Lynnette Hafken, MA, IBCLC
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in my kids’ school!). However we have come a long way, with hospitals, doctors, and major medical organizations promoting breastfeeding. It’s not perfect, and breastfeeding still needs support and protection.
The tide has turned now, and formula feeding, combo feeding, and exclusively pumping mothers are reporting being shamed in increasing numbers, and that is unacceptable. Breastfeeding support and promotion does not need to denigrate those who are not breastfeeding—they deserve respect and support too.
Infant feeding is a highly charged and emotionally fraught topic. No mother should be shamed for taking care of her baby and herself the way she sees fit. Formula is not substandard; it is a scientifically developed milk that has been engineered to have the macro- and micro-nutrients that are as similar to breastmilk as current technology allows. Breast pump technology allows mothers to provide their own milk to their babies when they can’t directly breastfeed, and it is in no way inferior to direct breastfeeding.
Formula and breast pumping are different than direct breastfeeding, but that does not make them inferior. Mothers who choose, or have to, feed in those ways are doing so because they have determined that it is the best choice for their families. As a former LLL Leader, I was taught that the mother is the expert on her baby, and so it should go without saying that she is the best person to determine how her baby should be fed. Whether that is exclusive breastfeeding, exclusive formula feeding, exclusive pumping, or some combination thereof, she deserves society’s respect and support. It’s baffling to me that this is even in question.
I wish the term lactivism were more inclusive, because all babies are drinking some kind of milk for the first year of life and beyond, but it has taken on the connotation of lack of empathy for mothers who are not breastfeeding (I’m trying to be tactful here), and I’m not comfortable describing myself that way anymore. Instead what resonates for me are the opinions expressed in these pieces by other breastfeeding specialists and infant feeding advocates. I am and always will be fiercely supportive of breastfeeding anywhere and anyplace, but I am and always will be fiercely supportive of mothers and babies first and foremost. [back to blog home]