Another Post About Boobs: Less Controversy, More Judgment

I think I shall declare the first week of August National Breast Week on Interrupted Wanderlust. All my posts will be about breasts in some form or another (the posts, not the breasts).

I kid.

But I do want to share the experience I had in my Adventures in Breastfeeding class this past weekend. It was three hours long. It was an exhaustive overview of how I will be spending my days, pretty close to 24/7, in three weeks' time (did you know newborns eat 8-12 times per day?). And it was served up with a healthy portion of good old-fashioned judgment and guilt on the part of the instructor.

The class consisted of four couples, and two single women, there without their partners. It was taught by a lactation consultant at a hospital in my area (not the one where I will have Beastie). To her credit, before I go on to mercilessly bash her, the instructor was very knowledgable, and though her delivery wasn't dynamic, she showed some helpful videos, demo-ed the pumping equipment very well, and allowed us to practice positions with some dolls, which, while it sounds creepy and disconcerting, actually helped me quite a bit in figuring out what's comfortable and what isn't.

At the beginning of class, the instructor went around the room and asked each woman to introduce herself and her partner, and say what she hopes to learn from the class. When one of the solo girls confessed that she was there to make an educated decision about whether or not she wanted to breastfeed because she was still unsure, you would have thought she had just told the room of people that she was considering raising her child as a disciple of satan.

The instructor launched into full-on attack mode, telling the poor dear that OF COURSE breastmilk was best for the baby, and how she ought to at least give it a try, and that she had breastfed all of her children until they were each nine years of age. Okay, I made up that last part, but my point is that instead of saying, "Well, you're in the right place," this woman clearly needed to insert her opinion on matters, concerning a personal choice that had nothing whatsoever to do with her. It immediately smacked of the recent Department of Health and Human Services ad featuring a pregnant woman riding a mechanical bull and accusing women who don't breastfeed their newborns exclusively for six months of irresponsible parenting, and it pissed me off.

The instructor then asked all of us if we were taking birthing classes. I told her I wasn't because I was having a scheduled c-section. She asked me WHY I was having a c-section, with an expression on her face that clearly conveyed that she equated this form of having a baby right up there with Tom and Katie's silent Scientology birth. Well, gee. I guess I figured a natural birth was so messy and painful and unnecessary that why wouldn't I opt for a major surgical procedure and have a doctor slice open my abdomen, move my bladder, slice open my uterus, extract the Beastie, and then sew me up, with a much more painful recovery period as a result? I mean seriously, who wouldn't opt for that if given a choice.

See, bitch, I have no choice. I had a disease. My entire colon was removed when I was ten, and because of that, my doctors recommended a c-section. I told her this (minus the "bitch" part), and she still had the audacity to say, "well, it's really better for the baby if they allow you to go into labor." Yeah, I'll make sure and tell my doctors that my breastfeeding instructor thinks I ought to go into labor. I'm sure they'll get right on creating a new birth plan for me.

At the end of class, I asked her when I could begin to pump so Rich could help feed the Beastie, because I didn't want to freak out Beastie too early in switching between bottle and boob. And again she curled up her face in disgust and asked me when I planned on returning to work. Um, see, that's none of your beeswax. I asked you at what point could I introduce a bottle (filled with MY BREASTMILK) so as to not confuse the baby, but also to ensure that I could get some freaking sleep and so Rich could help out with the every-two-hours-feeding schedule. She assumed I wanted to pump because...GASP... I would be abandoning the baby after a few weeks to return to work so we can afford such luxuries as paying our mortgage and buying cereal. When she learned it wasn't for 14 weeks, she was all smiles and sunshine again, and told me the later the better. Clearly, she figures, breastfeeding ought to be a mother's responsibility only. God forbid dad or grandma or Aunt Karrie give the baby a bottle filled with the exact same stuff.

I learned a lot from the class. I'm learning even more from the massive amount of take-home information given to us. But I could have done without the guilt and the judgment and the personal questions. As with everything related to a woman's body, breastfeeding is a choice, plain and simple. And women should never be made to feel guilty because they can't or choose not to breastfeed their infants, or because they want to give their babies a bottle (of breastmilk OR formula) once and awhile.

15 Responses to “Another Post About Boobs: Less Controversy, More Judgment”

  1. # Blogger The Princess

    Welcome to Motherhood! You will find that everyone has an opinion and they feel like they must make their opinion known, especially if it differs from yours.

    I was unable to breastfeed. I was very sick after my delivery and needed a blood transfusion. By the time I was able to feed my daughter breastmilk, she was already attached to the bottle. I chose not to force her to the breast, we already had missed several weeks of bonding thanks to the double pneumonia. But I still beat myself up for that, and it wasn't even by choice...ahhh, Mommy guilt!!

    You will find that there are some lactation specialist that are amazing, but the bad ones are really really bad!!  

  2. # Blogger Marie

    Oh, Kristi... I don't want to bogart your comments on this... so much to say! I'll have to think about whether I want to reveal my experience on this topic in a post on my own blog.

    Was this instructor from La Leche? They're notorious for this kind of behavior.  

