With the controversial Breastfeeding doll currently all over the Internet, it’s kind if hard to ignore. Not that I haven’t tried. (And failed…)
I decided to stop leaving ten page long comments on other peoples blogs and just say what I need to say here. Again.
So…The thing is-the doll creeps me out.
But, wait, don’t start typing that nasty comment just yet, let me explain.
All dolls that mimic bodily functions, (including talking) freak me out. Especially Elmo dolls that call me fat.
(I was pregnant, asshole)
I just don’t see why kids can’t use their imaginations anymore. Every kid I’ve ever met who has been around a breastfeeding woman for any amount of time has given one of her(or his) toys a little nip from the imaginary breast. (Pun only slightly intended.) Kids are going to mimic what they see, its inevitable. And natural. No different than a child pretending to talk on the phone, or pretending to drive, or pretending to be a fireman.
Do I think this doll is sexual or sexualizing children in ANY way?
Um, no. Flower petal nipples aside, it’s just a toy (Granted, it’s an obscenely overpriced toy.)
Breasts are sexual objects. I’m not going to argue that. They are, and that won’t change anytime soon. And that’s not a bad thing. Without them, what would weirdos motorboat?
But they are not only sexual. They are, first and foremost, a means for mothers to nourish their offspring.
Which brings me to…
No, nursing mothers should not be asked to leave, shamed, or forced to wrap themselves and their babies up like mummies when feeding their children in public just so you don’t catch an (unlikely) eyeful of boob. Or even, *gasp* a nipple.
No, not even if there are other children present.
I admit, I’ve sometimes worried about where to point my eyes when a friend is breastfeeding near me, so as not to have an awkward moment. So, I get that it makes some people uncomfortable. But being uncomfortable is your problem, not the nursing mothers.
I’ve never managed to breastfeed long enough to have to deal with this issue, but most moms I know have, and still do-deal with the realities of having a breastfed child and, you know, the need to leave the house every so often.
Taking care of a baby is stressful enough without having to worry about getting kicked out of an Applebees the first time you actually get to eat out in 137 months.
I’m a big proponent of the “If you don’t want to see something-then don’t fucking look” school of thought. There is no rule that says you have to stare at a woman, just in case she exposes something indecent while trying to feed her kid. As for the argument about not wanting your kids exposed to that smutty, porn-like breast that may be behind that babies head?
Seriously? Ladies –And sadly, it IS mostly women who complain about this-I promise you, your child is not going to be scarred for life after seeing a woman feeding a baby. Odds are, they won’t even notice, unless you draw attention to it. And if they do notice, just tell them the truth. Breasts, while being bouncy and fun to look at, are also where baby food comes from.
Most of the time, anyway.
Which brings me to…
I don’t breastfeed.
And I’m tired of feeling like I have to preface that statement with a long explanation about how I tried for three months with my first child, but I have inverted nipples and she never could latch properly and we were both miserable and then I tried again with baby number two and three, to no avail, and baby four, I didn’t even try because I had to go back on my meds after I had him. I’m tired of getting dirty looks for pulling out a bottle and feeding my child with it. I’m EXTREMELY tired of people muttering about how “Breast is Best” and if I really LOVED my kids I wouldn’t be poisoning them with evil formula, and I wouldn’t be to lazy to wear some freaky-assed nipple shields 24/7 and try, try and TRY harder until I’m ready to commit suicide while my baby starves. I’m tired of the attitude behind the people who felt the need to tell me that breastfeeding a baby while on narcotic pain medication was better than formula feeding.
(And I’m not talking a Lortab here and there people. I am talking big-time pain meds.)
There is no way in hell my child would be better off addicted to narcotics than fed formula.
Yes, Breast IS Best.
It is not, however, the wonderful cure-all for everything from ear infections to athletes foot that people like to claim it is.
