Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Quiet Breastfeeding Nazi

I don't consider myself to be a breastfeeding nazi. I'm just pro breastfeeding and anti formula. I'm not anti women who formula feed though, just anti formula company. I don't have a single nice thing to say about companies who produce artificial baby milk. They seem to do nothing but undermine natural baby feeding, break WHO advertising codes, and make mega bucks. 

As I was feeding my baby the other night I was reading something about how special breast feeding is, and I thought to myself "but I don't think it IS special". Sure I was sad when my older two weaned (one at 6 months, one at 4.5years) but I didn't feel really special when I was feeding them. 

Not that it isn't special, but any time we spend with our babies is special. Any sweet little smile they give us, any time they sleep in our arms, the way they love us so unconditionally, it's all lovely. Breast feeding is just normal, like giving your baby a sandwich but easier.

I'm not lucky that I breast feed, my baby isn't lucky, we're just normal. It didn't come easily to me with any of the kids, I had to work really hard to get it right. I had a lot of pain in the early days with all of them. And with the first, it shot my confidence to bits and was the first of the steps that led to failure. And I don't think I I failed, coz I really wanted to breastfeed. I think that society failed me and my daughter by telling us that "breast is best, formula is good enough". The underlying message in that is that we can't always have what's best, but what's good enough is, well, it's good enough!

Breast is best, yes .... but it's just normal. Formula is not best, and it's only normal in cultures where breasts are sexualised and images of bottle feeding are plastered everywhere, from feeding rooms to children's books, soap operas, ads for formula but not breastfeeding etc. The symbol for baby is often a bottle! If that doesn't normalise it I don't know what does.

There will always be women who are unable to breast feed, but these women should feel no guilt. I don't feel guilt for not successfully feeding my first child, and it wasn't a physical hinderance, it was a societal lack of support that broke the back of our feeding relationship.  I don't feel guilty about it and I would never want another woman to feel guilty either. 

I'm a bit tired of the whole "don't say this or that because it might make women feel guilty" stuff that permeates every discussion about breast vs artificial milk. If you genuinely can't breast feed why feel guilty? Do you feel guilty for not being able to run fast!? 

If you can breast feed but choose not to, and you feel guilt, then maybe you should take a closer look at why you would "choose" not to breast feed. Do better next time, but don't waste time with guilt once you have thought it all through. 

I resent being called a nazi. I've never killed anyone, but artificial baby milk companies are responsible for deaths every day! I simply state the truth. That given support, the vast and overwhelming majority of women in the world can and do breastfeed perfectly well.

So next time you see me posting on facebook, or on my blog, about how women can breastfeed don't label me a nazi, because that's just offensive. Have a look at your beliefs about baby feeding, about your own body and ability to do what you are biologically designed for. 

Have a look at the way your culture has made breast feeding seem like some virtually unattainable goal.  I'm not better because I breast feed, I'm just normal. You're not worse because you formula feed, but chances are that your view of baby feeding is somewhat different to reality if you think it's simply a "choice".


  1. Love this! Society has so much to answer for with its party lines!

  2. It's all just so true. Very well said!

  3. It is good to know, that I should not feel guilty, for being unable to breastfeed my son (he is 12yrs old now. I tried to breastfeed, but was unable to sustain it because of the amount I was expressing was below 50mls a day. Also I was taking medication to control my illness Bi-Polar. The Drs advised me at the time it was more important for me to take my medication than to breastfeed. I feel with my situation at the time of the birth was very stressful. I had many issues regarding my now ex partner, that prevented me to be consistent with expressing. The hospital staff in the 10 days I was in house were very supportive of my desire to breastfeed and they did try to be of some assistance. Though this was not enough especially when I went home and had to deal with real life problems as well as trying to express with a double pump. It was extremely difficult to cope and I was suffering from depression. With all this to take into consideration, I am thankful to have got through that time and the situation could of been a lot better with more support. I had to use formula for my son's and my own health at the time.
    I believe that society does play a role in accepting that formula is ok instead of breast is best, especially the formula companies. I am concerned that formula companies are producing inadequate substitutes. Though with the right environment and support the majority of women can breastfeed. If I had another baby I would again try to breastfeed my child and hope I succeed but I know that formula is there for a back up without feeling so inadequate now. Back then I did feel there was a lot of pressure for me to formula feed because of my circumstances but it could of been different.

  4. Thank you so much for posting this. I was ranting along similar lines to Huz yesterday. It's nice to feel normal about being normal :)

  5. I find being called a nazi hugely offensive. I'm feeding MY child the normal baby food. Not exterminating whole sections of society and waging war on the world. People should thin a little before using the word nazi! Great post

  6. You already know I agree with you, but I just wanted to add that your photos are lovely :)