Friday, February 24, 2012

Let's encourage, support...and stop the attacks


Yesterday, I posted this article and said the following:
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say this is why so many people look at lactivists and think we're nutty. I do NOT agree with everything this article says however there are a few things I want to say. 1. How did the protestors of this ad know anything about the situation that lead to this baby being fed a bottle? Perhaps mom died, perhaps she works, perhaps she was at the dr, perhaps she exclusively pumps, perhaps she has cancer and is on chemo and can't breastfeed...WHO KNOWS!? 2. If we're going to portray an ad that includes a daddy bottle feeding his babe, don't we want it to look JUST LIKE THIS ONE?! We always say that feeding time should be an intimate experience, regardless of if it's bottle or breast...how could this be any less intimate? Daddy is holding his baby close, kissing baby's head, snuggling baby...that's about as perfect of a bottle feeding as it gets. 
What do you think?
Of course, as soon as I posted that some of our readers got defensive about using the word "protesters" and said we were calling lactivists nutty...among others. Le sigh. I knew this would happen when I dared to disagree with the breastfeeding community, but I really do feel that the removal of this picture is just simply unnecessary. I know I know...that's going to make people angry that I said that. I accept that but I really want to say something here.

Why I'm upset about people being upset about this image is that it shows a daddy being so loving, so involved with his childs feeding....it's such a sweet, beautiful image. Absolutely, breastfeeding is best and normal. We KNOW that. I mean come on people..do some people honestly think that we have some hidden agenda trying to normalize bottlefeeding and The Good Letdown is just a front? No. We take hours of time our of our lives to normalize breastfeeding, to assist mothers, to answer questions. We moderate our facebook page, comb through the list of people who joined to look for obvious trolls, we communicate with other breastfeeding pages on facebook about potential trolls...we do this all free. We get together and have meetings about how we can make this the best blog and support group for all the mamas out there...simply because we care. We do not make a single cent off this page. Often times, we buy things for giveaways...just because we want to. Our time, energy, research...it's all because we are passionate about breastfeeding and we truly want to normalize it and help others. That being said, I still disagree that this picture needs to be removed.

There are situations where bottles are necessary. Maybe mama works full time and daddy stays at home. Maybe mama died. Maybe he's a gay dad. Maybe both parents work split shifts so that someone is always home with baby. Maybe mama has severe postpartum depression and needed to go to the doctor. Maybe mama just wanted to go to the freaking grocery store along for 45 minutes and drink a cup of coffee. We don't know what the situation is that leads to this image of this papa feeding his baby. Maybe it's expressed breastmilk and maybe it's formula. In a perfect world, all babies would be breastfed and all mamas would breastfeed whenever and whereever. In a perfect world, breastfeeding would be shown on TV shows, talked about in novels, would be on Sesame Street and Sid the Science Kid. But as we know, there are babies who are bottle fed. And there are babies who are on formula. And as strongly as I believe all babies deserve breastmilk, I also understand that it's simply not always going to be the case. And if that's the case, I am comforted by the fact that the papas in the world would feed their babies like this papa is feeding his baby. Snuggled closely, kissing baby's head, not propping the bottle...he is involved with the feeding.

I am NOT saying that daddy's need to feed their baby to bond with them. That's not what I'm saying AT ALL. What I AM saying is that IF daddy has to feed the baby a bottle, for whatever reason, this is the way to do it. What we have here is a picture of a young daddy, snuggling his baby close to him so baby can hear his heartbeat, feel his breathing and kissing baby's head while he feeds him. This image is the perfect example of how we should feed a baby IF baby cannot be breastfed.

Now, all that being said (man, I can't believe how I have to defend this), I do see why LLL leaders in NZ did what they did but I do think they could have handled it differently. What if, instead of removing this lovely image of papa feeding his baby, they put their efforts into normalizing nursing another way? Could we have two commercials? Could we have two families in the commercial (which, by the way, is a non smoking commercial)? I mean...can't we find another way that doesn't take away this image of a daddy feeding his baby in the most loving way possible? To me, this picture is empowering for young fathers who may not be as involved. Let's fight the bottle propping, the formula advertisements and continue normalizing breastfeeding and breastfeeding in public instead of fighting an ad like this. If it the mother had ANYTHING to do with this ad, I could see an argument but the mother isn't present.

