like us male-folk are prone to fall into, apparently. I mean, there was this freakin’ baby in the way and shit.

  2. I think it might be worse here than in other countries. My sister-in-law is from Brazil and never had any issue with breastfeeding in public, but others around her often were freaked out by it. I think it’s just silly, particularly when there’s so many folks who say breastfeeding is better for your kid. Seems like society is giving new mothers mixed messages!

    I did have a friend who was breastfeeding at my house one time at a party (she had gone off into a discreet area to do so) and one of my more socially inept male friends insisted on standing RIGHT THERE and watching her. It was pretty creepy… :) We don’t hang out with him any more…

  3. My take on people disaproving of women breast feeding is that it is simply a mean-spirited ploy to make the mother’s life as difficult as possible, to interfere with her child raising, and to actually hurt the child by depriving the child of food and the bonding experience.

    If a person is uncomfortable with a woman breast feeding in public, the person should either deal with it or absent themselves.

  4. See, the correct response would have been to stare at her with a look of horror on your face, like she was crazy. “What! Give my child a bottle, are you out of your mind? Where did you learn about child rearing? We only do what’s healthy for our child!” How snooty can you be when you say that? Practice while looking in a mirror, and you’ll be prepared for the old bat next time.

    Alternatively, and probably even more effective, you should have just whipped it out and given the kid some boob right there, without so much as a ‘by your leave.’ If she so much as raised an eyebrow, you could have hit her with a, “get your head out of your nineteenth century prudish ass!”

    OK, maybe not so much. But with strangers, Oh! Save that one for a stranger, OK?

  5. My typical response is, “I’ve got two built-in bottles under my shirt. Always the right temperature, usually full, and zero cost.” I still hate breastfeeding in public, though, despite consistently being modestly covered and discreet… because I get surprisingly dirty looks from some people. As a result, I go out of my way to smile pleasantly at any women that I see breastfeeding, hoping to balance out some of the shit they have to take.

    I had a hell of a time with my second child, he hated bottles — and when I recently went back to work full-time when he was 9 months old, he had to figure out how to drink from one if he wanted expressed milk while I wasn’t around. That was a good incentive. (He still won’t drink from one if I’m holding it, though; he holds out for the fresh stuff.)

  6. “Even more amazing is that, in my life, I’ve never once noticed a woman BFing in public though I’m sure (and I hope) it’s happened many times.”

    Then you must lead a very sheltered life! I see women BFing in public all the time.

    Oh! Breast feeding… er… yea. I was thinking about something else.

  7. A century ago she would have insisted on covering the legs of tables because they were too provocative.

    I think Joshua is right on, though I suspect that some people are disgusted *because* they don’t want to know about the non-fetish function of breasts. I heard a male friend say he hated to see breastfeeding because it ruined them (in his fantasies that is).

  8. My wife breast fed in public and if anyone gave her the hairy eyeball, I just casually took out my schwantz and laid it on my lap. The stares and rude comments immediately shifted to me and that was that. A quick “Which would you rather look at, churchie?” shut them up.

    This strategy would likely not work in your MIL/husband situation, and I would also suggest that your husband not refer to his penis as his “schwantz” to his mom. Especially on Mother’s Day.

  9. I agree with the ‘screw her’ sentiment. It’s your child, your body, so you should do as you wish. I don’t know if the sight of a boob has ever killed anyone. I’ll have to look into that.

    I do want to say that where I live, breast feeding is very accepted, supported, and is the norm. In fact, I get to take shit because I *gasp* -horror of horrors – choose not to breast feed at all! I must be a moron, a horrible person, a child abuser, a prude, and the last person on earth who should have a child! I’ve had some of my closest family members and friends says things like this to me, along with complete strangers. Wonderful. Because it’s totally none of their business.

    Look people, there are pros and cons to both breast feeding and bottle or formula feeding, and the decision to choose one method over the other and why rests with the parents alone. Not with grandparents, sisters, friends or complete strangers.

