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Friday
Mar092012

You are not a failure...

Having a c-section does not make you a failure, but doctors who force unnecessary interventions on women are failing them.

Being obese does not make a child a failure, but parents who only buy fried foods and don't give their children the chance to run around outside are failing their kids.

Being raped when you'd had too much to drink doesn't make you a failure, but it makes the jerk who assaulted you a rapist.

Failing a math test after you studied really hard for it doesn't make you a failure, but if your tutor purposely misled you on how to solve certain problems to guarantee you'd be back for more tutoring during summer school then she failed you.

Having a piece of chocolate cake doesn't make you a failure, but if your partner knows you are trying to lose weight and purposely brings home your favourite cake and eats it in front of you, then he failed you.

Being unemployed doesn't make you a failure, but if companies are discriminatory in their hiring practices, then they have failed you.

Being diagnosed with cancer doesn't make you a failure, but if you lived next to a factory that was leaching toxins into the environment, then that company failed you.

Being unsuccessful at gardening doesn't make you a failure, but if the vegetable vendor in your town sold you dud seeds to ensure you would have to buy from him, then he failed you.

Taking medication for mental health problems doesn't make you a failure, but if your doctor brushes aside your request for therapy and just takes out a prescription pad instead your doctor has failed you.

Not being able to breastfeed doesn't make you a failure, but...

...the people or companies who gave you bad breastfeeding advice failed you.


...the companies that sent you unsolicited formula samples in the mail failed you.


...the formula ads that kept popping up whenever breastfeeding seemed hard failed you.


...the nurse who unnecessarily supplemented your baby with formula or sugar water failed you.


...the person who suggested that nipple confusion is just a myth and it is not problem to give a bottle or pacifier to a newborn failed you.


...the hospital that gave you formula to take home "just in case" failed you.


...the family members who didn't support you failed you.


...the health insurance or medicare that didn't cover the cost of a lactation consultant and a breast pump failed you.


...the government and company that didn't give you maternity leave failed you.


...the doctor who said "just try formula" instead of helping you access real breastfeeding support failed you.


...the people who made you feel ashamed for breastfeeding in public failed you.


... the governments that have failed to establish a strong network of human milk banks failed you.



You are not a failure.


But those who have tried to hurt you for their own gain or out of their own incompetence have failed you.


It is time that we as women, as mothers, as humans, stop internalizing blame when things don't turn out the way that we hoped they would. It is time that we ask what is standing in our way and come up with a plan for dismantling those barriers. It is time that we call out those that seek to deceive us, hurt us, or to profit from our pain.

For some people, it seems as though there is comfort in knowing that there was no other possible way that things could have turned out. Their c-section, their unemployment, their inability to do math, their chocolate cake addiction, their cancer, or their inability to produce enough milk is what it is. There is nothing that could be done about it. I can understand that, because it makes it easier to push away the feelings of "I didn't try hard enough" or "maybe it is my fault".  It brings some comfort and some ability to let go. And, in some cases, it may simply be the truth. There isn't always an answer as to why things went the way that they did and there are times when medical interventions are absolutely appropriate.

But that doesn't change the fact that there are things that need to change and there are barriers being put in front of people every single day. Simply accepting these things doesn't allow us to progress. It doesn't allow us to answer questions or solve problems for others, so that they won't have to go through the same struggle.

There is nothing I admire more than someone who has lived through tremendous difficulties and is willing to fight battles to ensure that others don't have to go through the same thing. I know that is a hard thing to take on and that it reopens wounds continually, but it is incredibly admirable and courageous. It helps change the world for the better. Some people can do that and others can't and I understand that.

Whether you can do that or not, as others go about advocating for change, please remember...

You are not a failure.


You are not a failure.


You are not a failure.


Image credit: signote on flickr

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Reader Comments (67)

My favorite post of yours ever. Thank you Annie, thank you.

March 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKristine

I adore you. You are a champion, and I'm so proud to know you.

March 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlexandria

I'm absolutely speechless...this post is SUCH a complete eye-opener {game changer even} to people who felt like it was THEM being attacked when the debate rages on about formula feeding...without a doubt, one of the best posts I have read, my friend!!

