Saturday, March 26, 2011

Breastfeeding? You must be STUPID!

No, that's not my opinion.  In fact, I used to secretly keep an eye on breastfeeding moms just in case.  I know, creepy, right.  But I'm nothing if not honest.  
Those days are far in the past for me, though.  I now just wish them luck as I watched my wife struggle with breastfeeding so badly that she gave up on trying to get Stella to latch.  We had two breast pumps, one for the car and one for the home, and a chest freezer half filled with bags of frozen breast milk.  She stopped pumping at around 6 months and our stockpile lasted until Stella was nearly a full year old.  I think this is the smartest thing parents can do for their new treasure, provided mom doesn't gorge herself on junk food and other unhealthy options.

There is a reason for the title of this post, and, once again, kudos to my wife for finding the subject matter that set me off this time.  Eventually you will notice a pattern: she finds the information, I go on the rant.  What can I say, it works for us.  She posted a link on her Facebook page for a blog called The Stir, which sites a separate article on Miller-McCune about the public perception that most people have about breastfeeding women.  It turns out that, although studies show that breastfed babies end up doing better in school, the majority of people participating in THREE SEPARATE STUDIES thought that mothers who breastfeed are widely viewed as less competent than otherwise identical females.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  As stated above, I believe this is  one of the most important gifts you can give your child.  Everything that goes through your system as a mother gets passed on to your baby.  If you live a healthy lifestyle and eat properly, your baby can only benefit.  By the way, the studies also showed that this opinion is not limited to men.  Just as many women hold the same perspective when it comes to this subject.  Why?  Well, let's speculate.

1.) People are lazy-It's just too much work to constantly have a baby hanging off your boob (I guess).  We wouldn't want to have to drop everything for ten minutes every two hours or so to make sure our baby is getting proper nutrition.  Sure, formula will give your baby essential nutrients, but it won't help baby get used to certain foods which are frequently associated with food allergies (just my opinion, remember, I'm not even a journalist let alone a doctor).  Do your baby a favor and eat right, it will benefit both of you in more ways than I can list.

2.) It hurts-Really?  YOU JUST GAVE BIRTH!  Whether by Cesarean (surgery) or vaginally (enough said), I'm pretty sure it hurt way more than dry nipples.  I have nothing else here, giving birth speaks for itself.

3.) Women are embarrassed to nurse in public-There are more styles and brands of breastfeeding cover-ups on the market than I can count on my hands and feet.  With the variety in patterns, make a fashion accessory for ten minutes while you are out and about.  Or do what my wife did and pump in the cat in the passenger seat (PLEASE not while driving) while zooming down Interstate 83 on the way to the Maryland Zoo.

I understand, there are certain circumstances where formula feeding is necessary, whether it be a disability that mom suffers from or multiples.  I'm certainly not saying that those of you who may be reading this are wrong in what you are doing.  I do believe, however, that there are ways around formula feeding such as pumping.  

It all leads to this: there is a negative perception about women who breastfeed.  So much so that one of the studies showed that it is a handicap for new-ish moms who are seeking employment!  Can you say discrimination?  The more public breastfeeding becomes, especially with our generation and those that follow, the more accepted it will be, and, eventually, public perception will change.  People who have a problem with this are uneducated and ignorant.  They just don't understand the benefits.  Ladies, don't worry about who you might be making uncomfortable in public, use your head and whip out your boob, it will do your baby a world of good.


  1. kudos to you for posting this... kudos to your wife for continuing to pump when all else failed (I did the same)

  2. I literally laughed out loud after reading the second point! Although dry nipples doesn't even begin to cover the extent of the pain that can be experienced. Dry, cracked, bleeding nipples. It's not fun.
    Labour can be several hours to possibly several days, breastfeeding is a lot longer than that. On-going pain is harder for some to deal with.
    I personally fought through the pain and numerous problems I had with breastfeeding and am so glad I did, but I can see the other side of this.

  3. Awesome post. I'm so glad a man wrote a pro-breastfeeding article. Too many people think breastfeeding is obscene, and it's sad.

  4. Less competent!?! Are you kidding me? In those first days it is much easier to shove a bottle filled with some company's bastardized version of breastmilk at your child than it is to nourish them from your already tired and sore body.

    I have 4 kids (soon to be 5) In all the years I have had very few people who have been rude to be about breastfeeding in public. Then again I live in Las Vegas where partial nudity is on almost every billboard.

