The case against bitterness

When I saw the title of this article, “The case against breast-feeding,” I thought: okay. I am willing to hear where this woman is coming from. So I read the article and realized this woman has some personal problems she is blaming breast feeding on. In my opinion, of course.

Here is my re-cap of her article.

She is a mother and works at home (lucky her) as an editor for The Atlantic, nursed her two older children until they were one year, and is currently nursing a baby, her third.

Before now, she was a mindless peon/supporter of nursing. But after researching the scientific reports on nursing versus formula, she has concluded that there is not enough scientific evidence to support the shamelessly touted advantages of nursing, such as higher IQ, prevention of obesity and diabetes and other diseases, etc., etc. The people that are the chief proponents of these claims, she says, are bougie snobs that keep track of how much organic food you give your kids because it’s the new IN thing to nurse your baby until they are five.

Nursing keeps you tied to your baby when you could be out working, like her husband, for whom she holds barely disguised contempt because he can’t lactate and co-nurse with her.

So, in the end, she has decided that nursing has a small advantage over formula, but perhaps not enough to make up for the psychological damage that it may cause because you resent your baby for wanting milk and cutting into your down time.

First of all, this woman suffers from what many of us in Western society have to some degree: an over-reliance on scientific research. I worked for a medical publishing company for a year, and I can’t tell you how many times a research finding came out that completely contradicted an earlier report. It was quite ridiculous, actually. So any research I hear or read about, I take with the tiniest grain of salt.

My common sense tells me that breast milk is better than formula. My flesh and blood leg is better than a plastic one. Can I get through life with a plastic one? Sure, totally. But the original part is best. So it is with formula. Will your child grow and thrive on formula? Of course, they will, many of us have. But is breast milk better? Maybe even a whole lot better? Yeah, probably.

Now is it going to make your kid become a genius? Will they never get fat or get diabetes? All those reports may or may not have some truth to them, but it doesn’t really change the factoid that formula is great, but breast milk is better. Plain and simple. I don’t need scientific evidence to justify my decision to nurse my kid.

Second, women have been nursing for…FOREVER. During most of that time, humans have not had to deal with the trappings of modern life that makes everything really, really fast-paced and inconvenient. You got computers, email, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube. Everything happens almost instantaneously. Nursing doesn’t really fit into that framework very well. Nursing, especially in the beginning, can take an hour or two. And when you’re done, you might have to do it again 45 minutes later. A lot of it may depend on your kid’s ability to get efficient at sucking.

So the slowness of nursing is not the problem. It’s the rapidity of our lifestyles.

Third, this woman just seems bitter about nursing or maybe motherhood in general. She took a few potshots at her husband seemingly because she feels he’s not doing his fair share. She silently resents him when she has to nurse at night, while he turns over to go back to sleep. At other times, she taps her foot impatiently, waiting for her baby to finish nursing. Yikes, just read a book until he’s done!

Ironically, she still nurses part-time. When she is away, the baby drinks formula. To which I say great, cool, do what works for you. But she takes the time to write “a case against breast feeding” when in the end she still does it. Why does she have to demonize nursing to justify her decision to give her baby formula sometimes? This is exactly what she criticizes the bougie snobs for, except they are demonizing formula to justify nursing.

This is what I took out of her article, which is a valid point, amid all the personal resentment and bitterness: sometimes you can’t, or don’t want, to nurse and its OK. Yes, breast milk is best, but formula is not poison. Feel free to use it and your baby will be fine.