March 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermarci

this is condescending. you are assuming that all of us who formula feed were some how duped or did not get the support we needed. some babies simply have medical conditions that make establishing or maintaining a breastfeeding relationship impossible. please don't forget we are out there, too.

March 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

No, I don't assume that at all, Maria. That is why I wrote this:

"And, in some cases, it may simply be the truth. There isn't always an answer as to why things went the way that they did and there are times when medical interventions are absolutely appropriate."

March 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

An important and beautifully written post.

March 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjo(e)

Annie, I think is a great post and I am supportive of the general message that we need to remember that we are not failures and we need to stand behind each other as mothers. However, to be fair, I have to say I was also 'failed' by the 'other side' in the breastfeeding debate.

I was failed by the 'breastfeeding expert doctor' who told me my daughers tongue tie had no impact on breastfeeding.

I was failed by the blogs, online forums and articles that told me 'everyone can breastfeed' and if I didn't I was using an 'excuse'. The ones that told me I was a bad and lazy if I couldn't figure it out. The ones that told me I was posioning my daughter.

I was failed by the nurses, who were so convinced that I NEEDED to breastfeed that they didn't actually tell me that my 4 month old daughter hadn't gained weight in over a month. They didn't stop to discuss options with me or be honest with me about what was going on.

I felt like a failure in that time period because I didn't trust myself. I didn't listen to my instincts and I didn't feel like I had options or choices.

Of the two possible things that failed me that you mentioned above- only two apply to me (bad advice from nurses/doctors and no government milk banks). That's it. I strongly believe that I was 'failed' by breastfeeding fervor just as much (or more) then as I was failed by "booby traps". Which is why it is so important to me that we strive for a greater balance between the "Breast is Best" and "Breastfeeding is a public health issue" message and the reality that when that message goes to far it could do just as much harm as good to 'the cause'.

March 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKathleen

Absolutely, Kathleen. There is a reason that I put the bad breastfeeding advice right at the top. Some of that comes from formula companies, but it comes from many other corners too. It is the reason why I believe we need to invest in better quality breastfeeding support for mothers. It is the reason that I've written in the past that I think there is too much pressure to breastfeed and too little real support to do so. This needs to change.

March 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

The workplace that didn't or couldn't or wouldn't accommodate your pumping needs failed you.

I really appreciate this post. When the deck is stacked against you, it's very hard to reach your goals. For me, the biggest challenge I've faced in meeting my breastfeeding goals (which I have met, by the way) has been pumping at work. My bosses weren't trying to undermine me, but man, did I have to fight hard to get what I needed. They just didn't get it, and it was never a high priority for them.

March 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie

For me, I have hypoplastic breasts and PTSD (that severely hindered any progress at all) and no one knew what to do with me.

Me being me I freaked out at no one knowing what to do with me and figured it out on my own.. yes it involved formula but next time it'd not.. but I'm a gigantic minority and COMPLETELY understand that.

Most real breastfeeding issues are overlooked (even if they're caused by psychology or physiology (not just a mother's breasts but health conditions that could have other health impacts) ) let alone fake ones that are played up because people have NO IDEA what they are talking about, including many doctors.

I had a real life medical with a doctorate and medical license and all of that doctor tell me it was IMPOSSIBLE that I was still nursing my 2 year old because apparently, breasts dry up around 18 months. LOL. It took a LOT of self-control on my part not squirt milk at her.

I wish that people saw it all as a fight against a malfunctioning machine and less as some sort of affront to women. Women are not the problem... tho they can be kinda catty.. they're not the problem. A malfunctional system at whole is the problem. I was not a failure. The system failed me, for sure.

I'm glad you see it how it is. :)

March 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElaine

I agree with the list, although I strongly believe it is very heavy-handed in the "blame the formula companies" department and not nearly strong enough in the "blame the militant lactivist crowd" department. I would like to have seen the "bad breastfeeding advice" bit unpacked to place a lot of blame where it truly belongs: on breastfeeding activists.

