This post on the Alpha Parent is stirring up some emotions in breast-feeders and non breast-feeders alike. http://www.thealphaparent.com/2012/06/news-flash-breastfeeding-requires.html?showComment=1341528185382#c8066091406113027909
I think it comes off harsh but I can understand where she is coming from. There are many things in here that many will find offensive so if you don’t want to get fired up please don’t read it.
This is what I choose to take away from what she wrote.
There are people out there who are excuse makers. Instead of being honest about their feelings and choices about being able or not able to do something, they use excuses. I make fun of men for this all the time (yes, I am generalizing but I think men are great excuse makers). Instead of being honest about having a bad golf game they say things like the sun was in my eyes, or the wind was blowing too hard, or the grass was too long or too wet. Maybe its just the men I know:) I’m a no excuses kind of person (at least I like to think I am). I have tried things and not been successful but I don’t blame others or situations for it, I just accept that I didn’t do it or made a different choice, end of story.
I do often find people who are not open to advice that could solve their breastfeeding challenges. So it does make me wonder if they want solutions at all. I think her point is just to be honest about your choice not to breastfeed and not use a challenge (that you weren’t open to a solution for) as an excuse. So many people out there using these challenges as “excuses” propagates myths about breastfeeding. When women hear “Oh I tried to breastfeed but I didn’t have enough milk,” it sets them up for this as a possibility in their lives. When they have challenges they think oh I guess I can’t breastfeed instead of seeking out solutions. Those of us who understand that this “excuse” is rarely a whole truth tend to become judgmental of that excuse because we know that there are many solutions that could be tried if that mom wanted solutions.
Yes, less judgement of moms in general is what is needed here. I think it is judgement about making the choice not to breastfeed that is driving the perceived need for excuses. If you choose not to breastfeed just say it. If you think you tried everything but are not open to solutions say that too. “I tried nursing and I have decided that I want to feed my baby differently”, end of story no excuses. If you think you tried everything and you are open to solutions have a dialogue about it. “I have tried nursing and have been having challenges, this is where I’m at.” More honesty about it would create less animosity, I think.
I know moms who have truly tried everything but I don’t think this article is addressed towards them. I actually think this article is to protect the moms out there who are trying everything and really want to be nursing.
To me when it comes to natural birth and breastfeeding you need to have a “whatever it takes attitude” and not “the best I can” attitude. Saying I will “do the best I can,” gives you an out. Saying I will do “whatever it takes” means that you will do everything to make it work. After trying everything, you will know that you did whatever it took. If you need to make the next best choice and feed your baby something other than your milk this choice can be made in confidence and without guilt or excuses.
I think women who have done whatever it takes should speak up more often. I don’t see any shame in saying you are having a challenge but are doing whatever it takes to make it work. If anything I think these are the superheros of breastfeeding.
Dealing with challenges like these and persevering is really such a great tribute to their strength and dedication to their babies. I think if other women who are having challenges knew what lengths other moms were going to to make it work it could inspire them to seek out solutions too. I also think that moms who have no troubles nursing would be more empathetic to those having challenges if they saw the level of commitment these whatever it takes moms had. It would also help them appreciate the gift they have of “easy” breastfeeding.
People using excuses really undermines the moms who are doing or have done whatever it takes to work through the challenges.
Does doing whatever it takes mean that you will definitely end up exclusively breastfeeding? Not necessarily. It means you have looked for and tried all the solutions and have not given up at the first hurdle. You can still give your baby breast milk even if you must also supplement with someone else’s milk or a breast milk substitute when no donor milk is available (ideally through an SNS and not a bottle but whatever you choose is best for you). It doesn’t have to be all or none like many people believe. You can also allow your baby time at the breast even if no milk comes out at all. Your baby could get some of the benefits of nursing even without the benefits of your milk (suckling and skin on skin time is important too). Or exclusive breastfeeding may only start when they are 4 months old. Maybe you started with formula but choose to re-lactate and feed breast milk when they are a little older. Successful breastfeeding can look so many different ways. Unfortunately there is not enough support out there for those who need to work through challenges and women are often encouraged to give up entirely.
Going a step further, to me doing whatever it takes would also mean that you seek out donor milk before resorting to formula. You could also make your own infant formula so you don’t have to use processed formula. Many mothers make their own baby food to avoid processed food but very few make their own formula. Why do we feel dependent on this processed food if breast milk is not available?
Here are a couple of whatever it takes stories about breastfeeding
If you have a whatever it takes breastfeeding story please email me and I can share it as a guest blog post. Sharing your story can inspire another mom to commit to doing whatever it takes for her baby. http://yourbirthcoach.com/video-of-birth-best-birth-prenatal-class-contact/
What are your thoughts?