“Human milk is for human babies. Cow’s milk is for calves. Infant formula is for putting money in corporate bank accounts.”
–Mary Beth Voelker, mom
***DISCLAIMER: Let me warn you up front that if you are very sensitive to this topic, you may not want to read further. You will believe whatever you will believe, and there’s no point in your getting needlessly upset. I am not writing to offend anyone…I am writing to express my views and to educate those who are interested. This is a topic that is VERY important to me. But I also respect that all families have the right to make their own decisions for their own children, whether I agree with those decisions or not.***
The following was written by Tina Smith
(when my daughter was a nursing toddler)
I am a nursing mom.
I am a member of La Leche League.
I am an educated woman.
I am a strong breastfeeding advocate.
That’s where I’m coming from…why I feel what I do about this subject…And why I feel all babies are born with the right to be breastfed.
I also feel all babies deserve: 2 parents with time to share, loving arms, kind words, middle of the night snuggles, daddy/mommy/grandma/grandpa dances & songs, good food (starting with breastmilk, of course), a cozy home, appropriate clothing, siblings, and an enriching environment to grow.
That said, I am not so naive as to not realize that people don’t always get what they deserve.
But the subject here is breastfeeding.
These words are written by me, and hence are MY thoughts & MY feelings, and a gathering of info that I have acquired through my many many hours of reading up on this extremely important topic.
I will give reference to the source of my info where I can…but I cannot remember every place I learned every tidbit of info, so forgive me if I don’t reference everything. Trust me when I tell you that most of the specific info I share is from repudable sources…the best & most accurate, in my mind, being La Leche League, but also many medical sources, including info from some of the MANY research projects on breastfeeding.
That said, you may still not agree with all that I have to say…
I’ll say what is said at the beginning of La Leche League meetings:
“Take what you like, and leave the rest.”
At the writing of this, I am a mom to a 17mo old nursling.
Don’t ask me when I plan to wean her.
I am a strong supporter of children weaning in their own time, when they are ready.
Some call this “child-led weaning.”
I call it natural.
(No, she won’t be still nursing when she’s heading off to college…that’s just a silly notion created by people not educated on the natural progression of breastfeeding children.)
I am also following the advice of the AAP (American Association of Pediatrics) and WHO (World Health Organization)…the AAP advocates breastfeeding AT LEAST a year, preferably 2…and WHO says 2 YEARS or more. So I have big support on my side.
But it doesn’t matter.
I would do it anyway. It just feels right.
Did you know that less than 3% of moms are actually physically incapable of breastfeeding?
Yet, less than 65% of American moms ever even try.
And most who do breastfeed at birth, stop before their babies are 3 months old…less than 30% are still nursing at 6months. (a compilation of info from surveys & such)
But the official word from the health officials is that babies should be nursed AT LEAST a year, preferably two.
Hmmm, somewhere this crucial info is getting lost.
If you are a mom who didn’t breastfeed, or failed at breastfeeding…please don’t see this as an attack on you.
Please see this as an opportunity to educate yourself.
Because chances are it was not your fault.
Perhaps you got bad advice, perhaps you had no support, perhaps you were simply uneducated…
I personally blame our culture for not educating the medical professionals…
The largest percentage of mothers who fail at breastfeeding do so because of poor advice from medical professionals.
Really sad, isn’t that?
Most MD’s only receive maybe one 45 minute lecture on breastfeeding (if that) in all their training, and that may not even be accurate info! As one professional recently told me, those lectures are not always good info, not all MDs or med students attend them, and if they do attend, they might not have even been paying attention! So please do NOT take your doctor’s advice on breastfeeding as gospel! It is CRUCIAL to educate yourself on the subject, and check with our local La Leche League for truly accurate advice! Even lactation consultants have been known to occasionally give out poor tips that have sabatoged the breastfeeding experience.
Let me repeat that important advice:
**If you are planning to breastfeed…EDUCATE YOURSELF!**
Don’t expect it to come naturally (sometimes it does, but sometimes it doesn’t)…
Don’t expect that the doctors and nurses will help you or even give you good information…
Don’t believe every bit of “advice” you hear from well meaning friends and family, since myths about breastfeeding abound…
DON’T believe those who tell you you can’t do it!
(Because sister, I’m here to tell you, YOU CAN…remember only a very tiny percentage of women are actually physically incapable of breastfeeding, so it’s at LEAST 97% sure that YOU CAN. Whether you choose to or not is up to you.)
DO read everything you can get your hands on about breastfeeding: books, magazines, and especially websites and articles which are FREE!
DO start going to La Leche League meetings while you are pregnant, or as soon as possible…
DO talk to experienced nursing moms (preferably LLL moms, since they are the most likely to give you accurate info.)
If you want to breastfeed in our bottle feeding culture, you must be
Our first pediatrician gave me some very inaccurate and potentially sabotaging advice. Luckily, I had been an active member of La Leche League since my pregnancy and had taken the time to educate myself on the subject and was fully aware of how wrong she was when she told me that I needed to “get your baby on a schedule, and only feed her every 3 hours…and don’t ever let her fall asleep at the breast.” If I had followed her advice, I would’ve had a miserable baby, and would most likely have ruined my milk supply. (Needless to say, we no longer see that pediatrician. If you want to know who she was so you can avoid her, feel free to email me. I have no problem warning people against her. I can also tell you a local pediatrician who’s INCREDIBLE.
I also blame our culture for allowing the formula companies to agressively market what was originally a pharmaceutical product you had to go to your doctor for, but has now become simply a feeding “choice”…and for allowing the general public to believe that formula is just as good as breastmilk…
And it never will be.
Want to see a startling comparison that illustrates this very clearly? Check this out.
Breastmilk is full of living cells, something that formula does not now and never will have.
Breastmilk prevents all kinds of diseases and disorders, including lowering both mom’s AND baby’s risk of breast cancer and many other cancers…formula prevents nothing but starvation, and can actually be dangerous.
Yet we continue to treat the “breast vs. bottle” issue as a feeding choice, when the one affected the most by this (The baby), doesn’t have any “choice” in it at all! …
Ok, I’m done preaching…
If you get nothing else from my rantings, PLEASE EDUCATE YOURSELF on breastfeeding.
There’s SOOOOO MANY benefits to breastfeeding!! Benefits for both mom AND baby!
The only person who TRULY benefits from formula feeding is the formula companies.
Any other benefits are subjective, and only for the MOTHER…
What does the baby benefit from formula feeding?
Only ONE THING–
S/HE DOESN’T STARVE
Please breastfeed your children.
Its SO important!
- La Leche League International
- La Leche League of Fresno County
- Katherine Dettwyler, PhD–Thoughts on Breastfeeding
- Mother 2 Mother
- World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA)
- “Gee Whiz” Lactation Facts (Breastfeeding Online)
- Breast or Bottle
- BreastEd Online–Breastfeeding & Lactation
- Watch Your Language!