    I always tried to have the baby fed before leaving the house, but babies don't care where you are when they get hungry.
    Nursing my child in the baby carrier as I walk through the store. One woman was very rude to me saying I was being indecent. If she hadn't been staring she wouldn't have known I was feeding my baby. I told her it's either feed her now or listen to her scream in hunger the rest of the time I had to remain in the store. My child's needs outweighed her prudish tendencies.

    Or the other rude woman who told me to go feed my child in the restroom. I offered her the option to eat her food in the bathroom. She quickly shut up after trying to complain to the management and they offered her the same solution.

    The only people that make me uncomfortable nursing in public are the same people that would make me uncomfortable with their creepy stares even if I was fully dressed.

    I just have to say Know you local laws. Most cities and states have laws in place to protect the rights of a nursing mother and her child. (uncovered or covered)
    In Las Vegas you can nurse uncovered in full view of anyone. Even if nipple happens to end up showing due to the many things that may cause it to happen.

    Only in America are we so prudish about breastfeeding. In Europe they are laughing their way into a healthy lifestyle at our prudish ways ruining not only the health of mothers but the health of their child.
    (breast feeding reduces chance of breast cancer in mothers)

  5. And mother's that pump to feed their child I give even more kudo's to. I was never able to get a pump to work for me. No matter which brand I tried or the many tricks offered by lactation consultants. I could never get an effective let down.

    I bow down to your wife for her great success in making it past one of the tougher boobie traps of an unresolved bad latch.

    With this pregnancy I plan to try yet another breast pump in hopes of finding a donor breast milk foundation to help sick and preemie babies.

  6. Love this! I'm breastfeeding right now! I strongly agree with your point that the more we do it in public the more people will just get used to it. I'm the one sitting at the restaurant with a boob out & a baby happy as can be nursing away... Would they rather hear a crying crabby baby? Or see a human pacifier?

  7. Ditto Meghan. I nursed both my boys 15 and 16 months and am due with the next in August... pregnancy is the only reason I weaned. It hurt like hell. the extended pain, excruciating needles and knives, toes curling pain is not something you can take long. I endured this pregnancy/ nursing for 4 months before I finally bit the bullet and weaned. And that from ME who had a 77 hour labor ending in a Csection with DS#1, nursing can be MORE painful that child birth. :) Just saying. Thank you for writing this post.

  8. I agree that nursing can be more painful than a drug-free delivery. My sister thinks I had thrush. The pain of nursing was so intense that it often made me cry...I nursed for three months before switching to full-time pumping which was less painful. And it didn't just hurt while nursing...I hurt ALL the time--the Dr. said I must just be sensitive--yeah right. Add to all this the fact that my little guy was severely sensitive to most of the things I ate. He would go on eating strikes every couple days. My extremely restricted diet wasn't helping and I was loosing too much weight. I pumped for a little while, but what worked the best, I have to say, was a hypoallergenic formula. Some moms really NEED to formula feed their children. We are blessed to have such a wonderful and natural thing like breastfeeding. We are also blessed to have formula so that those babies who are not thriving with breastfeeding can survive, and so that their parents can stay sane.

  9. I also have to agree nursing can be more painful than delivery, and I had back labour with one and induction with the other (induction hurt more! I breathed through back labour and had a hard time forcing myself not to thrash about in pain with the induction and wound up going for the epidural!) whether because it goes on for weeks, the hurting, or the mental warfare of deliberately sitting down with your baby knowing it is going to curl-your-toes-take-deep-breaths-eyes-squeezed-shut hurt like a sunuvabotch.
    However, with my second child I did some research and learned that if it hurts, something is wrong. With my first daughter once I toughened up it was fine but with my second she wasn't opening her mouth wide enough. I had to do some research and learned how to help her get a better latch. Immediately feedings were faster and I healed completely within two days. So if it hurts, find out what you need to do to help your baby get a better latch! Benefits you AND your baby!

    Refreshing perspective. And your first paragraph made me chuckle... thanks for your honesty! I know a teenage boy who has a good honest relationship with his mother and he told her that it makes him feel really uncomfortable when women nurse in church (especially without a cover) for similar reasons. I don't think men can always help it, it's almost involuntary, so women have to either choose not to be offended or get a nursing cover! I read a blog post the other day that mocked covers and said they draw more attention and I mean, who cares? That's fine! Hey everyone, look at me! I'm nursing in public! And you don't see my boob, I'm basically as clothed as anyone here!

