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Breastfeeding Advocacy Isn't Anti-Formula Feeders

26/02/2014 17:31 | Updated 28 April 2014

So, here's what breastfeeding-advocacy isn't:

It isn't anti-formula users. Breastfeeding advocacy is about wanting new parents to have access to ALL the facts about how they feed their babies. This includes the risks of using formula milk as a breastmilk substitute. It means not hiding the truth about how amazing and purpose-made - nutritonally, immunologically, psychologically (in terms of breastfeeding as an attachment-promoting activity) - breastmilk is to an infant, from birth to weaning age. As an Aptamil veteran myself, my intention is never to bash those who choose to use breastmilk substitutes, but my belief and experience is that we live in a bottlefeeding culture, where nursing (in particular, to full term), is seen as an alternative to the bottlefeeding norm. And that that should change. Indeed, I first explored breastfeeding advocacy when I was formula-feeding. Parents who use formula have the capacity to be as loving, giving, generous and proactive as breastfeeders, but the media would like to see and maintain a polarity between the two parenting 'types'.

It isn't anti-fathers. Breastfeeding advocates (to my knowledge) have no party line to the effect that fathers shouldn't bond with their babies, from birth. Many professionals who take a pro-breastfeeding stance are also natural birth advocates, who suggest that the father should receive the baby at birth, be present in its first moments in the world, see its eyes open and its colour change. From newborn through to pre-schooler, there are a multitude of opportunities for fathers to bond with their babies through play, talking and singing, and participating in everyday activities like bathing and changing. Fathers can also be present when the baby is being fed, and sing to them as they drift off to sleep, for example. Of course, dads can also give a baby breastmilk from a bottle.

It isn't anti-men. The oversexualisation of breasts (the normalisation of seeing breasts only in a sexual capacity, framing breastfeeding as a taboo) has benefitted those who have found ways to profit from their relatively new cultural meaning. From retailers to media owners to the big cheeses of the formula industry, those who stand to make the most profit from breasts as only visual props happen to seem to be usually men. This isn't my fault, and I'm not going to leave it out to spare a few feelings, but that doesn't make breastfeeding advocacy an anti-men position. If it weren't for men, babies wouldn't exist, the human race as it is would not have got this far and would not continue. In many houses, it is the men who give the mothers a break from being the primary caregiver, and many are the primary caregiver, some are men who play with the children and men who cook, clean, work outside of the home, 'stay at home' with the kids as stay-at-home-dads, ad infinitum. Men are as valuable as, equal to, different from but not less than, women. They matter. This doesn't change the fact that breastmilk is, where available, the best nutrition and immune-defence system for a new baby and continues to be beneficial until the baby or child chooses - with input from the parent - to stop nursing.

Breastfeeding advocacy is:

  • Pro access to information for all expectant and new parents
  • Pro breastfeeding as a normal way to feed and comfort a baby and child
  • Anti-bullshit and spin from...anyone desperate to take new parents' money or undermine their attachment with their baby
  • Pro-(proper)regulation of the infant formula industry

Hope that clears things up.

Originally published at attachmentfeminism.com | facebook.com/attachmentfeminism