I remember going to the clinic after I first found out I was pregnant. One of the first questions they asked me was, “Do you plan on breastfeeding?”
I had never really thought about it. In my naivete, I just assumed that’s what people did unless there was some reason they couldn’t. My mom had a good reason, for example–the almost dying and all.
So I answered in the affirmative, and they sent me on my merry old way. Since then I’ve talked to lactation consultants, mothers who breastfeed, and nurses who all push breastfeeding. Since that’s what I’m planning on doing anyway, it’s not really a problem.
But then yesterday, I went to my required WIC class. What was the subject? Why you should think about breastfeeding. As I said, I’m already planning on breastfeeding. But I still think this is getting ridiculous. Not in the least because in this most recent class she said things that are just downright wrong; namely, that breastfed babies have an IQ ten times higher than bottle-fed babies. (The study says it’s 10 points higher, and I’d love to know what study showed that and how it was conducted.) As a formula-fed baby myself, I started feeling like a second-class citizen. Like the people in Gattaca who had the misfortune of being conceived naturally instead of spliced together from the best parts of the parents’ genes.
There was one poor woman in the class who made the mistake during introductions of saying that she was planning on bottle-feeding. (Why does she want to bottle feed, you ask? Because her husband likes to help and loves bonding with the infant at feeding time. And because breastfeeding, especially in public, makes her uncomfortable.) She must have felt like a social pariah.
People rail against the social stigma women face if they choose to breastfeed, but I’m seeing just the opposite, and it’s ridiculous. Yes, there are obvious benefits to breastfeeding. But these people are acting like you’re the worst parent in the world if you bottle-feed and you may as well be feeding your infant poison as formula.
It is entirely possible, of course, that I’m overreacting. For some reason, I do that nowadays. Do you have any thoughts on the subject?