Sunday, March 27, 2011

Breastfeeding: positive or negative?

I recently saw a report about a couple studies suggesting that women who breastfeed are viewed as less competent. Now, for what it's worth, the subjects in each of the studies were college students, so that age category may have something to do with the findings. I don't know, for myself, whether my opinions about breastfeeding have changed since I became a parent except to the extent that I didn't really have opinions on the subject. It just wasn't something I thought about.

Now, however, I have very definite opinions on the matter, and they're almost exactly antithetical to the findings of the study. I assume that a woman who is breast-feeding is probably more knowledgeable, at least when it comes to knowing what's good for her baby and herself. And therefore, as likely as not, more competent, more intelligent, better. Although I know it isn't fair in the other direction, I have a tendency to look down on women who don't breastfeed, because they seem to be thoughtlessly conforming to the norm that's pushed by the interests of formula producers rather than science. I realize that there are legitimate reasons why people can't breastfeed and have to feed their children formula, but my first reaction is still negative--they're guilty until proven otherwise.

And now that I've admitted my own prejudices, where do yours lie on this matter, gentle readers?


  1. I was gung-ho pro-breastfeeding until I tried to keep up with it through PPD. Very hard to have to stop for psychological reasons. I had to figure, for sanity and guilt reasons, that today's formula has come a long way from the formula of the past, and the first two weeks of nursing had to count for something. And even with all that, I still tend to share your prejudice -- I'm not very quick to mercy, to my shame.

  2. Ohhhh, this one is a HUGE can of worms. I've been in the thick of a HUGE fights about it - people tend to get INCREDIBLY passionate and vocal about their opinions. My mom was what you might call a Breastfeeding Nazi, and my sister has followed suit - breastfeeding both of her children and being very dismissive of the idea that there is TRULY reason why someone isn't able to breastfeed that isn't an obstacle that can and should be overcome. I try not to get too involved because a) I've never had a child and never breastfed a child and b) until you stand in someone's shoes you have NO IDEA what is going on for them when they make that decision. In theory, though, I think breastfeeding is the better, healthier option, and I get really outraged when I read about people getting angry at women for breastfeeding in public. Feeding a baby is not a sexual act. I think women should be able to breastfeed anywhere they need to do so. =)