It’s World Breastfeeding Week again, which means my social media feeds are full of pictures of women nursing their babies. These photos are sweet (who doesn’t love a baby) but, the captions are often full of dangerous rhetoric, elevating women to queens and goddesses for the act of feeding their child in this one particular way.
Those first few hours, days and weeks of motherhood are full of questioning oneself. Breastfeeding is great if it works for you and your family, but it’s not always right or possible for everyone. When you call yourself or another woman a queen or a goddess for a parenting choice, the not so subtle implication is that women who made a different choice (if it was even a choice, which, for many women it’s not) are less than. And that’s just not okay. It’s okay to be proud of your accomplishments but not at the expense of others.
As Americans we like a very black and white view of things. And, we’re so far to the “formula is poison and if you supplement you’ll never breastfeed again” side of the pendulum that I’ve had more than one friend hesitate to supplement when their baby desperately needed it because of the fear of ruining the whole nursing relationship. And then comes the ensuing guilt and shame that comes with choosing to supplement or switch to formula.
Parenting is hard enough and there’s so much more to it than how a child is fed for the first year of life. I can’t tell you how most of my children’s friends or classmates were fed as infants but I can tell you which families value kindness and respect for others.
Feed your baby in whatever way is best for your family. Maybe that’s breast, maybe that’s formula, or maybe it’s a combo. But no mother is any more of a queen or goddess than another because of how she feeds her infant.
And besides, by the time they are 5, they will be eating stale French fries and Cheerios out of the car seat no matter how much you wish they wouldn’t.