I see hair-raising horrific medical advice dispensed on breastfeeding support pages and forums every day, by people who have no concept of the ramifications of what they're stating with unearned authority. I see breastfeeding websites reiterating the same one-size-fits-all advice (you're just not trying hard enough/nursing often enough/pumping often enough/consuming enough blessed thistle, fenugreek, cookies, etc.), while minimizing complex breastfeeding problems as such a rarity they don't deserve to be discussed, unless it's to convince someone that rare actually means nonexistent, so stop making excuses and get that baby back on the boob. I see misconceptions and outright falsehoods perpetuated constantly--things like "breastfeeding is free" and my favorite, "breastfeeding is the biological norm" (not for a lot of people, and by the way, thanks for dehumanizing me as somehow not biologically human. As if we need even MORE pressure on women to have the perfect body!). I see such examples of meanness, bullying, and overblown claims that supposedly "evidence-based" people take as gospel even when the research in no way backs them up that it makes me wonder why they think this somehow "sells" breastfeeding as a positive, smart choice.

I was hurt by the militant lactivist pediatrician for whom pumping was 110% unacceptable at any time. I was hurt by the lactation consultant who heavily looked down on nipple shields, despite the fact that I needed them. I was hurt by the lactation consultants who didn't even seem to know that different size pump flanges are available--I had to find this info out on my own, and it wasn't from Best for Babes, it was buried on the pump company's website. I was hurt by breastfeeding peer support groups online who reiterated the same one-size-fits-all advice the websites did, only with a healthy dose of bullying and one-up-manship to boot. I was hurt by lactation consultants who told me to tough it up, despite the fact that my pain was far beyond the realms of normal (by 5 weeks post-partum, nursing or pumping made my entire body from the waist up feel like someone had set me on fire while shocking me repeatedly with electricity), until I got an LC (my fourth) who was open-minded enough to crack open a medical textbook and figure out that a lot of what I thought were unrelated health issues were actually all related. I was not booby trapped by any formula company; I didn't know what brands were out there and could not ever recall seeing a formula ad until long after I stopped breastfeeding. I took no advice from them--why would I, they're not in the business of breastfeeding? The only system, the only machine that failed me was the "breast is best" system, the "breastfeed or else you're a horrible mother" machine.

For all that people gripe and moan about maternity leave, the simple reality is that that isn't even a booby trap for plenty of moms. We tell women how important it is for them to own their own businesses, yet most lactivists have no clue that that means that there IS no maternity leave, and that's not the fault of "the man," that's the nature of the business. Either you're on billable hours, or you're not. If you work on-site, as an independent contractor, and/or have multiple client sites, the breastfeeding and even pumping can be nigh on impossible. Is that even a booby trap in the first place? Is the pressure to breastfeed just another way of penalizing female business owners in ways that no man ever has to deal with? And by the way, can we get some acknowledgement, please, out of the lactivist world that not everyone works, say, an office job in a knowledge-based industry; some unpacking of the actual working conditions for a lot of women out there would be helpful.

I would love to see the things on this list get addressed as much as they can be, make no mistake. It's ridiculous that by now they haven't been. But some things will not be fixed (parents will always have family who are less than supportive, and it's not just the purview of breastfeeding--hang around a food allergy forum for a while and you'll see examples of family members deliberately trying to slip deadly allergens to children just to try to prove mom and dad are hypochondriacs, with predictably disastrous results). Doesn't make it right, it's a cross some folks have to bear.

Some things don't represent failure on anyone's part, and it's a little uncomfortable for me to read articles that try to assuage women who are disappointed about not breastfeeding by encouraging a blame-fest as if it's a needed emotional crutch. Sometimes, there is no blame, it's just life. Women will own businesses, women will work jobs that aren't compatible with pumping; unless we want to send all women back to the kitchen, that's life. Donor milk is not a good option for a LOT of people, with good reason--religious reasons, food and drug allergies, the potential presence of communicable diseases in informally donated milk, general squickiness with using milk from another person who may be a total stranger, and this is no failure on anyone's part. Some babies aren't compatible with breastmilk or breastfeeding for whatever health reasons they have, and plenty of moms can't breastfeed for whatever reason. No machine to fight against here, it's just the diversity of life. For plenty of us, there is no boogey-man out to set up hurdle after hurdle in our faces, again, it's life.

