Common Bond of Parenthood

There is nothing subtle about the common bond of parenthood, as shown at the end of this video sponsored by Similac, a formula company.  I’m practically certain that an anti-formula group of breastfeeding (BF) zealots would never have sponsored such a video.  The last thing the BF zealots want to show is that there is even a hint of commonality between moms who BF and moms who formula feed.

What is the common bond?  Well, as you’ll see by watching this video, it’s that parents are–regardless of our parenting style or choices–parents.  Period.  The video even has a group of men (whether they are single parents or stay-at-home-dads is not clear), which is Similac’s intent to bring fathers into the picture, because after all, fathers are parents too.  Parents have a desire and obligation to do the best they can to care for their children with the means best suited for them.  Our children are our responsibility.  We brought them into the world.

At the end of the video, when a baby and parent need help, everyone–regardless of their parenting style or choices–drops their differences and runs to the aid of that baby and parent.  Now, that’s what it SHOULD be all about.  Forget about stupid and meaningless mommy wars.  Putting aside our differences and recognizing and respecting each others’ differences– instead of putting up walls to separate ourselves from those that are different from us– is what it should all be about.  Non first-time parents know what it’s like to be a parent for the first time and know how challenging taking care of a newborn baby and being a first-time parent really is.   Wouldn’t it be nice if experienced parents shared their experience with other new parents instead of thinking “Well, I learned the hard way, so can he/she.” Wouldn’t it also be nice if there were parent support groups in EVERY community, not just here or there and not known to/hard to find by the vast majority of those seeking support?  Parenting is about community, not about individual parents in isolation, left to their own devices because of how they choose to parent.

It takes a community to parent, period.  You can’t go it alone.  And you should not have to.

For added perspective from a writer and advocate for mothers whom I admire very much, please visit Suzie Barston’s Fearless Formula Feeder’s blog post about this video.  It’s titled “You’re Proving the Point.”

And another piece written by Amy Newman titled “Let’s Lower Stakes in Breastfeeding Debate.”

Here’s Another Example of How Extreme Thinking is Never a Good Thing

Wow, has it really been over a month since my last post?  Where has all the time gone?!?!  These past couple of weeks, I have been preoccupied with preparing for an event I will be speaking at this coming Thursday.  Most people with no issues with speaking in front of people tell me “Well, you know your subject matter well, so it should be a breeze for you, no?”  But for someone who is petrified of speaking in front of any-sized group, the thought of being in front of, oh, 50 or more people is making me quite anxious.  And I can’t even drink any wine to help take the edge off at this event.  Ughhhhh.

Well, onto more positive things.  The days are now longer, sunnier and warmer.  And that is a really EXCELLENT thing.  And I am going to write my first blog post in 40 days!  The longest break I’ve ever taken since I started my blog in February 2009.  Yikes.

The Fearless Formula Feeder’s latest FFF Friday post really moved me.  A lot.  It’s a detailed account of how a mom named Amy was determined (6 years ago) to try to breastfeed but met with one obstacle after another…the most important of which was the fact that there were quite a number of physiological barriers to breastfeeding that–if the baby were to thrive–gave her no other option but to feed her baby a hypoallergenic formula.

Reading this, one cannot help but feel angry toward the healthcare professionals who do nothing but make a mom’s first attempt at breastfeeding an awful one.  That includes lactation consultants, nurses, OB/GYNs and pediatricians.  If you are going to be of the view that breastfeeding is the ONLY right way to feed your baby, then the least you can do is be supportive.  There should be no room for extreme thinking when it comes to supporting a new mother.  I shouldn’t have to say that being one-sided (or extreme), condescending and mean are not behaviors that  people in these fields should exhibit.  Instead, they should be empathetic and centrist (this is a word that I have grown fond of since I’ve started to pay more attention to politics).  Centrist in that people in health care need to be objective and take into consideration the situation at hand–i.e., in this particular situation, suggest that the baby try (hypoallergenic) formula because the negatives of breastfeeding happen to be outweighing the positives.

What is wrong with a mom trying her darndest to get her baby to breastfeed, but can’t (at the end of Amy’s story, you’ll see what the baby was finally diagnosed with after one extremely trying hurdle after another that had me gritting my teeth) and then is referred by a pediatric GI to a hypoallergenic formula that finally has her baby happily feeding without any difficulties?  NOTHING.

What is wrong with a mom (like me) who initially tries to breastfeed but after a traumatic childbirth and postpartum week in the hospital, doesn’t succeed other than to pump and supplement with formula….and then succumbs to postpartum depression (PPD), has to go on a medley of medications to recover, and has to stop pumping altogether because she doesn’t want the baby exposed to any of the medications?  NOTHING.

What is wrong with a mom who tries to breastfeed but due to physiological issues (this is not an excuse but an actual condition) just doesn’t produce enough milk for her baby?  NOTHING.

What is wrong with a mom who must take medications for a postpartum mood disorder (not a make-believe illness or cop-out) and does not want to expose her baby to the medications?  NOTHING.

What is wrong with a mom who prefers to bottle feed from the get-go for whatever reason she may have?  NOTHING.

Amy’s experience clearly shows that extreme ways of thinking, like breastfeeding is the only way to feed a baby, are FAR from the right way of thinking.  Amy’s daughter and my daughter are but two examples of countless children who were bottle fed…. and yet our girls–now 6 and 8, respectively–are healthy and able to read beyond their years.  Not to mention that a good number of people in my generation (including myself) were all bottle fed.  Are you going to say that we are maladapted and physically and intellectually inferior to everyone who was breastfed?  C’mon, now.  Let’s remove them blinders, alright?

What matters is that the baby is fed.  Everyone has their own viewpoints and preferences.  As long as we are happy with our choices and our babies are happy and healthy, that’s all that should matter.  Trying to push our viewpoints and preferences onto others and insisting that one way is the ONLY right way to do something isn’t right.  Organizations like the American Pediatric Association and La Leche League can continue to make their recommendations, but people really need to stop it with self righteous attitudes and condescension, as well as guilt tripping, bullying, and judging others.  Let’s try to be a bit more supportive and helpful to new moms, especially first-time moms who can use the support.  Okay?

Repeat after me.  THERE IS NO ONE RIGHT WAY TO FEED YOUR BABY.