Thursday, September 23, 2010

On Second Thought....Maybe It's Not a Great Idea

I've been keeping up with the controversial breastfeeding news.  Ha.  Yeah.  Really.   When is breastfeeding news NOT controversial?

This piece of news is regarding the opinions of a breastfeeding expert; Jennifer James. She's from RMIT University. I'm guessing she's a professor?  

James thinks that infant formula should be available via prescription only. The Australian Breastfeeding Association agrees with her.   Many formula-using moms strongly disagree.

I've heard the idea before. And I liked least on the surface.

Formula is too readily available, too often advertised and marketed, and way too normalized.

It seems it might help increase breastfeeding rates if you made it prescription only.  There would be an underlying message.  Breastfeeding is what's NORMAL. If you can't breastfeed, you have a genuine medical condition, and you need a prescription.

I guess it would be kind of like insulin. Healthy people make enough of their own insulin. But some people have problems with that, and they need an insulin prescription.

There's a big difference between insulin and infant formula though. Insulin can kill someone, or put them in a coma. Remember that movie with Jeremy Irons? 

Infant formula increases the chance of various medical problems, but as far as I can't be used a murder weapon.

When I think carefully about the prescription idea, I can't quite support it.

There ARE cases where breastfeeding doesn't work for people.  And there are cases where women have valid reasons for not wanting to breastfeed.   I wouldn't want them to go through the hassle of having to get a prescription, fill the prescription, refill the prescription, etc.  I have to go through the hassle with my birth control pills, and I hate all that.

Hey, why ARE birth control pills by prescription only?  It's kind of ridiculous. Yeah.  There are health risks, but there are risks with a lot of drugs available over the counter.

Maybe I don't like the prescription idea because I'm weary of medical professionals.  I don't like the idea of people having to over depend on them. It's awful to imagine parents having to talk to their doctors to get food for their baby.

And how DO we know it won't backfire?  Why wouldn't doctors actually encourage mothers to use formula?   Oh, I'm sorry the baby's keeping you up at night. You know, if you switch to formula you might be able to get some more sleep.  Here, I'll write you a prescription. 

I do strongly agree with another idea that Jennifer James and The Australian Breastfeeding Association have.  They think infant formula should not be advertised to the public. I'd love to NOT see formula ads on TV, and in parenting magazines.  I'd like to stop seeing them on websites.

In addition, I think that there should be a law against medical businesses and professionals handing out free trials of infant formula. It disgusts me that, when I gave birth to Jack, my hospital gave me a cute diaper bag containing formula samples. What the hell is that all about?   I know. I know. It's just in case I had problems with my milk supply.  How sweet of them to worry about me.

Why don't hospitals hand out free wheelchairs to know, just in case some of us end up not being able to walk?  How about an oxygen mask?  Some of us might end up having breathing difficulties?

The free diaper bag is generous. But they should fill it with chocolate instead of formula.   That would be nice. In Australia, they could give you a free box of Tim Tams.  

The other thing that needs to be done is to make bottle-feeding seem less normal.

I mean I don't want formula-using moms to feel like complete weirdos. But they should take SOME of that burden.  It shouldn't be totally left to the breastfeeding moms to feel like social outcasts.    

When we buy baby dolls for our children, what do they usually come with?  A bottle.

When people have baby showers, what object is often used as a decorating motif? Baby bottles!

When characters on children's shows feed their baby, what do they use? Usually a bottle. How often does a baby on a children's TV show get breastfed instead of bottle fed?  I think it's probably pretty rare. We're taught from an early age that bottle-feeding is the normal and cute thing to do.  

How do my Sims feed their babies?

They bottle-feed.

I think it would be great if the Sims creators would allow at least the OPTION of breastfeeding.   I don't think the graphics for that would be too difficult.

I think it's great that there's a breastfeeding doll.   Although it's a bit ridiculous.  You don't really need a special doll.   A child can just take any old doll, lift his or her shirt, and pretend to nurse.

I think it's probably enough to simply reduce the amount of baby dolls that come with bottles.

Oh....I have to admit it though. When I was a kid I loved those bottles.  You know, how it looks like there's really orange juice or milk in there.   SO cool.

Well, we have things that the medical community, media, and toy companies can do to decrease the amount of people who choose formula over breast milk.

There's also things that regular old moms can do. You can go to grocery stores, find moms about to buy formula, wrestle them to the ground, and spray paint their babies with a scarlet F.  That would definitely help the cause.

No, I'm joking.

I think a better idea would be to just get out there and breastfeed.

If you're brave enough to ignore all the nasty comments about public breastfeeding, go for it.

And it's really NOT that scary. I breastfed airplanes, in restaurants, while walking around shopping, at parties, in front of dinner guests, etc.  I didn't get any nasty comments. No one ever insisted that I stop.   I know people DO have horror stories, but I'm betting they're rarer than the media portrays.  I think for the most part, nastiness about breastfeeding stays on the Internet. And on the internet, there's nastiness regarding anything that relates to parenting choices.  

Anyway, the more people see breastfeeding....the more normal it becomes.

It takes a brave women to be the only one at her playgroup to whip out her breast. But if she's NOT the only one, then it's less intimidating.   

If children are at the playground and see mothers breastfeeding they'll start getting the idea that breastfeeding is what moms and babies do.  

There's that whole controversy about the breastfeeding cover-up blanket.   Is it good?   Is it evil?

I didn't use one.

Some lactivists from upon it.  They think it promotes the idea that breastfeeding is embarrassing. Something to hide.

There could be some merit to that.

However, some moms are more modest about their tits, and that should be respected.

In terms of promoting breastfeeding, I think the blankets are VERY beneficial. When a mom uses one of those blankets, it shouts out blatantly. Breastfeeding is happening over here!  I think when a mom does NOT use the blanket, it's less easy to notice that she's breastfeeding. Unless you're close up, it might just look like holding and cuddling.

Now that I think of it though....I'm not sure they do help that much with modesty.   My sister uses one (religiously, I suppose) and I've gotten some....mammary imagery.      

Anyway, blanket or no blanket.....I think moms should be applauded for public breastfeeding.   No one should be pressured to use a blanket, and no one should be marginalized for using a blanket.

I also think formula-using moms should stop whining about being made to feel guilty by other moms, the medical community, the media, etc.   Again, I'm sure there are SOME true horror stories....attacks in the grocery store.   But I bet most of the guilt is self-inflected. People feel guilty about their choices, and they over-interpret comments and meaningless glances.

Guess what though....guilt and insecurity are part of parenthood.

If you're a mom or dad, and you DON'T feel this insecurity or guilt on a fairly regular basis.....well, you are one lucky bastard. Count your blessings on that one.