I'm not saying lactivists are nutty. I'm a lactivist. An outspoken one. Every single person I know, friend, family member, acquaintance, neighbor...they all know it. My book shelves are lined with all breastfeeding books, my mind thinks about breastfeeding way more than it should, I talk about it multiple times a day, I hand out "thank you for nursing in public" cards...I am a lactivist. And I've been called a boob nazi, a breastfeeding nut..etc etc etc. I don't' like that we're viewed that way. WHAT I SAID was NOT that lactivists are nutty. What I SAID was that we are viewed that way and when we get pissed off and jump on this type of thing...it furthers that myth about us. That is all I said. And I also said I didn't agree with much of the way the article was written. But sometimes, people are SO quick to jump onto a few words and it gets out of hand.

Let's fight this:




And let's support and encourage this (and more!):





20 comments:

  1. I really liked this post a lot.... It makes us stop and think before we fight the real issue, support ALL breastfeeding situations, and not judge others in difficult situations that we may not know about.

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  2. Not to mention how do we even know what's in the bottle isn't breast milk? I am a lactivist, but it's times like these I really want to distance myself from that label. KWIM?

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    1. Shannon. What was in the bottle was beside the point.
      If this ad had included a shot of the celebrity holding a glass of wine in his hand, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving was asked to comment, they would likely and predictably have said that the ad would be better without the glass of wine. I would hope that no one would expect them to say otherwise. People might say, but how do we even know what's in the wine glass wasn't grape juice?" Images are important. The image of this father is a lovely bottle-feeding image. There is nothing wrong with that image except that it normalizes bottlefeeding in a particular segment of the population the NZ government has tried very hard to reach and to send the opposite message to--so that breastfeeding can be normalized.

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  3. ‎"I'm going to go out on a limb here and say this is why so many people look at lactivists and think we're nutty."

    I agree. This is exactly why. Because any time any committed breastfeeders stand up in public for the issue's importance, the media tells entertaining lies and people prefer to believe the media's lies because they support their own biases.

    Shame. Look a bit closer at whom you've just attacked.

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  4. FYI I went to the link and on the wall everyone is talking about formula. I can see why this ad could be a prob. Yes it is very sweet, but so many people think the only way to bond with a baby is by feeding him. As with me a nurseing mother who didn't want to pump because it made me feel like a cow if I did and Breastfeeding is the mothers right. Also bottles are bad for their teeth, etc. I can see both sides, but I agree with llli for removing it since they are for bf the most natural way. If it where for a formula add it would fit better.

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  5. Jess, I didn't attack anyone. I got annoyed because a few people jumped down my throat because I didn't have a problem with the picture.

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  6. I appreciate what you are trying to say - and agree with you to a point. What those of us who have supposedly 'jumped on you' about (I thought we were being polite...but okaaaay) and are being frustrated by is your continued unwillingness to understand the 'big picture.' Its great that you are a breastfeeding supporter and advocate, but you do not seem to understand the bigger issues around supporting, promoting and protecting breastfeeding, and all the little pieces of that puzzle that all add up. One little image does matter - we are genuinely puzzled that someone who claims to be an lactivist does not seem to understand the power of an image that romanticises bottlefeeding.

    I don't know if you have read 'The Politics of Breastfeeding' or follow the activities of the likes of the International Baby Food Action Network, or know anything about the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, but if any of these have not been on your radar before now, I would suggest that you start with the first, which will explain an awful lot about how there is still much work to be done to stop these subtle message undermining breastfeeding, particularly within vulnerable populations.

    The other part of the frustration is that you seem to have bought into the idea that various organisations made some kind of 'fuss.' This is what the media has been telling everyone, and it is untrue. The organisations in question offered feedback, and left it to the Health Sponsorship Council to make up their own mind about the scene. And THEY chose to remove it.

