If Your Wife Wants to Breastfeed, Deal With It!
Whenever I see a new article or post that claims to present a "case against breastfeeding" I am really perplexed. Most of these are really just pieces with sensationalistic titles about why a particular mom could not breastfeed or why it was not the best choice for a specific family. Why not post a case against holding your child? After all, some parents have no arms. How insensitive of us to promote the joy of hugs when some have no upper limbs.
The latest, A Father's Case Against Breast Feeding in The Atlantic, seems particularly ridiculous to me. Why would a father be trying to breastfeed ? Peculiar. Oh, wait, it is another man writing about women's bodies and what we should or should not do with them.
I am not saying men should have no voice in the raising of their families; just that breastfeeding is a very personal relationship between a baby and a mother. Dad's role is support staff or, as a male commenter on the original piece:
"But, as men, we need to shut the f*ck up about things like lack of sleep with babies. Again, I say this as a father of two: Cowboy the f*ck up and soldier on, dude. You reinforce to your wife that she is sacrificing of her peace of mind in order to make sure her child is getting what it needs, and that makes her an awesome mother. You tell judgmental people to go f*ck themselves and protect your wife. And you keep your goddamn mouth shut to her if you feel like whining about your lack of REM sleep."
The article is a good example of the trouble with the "Breast is Best" language. Ideal is easy to write off in a less-than-perfect world. What breastfeeding is...is normal and natural. When we are unable to breastfeed or choose not to breastfeed or pump (for reasons that are our own and no one else's business), we fortunately live in a place with access to clean water and (mostly) safe formulas.
Also obvious from the article are the problems created by well-meaning professionals who try to help women to breastfeed. Although some women and babies are simply medically unable to breastfeed, far more are "booby trapped" before their baby even tries his first feeding. When babies are not immediately placed on the mother, when mothers are not allowed to "room in" with their babies, when hospitals supplement with formula against the express wishes of the parents, they are making it difficult for mothers to reach their own breastfeeding goals.
I also find that the "medical measuring mania"--for weighing babies, quantifying pumped milk, and recording the frequency and duration of feedings--while helpful for diagnosing problems fails to provide an accurate picture of breastfeeding and tends to create more stress and challenges. For some reason, many professionals insist on using charts for formula-fed babies on breastfed babies. And they seem unaware that the amount pumped does not equal the amount received during breastfeeding.