Thursday, August 22, 2013

Teach Me How to Breastfeed

This is one of the best videos I've seen ever.  It literally made me weep the first time I watched it.  Not only is it super catchy (it's been running through my head nonstop since I watched it yesterday), but the message is important.  Let me stress that.  The message is REALLY important.
Breastfeeding is undoubtedly the best way to feed babies.  The health benefits are undeniable.  Only a psycho (or someone who works for formula companies) would argue that formula is BETTER for babies than breastmilk.

Unfortunately, there has been a lot of misinformation put out there and some people seem to think that formula is not only comparable to breastmilk, but actually preferable to breastmilk (judging from the myriad comments I've seen on breastfeeding forums calling it disgusting and asking why we don't just "buy formula like normal people?"  No joke.).  Companies like Nestle have gone in to economically depressed communities in this country and in third world countries touting the benefits of formula to mothers whose budgets are already tight.  Never mind that breastmilk contains everything baby needs, it's FREE.  Not to mention communities with contaminated water sources being told to use that water to mix the formula, exposing babies to illness and death.  For people who are barely making do on meager (if any) wages, why would anyone push anything other than a perfect and cost free food source.  Oh, right.  Capitalism. 

Inevitably, many of the comments posted to the video on were of the "what about me?" variety.  "Why doesn't she talk about how it's hard for some women to breastfeed?"  "My nipples cracked when I breastfed!"  Fortunately, there's a really simple answer to that:


This video is about celebrating breastfeeding and about spreading the word that breastfeeding is an AWESOME thing.

This video is NOT about the fact that sometimes breastfeeding is physically and emotionally painful and SOMETIMES impossible.  This video isn't even about being anti-formula.  It is, quite simply about raising awareness of the benefits (to both baby AND mother) of breastfeeding.  It does not negate other experiences.

Here's what UrbanMatriarch says about why she made this video:

This song and video was inspired by the many moms who I have helped breastfeed and my own breastfeeding experience. This is an effort to promote breastfeeding as a healthy and normal way of life for mothers and is also intended to teach new moms some basic tips for successful breastfeeding. We had fun making the video and hope you enjoy it.

It seems to me, more and more these days, people take everything they see online so damned personally.  Yes, there are people who are holier than thou about breastfeeding and make formula moms feel shitty about their choice to feed their babies the way that works best for them.  But this video is not saying that.  I am sure that UrbanMatriarch wouldn't begrudge a woman who chooses to formula-feed her baby.  Sometimes there are legitimate reasons why a woman can not breastfeed (or doesn't want to).  Obviously the second best choice would be getting donated breastmilk from healthy, disease free mothers, but if that's not an option, formula is the right one. The problem is, there tends to be a lack of good information out there, and some women never get the right opportunity to try to make breastfeeding work in the first place.

Recently, in the waiting room at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, a woman remarked on how skinny I was having only had Monty three months earlier.  I told her it was because I breastfeed (and eat right and walk a lot).  She said she still looked like she was nine months pregnant three months after having her son.  I asked her if she breastfed.  "Oh, HELL no!  No, thank you!" was her response.  What?  It was as if I asked her if she eats shit.  Ironically she was wearing a cross around her neck.  I considered asking her why she thought God made women with the capability of feeding their children from their own bodies if it was such a disgusting concept.  I didn't.

We need more education available to new mothers not only about the benefits of breastfeeding, but about HOW to breastfeed (which, obviously this video strives to touch on).  Breastfeeding can be really hard and painful (For example, Monty falls asleep at my breast and if I put him down he wakes up.  I spend a large portion of my day tethered to my sofa not able to get much done.  It's hard).  But for many women some basic education can help fix some of the problems associated with breastfeeding.  Sometimes it's painful at first and then just gets better.  For some women, enduring the pain outweighs stopping breastfeeding all together.  I have a friend who can't breastfeed (for various reasons) and has chosen instead to exclusively pump, that way her nipples are saved and her baby still gets breastmilk.  I am very aware, however, that many, many women are not in an economic position to buy a pump.  Encouraging women to stick with breastfeeding is a GOOD thing.  It does not mean putting formula mothers down.

So, how about, if breastfeeding doesn't work for you, you don't take this particular video as some condemnation of your mothering abilities?  Trust that you're a good mother who is making the right decision for yourself and your baby and let THIS VIDEO be a celebration of breastfeeding not an attack on you.