    There are too many other factors that go into deciding which babies end up smarter, healthier, and the like such as genetics, socio-economics, sanitation, etc. So I totally support breast feeding mothers in public, work, and home (bring out the boobs!) just as I support formula and bottle feeding only. I just wanted to say to those of you who may think you’re a better person, parent, or woman because you chose breast feeding over bottle feeding, or bottle feeding over breast feeding, fuck you. Again, it’s none of your business.

    Take that, Elyse’s mother-in-law!

    P.S. – I would LOVE to see skeptics take on some of the claims, studies, and research about breast feeding V. formula feeding to determine the fact and the truth from the myth and the woo. I’m very interested in knowing the who, what, when, where, why and how of all the studies that lead people to choose the side that they choose. As I said, I think there are too many factors involved in the physical and mental potential of a child that do not usually come into consideration when people start to berate others about parenting skills. I just always have the feeling that there is a lot of misinformation and woo out there about motherhood, pregnancy and rearing children (c’mon, breast fed babies smell better and are prettier? WTF?). It’s really difficult for your average sister to separate the maternal wheat from the chaff is all.

    Just a thought.

  10. I think you go for it – and ignore (or give the finger to) anyone who shoots you dirty looks.

    I’m not pregnant yet but I totally intend to breast feed in public. I don’t plan on using a cover either but we’ll see how my shyness stands up to my principles!!

    There have been jokes with my friends suggesting we drive to conservative parts of town purely to have a coffee and shock passers by so I might not get much of a choice …

  11. I would have just breastfed the baby at the table. (Why not, everybody ELSE eats at the table!) I’d have covered up, moved my seat back far enough for comfort (my physical comfort, I mean, not their comfort), and latched him on. I am not generally a militant sort of person, but BFing my kids brought out a previously unknown streak of belligerence.

    I nursed them everywhere. Church, restaurants, parks, backseats of cars, I wasn’t picky. I am very modest, so I sat with my backs to things and wore clothes that accomodated it — I’m not so gung-ho about it that I want to start flashing people. But I figured the more people who saw someone discreetly nursing in public, the more they’d get used to the idea.

    My best friend, on the other hand, nursed indiscriminately. I saw her once wearing a nursing dress with half her baby stuffed inside the flap, nursing loudly, no other blanket or coverup, while standing in the foyer of a church having a conversation with an elderly man who had NO CLUE where to look. I think it’s possible to be too aggressive about it, but a family gathering where you’re decent and it takes the baby’s noise level down to where everybody else can talk … why should you have to leave the conversation for twenty minutes just so they don’t twitch over something that is entirely normal?

    @anonaboob — I am so sorry you had to deal with people like that. As much as I think all moms should be able to at least give it a try with educated help if they need it, it is SUCH a personal choice, and in the end it is YOUR choice.

    Hey … that keeps ringing a bell somehow … my body, my choice. Shouldn’t that apply to nursing?

  12. @IPB

    The catch word is ‘discreet’ though.

    Breast feeding in public? Who cares? It’s an infant suckling on a pound or so of fatty tissue with a nipple on it. Just about everyone on this planet has had an up close and personal encounter with a breast at least one pair at one point in their lives, and if past puberty, probably more (wether by owning a set or encountering a set owned by someone).

    But public spaces are shared by everyone, hence accommodation has to be made for everyone to a degree. There are those who are freaked by the sight of a woman’s ankle (let alone breast), and others who would care if someone stripped naked and jiggled them in time to a tune from Bananarama.

    But as with all things, it only works if both parties meet halfway – women shouldn’t have to be embarrassed or wear a tent to hide a natural feeding process, but by the same token – flashing breasts to the world with a ‘f**k you all’ attitude while holding a screaming child in the middle of the street wont fly either.

    Personally, I don’t care either way, as I’m not the one with the baby hence its really not my business and there are enough public annoyances far greater than a feeding baby.

    What does irk me is mothers who can’t control their screaming spawn. I those cases I would like to be legally permitted to used a spackle filler or duct tape to cease the endless noise so I can watch a movie, eat at a restaurant, go shopping, fly on a plane, etc in peace.

