I hate the mommy wars.
I really hate the mommy wars.
I hate them as a mother. I hate them as a breastfeeding advocate. I hate them as a physician. I hate them as a human being.
The mommy wars are ugly. They are the embodiment of how mothers go all judgmental on each other for just trying to go about their daily business. I can assure you that if I posted to a blog, facebook page, or other forum about the simple day to day facts of how I parent, I would be torn to shreds. Verbally, that is. Why? Because the mommy wars are everywhere. And they suck.
In a perfect world the mommy wars would disappear. But you and I both know that that isn't going to happen anytime soon. So let's take it a step at a time. And the first step that I would take is to remove breastfeeding from the mommy wars.
Let's stop pitting breastfeeders against bottle feeders. Let's stop talking about breastmilk vs formula like it's some old rivalry to be fought. No matter what your position, each time that we engage in this fight we lose. We all lose. Because we first lose when we hurt each other. Then we lose because we intimidate and frighten women - not a good way to start a healthy breastfeeding relationship. Then we lose when we try to break up the fight with the solution that makes me cringe, "formula feeding, breastfeeding, whatever.....it's doesn't really matter."
It does matter. And how you talk about it matters.
Breasfeeding mothers and formula feeding mothers should be able to talk to one another about infant feeding. Why?
Because we need formula feeding mothers. Formula feeding mothers are really important to the success of breastfeeding.
Let's say that you're looking for a way to get more women to breastfeed. Sure, you could march around town with a sign saying, "formula is poison." But, I'm sorry, that's just crazy. And it doesn't help anyone. You could sit down with breastfeeding moms and ask them about their experiences. That would be valuable, but that's only a small part of the story.
If you were to sit down with formula feeding mothers and ask them about breastfeeding, you would learn an awful lot. You may not like everything that you hear, but if you approach it with an open mind, it will help you a great deal.
Women don't opt out of breastfeeding because they are evil. Women opt out of breastfeeding for many reasons. And often those reasons are failures of an unsupportive society or an unsupportive medical community. Or the reasons stem from misunderstandings propagated by a society that doesn't talk openly about breastfeeding. While we're busy playing a blame game we're glossing over some critical feedback. This group of moms is the most qualified to tell us what we could be doing better to make breastfeeding more accessible to others.
That is what my book is about. It's about presenting the facts and doing everything in my power to keep the facts free from judgement. It's about helping women understand the ins and outs, the ups and downs. It's about understanding why women don't breastfeed, so that we can come together and help empower more women to breastfeed.