To me, your best point in the article is this: "It is time that we as women, as mothers, as humans, stop internalizing blame when things don't turn out the way that we hoped they would." Damn straight. You could copy and paste just that sentence over and over again in a blog post and it would be more useful than the bulk of the parenting "advice" that's out there. It's high time we hear that message more in the parenting world in general. Whether things didn't work out because of the barriers you described, or barriers you didn't describe, or because of no barriers at all, just life--you're 100% correct that it's high time we stop turning disappointment into self-hatred.

March 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTeri

This, Annie. Just this.

March 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

Excellent. I am a breastfeeding support mother with a volunteer organisation, Nourri-Source, i would love permission to re-post in our newsletter to our volunteers.

March 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Sampson

I love the part of us all recognizing that we internalize blame, it also called internalized misogny or sexism. It is all around us. I love when women support each other through difficult and different choices. Good post!

Ooh, your "squirt milk" comment made me laugh. We need to share the dumb ideas that pass as fact. Someone commented to me that after a year, it was non-nutritive sucking. It sounds official but was, of course, BS that I'm glad I knew to ignore.

March 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

With all due respect, saying that breastfeeding is the biological norm is not a "misconception" or a "falsehood". Are we not mammals? If breastfeeding is not the biological norm for our species, then what is? Does the human body always work perfectly? Of course not. Even when lactation works, can breastfeeding be difficult for many of the reasons you outline? Yes. But taking offense at that factual statement is sort of like being offended that 20/20 vision is the "norm" when one wears glasses.

March 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

I <3 U and everything you stand for! Powerful words!

March 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJessica Anderson

I love this movement to reframe the way that people think about breastfeeding challenges--to demonstrate that it is often a system that is failing women, not women failing themselves/their babies (which is an entirely ludicrous and sexist thing to think). And your list points out just how pervasive these systemic failures are.

March 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKristen

Yes yes yes! Perfect response to this whole discussion. I am really frustrated by the responses I've been reading to the AAP statement on breastfeeding. It feels like anything in favor of breastfeeding is viewed by some as an attack. But this is perfect. Just because something is ideal doesn't mean that everyone should or can do it. But that fact doesn't make it less ideal.

Excellent Annie. Very well written. There are innumerable sources which fail all of us. In this information age, each and every one of us has a right and a responsibility to gather information and make informed choices ... and time for discussions with healthcare providers. We should be able to expect accurate evidence-based safe and reasonable options. I work in a hospital environment that consistently fails mothers and babies. I work on trying to change that one mother or one baby at a time. I had a baby STS minutes after a Stat C/S just 2 days ago and suckling at the breast. RIGHT. WHERE. SHE. BELONGED.
My co-workers joked at me that soon I'd have babies latched on before they where born--> That I'd be stretching the bosom to the incision! I said..Hmm How Marsupial.
There are militant zealots on both sides of many issues surrounding reproductive rights, birth control, pregnancy, childbirth, infant feeding and parenting. Perhaps I am more aware of this than other issues because it is my field. There are excellent practitioners and there are lazy careless practitioners.
It is inappropriate for any member of the health-care team to fail to educate new and expectant mothers that breastfeeding or human milk is the superior feeding choice for the health of their infant.
It is inappropriate for a consumer to expect that any unauthenticated website provide them with current evidenced-based information. That's where the responsibility comes in. We should all be responsible.
To the commentators above.... really KNOW from whom you are getting advice or help. To my fellow co-workers and all practitioners including administrators... please advocate for change so that we can encourage people to make healthy choices and then provide supportive environments each and every day. What a nice world that would be.

March 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStorkStories

Great post Annie!

March 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJudy @MommyNews Blog

You know Annie, 25 years ago, when I would go to the mall and my daughter needed feeding and I would sit in the bathroom stall teetering to not slip and either drop my child or fall in myself, I thought I was a failure. Fast forward 10 years and when I was at the mall with my son and he needed feeding, I sat on a bench in plain view and I was happy! My kids are healthy, I fed them both for a very long time with what I knew would be best for them.

Thank you for making me realize that I was not a failure and I finally think I am at peace with that.

Great post!