  13. When the Highlander was still getting breast mile, by bottle or breast, I had a running battle with the Girl over whether he should be breastfed. My fear was that he would get addicted to breast feeding and stop wanting to be bottle fed. As a non-stay at home dad, I only get so much bonding time, and giving him the last bottle of the night was important to me.

    The Girl had a different position, mostly having to do with how much of a pain in the ass it was to pump and how stupid I was being. But as a non-stay at home mom, she didn’t really have much choice, she had to pump or the Highlander was going to be on formula, which costs approximately as much, by weight, as pharmaceutical grade heroin.

    She eventually won, he started breastfeeding, still took bottles, and as far as I can tell he still loves me. The thing I noted, though, was that no one ever seems to suggest using a breast pump as a viable alternative to formula when a baby has latching issues or something like that. Its always boob or formula in the baby feeding literature. Very strange.

  14. To be honest I get a little annoyed by the question “Does s/he need feeding?” as if we can’t tell that our own children might be hungry. However I let it go because people are just trying to be helpful.

    As for breastfeeding, every time I see it in public I think it’s great – one more person helping to normalise it. Every time you do it in public helps not only your baby, but everyone faced with the same problem. Hopefully in another 10 years it will be normal enough that it’s not an issue.

    Of course this is easy for me to say (not having breasts myself) but I’d whip mine out in an instant if I could.

  15. My sister was once asked in a restaurant to stop breastfeeding her son at the table and take him into the restrooms to do it. She got furious, and shouted at the waitperson “Why don’t YOU go eat YOUR dinner in the toilet?” Shut them right up.

    My sister is awesome.

    My wife breastfed our son, and is breastfeeding our daughter, and we have had no problems. I think Scotland is slightly more accepting of public breastfeeding than the US (broadly speaking, of course), but that is one of the many, nay reasons I like living in the UK.

  16. I agree with you. Breastfeeding is natural and if you brought the hooter hider (u make me laugh) why should it bother people?! you know your own son more than your MIL – so why bring the milk in the bottle that will go to waste?!
    I feel the same way about my MIL- she’s always telling me what I should be doing with my son. It’s never good enough!
    It’s good your husband came to your rescue- let him deal with her. My husband also rescues me as well. Do u see her often? I see mine at least 1x’s a week- UGH!

  17. As a mom of three and big advocate of breastfeeding please understand that I mean this with love as constructive criticism. I have been there.

    Lighten up and look at how you are reacting to others. The baby is fussy at a restaurant and your MIL asked if you brought a bottle and you are deeply offended? Really?

    Is there a chance your relationship with her would improve if you were a little more optimistic about her intent? Maybe by asking if you brought a bottle she was offering to help give you a little break and feed and calm the baby for you and spend some intimate time with her grandchild, not condemning the whole idea of breastfeeding and attacking your worth as a parent.

    Many Mothers who didn’t chose to breastfeed are going to be defensive and react against brestfeeding as a way to avoid guilt or remorse about their decisions. It is human nature. That is their problem, not yours.

    Asking if you brought a bottle is not a crazy question. Be a little more confident in yourself and your parenting.

    Trust me, getting angry and damaging your relationship with someone who your husband probably has a deep unconditional love for despite her faults isn’t good for anyone. Go back and read the first bit of that post and imagine someone writing that about your husband, mother or child.

    Let the bad stuff slide over you and past you. Accept who she is and embrace the good. I promise it will be good for your sanity, marriage and family.

    Sorry for the preachy soapbox, but I saw a little too much of my past in that post and changing my own attitude made a huge difference.

  18. I promise it will be good for your sanity, marriage and family.

    You don’t have to get along with your in-laws to have a happy marriage. You just have to move far away from them if you don’t. And ignore their stupid stuff when you do visit. :-)

  19. I was a stay-at-home dad and man oh man did I wish I could lactate!

    Anyway, I worked at a big retail bookstore for a while and after storytime, many moms went off and breastfed. Most just use their shirt or a towel to keep it discreet. Some don’t bother. Like someone said, this is what the boobs are FOR. If anyone complained, we just told the complainer to get a grip for crying out loud.

