Monday, October 20, 2014

Why I'm not breastfeeding (hint: because I don't fucking want to)

There's this big push back toward all things natural when it comes to pregnancy, childbirth and child rearing.  Like, it's not just a series of options that get presented to you as a "You could do this, if you wanted" suggestion, but instead it's a giant way of life.  Like if you don't do this, you will probably be a giant failure as a parent and your child will die in infancy or something.  I find the debate over breastfeeding to be a lot like this.  I've heard women, we shall affectionately call them "The Breastapo", make blanket statements to women who formula feed like "Well, next time you'll know better and make a better choice".  It's sort of gone into this weird realm of evangelism that I can't even begin to wrap my head around.  And I hear all the time about women who are persecuted for breastfeeding their children, which is funny because I don't think the issue is the nursing part, the issue is you whipping your boob out wherever you feel like it.  And yes, I hear over and over that it's natural but is pooping, and I don't do that wherever I please.  So, no one cares that you're feeding your child, or how you're feeding your child, they mostly just care that you're pulling your boobs out in public places.  When I worked retail I had a woman come in feeding twins and, I kid you not, she had the front of her shirt pulled up to her collar bone with her bra cups pulled down and one kid hanging on each boob like nipple rings.  Just like "Hello, I have these tits, and here they are".  Unnecessary.

What I find more common than the persecution of nursing mothers is the persecution of bottle feeding mothers.  I've never seen anyone who is nursing get told "That baby deserves better" but people will have zero issue with saying that to a bottle feeding mom.  Plus, I see article after article posted about women who want the world to know why they don't nurse their children, and it's always justified with some extenuating circumstance like "I had a double mastectomy" or "I was on anti-depressants and couldn't" or "I was going through chemo".  NO!  Your circumstances shouldn't be relevant in this conversation.  Yes, it's great that you have a way to explain why you're doing, but why does it matter?  Why don't you just say "I'm not nursing because I'm not nursing" and leave it at that?  Why does anyone need to know more than that to make it acceptable for you to be doing what you're doing?  Your kid is being fed, that's really all that matters.  I have a huge issue with having to justify something with a huge set of circumstances just for other women to shut their damn mouths.  I'm not going to breast feed because I don't fucking want to do it.  I know myself.  I know my limitations.  I know that if I'm solely responsible for always being the one to do midnight feedings or have to pump every 3 hours at work or whatever else, I will lose my goddamn mind.  I will become one of those crazy women who sort of subconsciously fantasizes about running away from their screaming child and never coming back.  I don't want to do it.  I don't want to be tethered to my baby 24/7 when there is another alternative out there.  There is a way for my husband to take half of those midnight feedings, and for me to leave my house without having to worry about being back in a couple of hours, or having to pump milk from my boobs like a cow.  Science has given us an alternative and I'm going to fucking use it.

What's funny is that even as I say this, I've become a victim of what I'm rallying against.  While registering for gifts at Target I told my mother I was looking for a container like what my sister had, where you can measure formula out into portions and toss it into a diaper bag to avoid having to carry around a can of formula all day.  You can measure 4 individual bottles worth to be added to some water later and be on your way.  As I was saying this, I realized that I lowered my voice when I started talking about measuring out formula, like I didn't want anyone to overhear and judge me.  I have no idea why I did that.  I am totally happy with my choice, and I'm comfortable with it, so why was I standing in Target lowering my voice to avoid judgement?  I got SO MAD at myself for it.  Suddenly even I was starting to wonder or worry about what the Breastapo might say to me if they were passing by.

I think that's how it is though.  Women keep trying to find a place where we dominate in the world and it seems the gender has latched onto this motherhood thing with all of their fangs and claws.  Now we're totally cool with mom shaming, persecuting others for their choices, and attacking one another for our differences.  Didn't do a water birth?  Well, your kid will be a stripper.  Got an epidural?  Hope your son likes that crack addiction your choice left him with.  It's all so goddamn stupid.  Especially when people take it to extremes.  More and more studies are showing no difference between bottle and breastfed kids in terms of intelligence or immunity.  Formula was invented to reduce infant mortality rates globally because women weren't producing enough milk most of the time for their children, so their kids were starving, but we don't want to acknowledge that.  Men can actually bond with their babies while giving them a bottle, but that doesn't matter because in the big scheme of being a sacred female entity, the husband doesn't matter much in the life of an infant.  I've even known women who weren't producing enough milk to the point where their children weren't gaining weight and it was actually causing harm to the child, yet still refused to buy a can of formula to keep the kid from getting worse.  Is it really so evil and large a health risk to your child to have formula?  Is it worse than what you're doing by not providing enough nutrients on your own with nursing?  I doubt it.

But the Breastapo are relentless.  It's not a suggestion, it's not an option.  It's a way of life and you should be conforming to it.  Until every woman is walking around bare breasted with a baby on each nipple, we are failing as a gender, and we should be ashamed.  Those of us who choose to give our kids formula are basically using the powdered testicles of Satan to nourish our children and will surely pay for it some day.

Or maybe we just know it's not for us, and you should shut the fuck up.


  1. This is one of those topics that we have to talk about, so we all can STOP talking about it. Seriously, the formula/ breastfeeding/ public breastfeeding thing is super annoying as a cultural debate. "Do it, or don't" is the best summation I have ever heard.

  2. Just as a friend of those who are mothers I can see how this is such a heated debate. It seems completely assumed in 2014 that a mother will breastfeed her child. It's just the way it is, no choice on the mother's part even though it's her child and her body. I even had two friends who fell into depressions because they couldn't breastfeed anymore. One friend explained that it's the whole experience with her son she didn't want to miss out on, but I can't help but wonder how much of it was societal pressure.

    1. It's interesting because I hear a lot of women who will quietly whisper that they wish they could quit (news flash: they can!) or that they can't wait to be done with it, or that they really hate it, and they do it in the same hushed and ashamed tones I used when talking about finding a container for holding formula. It's stupid. If women are so miserable doing it, then just stop. Yes, I know it's the natural way of doing things, but it's not always right for everyone. If you're miserable, take the alternative option.