Breast-feeding is a Feminist Issue

I normally keep clear of controversy when it sparks on insta and twitter. I choose my battles and stick rigidly and narrowly to them (yeah, I’m on to you gender inequality- you better run.) but the hoo-ha over Unmumsy Sarah Turner’s post that dared to suggest ‘fed is best’ boggles my mind.

I combination fed William (nipple confusion is bullshit). It worked. He was happy. He’d take a bottle from his dad and I could still feed him to sleep. It worked a dream. He was fed. It was the best for our family.

Alex? I’d lost my mind. I kept being told to ‘try harder’ but I knew, I knew, he was tongue tie but the referral came too late. He was on the bottle. And he was fed. It was the best for our family.

And do you know what? Breast-feeding is a feminist issue. It’s another way that women are made to feel they’ve ‘failed’. It’s another way in which fathers are distanced and disenfranchised. It’s another way that women are discouraged from leaving the domestic sphere (it’s a lot easier to work, go out, drink and be merry when you’re not a leaking bag of hormones with a baby dangling off you). And, judging by the explosive reaction to Sarah’s innocuous enough comment that ‘fed is best’, it’s also another excuse for the media and parents to pit women against women.

I am sympathetic to women who found feeding easy and can’t understand why others don’t. My mum always thought women who complained of period pain were being a bit soft because she’d only ever found it mildly uncomfortable. I am intolerant of people who say they have food intolerance (wheat gives you tummy ache? Fart and get over it!). I still partly think people who have hay fever are just being weak. I am not sympathetic because I find having periods, eating wheat and being around pollen a breeze and have been known to do all three at the same time- take last week’s picnic for example. It’s the same for breast feeding- if you found it easy, I get why you may resent other mothers not doing it but BACK OFF.

I live by Amy Poelher’s wise words: ‘fine for her, not for me’. It’s the toughest gig of them all but ultimately, all parents are just doing their best so step away from the comments section, log off the internet, jump down from your high horse and go and smell the roses… if your allergies will let you.


8 thoughts on “Breast-feeding is a Feminist Issue

  1. Oh Sally your post could not have come at a more opportune time! I’m currently locked in a breast feeding horror where I am simply not producing enough to feed a very hungry baby! And she’s up all hours day and night wanting food. She has a ferocious appetite like her mother. When I mention to the midwife I may need to consider topping Molly up with a little formula to ensure she’s satisfied the reaction is as if I have suggested I might feed her a whiskey before bedtime!! Your attitude has relaxed me that if needs be to ensure she is full and I am sane it must be better than us both getting more and more anxious! Jenny xxx

  2. xx Do whatever suits you. It’s super handy to have introduced a bottle before 6 weeks any way (I found) and combination feeding was a real win /mental health saviour for me. You have not failed- whatever you decide. Also, no judgement on the whisky if that works! Sending love and middleofthenight thoughts your way xx

  3. Yes. This. All of it. I haven’t read the unmumsy post (unless it was the instagram? Which I didn’t even register as making any sort of point other than ‘yay milk’) but will and may have to wade back in to the blogosphere. Have had “we need to talk about formula” post in my head for about two years. Well said sister!

  4. Love that post title- will read it and then come troll you for daring to suggest that you could feed your baby in a way that you found best- the nerve!

  5. I didn’t find breastfeeding easy at the start, it was only after it was established that it got easier. I don’t think anyone should feel guilty however they feed their baby but I don’t like the assumption that everyone who successfully breastfed found it easy. We don’t get enough support which is the issue, from family, society and peers.

  6. “Breast-feeding is a feminist issue. It’s another way that women are made to feel they’ve ‘failed’.”

    The irony of this statement is that formula was popularised by male doctors making women feel that their milk was insufficient. We wouldn’t even be having this discussion if unethical companies didn’t continue to make vast amounts of profit off making women feel like they’re not good enough.

    Breastfeeding “guilt” is the side effect of the rebellion against this industry, so yes it’s a feminist issue, but not for the reasons you think it is.

    (And I don’t give a crap how you feed your children.)

  7. Yes, yes, yes! Thank you for this post!! I’m sick of hearing the “breast is best” rubbish. When I told my midwife I didn’t want to breastfeed, she asked me if I wanted a sick baby!!

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