  20. @ Cindy

    The impression given by Elyse’s post is that she and her mother in law have been in this situation on a number of occasions, and the apparent attitude of her MIL has been that of ‘What the hell is wrong with you?’ and not ‘I want to help you soothe your baby so why don’t you bring a bottle.’ The point being, if she wanted to help soothe her grandchild, she could say or do a number of things rather than always ask her if she brought a bottle. How does that help if she knows the answer is no?

    Sometimes getting along with in-laws just doesn’t work, and that doesn’t mean your sanity, marriage and family is ruined with bitterness and anger. In fact, it may save you from it, depending on your in-laws. : )

    Also,
    Many Mothers who didn’t chose to breastfeed are going to be defensive and react against brestfeeding as a way to avoid guilt or remorse about their decisions. It is human nature.

    The idea that mothers who choose not to breast feed are defensive because of remorse and guilt over it, then calling it human nature, is really irritating, FYI. Speaking personally, that statement smacks of holier-than-thou-ism. But maybe I’m just being defensive…

    I always thought that formula feeding mothers are made to feel guilty not because of their own accord, but by being stereotyped by an increasingly nosy and judgmental culture as a poor mother incapable and undesiring of a ‘natural’ bond with her child (who will become stupid, fat, and disease ridden, of course, because they were formula fed). I repeat: t’ain’t nobody’s business but the mama and daddy’s.

    Whether you or your mother or grandmother breast fed a child or not, the reasoning that led them to that conclusion is no one’s business but the parent of that child. What matters is if you are a good loving, stable and capable parent beyond how your baby gets its nutrients. I would say it makes more sense to say that many women are defensive because of their remorse and guilt over being a bad parent overall, and not simply over their infant feeding method.

    Simply put, formula feeding your child does not a poor parent make. Ditto for not getting along with your MIL, or pulling your boob out in a restaurant.

  21. Lighten up and look at how you are reacting to others. The baby is fussy at a restaurant and your MIL asked if you brought a bottle and you are deeply offended? Really?

    I’m not offended that my MIL asked the question. I am saddened by the fact that people assume this is how a women should feed their babies. I understand completely that the bottle question is 100% normal. That is my issue. I’ve disliked the question on every occasion that it’s been asked. Bottle feeding shouldn’t be the default.

    BTW, My MIL also believes without question that breastfeeding is harmful to children. She’s not only offended by it but she believes it is abusive and that BFing mothers are “starving” their children.

    This is not about me having a lack of confidence in my parenting nor is it about my relationship with my MIL. And while I appreciate your concern for the state of my marriage, I assure you it is rock solid.

  22. Elyse,
    why does your MIL think breastfeeding is starving children?
    I didn’t breastfeed Josh– I regret it at times. but I think it is a wonderful source of nutrition for babies.
    It seems you are a good mom! hopefully she won’t bring the question up again!

  23. Damn, this is an issue that I totally missed. I really had my head up my ass on this one. I have seen a lot of women nursing and haven’t noticed anyone upset about it. Up until recently I was a single father with custody of my three kids. I still have the kids but I got married again. (Call me a slow learner) Back when I was married to their crazy mother she would nurse in public and I can’t remember even getting a dirty look and I know no one complained. I hope you don’t get hasseled for nursing in public. That would just be silly.

  24. I am a fan of typing while breastfeeding. I am one of the fastest one-handed typists you will ever meet!

    I also mastered the art of playing Dungeons and Dragons while breastfeeding (in front of a group of bachelors, no less)!

    I figured I could fuss about people’s attitudes regarding public breastfeeding, or I could just be the change I want to see. And you know what? Nobody has said anything to me, not even once.

  25. joshsmom:why does your MIL think breastfeeding is starving children?