  3. # Blogger Kross-Eyed Kitty

    Yeeeesh! That boob-lady sounds like a Boob.
    When I was in nursing school, my maternity/newborn rotation was assigned at this hospital where most moms were either new/illegal immigrants, or schizophrenics. We were supposed to help teach them how to breastfeed (ya. right.) One morning, I walked into my patient's room and she was leaning overtop of her baby with her boob dangling in the baby's face, kind of like an udder!
    Not sure, but you might NOT want to try this position!  

  4. # Blogger sunShine

    I breastfeed my baby but we opted not to take the class. I had a really good book and we did have some problems in the beginning, but our hospital had the most WONDERFUL lactation consultant on Earth. She worked with us for about half a day and we decided that I needed a nipple shield and to supplement with a little bit of formula until my milk came in. I know if it were not for her help and encouragement I would have chosen to formula feed my baby. I hope when you are in the hospital you have a really good lactation consultant, it makes such a difference.  

  5. # Blogger Christine

    Dammit, I was really geared up for Breast Week 2006. Tease.

    As for the instructor, eek. You would think that being a mother is a difficult job in and of itself no matter what the woman chooses (breast/bottle, work/stay-at-home, etc)...I think as long as the child ends up healthy and without seeing Mommy and/or Daddy break down and cry too much from sleep deprivation, you've done a good job.

    But you know, this is coming from someone who if she even has children will raise them as disciples of Satan, not breastfeed, have a silentbirth/c-section, and maybe dangle them over balconies for good measure.  

  6. # Blogger Caryl

    I wish some of these options were available to me - the classes, consultants, etc. I had no one to ask and had no idea what I was doing, so Sara was bottle fed. My sister suggested I call La Leche, but most of the women I knew who were connected with the organization were certifiable crazy, in my humble opinion. The important thing is that you love your child, where the nutrition comes from secondary.  

  7. # Blogger l

    WTF? Who is she to passing judgment on anyone? Clearly, you're there and have intent and whether you're going back to work on day 2 or 200, that's none of her freaking business. The gal that was there to get more information? Good for her! The instructor shouldn't have lambasted her for admitting to that. I'm so annoyed by how people pass so much judgement on women and their mothering abilities and still, there is LITTLE SUPPORT for mothers. Daycare in the workplace? Federally mandated maternity leave Don't EVEN mention what we currently have. It's not even laughable. I'm a very glass half-full kinda gal, but this shit makes me want to hate people.  

  8. # Blogger l

    P.S. And I'm not even grumpy anymore!  

  9. # Blogger Hopeful Mother

    Crazy. I remember Julie from A Little Pregnant also had a post like this talking about breastfeeding and the La Leche people being a bit... um... aggressive.

    I'm glad you have the sense to do what's right for you, Rich and Beastie. I'm pretty sure Beastie isn't going to care if it's your nipple or a nipple from the bottle...  

  10. # Blogger sher

    Shame on you Kristi, for having a disease that makes it necessary to have a C section! By the way, good for you for letting Rich share the nursing duties. What a bitch your instructor was, which is too bad because no woman should be chatised or talked down to on this issue.  

  11. # Blogger Moose

    Because being a mother isn't hard enough. Wow.  

  12. # Blogger M

    Wow. This woman and I would have had it out. I am so against people pushing the whole breastfeeding thing. I am choosing not to breastfeed but send kudos to those who choose to do so.
    I wouldn't be able to be talked into it and I pretty much would have ripped that woman a new asshole for how she was talking to you.  

  13. # Blogger Marie

    ... as for "the later the better" for introducing the bottle with expressed milk... I don't think that's the best advice. Some babies refuse a bottle if you wait too long. I'd ask the lactation ladies at the hospital about this (and they are WONDERFUL by the way... I got to know all of them & I still know their hotline # by heart, though they call it a warmline), and your friends who've done this. ;-) I'm going to ask my sis too, as she went through that process twice.  

  14. # Blogger Kristi

    Princess: Mothers don't need to be made to feel guilty for their choices, or for being unable to breastfeed, as you were unable to. It's wrong and unfair. I hope my lactation consultant in the hospital is a good one!

    Marie-Bogart away! I'm not sure if she was from La Leche, but she was mentioning them quite a bit, and that she goes to meetings, so maybe she was. I'd be interested in what your sister has to say. And I tend to agree about their being problems if the bottle is introduced too late.

    Ramona-LOL. Oh my God, the baby could have chocked on her milk. Yikes!

    Sunshine-I hope I'm able to get one as good as yours!

    Christine-LOL. You're hilarious. And here-here on the mommy guilt.

    Caryl-I've heard from so many people now about the La Leche peeps being slightly "off" in their approach to breastfeeding. It's too bad, really, because in theory they seem like a good organization.

    L- I'm right there with you. Loads of judgment all around when it comes to the choices women and mothers make. It makes me infuriated as well.

    Hopeful Mother-It seems quite a few people have had negative LL experiences. Ugh. It's so frustrating.

    Sher-Exactly. Like everything else concerning her body, a woman has every right to make whatever decision she wants about breastfeeding and should not be judged for that decision.

    Moose-No kidding!

    M-I wish I had been angrier at the time, because I would have had a few choice words for the way she was talking to me.  

  15. # Anonymous Anonymous
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