March 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNerina

Love this post! I hope you don't mind if I quoted you on my blog about feeling like a failure because of my c-section. http://doublethink.us.com/paala/2012/03/10/did-you-ever-photograph-your-c-section-scar/

March 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaala

I'm not saying that there's an easy answer, but I can't agree with the following sentiment:

"And by the way, can we get some acknowledgement, please, out of the lactivist world that not everyone works, say, an office job in a knowledge-based industry; some unpacking of the actual working conditions for a lot of women out there would be helpful."

So we should just give up the fight for the right to pump at work because it's more difficult for women in some occupations to find a time and a place than it is for others? Every woman has the right to pump at work so that she can continue to feed her baby breast milk. Yeah, I don't know how or when or where a bus driver is going to pump, but you know what, someone needs to solve that problem to allow her to do so. It's often the women in low-paying jobs, where pumping is most challenging, who would most benefit from being able to continue giving their baby breast milk. That's cheap nutrition. That stretches the family dollar further. I think the point of lactivism is that society has built up so many barriers and we need to yell loudly and work tirelessly to tear them down.

March 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie

We all have choices and we make those choices for what ever reasons they may be.
We then need to live with the choices that we make because we made them and they obviously suited us at the time we made them or they were right for US.

We could make ourselves better and blame somebody else so we don't feel bad or a failure.
If we really want to do something we will find a way or at least try and whatever happens we have done our best. We will then live with the consequences and own them.
If we want to do something we will make a real effort and if we don't want to do something we may not do it with the same enthusiasm.

We all have failures.
Are they a failure though because it wasn't the way somebody else did it or wanted you to do it.
We all have or had our reasons for doing what we did at the time we did it and we have to learn to live with our decisions.
You don't have to make excuses or justify yourself to anyone.
I am trying to teach my kids at 11 and 13 that we are not all perfect. We are Human. We all make mistakes ad/or wish we could go back and do things over- but we can't do that.
We won't blame someone else for our failure/mistakes but we will learn from them and even talk about what we can do differently next time or what we could have done.
We live in a world that can be very judgemental but we must get over that.
Everyone is different and will have their own reasons for doing what they do.
One must not dwell on the past. Let it go and live with the decisions that you make/made. Think about the present and the future. They are the things that you can do something about.

March 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

For me BF is not possible.. I have no breasts. I had breast cancer. So do I get a pass? Donor milk wasnt an option for me for religious reasons. I wont get into it because frankly Im sick of being told that if I dont want to give my daughter the "best" to rethink my faith. I agree we need better working conditions and being a mother isnt easy. But also the world doest revolve around mothers, it doesnt revolve around anybody. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do and if that means a low wage mother FF than so be it.

March 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBree Hamoudi

My baby was fed breast milk until I became very ill at three weeks post-partum. I was in the hospital for a week and had to pump and discard my milk when it became tainted with iodine and the IV medications I needed. The unsolicited formula samples that I had received and saved "just in case" fed my daughter while I was sick. I was grateful that it was available and at least it was free.

March 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKim

I'm glad you feel comfortable deciding that it's ok for low-wage mothers to formula feed. It's really nice of you to make their parenting choices for them. Heaven forbid someone work to allow them to make their own choices. I'm quite sure that if all of the desires of lactivists are met someday, there will be families who still choose to formula feed. It will be their choice at that point, and not something dictated by unfair circumstances.

March 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie

The point is a low wage mother may have to FF if she wants to keep her job. It is sad and I support making working conditions better for all women, mothers or not. However it has become an "obligation" for a mother to BF. Militant lactivism and other govt and medical agencies have politicized what should be a private and personal parental choice. The AAP latest statement comes to mind. Oe size does not fit all and its high time people understand that. I just left a job I had for 7 years because for the last year I have had to listen to a charge nurse push me to use donor milk for my 11 month old. She also made dis paring remarks about my religion. Im Muslim and mixed human milk banks are forbidden. Because children nursed at the same breasts would be considered siblings, hence cannot marry under Islamic law as adults. These relationships must be identified.. and in mixed milk banks they are not. Informal sharing with a stranger.. no way. So we FF. I have 3 children ranging in age from 23 to 11 months. I have never heard of mothers butting into the parenting choices of others barring abuse until I had my youngest. It irks me when someone thinks they have a right to tell a mother.. she must BF etc. We also need to quit blaming others for everything that doesnt work out.. you know that just happens in life sometimes. I got breast cancer double mastectomy at 32, but I dont blame anybody it just happens. When your children are teenagers and they are late coming home on a Friday night.. the last thing you worry about is how you fed them as a baby. the best thing you can do for your children is to raise them to be self reliant adults with good morals.If BF is the best thing one can offer their child in 18-21 years of parenting, than you should reevaluate why you became a parent and your overall priorties.