    She doesn’t believe that breastmilk is suitable nutrition for babies. I don’t put much stock into anything she says about raising children… she’s also the same woman who screamed at me for not drinking alcohol while pregnant.

    anonaboobI always thought that formula feeding mothers are made to feel guilty not because of their own accord, but by being stereotyped by an increasingly nosy and judgmental culture as a poor mother incapable and undesiring of a ‘natural’ bond with her child (who will become stupid, fat, and disease ridden, of course, because they were formula fed).

    I personally do not understand how/why someone would choose not to BF before the baby is even born. But that’s not the topic for today.

    It is true that so-called “lactivists” have no issues judging women who decide to formula feed. In my prenatal BFing class, the instructor told us all the horrible things that could happen to our babies if we ever gave them formula like they’ll have allergic reactions that could send them into anaphylactic shock or that formula causes babies’ stool to become so hard it perforates their bowels.

    This woman was the same instructor for our Me & My Baby class I took when Moose was 5 months old. We realized that I am not making enough milk and I have to supplement with formula. (Thus the comment that I give him a bottle every day.) She was not secretive about her disappointment in my “choosing” to supplement and seemed to be of the opinion that I was just not trying hard enough.

    But I had already visited the lactation center at the hospital. The lactation consultant sent me home with coupons and formula samples. When LC gives you formula, you give it to your baby. You don’t mess around with waiting and trying to increase your milk supply. (No, MIL does not know anything about this, BTW)

    I still prefer that my husband goes to buy the formula from the store. I feel embarrassed when I have to buy it. It’s been hard for me not to apologetically explain to the cashier that I do breastfeed, I just don’t make enough and I have to supplement.

  26. @ Elyse
    I personally do not understand how/why someone would choose not to BF before the baby is even born. But that’s not the topic for today.

    That’s alright that you don’t understand why someone would choose not to BF before the baby is born. I do not expect someone who chooses to BF to understand how I came to the opposite conclusion based on the same information available. Simply put, breast feeding is not always the best choice. Sometimes formula is the best choice. But we can go into the various reasons when that day arises. : )

    I do firmly believe that people should stop giving formula feeding mothers the stink eye (in my experience, usually folks 40 and underish), and stop all the hatred spewing (a la your BF teacher). For instance, her attitude has possibly contributed to your own embarrassment about buying formula….

    I still prefer that my husband goes to buy the formula from the store. I feel embarrassed when I have to buy it. It’s been hard for me not to apologetically explain to the cashier that I do breastfeed, I just don’t make enough and I have to supplement.

    …which I personally think must be horrible for you. No mother deserves to feel embarrassed about having to purchase formula to ensure her child’s nutrition and well being. The idea of your BF teacher teaching new mothers with this kind of attitude, really disgusts me.

    Plus, how the hell have we gotten to this point where well meaning mothers are contemplating defending their parenting choices to cashiers and perfect strangers. Who the hell is the cashier to judge you, and why do you think that she would? Why does the thought that she might judge you even bother you to begin with? What information or misinformation is out there shaping people’s opinions and judgements?

    Speaking hypothetically, how about if you were a cashier, and someone purchased formula from you. Would you secretly judge them as being a less adequate mother than yourself, or someone else who breast feeds? Why?

    Sorry for all the questions and hypotheticals, but I do feel this particular issue of breast feeding V. formula stirs up a lot of skeptical and feminist thoughts and emotions in me. Hence I really would like to see the subject further explored on Skepchick.

    Breast feeding seems to have all the scientific backing on its side, but seriously – how valid are all of these claims? I’m not trying to be condescending or anything here. I would really like to know. But trying to nail down information instead of misinformation when it comes to sifting through ‘new motherhood’ material is really hard!

