When breast milk talks, people listen

I was driving home from group therapy the other week when I landed behind a car with a few bumper stickers. They read:

“When breast milk talks, people listen.”

“Healthy breast milk is the measure of a healthy world.”

I’m going to pause for a minute now to collect my thoughts, because I have a lot to say about this… Okay, here we go.

1) You may have noticed I used the adjective ‘few’ to describe the bumper stickers, and then only listed two slogans. We all know a ‘few’ implies three or more. Why didn’t I describe the bumper stickers as a ‘couple’? I’ll tell you why. The car was decorated with two of the first bumper sticker. Now that’s just unnecessary.

2) Yes, I suppose I would listen if I heard breast milk talk. I think I would feel oddly relieved. For months now I have felt like I’ve been teetering on the edge of sanity. Convincing myself that my fears are irrational is a daily struggle. If I heard breast milk talk, however, I would know. That I had, in fact, lost my mind.

3) The World Health Organization issues a 175-ish page report every year addressing the global health situation. I haven’t actually read one, but I did search the 2011 document and found no mention of breast milk. So if you have at one point or another used formula, rest assured that you have not sacrificed the health of the entire world in doing so.

In all seriousness, these bumper stickers riled me up. While it’s commonly accepted that breastfeeding is the preferred source of infant nutrition for the first 6 months of life, that wasn’t always the case. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if 10 years from now a “study” comes out saying, “Wups! We forgot about this and that. We overlooked the importance of the other. Looks like you should have fed your babies formula after all.”

In the meantime, why fight for breastfeeding like it’s the underdog? It’s not. Instead, why not support all the women out there who try to breastfeed and aren’t able to for any number of perfectly good reasons? They’re the underdogs. Or maybe we should start slapping bumper stickers on our cars that read:

“When rich people talk, people listen.”

“Healthy white men are the measure of a healthy world.”

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11 thoughts on “When breast milk talks, people listen

  1. I applaud any woman (or man!) who raises a child and nourishes them. From the breast or formula or whatever. My bff could not breast feed and I know some people made her feel bad about it. It’s a shame.

    I wonder if that person even has kids. I have a crazy uncle (who was never a dad) lecture me (I am not a mom) about how long you should breast feed. It makes me bonkers when people talk about stuff like that and know NOTHING.

    Kind of got off point but it felt good to spew that out 😉

    • Ha! I think you were on topic! That’s totally ridiculous for your uncle to have an opinion. And why share it with someone without kids?? How silly!

      Sorry to hear people made your bff feel bad for not breastfeeding. I’m sure shes a wonderful mother!

  2. Yes! Sometimes I think– Are there REALLY people out there who don’t know breastfeeding is best? It says it on cans of formula for crying out loud!

    I’m aware, and I do my damnedest, but when I ask the “experts” for recommendations on increasing supply? NOTHING. How about something that helps me breastfeed instead of just telling me to do it?

    GAH.

    • I know you do your best. And so do so many other women. I barely pulled through myself and I don’t even have an official hurdle to overcome like low supply. So we’re in agreement – enough already with pushing the idea! We get it!

  3. I don’t have kids, so obviously don’t breast-feed (the kids would starve if I did). I have no idea if my breast milk talks, but it will have to stay mum on the subject. But I still cannot stand the breast-feeding agenda! They make up a lot of trumped up claims (like breast-fed babies have higher IQs and score better on tests) that have no scientific backing. I also don’t like how they think that everyone should just deal with watching them breast feed in public. I don’t have a problem with someone feeding their baby– please, by all means, give the kid some food. I have a problem with looking at other women’s breasts. Would they appreciate it if I started flashing them? I don’t think they follow the “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” mentality. I also don’t like how they make women who don’t breast feed (for whatever reason) feel bad and less like a good mother. If the kid is happy and healthy, whose business is it what the kid eats. This is why I don’t have kids– I would most likely end up punching someone– probably the first stranger who decides to rub my pregnant belly. Whew! I feel better now.

    • Before having a baby and breastfeeding myself I was with you on the public breastfeeding topic. I didn’t understand why women couldn’t at least cover up. Since breastfeeding myself I understand more.how not every baby will take a bottle easily (mine), and how inconvenient it is to pump, store and transport bottled breast milk. As my baby has grown older it’s also grown increasingly difficult to use a cover. I still do in most public situations because I’m not comfortable making other people uncomfortable. But she finds it distracting, grabs at it, waves it around and tries to put it in her mouth (while breastfeeding). It can actually be a rather comical sight to see – Ruby trying to expose my breasts. I also see my breasts in a completely different light since breastfeeding. They’re all about utility and suddenly I’m far less modest. So I can now understand why women ditch the cover. I think its just one of those things that’s hard to understand until you experience it for yourself.

      I do absolutely take issue with making women feel bad and like less of a mother for choosing not to breastfeed, even if it’s because they just don’t want to. In the grand scheme of things breast milk or formula really doesn’t matter at all. In my opinion.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  4. I’m not a mother and I have zero desire to be one, but for reasons unknown I feel very strongly about people who try to force their opinions of the matter. It’s not that I have anything against natural births (though they do sound terrifying and horribly painful) or breastfeeding or staying at home for an extended period or even forever to raise your child but I just don’t understand why any of these (to some degree random) things make you superior to other mothers. There are perfectly good reasons why someone was not able to do any of these things due to situations they couldn’t control or change. And it makes absolutely no sense to have an opinion on other people’s lives and children. And I’m still totally upset about the entire buzz about yahoo’s newest CEO. And I think that the only measure of a successful or not parenting technique is a healthy and non-bratty child. Wow! how is that for a rant? From a totally non-qualified person nonetheless? Maybe I should write a study?

    • I hear ya! There are so many things that do not make a mother superior to others and so few things that do. I would definitely like to read your study!

  5. That car is still making the rounds in Berkeley.
    When I saw it today, I was so struck that I tried to find a sample of the stickers online using the first 4 words but nothing came up other than your blog and one other site where someone commented on what I’m sure was the same car in 2010.
    I was taken aback, to say the least. But I’m of a generation which saw Nestle’s going into India, African nations, and other less developed parts of the world and frighten mothers out of breast feeding and into buying formula. It was horrendous to say the least. In poverty-stricken regions, breast milk was the best source of nutrition for babies, aside from the fact that it provides infants with their mothers’ immunity for at least the first six months. In addition, the formula caused all sorts of digestive problems. But hey, it’s “progress.”
    No – it was a cynical and destructive money-grab by a multi-national corporation whose products I still boycott.

    That said, nothing irks me more than the “holier-than-thou.”
    I breast fed both my children and while the first experience was wonderful, the second was fraught with difficulties. I’m glad I did it both times but would never judge a woman who chose to do otherwise. Unless there is a reason it’s not possible, I’d encourage women to get comfortable with their bodies enough to breast feed first just because it’s a wonderful bonding experience.
    I do wonder, too, if there’s a connection between formula-feeding and health issues like allergies and digestive problems. On the other hand, one of my kids has seasonal allergies and the other doesn’t so maybe it’s just a recessive gene.

    I DO believe this country is too hung up and body-hating to let breast feeding be what it is, though. This means some people have to take a public stand to protect their rights to do something (discreetly) which is perfectly natural and healthy. The bumper sticker is odd because as far I as know from personal experience and being in the presence of nursing mothers, breast milk never utters a word.

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