Breastfeeding advocacy was never something I thought I would be so passionate about. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to have a true purpose in this world. I was just not sure of what it was until a few years ago. I learned about all the controversy that surrounded breastfeeding and it saddened me. I also had my own struggles with breastfeeding that I feel molded me into the advocate I am today. Sometimes people like to wrap all advocates/activists into one entity, but I'm here to clear up a few things. In this article, I will list a few things I have heard from people who refer to themselves as advocates and or Lactivists. I feel like if you are focusing more on putting down people than you are supporting and lifting people up you aren't true to the cause. That's just my personal opinion. Here are 6 things I think breastfeeding advocates should stop saying....
1.) Formula is poison.
Going around calling formula poison will not get you anywhere. You can talk about the risks associated with formula without calling it poison. Many babies depend on formula whether you like it or not. Wanting every single baby to receive breastmilk is one thing, but calling formula poison will not make that happen. It will just make for some hurt feelings and heated debates.
2.) You should have tried harder.
Moms who tried to breastfeed are breastfeeding moms just the same. How do you know they didn't try their hardest to breastfeed longer? What good do you accomplish by telling a mom she should have tried harder? Breastfeeding is natural, but it doesn't come naturally to all.. Instead , tell her that any drop of breastmilk she gave was worth it and a beautiful gift she gave to her baby.
3.) If you didn't at least try to breastfeed, you are selfish.
You never know someone's situation. Not that those who didn't even attempt to breastfeed need justification, but I want to share a perspective.
Breastfeeding should be mutually desired. Say a mom is a sexual abuse survivor the thought of breastfeeding her baby may sicken her, may cause vivid flash backs, may cause her to go into a deep depression. What good would that do for her baby if she is able to sure, feed baby breastmilk, but what about baby's other needs? If mom is an emotional wreck she may not bond with her baby, she may even start to resent her baby. I'd say that a mom knowing her limits and what she can or can't handle beforehand is selfless , not selfish. What would you hope to achieve by telling a mom she's selfish anyway?
4.) Breast is best!
This confuses a lot of people when I talk about why I do not say or like the term, "Breast is best" because breast is best right? Breast is the biological norm. From The Milk Meg- "Breast is not best because then we use the same language created to market and sell formula…the “best” alternative or the “best” ingredients. Breast is just the norm." Full article from The Milk Meg - (HERE)
5.) Moms who formula feed are lazy.
Whether you breastfeed or formula feed that definitely does not determine whether or not you're a lazy parent. What someone decides to feed their kid has nothing to do with laziness. There are struggles with both breastfeeding and formula feeding. Formula moms have to get up in the middle of the night to make fresh bottles, heat water and or bottle, mix it, wash the bottles, go the store to get the formula, etc... So it's not like there is a lot less work to formula feeding except for the fact if she has people helping her, but many moms who use formula are stay at home mamas and do the majority of the feedings too. So stop with the lazy comments.
6.) If you had more determination and will power then maybe you would have breastfed longer.
Trying to pick apart why a mom didn't breastfeed or switched to formula won't help matters. If you honestly feel like the person you are talking to had no determination or will power that's definitely something you should keep to yourself. Moms should not be criticized or made to feel bad or less than for their feeding choices and when you represent yourself as an advocate you should take that title seriously. To me, an advocate means giving support to those who need it, sticking up for moms who are being put down, informing, advising, giving love, and inspiration. Again, you won't get anywhere going around trying to pick apart and put down moms who didn't breastfeed or didn't breastfeed as long as you think they should have. Stick with promoting what you love, not attacking what you hate.
Breastfeeding advocacy is about supporting mothers, empowering mothers, and being there for mothers. Stop making it a competition or a war. It's not Breastfeeding Verse Formula feeding. Be passionate about breastfeeding support, not putting those down who aren't. You will feel much more fulfilled at the end of the day, trust me.