    I would like to know more about who performs the studies that concluded breast feeding is best, how they are peer reviewed, how old or recent certain information is, how they arrived at their conclusions and how the studies were carried out. Were they meta-analysis? How many recorded cases of bowel perforation are there in formula fed babies V. breast fed babies? How are they pooling their data? Are factors such as economic class, career, education, geographical location, income, ethnicity (and so on) taken into consideration? How does one go about measuring the IQ of an infant, and how do you separate that which is a result from nature, nurture, or mother’s milk? What about studies on adults who were formula fed as infants: how many of them died, suffered diseases and reactions ‘linked’ to formula, or are of a lower IQ?

    If formula was the (possible) cause of so many horrible reactions, side effects, and diseases why is it still readily available? If it were a detriment to children, why wouldn’t it be banned, outlawed, or at least available by prescription only? Any answer that I can come up with to that one myself makes me think of the answers from ‘big pharma’ conspiracists. : P

    Sorry for the rantishness and questioning, but I figured if there is any place I could ask such questions and find people who may provide answers, or at least lead me in the right direction, it would be on Skepchick. : )

  27. Actually I second Anonaboob – I would love Skepchick to explore the baby and motherhood myths some more for us. What is the data? Is BFing better?

    I haven’t given this issue a lot of thought (since I have not had children yet) beyond a vague decision to BF if I could. This is based on the perception that is is “better” but is that just cultural?

    Enquiring readers want to know! :-)

  28. Hands down, breastfeeding is far better for a child than bottle feeding with few exceptions.

    Rebecca posted about this almost two years ago here.

    Keep in mind that the money is in formula. If the evidence for one or the other were close, we’d probably see a trend towards suggesting bottle feeding over breastfeeding. In fact, that was the case when my parents were born. Breastfeeding was thought of as something you did only if you were too poor to buy formula.

    I do worry that extremist “lactivists” may be doing more to hurt women’s decisions to BF.

    But these are topics I think would be best addressed in a separate thread. I’ll work on something soon. :)

  29. [quote]The idea that mothers who choose not to breast feed are defensive because of remorse and guilt over it, then calling it human nature, is really irritating, FYI. Speaking personally, that statement smacks of holier-than-thou-ism. But maybe I’m just being defensive…
    [/quote]I was careful to say “many” in the statement you are referring to, not “all” nor “most”. I did not mean that people should be guilty or remorseful, but that some will regardless of whether it is right or wrong to feel that way. Obviously breastfeeding is an emotional issue all around. The human nature I was referring to is to lash out (consciously or unconsciously ) at the thing that causes feelings of guilt or remorse. It is a basic emotional defense mechanism.

    I helped run a breastfeeding support group for several years and saw the pain of women who couldn’t breast feed but wanted to, and some who didn’t want to but felt pressured into it and about every other possible permutation. The uniting factor was that everyone questioned themselves and felt pressure from family, friends, or strangers.

    Bottom line is breastfeeding is great and so are the modern formulas we have as an option now. Do what is best for you and your kid and no need to defend yourself.

    Thank the FSM for the science that developed formula and damn that intelligent magic sky man that made breastfeeding so often problematic.

    [quote] And while I appreciate your concern for the state of my marriage, I assure you it is rock solid.[/quote]Absolutely no implication meant at all about the state of your marriage. The only thing I meant to point out is that no mater how much someone complains about their mother and knows they are wrong, it still hurts to hear someone else talk bad about them.

  30. Nightshade: didn’t the Scottish Parliament pass a “right to public breastfeeding” bill at some point?

    I’m fortunate enough to live in Scandinavia where a freshly-baked mother (as they’re known here for some reason) is more likely to get disapproving looks for using a bottle, than she is for whipping out one of nature’s own bottles in a public place.

    I should also say that, strident atheist that I am, I have to acknowledge that churches do have their uses – they’re lovely cool quiet peaceful places for nursing.

  31. I’ve been doing more reading and google-sifting since the last post.

    I hadn’t previously read Rebecca’s post from two years ago (thanks for the link). I have thought and still do think that in cases of third world countries, it is deplorable that women are encouraged to use formula over breast milk. Hands down breast milk wins in that case. Where clean water, immunizations, and money is scarce, the idea that women are being persuaded to use formula by advertising is simply wretched.