    Any comments that you perceive as snarky have been borne out of pure frustration - frustration at having dealt with this via the mainstream media here in NZ for close on a week (unprecedented attention has been given to this) and now to feel like 'our own kind' doesn't 'get it' - and worse, doesn't seem to want to take any of our reasonably expressed points on board, is very discouraging. :(

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  7. Actually, here is a good start...right from Best for Babes, which you have on your links page...

    http://www.bestforbabes.org/what-are-the-booby-traps

    "Anywhere along this road, that free sample of formula starts to look quite appealing, and maybe some of the sneakiest formula advertising and marketing messages have worked their way into your subliminal consciousness; the smiling babies, the misleading claims, the false portrayal of health and vitality even though your rational mind, and health professionals and experts all over the world know very well that formula-fed babies, and their moms, are actually at greater risk for a host of complications, disease and infection. - Cultural & Institutional Booby Trap!"

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  8. Maybe it is your tone and the way you act like you are above others? I posted a comment on another post and man whoever was responding to me was a down right b****!!! Maybe step back for a minute and think to why others (more then a few) are reactting this way. You breastfeed. Great! You aren't any better mom then others. That is how it comes across.

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  9. Maybe it is your tone and the way you act like you are above others? I posted a comment on another post and man whoever was responding to me was a down right b****!!! Maybe step back for a minute and think to why others (more then a few) are reactting this way. You breastfeed. Great! You aren't any better mom then others. That is how it comes across.

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    1. BTW. Not everyone is going to agree with you, especially if you are a public blog. You will have readers who disagree and that is okay. If you don't want comments like that well sorry hun, they are going to happen. Stop blogging or turn comments off. Move on from the comments and always implying people are attacking you.

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    2. Did you even read this blog post??

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  10. I couldn't get past the "stop the attacks" title. I had to clean up my diet coke that I spit laughing at the title.

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    1. wow, you are a weirdo. Find a different blog to troll "hun."

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    2. Oh, yoooyoo, don't go commenting on posts you haven't even bothered to read. You're making a fool of yourself.

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    3. This blog post is about TGL's defense of a bottle feeding father and the backlash they received from the breastfeeding community for it. I'm not sure what has made you assume horrible things about us and feel the need to troll here, but seriously enough is enough. We can take the heat from folks when it makes sense... happens all the time. Healthy normal debating is a given... whatever it is you think you are doing is not constructive for anyone.

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  11. Someone sounds like a guilty feeling formula using momma....just sayin....were you by any chance the blogger that has an issue with breastfeeding being called a public health issue?

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  12. It thrills me to see my breastfeeding photographs being used for good (mama feeding on the toilet)

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  13. I am a TOTAL breastfeeding adovate - 100% all the way. I am 11.5 months into breastfeeding a baby who is VERY high needs and can't go more than two hours without screaming for the boob. It makes life challenging, frustrating, and (truth be told) brings me to tears sometimes because I often feel like he is, literally, sucking the life from me when, 30 minutes after I've nursed him, he clamors at my shirt and paws at my boobs for more, more, MORE.
    THAT SAID....
    After he was three months old I started pumping, first to maintain my supply but second, to allow my husband the change to participate in feeding with and bonding with the new life we created TOGETHER. It was VERY important for me that my husband, the father of my child, be allowed to experience the joys of providing nourishment to our little one...to cuddle with him while doing so, to hold him close while allowing him to suckle. I pumped so that my husband could do just what the photograph shows: a father feeding his child.
    To this end, my husband BROKE DOWN in tears the other day because our little one self weaned from the bottle at around 7 months. He was heartbroken that he didn't get to "daddy nurse" him more often (we lived in separate countries for almost two months), but so SO grateful that he got the opportunity to bottle feed him my expressed milk when he did.
    So, to all those who have an issue with the above picture, keep in mind a simple thing called CONTEXT. Not all wine is imbibed from a wine glass (I've seen/heard of many a mommy drinking it from a sippy cup!) and not all breastmilk is suckled from the breast. Be true to the INTENTION of the picture, not your own interpretation.

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