Thursday, September 04, 2008

What was that about feeding choice?

This post will not at all be a light/happy/funny one. Some people may be offended. Please, if you are one of the many who had your nursing relationship sabotaged by a healthcare professional or someone of the sort, do NOT feel offended. This is not geared at you.

I hear a lot about feeding choice. Women get up in arms when we try to ban the bags at hospitals because they insist we are somehow anti-feminist and are infringing on a mom's right to choose how she feeds her child.

Well, more than 30 years after my MIL made her choice, we're now dealing with the potential problems with my husband. He never got a choice in the matter.

You fine folks know that my FIL has cancer. His father also died from cancer, albeit a different form.

I have a long family history of cancer, but I've always taken solace in the fact that I was breastfed and I have breastfed all my children. Formula fed children are more likely to develop cancer as are mothers who formula feed. My husband never received a drop of breastmilk and obviously, he can't breastfeed. Only now is the consequence of that hitting me and it's hitting me hard.

I've been struggling with this realization recently. My husband is now at a greater risk of developing cancer and DYING because of a choice in which he had no say.

On top of that, there's more research which links BPA to prostate cancer. Many pictures exist of my husband as an infant holding his plastic bottle. His risk is already more than doubled because his father has it. Now his mother's feeding choice may have increased that risk.

I've been a breastfeeding supporter for years for oh so many reasons, but never before have they hit so close to home. This isn't some faceless person writing a newspaper article proclaiming her right to feed however she sees fit. This isn't a random commenter on a message board complaining about how there was no way she'd do something so disgusting. This isn't even a grumpy old man ranting about how no woman should ever breastfeed in public. This is my husband--the man I love, my children's father. This is a decorated veteran who has survived combat zones. This wonderful man is now more likely to die because of a feeding choice made more than 30 years ago.

Please don't bitch about a mother's right to choose a feeding method. Babies are born to be breastfed. Our healthcare system should do everything in its power to support that. It shouldn't continually undercut a mother's attempts to breastfeed. Your local hospital or pediatrician's office should NOT be a marketing haven for Nestle. Your baby's health is FAR more important than kickbacks and pizza parties. Offices should recognize, not necessarily a woman's right to breastfeed, but a baby's need to eat. Working moms need to either pump or have their baby make occasional visits so that they can eat. Why oh why do some businesses miss the fact that formula fed infants are twice as likely to get sick within the first year which then means mom is more likely to miss work which costs the company money? It is far more cost-effective for corporations to support breastfeeding. Stores need to shut the hell up about their damn puritanical insistance that breastfeeding is somehow indecent. If I were to vist my local mall, sit quietly outside Victoria Secret and nurse modestly under one of their indecent posters, what do you think someone would complain about? Would it be the half-naked (or in some cases damn near completely naked) women on display or would it be the baby eating?

If you were to frame the discussion by explaining, "You can do X and increase your child's risks of illness and death for the rest of his life," do you think ANY mother would willingly take that option? What kind of a choice is that?

We need to take this out of the philosophical realm. This is not a debate about Feminism (FTR, I'm a vocal Feminist). This is not about a woman's rights. This is about the child's rights.

This is about my husband's right to be afforded every protection possible. That was not the case. In fact, he was put even more at risk. My husband now has a higher risk of dying because of the feeding choices made decades ago, but hey, there are those out there who will fight tooth and nail for his mother's right to do this to him.


Krissy said...

It's simply amazing that many people still deny the benefits of breastfeeding and the fact that YES it is better!

What an awful realization this must have been for you! I can't even imagine how scared you must be.

And it must be a small dose of comfort knowing you breastfed your son and did so much to help reduce his risks. Where your MIL failed your dh, your able to correct for at least the next generation.

TheFeministBreeder said...

I'm so happy when I see other women talk about this "choice" this way. It's not a "choice" when you're being lied to and denied information.

But I can tell you this much, most women will happily stay uninformed so they don't have to feel guilty about not breastfeeding.

Plausible denial. That's all it is.