Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mommy Wars

I'm over it.  Seriously ladies.  I'm over it.  Being a mom is hard enough without wondering who's judging us and if we're doing it right and all of that.  And it's not the childless folk or dads that we're worried's the other moms out there.

I spent a lot of time researching how to get pregnant, why I wasn't getting pregnant, and what to expect once it finally worked.  Then when it did work, I immediately launched into researching how to be pregnant, delivery, and the early days of mommyhood.  I made a lot of decisions about what I would and wouldn't do...some of which went by the wayside as I learned the truths of motherhood.

One of the biggest issues I see creep up in the Mommy Wars is feeding.  Yes, I breastfeed.  Yes, I think breastfeeding is best FOR ME.  Yes, I think we need to be more supportive of each other and educate each other on the benefits of breastfeeding.  Yes, I do think there are situations where breastfeeding isn't the best option.  Yes, I do think there are scenarios where formula might be best.  Yes, I do think moms who are breastfeeding and formula feeding should be supported.

I'm a part of a breastfeeding support group online. A mom came to the group to ask for help on behalf of her friend who gave birth 2 days ago.  She explained that the friend was trying to breastfeed but that she was in a lot of pain (despite being told her baby's latch was perfect) and ready to give up.  She asked a couple of specific questions and some of us gave her some advice to try out...specifically to talk to an LC about the latch.  Then she accused her friend of not caring about the baby's health because she never wanted to breastfeed in the first place and her husband was pushing her to do it.  She said the friend was becoming resentful of the baby and her husband because of the pain she was in.  She said that the friend's family was of the mindset that only poor people breastfeed (which is a whole other can of worms).  She also made it clear that she disapproved of her friend wanting to return to work and school rather soon.  This was my response to her:
If she's resentful breastfeeding, than perhaps breastfeeding isn't best for that family. Sure there are a lot of benefits, but if the mom is resentful, there's no my opinion. She needs to be spending time bonding and loving her child. If feeding the baby formula means they can bond and have a loving relationship, then that's what's better for the situation. Bonding is SOO SOOO important and part of the reason breastfeeding is so good...but if the bonding's not happening... Plus if she thinks breastfeeding is for poor people (which in all truth families of lower socio-economic status are FAR less likely to BF), she probably IS thinking about the health of her child. She probably thinks that formula IS better for her child. That's not her fault, that's the fault of the formula companies and their shady campaigns. While we should support and enable moms who want to breastfeed and educate those who are pregnant or TTC or might TTC in the future, I think we have to be careful about making sure we support those who do and not condemn those who don't. As much as I believe breastfeeding is the best choice, at the end of the day, formula is a "good enough" replacement. 

One thing I've ALWAYS had difficulty with in my life is expecting people to live up to the standards I set for myself. I do what I do because I think it's what's best...and it is what's best FOR ME. Some moms are better suited to get back out in the world and do their adult thing and only have the nights and weekends with their child. It's how our society was trained to think and behave. For me, it was best for me to quit my job and change our families living standards to fit our lowered income. But for other families there are very good reasons why that's not the best choice. I think a lot of it comes down to my diagnosis, as well. I knew at 16 years old that I might never have children. Therefore, having a child is SO much more special and such a blessing to me in a way that it might not be to other moms. I signed up for this lock, stock, and barrel...but not everyone goes in the same way.

I hope this doesn't sound too harsh. I certainly don't mean it to be. We all decide what's best for us based on this reason or that reason...and this reason may be just as valid as that reason. 

I don't mean to come off as judging the mom who sought help for her friend.  As much as the formula companies try to brainwash moms into thinking formula is best (as is the case with her friend), the counter movement can be just as strong sometimes.  It's easy to get swept up in the "you MUST do it this way" current on any topic.  I'm certainly not without fault in that category.  Rather I wanted to use this example to show how the Mommy Wars can get the best of all of us.

I may get blasted for this from the pro-BFing world...but that's exactly what I'm talking about.  We need to quit tearing each other down for our decisions.  We need support...we all need support.  At the end of the day, I'm going to be a better mommy and have a better adjusted child if I have support rather than if I made this decision to go with the popular option at the time.  Educate the masses on what you believe is right, then support those who agree with your opinion.  But support those who agree doesn't have to be at the exclusion of those who don't.  We're all human, we're all trying, and we all want what's best for our children.

1 comment:

Lara said...

Well said, we do nothing to make the world better for everyone, if we are too busy fighting amongst ourselves!