Friday, December 18, 2009

Something Completely Different

I was going to write about something completely different this evening (per Brian's request) but some things have occurred that changed my mind.

Before I jump right in and start to share my thoughts with you, there are some facts you need to know in order to understand this post.

Fact #1: My husband works in the area of maternal child health and is a strong public and private advocate for breastfeeding.

Fact #2: For some time I worked with my husband in the state health department (even though I worked in Medicaid) and so the same people know of us.

Fact #3: I breastfed Evan for approximately 12 weeks (combination of from the breast and pumped milk). I don't know why (and I'll muse more on it later) but breastfeeding didn't work out for Evan and I.

Fact #4: I attempted a drug-free natural birth and ended up having a heavily drugged c-section.

So, since you now have the pertinent background information - let me share. Earlier today Brian went to work for a going away party (this is his last day before Atlanta). I came as everyone wanted to see Evan and I'm Evan's minion in situations like this. While I was there, 3 different people asked me if I was breastfeeding. Due to facts #1 and #2 above this really isn't an odd question for people to ask even though I find it to be kind of personal. Almost similar to them asking me my bra size.

So, being an honest person, I said I wasn't breastfeeding any longer. To their credit, no one came down hard on me, but they did give me the look. Come on, you all know the look (and this isn't paranoia). And, even though I had promised myself I wouldn't ever explain my actions as a parent I heard myself telling them that I had breastfed for 12 weeks but that things went awry.

Next, when we came home, I checked my blog. Often, when I go to my blog, I click on the "Next Blog" link at the top left of the screen. Since my blog is about family and pregnancy I'm usually taken to another blog with a similar theme. Today I was taken to a midwife's blog and her topic of the day was breastfeeding. More specifically about how she is sick of people saying things like "I didn't breastfeed and my baby turned out okay," or "I had drugs for my birth and it was just fine." Well, probably due to my earlier interactions in the day her blog really got me going and I left a comment (something I rarely do). There were TONS of comments to her blog and sadly most of them agreed with her.

Because her post annoyed me so much, I'm going to share with you all some of my belief.

First off, the writer based her argument on the fact that breast milk is the natural drink because "in the wild" that is all we have. I have to state that I DO believe that breast milk is the best milk for a baby and I will definitely try to breastfeed any other children I have. That is not the part of the argument I have an issue with - it's the "in the wild" argument.

Here is the sad truth. If we used the "in the wild" argument then I would never have Evan and millions of other women would never have been able to conceive or give birth. In some cases babies would have died that survive today (my niece probably being one of them) and mothers would be dead who are healthy today. "In the wild" if I had conceived I would have eventually died since I never went in to labor (even with modern medicine). I don't know the reasons why, but I know that modern society is far from "in the wild" when it comes to childbirth. And judging people based on this mentality leads to divides that shouldn't exist.

I don't know why breastfeeding was difficult for me. I had the lactation nurse in the hospital and 2 post-partum doulas who tried to help me out. Maybe I couldn't learn, maybe Evan couldn't learn, maybe my body, since it has trouble conceiving and giving birth, also has trouble providing milk for my offspring. Either way, no one who simply asks me if I'm breastfeeding knows the reason I'm currently not. But, people are comfortable making assumptions.

I ask that we create a society in which breastfeeding and natural childbirth are supported as a choice for mothers. But, I also ask that when we find someone who didn't take that path we don't make assumptions about the reasons why. Yes, breast milk is best, but formula isn't evil. Yes, a natural childbirth is best for mother and baby, but if the only way a woman can have a peaceful birth is through drugs then she isn't evil.

Fact #5: I love my son and attempt to make choices for him that are the best.

1 comment:

  1. Agree. Kristy didn't breastfeed, but I never thought it was a big deal. But some people do, but when does it end? I know someone who is still breastfeeding at age 2. That seems old.

    As for the "in the wild" thing, after Jacob was born, I thought the same thing. So much of modern medicine is advanced, and yet we still let people have babies naturally. That seems odd. Why don't they suffer cancer naturally? I know it's not a perfect argument, but I think you get my point.