  10. I am impressed that your wife was able to pump enough to last 6 months!
    I am just now weaning my 13 month old from breastfeeding. It was a huge committment and yes it did hurt a lot at times (the pain from labor is a faint memory now, but the pain of biting and blocked ducts is very fresh!). NO matter how hard it was, or how inconvenient, it was the absolute best thing I could do for her. In addition to setting her up for better nutrition (breastfed babies are at a much lower risk for childhood obesity) and more likely to do well in school, by breastfeeding my daughter, I supplied her with the ability to might off major infections during her first year of life when her immune system was incomplete and still developing.
    The best thing though? Breastfed babies grow into children who are more confident and secure. This is probably because of the strong bond that they were able to form with their mothers. I love the idea that by nursing my child, I am showing her unconditionally that I am there for her and she can venture out into this world knowing that I'll support her.

    p.s. I didn't have to pump on 83, but I did pump on 95 on the way to the OBX. And you know what, if anyone did see anything, I never saw them again, so who cares!

  11. In case anyone happens to be reading this and is deciding whether or not to breastfeed, I just wanted to add that it doesn't always hurt. I was so worried about breastfeeding before I had my son, but I was determined to do it because of how many benefits there are for the baby. My husband thought it didn't make a difference whether you fed formula or breastmilk, but one breastfeeding class totally changed his mind. I was so lucky to have his support and encouragement. I was also lucky that my son came out and latched on by himself. We have had no problems and no pain whatsoever. I'm not trying to brag about "my experience", just trying to get the word out that not everyone has pain with it. Even if I had pain, I would have still breastfed. It was so easy when he would wake up at night just to pick him up out of his bassinet (right next to our bed), feed him, change his diaper in our bed, and lay him right back to sleep. It allowed him and us MUCH more sleep time. Think of how much time it takes to get up, warm the milk and make up the bottle, and then clean the bottle afterwards. The only thing I wish I would have known before was that not all breastpumps are the same and not everyone can pump. I have no trouble breastfeeding and have plenty of milk, but I have tried 5 different pumps (including the Symphony that we have to use at work) and it takes me a few pumpings to get one feeding.

    LOVE this page!

  12. First, thank you to everyone who has read and commented on my posts. I have a dream for this blog and the more followers and hits I get, the better I feel about it's chances.

    Second, I wish to clarify a point that I was trying to make in this post. I certainly now realize that breastfeeding can be more painful than child birth if latching does not happen properly. And I would NEVER say that I understand how it might feel, because I would never be able to even attempt this. What I would like to say is that maybe I was taken a little out of context. What I was trying to get across is that, in my opinion, too many new moms decide well before birth that they are going to formula feed due to horror stories that they have heard. Regardless of what you have heard, if you are aware of the benefits of breastfeeding for both mother AND baby, you won't know whether or not it hurts until you try. I can say that I understand that it doesn't work for everyone, but I think that you still can't just give up and switch directly to formula if that happens. They sells breast pumps to the general public, not just working moms who want to breast feed. That being said, I don't think that formula feeding is bad, just that the benefits of breastfeeding far outweigh the cost of formula feeding.

    The overall point of this post was really just to rant about the studies that were done and the state of our society today. My wife pointed out this morning while she was watching the Royal Wedding (yes, just her, I was mocking it), that there was no concern in London of someone trying to assassinate anyone in the Royal Family. Imagine if that had taken place in our country, different people, same "rank", so to speak. Security would be at a maximum level, people wouldn't allowed within a mile of the White House, and you can forget about the country shutting down like they did over there, we'd all be at work, trying to catch glimpses of it on the internet in between visits from our boss. But the Europeans have it right, there are no issues with breastfeeding in public, no major problems with acts of random violence (at least not on the scale that we Americans are exposed to on an everyday basis), and they all love the Royal Family as if they were their own. We have a long way to go, and I fear that it will be many years before we can even begin to make any headway on these issues. But I'll do my best to bring awareness to as many people as I can through my 5th Amendment rights.

    Again, thank you to everyone, and I hope to see you all back here again, soon!

