Milk Wars, really? Why do we do this?
Here at POEM, we routinely encourage mothers to make healthy choices, based on the evidence available, to support a healthy family environment. So, of course, we’re certainly not going to dispute the shown health benefits of breastfeeding. But, we in no way support the guilt-inducing pressure that mothers sometimes receive when they struggle with breastfeeding. Or, heaven forbid, they make the choice not to breastfeed.
We support these moms too. ALL moms. We don’t walk in their shoes. We don’t know all the reasons why mothers choose a particular feeding method. Sometimes it’s complicated. They are doing their best, and they deserve our support and respect that they are the one who gets to decide.
August is breastfeeding month and there are messages everywhere about the superior choice that breastfeeding is. Yes, agreed. It is! But can we not also acknowledge that balanced advice, based on each mother’s situation is okay too?
Likewise, though, no mother should feel bullied to formula feed either. Again, her choice is based on what’s best in her family.
Why in the world are we talking about Milk Wars? Can we not agree that while breastfeeding is the optimal nutritional choice, it is not the only thing that a mother will ever do for her child’s welfare?
Time and time again, we see postpartum depression and anxiety exacerbated and complicated by breastfeeding challenges. We must acknowledge:
babies need healthy mothers more than anything else.
Until such time that professionals who provide breastfeeding support and education for mothers are adequately trained to screen and assess for postpartum depression and anxiety, they must not discount the fact that this most common disorder impacts their breastfeeding experience and of course, their mothering experience.
Until such time that mothers are respected as the experts and their lives, coupled with true societal support for families, we must back off the guilt-laden messages that only good moms breastfeed.
Milk Wars? We should be ashamed. Support moms, ALL of them.