Let me be clear (before the middle class breast-feeding defence force instigate a hellishly offended counter attack on booby-denying monsters who hate all children), I have no issue with breast feeding what-so-ever. And… (steady now, finger off the milk trigger before you jump in with a billion graphic, nipple-based facts), I am not offended by mothers breast-feeding near me, around me, in front of me – park benches, restaurants, shopping centres – go for it lady, it’s natural and fantastically efficient so whip those girls out whenever and wherever you want to. I also (and herein lies the upcoming rant) have absolutely no doubt that there exists genuine evidence that breast milk is preferable to baby formula…however….
…The Lord Jesus; since when did choosing not to breast feed your baby become akin to child murder – and moreover, since when did this expressively intimate procedure (pun quite intended) of feeding one’s offspring, become anybody’s business but the woman who owns the breasts in question?
I will explain.
The ever-patient Niamh is having a baby and due to having absolutely no social life of my own, I have recently taken to “accompanying” her (although that might be better described as being “babysat” by her) to the endless amount of checkups – to keep her company and give her support, lest she be indoctrinated by the not-quite-so-yummy mummy army that are always present and appear to believe the rest of us are desperate to listen to whatever drivel they are barking into their i-phones.
However I digress; whilst in the latest dismal hospital waiting area (who on earth decorates these places – Death himself?) I counted no less than 14 posters selotaped to the walls depicting the same sappy-faced, Dunnes-attired, vacuous-grinning moron – one breast hanging proudly above titles including “Feeding Facts” and “The Breast Choice”.
Now then. To use one of the many condescending phrases in the million pamphlets poor Niamh is forced to read; “Better for Baby – Better for Mum” – I agree, it probably is. But what is quite beyond my understanding, is the boobie-brigade’s inability to just leave that fact there to enable women to make a choice – for the uninspiring dog-eared poster campaign doesn’t stop with encouraging a new mum to choose natural feeding. Underneath the sappy, suicide-invoking bare breast, is always documented (in bargain-basement-sale bold text) a list of ghastly ailments your baby is sure to suffer should you choose to use formula milk.
I promptly snatch this laminated list of lactose gruesomeness from the wall (causing not a small amount of damage to the miserable décor) and Niamh falls into a fit of giggles as I stare disbelievingly at the list – and then at her – and then the list and so on for several moments.
Increased risk of anaemia – yes, alright, maybe.
Increased risk of allergies – yep, quite possibly.
Reduced IQ – ah, well we may be getting a little creative now; thick is thick in any language and trust me, by the look of the woman in the poster, that baby is being drip-fed stupidity.
2033 more GP visits…609 more prescriptions…212 more days in hospital – what? No seriously, what kind of deranged doom-prophet has gathered this particular nugget of information? Niamh’s midwife? A leather-faced, menopausal descendant of Vlad-The-Impailer (who cannot start a sentence without growling “Breast is Best”). An out-patient in the neighbouring psychiatric ward perhaps? And listen, I would discuss those air-picked rambling statistics with you further, if they weren’t followed by this pure lunatic gold statement:
Risk of Death – Yes, you read it right people – not breastfeeding your baby may kill it. And if you don’t recite “Wheels on the Bus” at least once a day, it is entirely possible the child will grow an extra ear on it’s forehead…and if you even muttered the word ‘dairy’ whilst you were pregnant, good luck – because it will result in the child metamorphosing into a mountain goat on it’s first birthday.
Now exactly what date was ‘risking the life of your baby’ put on the con list of formula milk may I ask? And, more importantly, in what sphere of reality is this kind of bias, scare-mongering condemnation acceptable? And… (but, wait, there’s more) …precisely what evidence is there that permits this absolutely mind-boggling conclusion to be smugly typed, printed, laminated and displayed like a 1900’s Western Wanted Poster in a hospital waiting room, provoking unnecessary worry in women who are already overwhelmed with non-information, useless statistics and irrelevant birthing techniques?
Preggers Ladies everywhere, let me tell you – my 14 year old daughter, amongst millions of others (including me and a vast number of people I know), was a formula baby – and she didn’t die because of it (and neither is she an illiterate, anaemic diabetic – but I simply don’t have time to ramble about her fantastic looks, extraordinary academic ability and seemingly superhuman health); perhaps she, as a bottle-fed baby, is a modern medical miracle but I doubt it. Again, let me be clear – I am certainly not suggesting that women should not breast feed – it is how nature intended and it is quite right, but with an almost-duplicate alternative available, one must have a voice of equal reasoning in such matters: For instance, I don’t believe posters should be displayed depicting despondent new mothers sadly looking down at dry, cracked nipples desperately clinging to saggy breasts, limply dribbling over bullet points including “I feel like a smelly, used-up, milking cow…I just want my body back.” and “I really don’t like doing it but I feel like I’m a bad mother if I don’t, it’s painful, I feel uncomfortable and I genuinely think it has affected how I bond with the baby.” – because clearly not every woman feels that way, and it would be unfair for me to insinuate so. If the feeding alternative were arsenic – I may think differently, but it isn’t (and don’t get me started on the amount of babies ‘healthily’ breastfed for a year before being weaned onto processed, chemical laden, junk food served direct from the freezer or microwave – be interesting to see how those kind of bullet point posters would be received by the self righteous – do I start with the catastrophic environmental damage their totally unnecessary 4×4 causes as they drive to the clinic for that 1hour to pass judgement on formula-fed babies – the same 4×4 that is contributing to the disastrous lesion emerging in an atmosphere that their ‘healthier’ breast-fed babies are breathing? Probably not. I’d say that’s a rant for another day).
So yes, top marks to the boobie-brigade; what constitutes breast milk is naturally better for a baby than formula milk – but what is better for the mother, the support of her rights and ability to make informed choices where her own child is concerned, has an infinitely more significant impact on a baby’s health. It doesn’t take a paediatric messiah to know that a miserable, unsure mother is substantially more detrimental to the development of a child than the decision to breast feed. In short Preggers Ladies, nobody else is having this baby – YOU are. YOU are the biological vessel in which this other human being is being created; it was YOUR ovaries from where this little person entered actuality, it was YOUR fallopian tubes in which it travelled to the safety of YOUR womb. It was YOUR breath-taking natal ability that sustained it’s existence for 9 months; and after nausea, fatigue, weight gain, bloating, sickness and lunatic cravings, endless anxiety and lost sleep (not to mention the frantic saving for moses baskets, nappies, cots, swings, clothes, baby monitors and anything else the commercial world can pressurise you into purchasing under a thinly veiled blackmail term of “essential for baby”) it was YOUR sheer hard work and determination in a labour suite, where you were exhausted and frightened for what seemed a limitless age, that gave YOUR baby their first breath. So, if YOU want to use YOUR breasts to feed YOUR child, then do – but if you don’t…then don’t…it is entirely YOUR business and the suggestion that you are answerable to a sour faced bully with a hospital namebadge wielding a doomsday list of disorders, is as farcical as the implication that you will kill your child by not breastfeeding it.
That is all: and a whole load a rant is due now on why tits are AWESOME…