  13. I think it's great that you supported your wife on something she wanted to do. But, that is the REAL point. Support your wife, sister, mother, daughter, friend, neighbor on what SHE wants to do. You said in your article that you think the smartest thing a parent can do is breastfeed. I think you're wrong. I think the smartest thing parents can do for their children is love each other and support each other. I think that in the long run whether or not you breastfeed your child REALLY won't matter all that much. Do I think it helped my 2 boys immune systems? Yes. Do I think I may have helped them in other ways, even boosted their IQ's? Sure, maybe. The research says it might. Do I think they'll get into Harvard because of it? Uh no. Do I think it's even in the top 10 smartest things I'll ever do for my child? No, I don't. Like I said above, we're gonna face much, much bigger parenting decisions later on in life that will have a bigger impact. Heck, my almost 4 year old doesn't even REMEMBER being breastfed (and it's probably good, I could see that causing some big emotional scars later on...). In the long run breastfeeding is a blip on the map on the road of parenting. It's a blip on the map in our childrens lives. It's beneficial, but certainly not the most important parenting decision we will make. I think it doesn't matter if you have medical issues or not. If you don't want to breastfeed, don't. If you do, then by all means lets hope you're married to a wonderful supportive-of-breastfeeding husband like yourself. A woman that forces herself to breastfeed when she really didn't want to -for whatever reason - because she's being pressured by outside forces will just stress herself out during an already stressful period. And, a woman that wants to breastfeed and is unable to, or decides it isn't for her, will just feel guilty if those around her are SO adamant about how perfect it is and what a huge impact it will be in their child's life. Just support her, no matter what.

    And, to qualify myself, I did breastfeed two children. One to 9 months before he self weaned and then I pumped to get us to a year. The other is still nursing at 14 months. I'll admit, I was a little self righteous there for a while because I had such a hard time with the first, but I persevered. God, that first 6 weeks was horrible. In retrospect I should have focused the energy I had on succeeding at breastfeeding on recognizing that I had PPD. But, my sisters breastfed and I was determined to do it as well, but it had come easy to them. What a Mother needs is for someone to say "Hey, whatever you do is fine. You're a great Mom, no matter what and if anyone judges you for anything I'll punch them in the nuts for you."

    As parents we should just support each other and that's it. If a Mom is reading this, and doesn't want to breastfeed she shouldn't feel guilty at all. So, to that Mom - just love your child and care for them. Show them a happy home, because in the end it's not really THAT big of a deal. If a Mom is reading this and her nipple is falling off because she's on week 2. You CAN do it, and your nipple won't really fall off. Find a lactation consultant, fast. But, if you want to stop, it's okay to do that too. Your child can still get into Harvard. Maybe :)

    Dad, kudos to you for being so passionate about this topic, it's not one many men really try to understand at all, so I do think that is great. Oh, and I fully credited my supply to Sonic cream slushes and Oatmeal cream pies by the way. So, there :)

  14. Katie,

    While I enjoy your sarcasm, I'd like to just rebut a few things that you said and make sure that you understand what I am talking about and what I actually said in the post. I never actually said that this is the most important thing you can do in your child's life. In the end, you're right, it's not that big of a deal, but realize that this is the first major decision you make in your child's life. I simply said it's the best decision we can make for a newborn.

    I also believe love and support from loved ones IS essential, and I supported my wife when we switched to formula for the last few weeks before Stella turned 1 (never mind the fact that we had run out of pumped milk and she wasn't about to start again at that point). But studies also show that women who breastfeed have a lower risk of developing breast cancer later in life, hence the benefit for mom. I don't think there is a single person out there who thinks that breastfeeding is going to get their kid into Harvard, that has much more to do with how you raise them. I also never actually said that formula feeding was horrible, I just think we all owe it to our children to give breastfeeding a try. If it doesn't work, well, then, it doesn't work. I know it's not going to work for everyone (in fact, I have a friend who's wife has given up after trying to pump due to bleeding), but too many people, in my opinion (which I am entitled to), quit before trying, probably for the reasons I listed in the original post.

    In the end, the 100% absolute BEST thing we can do for our children in their lives is love them and support them unconditionally. I don't think you'll find any arguments out there against that.

  15. I agree with (most) all of your points. I guess the big one I don't agree with - and yes you are entitled to your opinion - is the one where you say that all Moms should at least try. If they don't want to I think that is their decision and not one they should be made to feel guilty for. This debate, and many others, are tiring and I wish that we could just all truly, 100%, support each other. I, personally, am just over the parenting wars that divide us all, whether that is cloth diapering, formula feeding, CIO, time-outs, circumcision, vaccinations... whatever. Yes, the decision to breastfeed is one of the first ones you make for your child but it certainly isn't the be all end all. The Harvard comment was, mostly, sarcastic but the way a lot of pro breastfeeding people speak you'd think they believed it was true.

    Thanks for the great post, and debate :)