Sunday, February 27, 2011

Five Ways Advocates Sabotage The Cause

Sometimes in our effort to encourage and promote, we end up doing more harm then good. This is especially true when trying to promote breastfeeding and its acceptance. I have found that often times, advocates, myself included, end up sabotaging the very cause that we are trying to promote. Here are the top 5 ways that I believe breastfeeding advocates sabotage the cause.
  1. We treat everyone with breastfeeding obstacles as uneducated, over-analytical, or lazy. When a woman comments on a breastfeeding forum about issues she is having, it is amazing to me how much people simply "write off" her problem as being uneducated. Often being told that if she would nurse more, worry less, or just stop supplementing (if she is supplementing) than her issues would magically go away. When we do this, we a) make the woman feel bad about herself and her abilities and b) send the message that we do not believe her problems are real and that she is looking for a reason to stop breastfeeding.
  2. We talk about breastfeeding ALL the time, including to those who are not interested. As much as we want every woman to breastfeed, it is her choice. While we like to look at it as the child's right to breastmilk, their are reasons a mother may find that formula is better for her child. I myself am guilty of talking about breastfeeding to the point of alienating some formula moms. Not on purpose...I didn't push it on them, but they felt I was TOO PASSIONATE about breastfeeding, and there for, became annoyed, thought I was judging them, or what not...and unfortunately, I have lost contact with a few people because of it.
  3. We judge other breastfeeding mothers. Some examples are a photo being posted on a breastfeeding forum that showed an overweight mother, breastfeeding a child, while on a scooter at a grocery store, not using a cover. Posters laughing at the photo and finding it entertaining. Women who choose to nurse without covers saying if someone uses a cover then they are ashamed and might as well be breastfeeding in their car or in the corner. Why does it matter how a mother breastfeeds? Is it not enough that she is breastfeeding? Suddenly she has to do it YOUR way? 
  4. We act as though every illness a child gets or doesn't get is based on what they are fed. We know the benefits of breastmilk and that it CAN prevent many illnesses and ear infections, but acting as though a mom's child would never have had that cold if she had only breastfed is as incorrect as saying the only reason a child didn't get a cold was because he is breastfed. In general, yes, the benefits of breastmilk for a child's health are great, but that does not mean a formula fed child is doomed to an infancy of ear infections, colds and more.
  5. We look at breastfeeding as all or nothing. There are women who need to supplement, or who may choose to supplement. Treating them as though they are a traitor to the breastfeeding movement, making women feel like breastfeeding is an all or nothing deal, only pushes moms who could continue giving their child the benefits of breastmilk, while combo feeding, into formula feeding. While most women are capable of exclusively breastfeeding, we must acknowledge that as hormone issues are on the rise (look at the rise in infertility), so are breastfeeding supply issues. Combo feeding is hard. You have to find a delicate balance of maintaining what supply you do have, and making sure your child is getting enough nourishment to grow. Dismissing a mom as "just a combo feeder" is not going to help a mother learn what she can do to continue breastfeeding, help her supply with future children, or understand that her children are still getting the benefits of breastmilk even while be supplemented with formula.
I am sure there are many more ways that we sabotage the cause, but these are a few that have been on my mind lately. We need to remember that if we are just preaching at people, rather than communicating, listening and sharing, we will never help promote breastfeeding.

1 comment:

Savvy and Chic Mommy said...

Hello -

found you on the Leaky B@@b link up. please come by and follow too.

Fellow breastfeeding mom,