March 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBree Hamoudi

Kim,

I could not agree more. Formula is food not rat poison. I find it so amusing that we hear how formula is inherently risky, but BM with god knows what medications etc is just fine. Even going so far as the advocate informal milk sharing from strangers, AIDS and Hep B be damned. We should feed our babies how we see fit and not worry about what others may think.

March 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBree Hamoudi

1. My point in the first place was that no one should have to choose between breastfeeding and their job.
2. I'm not a militant lactivist. I've never made any of the kinds of comments you've received from inconsiderate people to anyone, or to you.
3. Your situation seems very unique, and I certainly can see why you chose to formula feed. But I wasn't talking about your situation.
4. I've never liked the, "...and I turned out ok!" argument. I believe in doing what's best for my children at whatever stage they're at. When they're infants and toddlers, some of the most important parenting decisions to be made relate to nutrition and comfort. When they're teenagers, obviously the choices are different and I will make those choices at that time.
5. The key word here is choice. All women deserve to make their own choices, and low-wage earners often have more choices taken away from them than families in higher income brackets. That's wrong. That needs to change.

March 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie

Awesome post, Annie! Being a single mother, oftentimes I feel like a failure myself. I thought I could always do it better. Thankfully, God gives me the strength to move on and be a better mother to my son. Thanks for the reminder that "I ain't a failure!".

Dawn

Bree, why would you think that because someone wants to breastfeed (and strongly!) that it is the BEST thing they can offer their children? That is like saying, because someone wants to read to their child daily, because someone wants to provide their child with fresh fruits and vegetables, because someone wants to provide their child with their daily and calm presence, because someone wants to provide their child with basic medical care or WHATEVER.. they have nothing else good to offer? ? ? So, if I give my kid fresh broccoli, grapes, kiwi, and cantalope today.. I can't be patient or breastfeed or read or take them to a doctor if they're really sick because people who do good, healthy, stuff don't also do other good, healthy, stuff?

I also don't think NOT breastfeeding eliminates all the good things a mother can do. However, I question the need to disparage the decisions of others to use donor milk because your religion prohibits it. I would definitely use donor milk.

I also question WHY you responded at all. None of what she is saying even applies to you. You couldn't and didn't want to breastfeed or provide breastmilk.. so.. you aren't part of the HUGE PERCENTAGE of women who WANT to breastfeed and who cannot due to sabotage/horrible unnecessary birth trauma/bad information/lack of support/lack of appropropriate maternity leave etc. and are never even informed of the idea of free breastmilk donors.. let alone given the option..

Your post also wreaks of priviledge.

March 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElaine

Honestly, if women just got it through their heads (and society, too) that infants (under 1) and mom working outside of the home don't easily mix and really cause unduly difficulty for both mother and child, a whole lot of issues would go away. I support subsidized maternity leave for one year for 2 children. I support free/subsidized birth control. And I strongly encourage for people to have babies when they are in stable relationships wherein they have a stable partner and that they themselves plan financially to bolster the government subsidies. Unfortunately, in the US, there is no subsidized maternity leave at this time, but even if there were, I think many people in the U.S. would have to re-prioritize and make certain sacrifices to make it work--and they should.

March 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMrs Rochester

I find it interesting that everyone is taking the latest AAP statement as further pressure on/judgment of mothers. I think it is intended to be exactly the opposite. I think it is intended to provide further public and institutional support for something that is often brushed off as just a lifestyle choice. If breastfeeding is a public health issue, then employers, governments, health professionals, and others should be obligated to provide support for it. Gina from the Feminist Breeder wrote an interesting post on the issue: http://thefeministbreeder.com/if-breastfeeding-were-simply-a-lifestyle-choice-anyone-could-choose-it/

March 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

As a c-section mom, I've often been frustrated at my "failure" and at my body for "failing" me. Thanks for the shout out to c-section moms :)

March 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCrunchy Con Mommy

Amen. Consider this shouted from the rooftops.

