Another reply-turned-post, breastfeeding style

I have added yet another blog to my reader. I liked this post at Hugo Schwyzer’s blog. He discussed the Rosin breastfeeding article and mommy wars in general. The comments had some mommy wars type arguments in them, so I figured I would reply:


Great post.

I write about the subjects of mommy wars and breastfeeding a lot. In fact, I have a Mommy Wars Bingo Card since so many of the same kinds of comments come up over and over again.

I wrote about Rosin’s article, too. The problem with her (and some of the comments on here, and many of the discussions about breastfeeding vs. formula) treatment of the discussion of breastfeeding is the assumption that breastfeeding is the intervention and formula feeding is the norm, and the greater problem of not treating this as a health decision (with obvious social and feminist and classist issues, but primarily a health decision).

Breastfeeding is and should be the normal and recommended feeding of all newborns. If an intervention is sought (formula feeding), there should be ample health indications for doing so. Just like any other health treatment, other issues do come into play (such as compliance – if the mother can’t comply due to work obligations or unwillingness) then that is of course an issue. If the infant is losing weight despite lactation consulting, that is a health issue. However, those must be weighed against the absolutely undeniable health benefits of breastfeeding.

Interventions due to complications (such as formula feeding, induction of labor, cesarean section) should not become the “normal” treatment options for women and newborns who do not warrant interventions. The evidence does not support improved health outcomes with such interventions, it actually shows more harm than benefit.

I am all for discussing the social, economic, and other considerations that come into play with delivery, access and compliance when it comes to these and other health decisions, but let’s keep the ideal treatment options in perspective when we have these discussions.

1 Comment

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One response to “Another reply-turned-post, breastfeeding style

  1. For anyone reading this that gets angry because it implies that anything besides the norm of breastfeeding or unhindered birth is then abnormal, please consider that the definition of “normal” in this context is:

    1 a : according with, constituting, or not deviating from anorm, rule, or principle b : conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern
    2 : occurring naturally and not because of disease, inoculation, or any experimental treatment (e.g., “normal immunity”)

    In fact, abnormal has become a loaded word and synonymous with weird, wrong or immoral, none of which it actually means.

    This would also be the time where someone inserts a diatribe about how claiming that breastfeeding and vaginal birth are the norm is based on the theory of intelligent design, which has failed us all because our bodies are meant to fail in the absence of science and medicine because haven’t you seen the gravestones of young women at the turn of the century who were buried with their babies because women used to DIE and who would feeding the baby and pelvises are too small due to evolution and vaginal birth will become obsolete in a hundred years and so we should all be grateful for every live-saving obstetric and medical intervention because without them women and babies would DIE so claiming that vaginal birth and breastfeeding are the norm is MEAN and ableist because can’t you see that many women are unable to give birth without medical intervention.

    You can get a lot of squares on the Mommy Wars Bingo with that attitude.

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