Sunday, 26 April 2009

Twitter and Breastfeeding..

Recently I've joined Twitter - well the point was for me to combat certain pro-circ folks posting there as one particular individual was using it to "tweet" new parents trying to convince them to cut their kids. (Creepy.) Anyway, a few days after and it's pretty addictive. Meeting new mama friends and I'm generally wittering on about rubbish to anyone who seems vaguely interested.

The AP community seems pretty strong. Lots of like minded people. Life is good.

And then - someone posts a link to that infamous "Breastfeeding at 8" video. As if this hasn't been posted a million times over on the internet and every single time it comes up, a huge flame war erupts, people get nasty, others get upset, etcetcetc. Been there, seen it a million times. I should never have got involved. But, I tweeted that as far as I am concerned, people should just let others live their lives, as long as they're not hurting their kids, who really cares.

This is where a certain lady who had followed me due to a few tweets on #flylady got really upset and started sending me about 10 tweets per minute (or so it seemed) on how morally corrupt I am, how I don't teach my children right from wrong, and how this makes me a terrible parent. This particular lady apparently weaned her baby as soon as he could walk, because apparently it's morally wrong to breastfeed a child after this point. At one point she brought my obvious stance on circumcision into the mix.

Now, get this straight. I am openly against infant circumcision. I post links about it, blog posts I find interesting (Much the same as I do breastfeeding, vax or other stuff) I will combat blatant misinformation I see posted about. If someone posts something like "what do you think about circumcision" I'll give my input. But I don't tweet people and insult them/their decisions and attack their moral fibre. Circumcision is also different from breastfeeding in that there are no damaging effects from breastfeeding. It has no risks attached. The benefits from breastfeeding are diverse and well documented, while with circumcision there are pretty much equal information on both sides of the argument (which is why, to me, it is more of an ethical issue. People should be given the chance to say whether they have healthy body parts removed, or not. The AAP states that the medical benefits of circumcision do not outweigh the risks therefore it is a cosmetic/cultural issue.)

As for breastfeeding - it is recommended, universally, for the first two years and beyond, as per the WHO and various other organisations. We've seen a few opinion pieces slating it lately (eg Hanna Rosin) But this does not change the fact that breastfeeding ultimately promotes optimal child health. Extended, or to use the term I prefer, "full term" breastfeeding, is attacked by some prudish types who see it as somehow incestuous and psychologically damaging. This is ridiculous. There have never been any studies on it proving psychological damage due to breastfeeding. However, the list of studies proving benefits to continuing the breastfeeding relationship is extensive.

I have noticed that people who did not breastfeed, or who breastfed for a short time, tend to be very vocal about others not judging them for their choices, yet will happily dish it  out when it comes to us full term breastfeeding mothers.  I don't go around randomly saying to formula feeding mothers that they are bad parents and made bad decisions.  I don't personally do formula, but I get that other people have the right to decide for themselves.  Lactivism is not about personally attacking others - it's about helping breastfeeding mothers by getting better support, campaigning for better breastfeeding in public laws, etc.

The final straw really in this particular discourse was that she commented that breast is best "but only until children can get nutrition from other foods". This is one thing that bothers me - people really think that if you're breastfeeding a child they're not eating anything else? My toddler is allergic to dairy, so he drinks my milk like he might have cows milk, an occasional and comforting drink with the bonus that it's attached to mama and he gets a cuddle at the same time.

And then, there's the people that say "After XX years, why not pump and give it to them IN A CUP!" I am sure the people saying this have never, ever pumped. Pumping sucks. You have to pump regularly to ensure you will get a decent amount of milk each time. It's time consuming, and soul destroying. I did everything I could to try and ensure I didn't have to pump with my second son - including negotiating work hours that would enable me to nurse before and after work without having to have a pumping break in between.  Why would I want to give up the cuddling closeness that comes with nursing (it's a fabulous way to connect with a toddler who is generally too busy for hugs otherwise) and replace that with attaching myself to a plastic device multiple times a day, just so to not offend other people's delicate sensibilities?


  1. That is fabulous.

    With my second child, I have avoided pumping like the plague - I did it with my first child - alternating breast feeding with bottle (expressed breast milk) for the first three months. While it might have been nice for my husband to feed our daughter, I disliked it intensely.
    So with my son, who is now almost a year old, I have altered my life (meaning I don't go out for lengthy periods of time without him) so I don't have to express.
    I love the time with him (since my daughter died when she was 13 1/2 months old) I wouldn't trade it for anything else.

    I look forward to sharing your posts on my blog



  2. Helena - I am so sorry for your loss :(