    And so, according to the research, more women who formula feed are more likely to be 1) uneducated, 2) under the poverty line, 3) young mothers, and 4) working mothers. I’m wondering how these socio-economic factors affect many other points in an infant’s life that may cause more exposure to illness and disease outside of feeding — environment, child care, doctor’s care, etc.

    In the case of 1) educated, 2) monetarily stable or affluent, 3) mothers over 30 4) with flexible maternity/career options what is the likelihood of a formula fed child being one of the sick, unhealthy, and ‘dumb’ ones? What percentage of formula fed babies grow up perfectly fine, smart and healthy? I can’t find any data comparing say, a breast fed child and a formula fed child within the same family, or between twins. Is there a significant difference then, or is it more clearly divided amongst economic lines?

    Sorry for more questions. I look forward to future topics on this. So far as the right to breast feed in public unbothered goes (the original topic at hand), I’m all for that.

    And no, I’m not trying to defend my own choice right now. I do not feel guilty. I personally have no reason to. I’m just exploring the information to get a better picture of the facts and statistics, which most sites will only allude to as “many studies confirm” and “science has shown.” And I’m very curious as to what the proposed warning labels for formula are…

    And I still stand by the fact that breast feeding is not best for everyone. There is that small percentage in there. If you can and choose to do it, bully for you. Just don’t automatically hate on those who don’t breast feed. You don’t know why they don’t, and they don’t owe you a reason if you’re not the father, the child, or the doctor.

    And, yes, that the judgmental behavior exhibited by women on both sides of the issue is detrimental to proper education and information on the topic. Nuff said for now.

  32. csrster: Yep. from the times online:

    “…the simple legal change introduced in Scotland, which made it an offence to stop a woman breast-feeding her baby anywhere in public, backed up by a fine of £2,000. “

    And for the record, my wife breast-feeds our kids, but I was bottle fed. And I turned out a right mess. :D

  33. …no mater how much someone complains about their mother and knows they are wrong, it still hurts to hear someone else talk bad about them.

    Respectfully, I must disagree. I know it’ pretty completely off-topic, but blanket statements like this bother the Hell out of me. Declarative universal statements only serve to further marginalize and oppress the people to whom it does not apply.

    Believe me, you don’t know societal scorn and rejection unless you’ve publicly denounced your mother. Doubly so this time of year.

  34. Joshsmom-

    I’m not really sure exactly. I was 8 weeks pregnant and passed on having alcohol at dinner… suddenly there was a whole lot of screaming in my face and telling me I didn’t know what I was talking about. The best I could get out of it is that she gave birth to 4 kids (one of which died when he was a week old), and she drank while pregnant so I have a whole lotta nerve not drinking.

  35. She doesn’t believe that breastmilk is suitable nutrition for babies.

    So, lessee, bottles became really popular in the 1950s, right? I guess they were used before that. But does your MIL think every child born before bottles and modern formula were invented were malnourished? Sounds like she’s a little mentally unstable to me.

  36. Elyse,
    I’m sorry for your MIL’s loss. Also, I’m sorry she screamed in your face about not drinking while being pregnant. I don’t understand her. you are trying to be a responsible parent. I hope things get better. :)

  37. Elyse: “The best I could get out of it is that she gave birth to 4 kids (one of which died when he was a week old), and she drank while pregnant so I have a whole lotta nerve not drinking.”

    It sounds like somebody has issues.

    w_nightshade: “And for the record, my wife breast-feeds our kids, but I was bottle fed. And I turned out a right mess. ”

    Sounds like me. Of course I was born back in the days when they used to say that “the only people who breastfeed are tinkers and doctors’ wives” – ie
    only the absolute underclass and the very best informed. (Of course it’s sexist, classist, and possibly racist, but an interesting reflection on ancient mores.)

  38. I’m all for public breastfeeding, so how about some kind of similar accomodation for males? What about when we need to re-situate our junk? Sometimes the luggage falls off the plane, it’s a fact of life.

    It’s all about give and take, right? :P

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