March 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLindsay @lilloveandluck

I love this. I don't think anyone should ever feel about if the made the best decision possible at the time, even if that decision was based on bad information or less than ideal circumstances.

Although I will forever be *angry* and very very unhappy that I weaned my girl due to dangerous medications it turns out I didn't need - and that no one took that as a serious issue besides me, b/c she was 15 months - at the time I did what was best for me and our family and I could never feel bad about that. I can, however, hope for better for other moms and babies.

March 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaranda

Well said, Michelle. I myself live by the mantra "If it's important enough to you, you'll find a way, if it's not, you'll find an excuse." I had a ton of potential "excuses" to not BF my son (born 7 weeks early, couldn't latch until around his due date, had tummy troubles that one doctor told me could easily be solved by switching him to HA formula, went back to work 12 weeks PP, etc, etc) However keeping him on breastmilk through at least his first year was important enough to me that I found a way to break through each one of those barriers. I can think of many examples in my life and his where I've found "ways" and I've found "excuses", and I own all of them.

March 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJMSH

Wow some people are WAY over analyzing this! I think it is an EXCELLENT post and makes a great point.

When we share information about anything whether it be parenting or birth, politics etc...people think because they didn't know, didn't do it etc they failed and I, we etc are "trying to make them feel bad". But in reality we are simply trying to inform and empower them so that they are not a victim in the future.

My pediatrician FAILED my son. She did NOT inform us of the dangers of circumcising, or the benefits of keeping him intact. I didn't fail, SHE FAILED ME, SOCIETY failed us by continuing such a barbaric, unnecessary thing simply because "everyone else was doing it".

It hurts, but I don't "blame" intactivists for trying to make me "feel bad" for my mistake. Many tried to help me and I just missed the mark and was not informed or empowered enough to make the right choice. So I share the information I do hoping others will become empowered to make the best/right choice. If they choose to ignore all of the evidence or information we still may see that the "parent" failed but again, what about the doctor who still chooses to perform this barbaric procedure unnecessarily? He still failed them, even though they fully knew the risks and did it anyway for selfish reasons...but the parents did fail their son to an extent as well.

But again it's not about placing blame everywhere but about EMPOWERING OTHERS to be able to make FULLY INFORMED DECISIONS. That is the goal, to EMPOWER and EDUCATE not condemn or make others feel guilty.

March 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEmilee

It hurts, but I don’t “blame” intactivists for trying to make me “feel bad” for my mistake...just to clarify...in this I am meaning when I see intactivists post about keeping children whole etc...I don't feel them "blaming" me for not circumcising the first time. But instead, continuing to educate and empower me to make the right decision the NEXT TIME. Yes there are many in any camp who instead of educate just go around, judging and bashing...but who cares about them...forget them.

But those who are doing their best to encourage, empower and educate are NOT trying to make you feel guilty or feel like a failure, they are just trying to empower and educate us to do better NEXT TIME.

March 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEmilee

I agree with almost all of this in theory, except for the part about what the "Government" has or hasn't done. Our government is a republic, and if we want something, it is up to us as the republic to elect and influence our government to it. This one especially, "… the governments that have failed to establish a strong network of human milk banks failed you." Milk banks could easily be formed by churches, lactation groups, hospitals, etc. The government doesn't have to do it for us, and with all examples, the milk bank would be MUCH better off not being run by the government.

March 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulia

I live by this now!!!! This is how I was able to have a VBA2C at home after 2 Drs. denied me and told me I'd birth a dead or brain dead baby. My beautiful 3 week old is neither...and I feel like I can overcome anything now! Stand by my convictions and do my own research and be prepared!!!

March 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Stephenson

Kathleen, can you share with us which blogs and articles told you that everyone can breastfeed and that you're bad and lazy and poisoning your baby if you don't breastfeed? I've heard mention of such extreme views before but have never actually seen such a thing myself.

