Mommy wars. Destroyer of relationships. “My way is the best. How could you even consider any other?” The judgment. The criticism. It makes everyone feel inadequate, when, in fact, none of us are. We are all individuals. Do we honestly expect everyone to make the same choices as us?
Breastfeeding has its own, unique twist on the mommy wars. Even breastfeeding can be fought over. It seems totally unfair to me. There is not only one way to feed your child. In fact, there aren’t just two, either. There are many ways to feed a baby and they are all acceptable, legitimate options. Really.
Battle #1: Breast is Best!
Oh, the breast is best argument. It leaves so many wonderful mamas broken and hurting in its wake. Yes, it is proven, through research, that breastmilk is the best option for babies. However it is not always feasible for every mama. Yes, I know, God created breasts and their ability to make milk. Really, I know. But he also provided scientists with the knowledge necessary to make a substitute–formula.
I’d just like you to take a moment before you judge a mama giving her baby formula. You don’t know her life story. You don’t know why she’s choosing to put formula in that bottle. There are so many possibilities! Here are just a few.
1. Baby is unable to latch and mama is no longer producing enough milk to satisfy baby’s need.
2. Mama was sexually abused at some point in her life and when she thinks about breastfeeding, she doesn’t picture beautiful moments with a baby, she pictures the horrible, sick things her abuser said to her.
3. Baby is adopted and mama didn’t know/have the support to induce lactation.
4. Baby was, in fact, allergic to mama’s milk. No, seriously! Check it out!
There are so many possible reasons for a mama to use formula to feed her baby. Assume that she put as much time, research, prayer and thought into her feeding choices as you did into yours. She very likely did. All mamas want what’s best for their babies. We just don’t always agree on what “best” is and that’s okay.
Battle #2: Covering vs. Not Covering
~A real lactavist (who came up with that word, anyway?) never wears a nursing cover.
~Nursing covers are shameful and prove that you’re trying to hide something.
~All nursing covers do is attract extra attention to someone who’s already obviously trying to hide that they’re breastfeeding.
~Nothing like sitting under a tent to announce to the world “look at me! I’m breastfeeding!”
Any of these sound familiar? Have you said any of them, in reference to another mama? Have you had them said to or about you? I’ve seen them far too many times on blogs and Facebook groups. It’s heartbreaking, the things we say about our fellow mamas.
Let me let you in on a little secret. Covering isn’t about who’s looking. It’s all about the mama and baby being comfortable while breastfeeding. Seriously. Now, personally, I have a child who has never allowed a cover of any sort. He wanted to be able to see! Can’t do that with a cover. So, I guess I probably appear to be some big lactivist, making sure the whole world knows I’m breastfeeding, but really, I’m just meeting my little boy’s needs.
Let’s look at it a little differently. Forget the “lactivist” view point. Lets see mamas as what they are–mamas. Not all of us choose to be activists in any area, much less this one. Assume that the mamas you encounter while out and about fall under “average mamas”, not “lactivists”.
Reasons to cover:
1. Easily distracted nursling–The cover allows baby to concentrate on nursing just long enough to get the job done and move on.
2. Baby gymnast–Mama really doesn’t want to flash the whole place, so she’s wearing a cover to hide the 50 times her baby has let go in the last 3 minutes.
3. Privacy–Mama just plain doesn’t want to draw big attention. Yes, people notice the cover, but they’re more likely to leave a covered Mama alone and she can definitely rest assured that there is zero possibility of flashing random bystanders.
Reasons not to cover:
1. Nursling who can’t stand being blocked out of the world–Baby must see to feel connected. Not connected means missing out and one can never do that. Or, at least, that’s how this baby feels.
2. Baby gymnast–Wearing a cover simply results in mama and baby both tightly entangled in the cover before it ends up falling to the ground and being covered in mud anyway.
3. Forgot a cover/It’s too hot/Covers are a pain–Either mama doesn’t have a cover on hand or she just doesn’t see a point in hassling with it. Either way, covers just plain don’t matter because baby is hungry and mama’s going to feed him, no matter what.
Again, there are certainly plenty of other reasons to use or not use a cover. I never really did with Isaiah. We tried from time to time. It just didn’t work for us. When I’m nursing a different baby, maybe I will end up using a cover. Who knows? I can’t even know until I meet the baby, so why worry about it?
These are two big mommy wars topics. I see them all the time. All the time. Honestly, I hate them. I want to live in harmony with other mamas, whether we agree on every detail of parenting or not. I like people. If I like you, I don’t want to worry about whether we disagree on some minor thing like how we feed babies. I want to spend time with you, enjoying you, not picking fights. My dream for mamas everywhere would be for us to all call a truce. Let’s support each other wherever we happen to be, in this moment.