Awhile back, I did a bunch of research, and discovered something interesting. MOST of the studies they did that found breastfed babies were smarter/Thinner/healthier/less likely to become Paris Hilton- most of those studies were done in a way that makes the results almost meaningless. When they did these studies, the people they gathered their data from were generally stay-at-home, well-off, upper-middle-class women. The children in question were generally born to mothers who didn’t work three jobs, do drugs, eat processed foods or live near waste treatment plants in asbestos filled trailers. Those children were already predisposed to be smarter and healthier than average because of their upbringing. (I’m to lazy to re-find those links right now, but they do exist.) I’m not saying breast milk does not have some awesome qualities, just that there are many, many other factors at play here that influenced the results of these studies. And there are many things a parent can do to ensure their child is healthy and smart. And generally, the mothers who breastfeed tend to do these other things as well, so take these studies with a grain of salt, as it were.
(Incidentally- the kids I breastfed the longest have the most health problems, and the ones that I breastfed little or not at all, is by far the healthiest.)
Now, I’m not saying “Don’t even try to breastfeed, because it’s pointless.” I really do think that every mother should at least try. It IS the way nature intended, after all. It is made to be the perfect food for infants.
What I am saying, is that if, for whatever reason, it doesn’t work out for you, you shouldn’t be shamed for using formula.
The amount of guilt I get for being a bottle-feeder has at times, been unbearable. I’m sick of it. And I’m not alone in this.
It makes me sad that there are women out there who are completely, utterly miserable, but refuse to use formula because of the stigma now attached to it in most circles. Not all breastfeeding experiences are wonderful, unicorn-filled bond-fests where rainbows of contentment burst forth from your nipples. I spent three months in hell, resenting my baby because all she did was scream and I never slept, and you know what? If I could go back, I’d have just started her on a bottle and been done with it. That way, I could have actually spent that time enjoying my sweet baby and bonding with her instead of crying over my bloody nipples while locked in the bathroom.
I’m aware that I could have tried harder. I could have worn the scary nipple apparatuses (Apparatti?) or stayed off my meds. But, you know what, I finally chose not to. Because, for my family, using formula was what was best for everyone involved. If a mom is miserable and in pain and unhappy, she is not at her best, and our sweet babies deserve our very best, even if that best comes in a bottle.
As fellow parents, we should be supporting each other, not judging one another because of differing choices. Of course you feel like your way is best. You wouldn’t have done it that way if you didn’t. But that doesn’t mean it’s best for me and mine. Motherhood is fucking hard. We should be lifting each other up, and supporting other parents, because, really, we are all in the same, poop-filled boat. This whole breastfeeding topic shouldn’t even be a debate. I realize that there are many well-intentioned moms out there that feel it is important to encourage breastfeeding. Encouraging and supporting moms who choose to breastfeed is essential. But honestly, in my circles at least, offline and on, I have never met a mother who had never heard that “Breast is Best.” I’ve also never met one that bottle-fed and didn’t feel guilty as hell about it, either. And giving moms guilt for not breastfeeding is just as bad as giving moms shame for breastfeeding (In public or otherwise).
We are all on the same side here- we are all just trying to feed our children.
So, do me a favor. If you see a nursing mom in public, and it bothers you, simply look away. If you see someone giving her shit, stand up for her and let the perpetrator know that This. Is. Not. Okay.
And if you know a nursing mom who is miserable and at the end of her rope, but is afraid to stop because she’s afraid of what people will think-please remind her that she’s NOT a failure, and even if she chooses to switch to a bottle, her kid will be just fine.I promise.
Together, we can bridge this gap between breast and bottle. Together, we can fight for the rights of all mothers. We can fight for a womans right to be left alone when nursing in public. We can fight against the irrational idea that exposing children to breasts as a food supply is somehow going to “sexualize” them before they are “ready”. And we can fight against the assumption that mothers who choose-for whatever reason- not to breastfeed are lazy and uncaring baby poisoners.
The one thing we should not be fighting is each other.