March 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDana

I'm glad that Kim had a way to feed her baby. I'm sorry that milk from milk banks is so expensive.

I don't think it's fair to say: "Even going so far as the advocate informal milk sharing from strangers, AIDS and Hep B be damned." That statement doesn't reflect this blog post, and in my anecdotal experience, it doesn't reflect the attitude of mothers in milk sharing groups.

I advoacte milk sharing, with preventative measures in place.

March 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFangedFaerie

While I really appreciate this and the intent behind it, I feel that while I was completely supported by both the hospital and my family, I have been diagnosed with IGT and can't breastfeed with a full supply. My son is 8 weeks old and I breastfeed him at EVERY feeding but follow up with a bottle of formula. Yes, Formula. I don't feel the companies failed me by providing a way to nourish my child. I take several supplements including herbal supplements and medicine (domperidone) but my baby is unable to transfer more than about an ounce per feeding. I CHOSE to decline pumping (since I can't pump a single drop no matter how hard I try) or use the SNS system (because it's cumbersome and I have 2 other children under 5 years old that need my attention at any given moment). I love that I'm able to nurse at least partially but I'm THANKFUL I decided to avoid the warnings about nipple confusion and just nursed my baby MY way because this is what works best for us. As someone who WISHES that I could exclusively breastfeed, I still get annoyed when people villain-ize formula. There is now TONS of support online for breastfeeding and I think that advocating for breastfeeding is essential but lets not forget that there are people who continue to have to "walk the line" and take part in both breastfeeding and formula feeding. I don't think THAT makes me a failure either but I sometimes feel GUILT coming from the *breastfeeding community* for that choice. Let's make sure the breastfeeding community isn't failing moms either by guilting mom's who can't or won't breastfeed. Even for those who CHOOSE to exclusively formula feed for whatever reason.

March 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

I completely agree that moms who cannot or do not want to breastfeed shouldn't be shamed for it. I also know that in some cases there isn't anything more that mother could have done. I do wish that donor milk was more available for those moms, but I also understand that formula fills an important gap.

When my son wasn't able to latch on, I was angry, I felt like a failure, and I was incredibly envious of people who were able to nurse their babies. Other than one rude comment, all of that guilt came from within. I can't blame the breastfeeding community for that.

March 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I think that all parents should be aware of the http://www.phdinparenting.com/2010/11/28/risks-of-informal-breastmilk-sharing-versus-formula-feeding/" rel="nofollow">risks of both informal milk sharing and formula feeding. If they do need to supplement, they should take the risks (and benefits) into consideration, take measures to minimize the risks wherever possible, and advocate for lessening of those risks over time (i.e. through greater safety measures in the formula industry, through an improved milk bank system, etc.).

March 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

It is a good post, but...you also failed yourself, because you did not educate yourself on breastfeeding...as much as I agree with those points, they are not excuse, we should also put a part of the blame on ourselves...I got all these mentioned above information and still I did not fail, because when it was hard and I was loosing my mind I was also doing research at the same time online mainly from one website that came up kellymom.com and I succeded... Education and persistence is the key...

March 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnia

I think there are limits on how much we can/need to know about everything. Personally, I planned to breastfeed, read about breastfeeding, read up on common problems in the first few days, and so on. I thought I was well-prepared to breastfeed, but I was not prepared for a baby that wouldn't latch on AT ALL. I just hadn't looked into things that deeply because I didn't realize the breadth and depth of problems that were possible. So when the nurse said "let's just give him a little bit of formula, so that he knows what it feels like to have a full tummy", I didn't know that that was wrong and unnecessary and stupid. I trusted her, as a health professional, to be making a useful and evidence-based recommendation to me. But she failed me.

Do I blame myself? No. But I did know better the second time around and was armed with a lot more information. I was eventually able to breastfeed my son successfully, but he did get some formula. My daughter, on the other hand, was exclusively breastfed, because I was more educated and prepared to stand up for myself.

Ultimately, I agree that education and persistence is key. But I also don't think that people have failed themselves if they didn't have the knowledge of a lactation consultant before having their first baby. I think people should be able to rely on health professionals to provide sound advice.

March 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

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