Wednesday, December 14, 2011

There Is No Good Reason Not To Breastfeed.

Yes, I just said that. There is no good reason for any baby not to be breastfed at a mother's breast. (Breastmilk from a bottle is still only second best.)

Now before you get all bent the F out of shape about me saying this, I ask that you hear me out. I believe in in assisting women in empowering themselves. I advocate for education on and legal protection of womens' reproductive rights. I also advocate for babies' rights to the healthiest life they can be provided with, physically and emotionally. I believe many women have valid reasons for choosing not to breastfeed.

Still, I believe there is no good reason for any baby to not be breastfed.

I believe formula fed babies can grow up to be generally healthy, well-enough adjusted, contributing members of society. I believe that mothers who don't breastfeed can bond with their babies, and absolutely love them immeasurably and unconditionally.

Still, I believe there's no good reason not to breastfeed.

If you chose not to because it was inconvenient with your work schedule, and you couldn't quit working, for whatever reason, than while valid, it doesn't seem good to me. Quite the opposite, it seems no good to me that we live in a culture that would coerce you, by peer pressure to be more "successful" or through financial burden requiring your income, to leave your newborn, to be fed pumped breastmilk, or, even more nutritionally inferior, milk from another species or from a (probably genetically modified) bean or other plant.

Maybe it wasn't peer pressure or financial burden. Maybe you genuinely wanted to leave your baby. Maybe you genuinely wanted to let someone else do the childcare and child-rearing. If so, than why not also let someone else do the breastfeeding? Why not hire a safe, tested, responsible wet-nurse for the hours you are unavailable? Oh, right, back to cultural influence and taboo.

Maybe you, like me, like 40% to 80% of women worldwide, have been sexually assaulted or abused. (Yes, an estimated minimum of 40% of women in The United States of America have been and/or will be sexually assaulted or abused during their lifetime.) Maybe as a result even the thought of breastfeeding triggers post-traumatic stress symptoms or disorder for you, so you don't, or you stop, for your own mental and emotional health. That is an absolutely, unquestionably, valid reason. A horrible, enraging, absolutely no-good reason. It is the opposite of good.

It infuriates me that we live in culture that raises these predators in such abundance; that lets rapists and child-molesters live, let alone walk free in society. They have an astronomical rate of recidivism. They commit an average of over one-hundred "offenses" before being caught. I am sorry to you. I am sorry to my little-girl self, and to all of the other little girls and women who have been affected by these violations. I am sorry that you and your baby are missing out what can be such an intensely satisfying and maternally-validating, (not to mention nutritionally, mentally, and emotionally nurturing) experience, because of our society's failure to raise respectful people and to be rid of such predators. This is not a good reason. It is gut-wrenching, tragic, infuriating reason.

Maybe you think it's "ewwy." Maybe you view your breasts as purely sexual, and the thought of anyone other than a lover putting their mouth on your nipple makes you uncomfortable or "grossed out." I'm sorry you have been so objectified, and adopted such an objected view of your own body. (Media and our culture at work again?) This is not good.

Maybe you are physically unable to breastfeed your baby. Maybe you are not your baby's biological mother. Maybe this baby's mother was a tragic casualty of childbirth or other fatal event. Again, where is the wet-nurse, paid or volunteer? I have voluntarily breastfed the infants of women, and I know other mothers who have done the same. We would all be willing to do it again. Where are the other mothers, forming these connections and bonds, getting past the cultural taboos, recognizing not only the nutritional, but also the emotional and mental benefits of breastfeeding, for the baby if not for the woman providing her breast? I loved that my breastfeeding baby/toddler had the added emotional security of having another adult she trusted so implicitly; a woman who told my baby, with her body, in the only language an infant can understand, that she would have her needs met, with not only milk, but also with the comfort of the soft, soothing, nurturing presence of a mother's breast. I appreciate the additional affection I feel towards the parents who shared their nurslings with me, and especially towards those nurslings themselves. What could be wrong with a broader support network for our children, and thus a more bonded and appreciative society?

Maybe you are the "lover," the relative, neighbor, or other person, contributing to a mother choosing not to breastfeed. Maybe you're doing it knowingly. Maybe you're not. Maybe you are simply not supporting mothers in choosing to breastfeed. I beseech you, for the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of the mothers in our world and the generations they are bearing and raising, to institute change. Educate yourselves. Support these women. Women, mothers - stand up for yourselves and eachother, and for our babies.

There are many valid reasons for choosing not to breastfeed. There are no good reasons.

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