Friday, 2 July 2010

Lactivism makes me want to hit the bottle.

The Deputy Editor of Mother and Baby Magazine wrote an opinion piece on bottle feeding. It discussed her choices, reasons and was brutally honest regarding her view of herself and her body.

The Internet went a bit bonkers in response. Lactivists set up a pro-breastfeeding (anti Mother and Baby) facebook group to pressure M&B into a retraction, or at least a 'clarification' on the benefits of breastfeeding. I found this desire to censor one woman's experience rather disturbing. The majority of women do choose to formula feed their children. No-one is disputing that there are benefits to breastfeeding, and to expressed breastfeeding from bottles. Breast milk is obviously perfect for babies.  However it is not a political statement. It is not a lifestyle choice. It is not a badge of honour. We women with children are Mothers first and foremost, and want the best for our children- surely? Why the factioning, infighting and smuggery?

I like this blog response:

Anyhoo, I did some online digging as I love a bit of drama. I found the cafepress catalogue of lactivist products.

Some have very funny slogans. Among my favourites were 'Mother Sucker' and 'I make milk.. what's your superpower?'. I like that. It's nice. But 'Friends don't let friends formula feed'  (with 'formula feed' written in dripping red blood) and 'Your bottle offends me'  and especially 'Yes I'm still breastfeeding...jealous?' is a full retreat to High School politics. Tell me these are made for reasons other than moral superiority and to shame any Mother ignorant enough to stick a tub of Aptamil in her shopping trolley. It is the worst kind of self-righteousness and makes me wonder just what is being compensated for. I don't need a t-shirt to affirm my parenting choices.

The final decline into idiocy was a child's t-shirt informing the casual passer-by that the wearer is vaccination free, under a list of other benefits it has experienced up to that point. Why oh why would you go to such pains to proclaim everything you are doing is 'best' for your child and then contribute to the deaths of thousands of other children by undoing herd immunity?

You are not a special snowflake for breastfeeding. You are not an ignorant monster for bottle feeding. Your children will grow up just as noisy and difficult and lovely and amazing and perfect as each other.

I used a sling and a pushchair. I have both breast and formula fed.  My son has his own bed but we sometimes co-sleep. He is vaccinated and weaned. But do you know what is more important than any of that? He has a Mother who loves him. It should unite us all, that simple truth.