More on nursing and economic privilege

11 Jul

My last post sparked some lively discussion, but much of it was on my personal wall, so I thought I would summarize some of what we discussed. First of all, a few clarifications. As one commenter pointed out, I probably should have given the post a different title — perhaps “what is costs when your baby doesn’t latch.” Because it is absolutely true that breastfeeding is the most affordable way to feed a baby. No question. That’s why it’s so evil when corporations like Ne.stle give out free formula samples in poor countries. Because once your milk supply dries up, it’s gone. And then you are left forever dependent on a product that comes in a can. That being said, I don’t think it’s wrong to bottle-feed a baby. Formula is not poison. I respect parents’ choices when it comes to feeding their children. Full stop.

My intention in spelling out what it cost to get Daphne on the boob was not to imply that breastfeeding is a choice that only rich people can make. It was to be totally transparent about the steps we took and recognize that those decisions were influenced by our economic/class position. There are lots of free resources in the city, and I look forward to exploring them soon. I was fortunate to be able to access in-home help during the most desperate, teary-eyed days. But I know that there are lots of peer-to-peer supports (including La Leche League) that could have provided similar advice.

Also: in pointing out my relief over not having had a c-section, I certainly did not mean to imply that a vaginal birth is the key to a good breastfeeding relationship. I have many friends who successfully latched their babies after a surgical birth. I just cannot imagine what it would have been like to struggle through the last two weeks, if I hadn’t had physical mobility. Kudos to anyone (especially single parents) who manage to heal from major surgery while dealing with a newborn. My hat is off to you. You are truly amazing.

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