Post # 1
As I said in the other post, I’m always really curious about what women think and why they do. I’m hoping for some honest dialogue here, and please please avoid blame, shame and flames. We all have a valuable opinion that we can learn from. Since I work with pregnant women every day, I love to hear what women think. Here goes!
So…..over in the original post, many of us held the “our body, our choice” stance with regards to choosing to breastfeed or choosing to not breastfeed. Now, I’m going to play devil’s advocate here and in no way am I indicating my own thoughts on the matter….but if we take that stance on breastfeeding (for example) how do we not take that same stance on other issues related to pregnancy like drinking and smoking (for example).
There is a huge public health push against smoking during pregnancy, as there is supporting breastfeeding. There is clear, documented evidence that smoking increases risks for both the woman and baby. Similarly, there is clear evidence for the benefits of breastfeeding to the woman and baby. There are also arguments to the opposite (ie. quitting smoking is stressful for the woman; breastfeeding can be detrimental to the woman). Most of the time, babies turn out reasonably well and healthy regardless of the increased risks of smoking and not breastfeeding.
So….why is the public view of one so strong and punitive to pregnant smokers, while the other takes the “our body, our choice” approach to women who choose for whatever reason not to breastfeed? I’m also curious whether the sexual aspect of breasts plays into this and shifts power to the woman and away from the baby (unlike smoking) thereby creating more “choice” in the public eye.
disclaimer: I am simply inquisitive. I am a non-smoker and always have been. I was formula fed and turned out just fine. If I ever have a baby I intend to breastfeed. I believe in the autonomy of women and understand that sometimes women’s and their babies needs are at odds, and that that is a difficult situation to “solve”.
Post # 3
My understanding is that smoking has much more detrimental consequnces for the fetus (and any children who grew up in the home of a smoker) than not breasfeeding does for the baby. So I think that’s one reason.
Another is that there are no obvious benefits to smoking, whereas there can be many “good” reasons not to breastfeed.
I think smoking while pregnant is much worse for the baby than formula feeding, so that explains my position on it. That said, I would never want smoking mothers to be punished in any way, and I’d never tell someone to stop smoking, since presumably they know the risks and are making their own decisions.
Post # 4
….but if we take that stance on breastfeeding (for example) how do we not take that same stance on other issues related to pregnancy like drinking and smoking (for example).
I take the same stance on both issues: woman’s body, woman’s choice 🙂
Post # 5
“There is clear, documented evidence that smoking increases risks for both the woman and baby. Similarly, there is clear evidence for the benefits of breastfeeding to the woman and baby.”
I don’t think it’s fair to draw a similarity between smoking while pregnant and formula feeding. Just because there are benefits to breastfeeding, it does not mean there are risks to formula feeding.
Post # 6
@mightywombat: Well said, thank you!
@soccerball: I have no interest in debating breast vs. formula (both have pros and cons) but there are risks to formula feeding. Gastroenteritis (intestinal infection) and contamination being the most acute ones, although there are others.
Post # 7
I think there is a difference, morally, in taking on an active harm (smoking), and avoiding a potential benefit (BFing). Women shouldn’t be expected to always be doing “exactly what is the absolute bestest thing according to the latest so and so study and research” or else face demonization. So what if studies show that moving to Nebraska is the absolute bestest thing for raising children? Are women who don’t then uproot their families and move to Nebraska supposed to get critized by other Nebraskan women and the Council for Moving to Nebraska? It’s a personal choice. It’s not selfish to not move to Nebraska because you like Washington better, even if junior would do incrementally better in whatever standard was tested.
Post # 8
I really don’t think smoking can be compared to breastfeeding like that. Smoking is just one of those things that is harmful period. Breastfeeding on the other hand is an intensely personal issue. I think women who choose to nag other women on the importance of it are a little insensitive. Most pregnant people take a preparing for baby class, read what to expect when you’re expecting, and are coached for two days in the hospital by nurses and doctors on the latest research on breastfeeding….So if a woman is not breastfeeding, my guess would be it is for a very good reason, she probably already feels awful about it, and bringing it up is only going to make her hate herself more.
Here are some examples: I have one friend who never got milk, so she couldn’t. She went home and cried every time someone mentioned it to her because she felt so betrayed by her body that she couldn’t provide something so important. I have another friend whose dad died when her baby was just two months old. She was so depressed that she didn’t eat or sleep for weeks, so her milk dried up. Imagine having to explain her father’s death to every stranger off the street who asked her why she wasn’t breastfeeding.
And for those who don’t know, it is an every two hour commitment. You cant even get away from that baby long enough to watch a movie. If you do, it is almost unbearably painful. Imagine pumping in the bathroom of a movie theater??? At night, you get a whole four hour break max. In other words, you don’t get to sleep until you stop. And for me, it was more painful than childbirth. Everyone experiences it differently, but personally, every single time my milk came in and it was near feeding time, it felt like my chest was on FIRE. So, I experienced 9 months of being tortured every 2 hours. The second time around, I only lasted 6 months. And I was pretty proud of myself forlasting that long. If someone else experienced that same feeling and quit even sooner, I know I’d never judge it.
All I’msaying is, mothers are already experiencing loads of guilt because we all want to live up to the mug and be the greatest in the world…and it just isn’t always possible. .I think the best thing you can say to any mother who isn’t asking for your opinion is: You can do this, you are doing so great, this baby is lucky to have you, etc.
Post # 9
Smoking does harm, whereas not breastfeeding may not do harm, but it’s not giving your child the best possible start.
Personally, there is no way I wouldn’t breastfeed (if I could) because I know for fact that it really is the best thing you can do for your child. That being said, the decision to Boyfriend or Best Friend or not shouldn’t cause anguish and anxiety because ultimately, the most important thing is to forge a bond with your new baby, and if the idea of Boyfriend or Best Friend is going to hinder that, then don’t do it. Plain and simple.
Post # 10
I’m not trying to debate breast v. formula.
My view is that you would have a tough time finding a doctor out there who would say ‘do not give your child formula, it’s dangerous’ but there are plenty who will tell you smoking while pregnant can be.
Post # 11
I agree with PP that smoking while pregnant and breastfeeding are not comparable. There are absolutely no benefits to smoking for anyone, the baby, the mom, and all those exposed to second-hand smoke. It is harmful and everyone knows that. Major benefits to breastfeeding, but I am also of the “your body, your choice” viewpoint with breastfeeding. I do think it’s best, but not everyone can do it or wants to.
Post # 12
Formula is nourishment. Cigarettes are not. Please, these are not even in the same ballpark.
Post # 13
Has anyone come up with actual medical reasons not to breastfeed (if your able to ofcourse)?
Post # 14
I think that Smoking while pregnant is not fair to your unborn child. I am a child of a mother who smoked while pregnant with me and was born early and WAY smaller than any of her other babies (I was the only one she smoked while pregnant with) I also have 10 times the medical issues as any of my siblings.
Please dont compare smoking to formula feeding they are Apples and oranges. I formula fed my oldest (breast feeding just didnt work out) and she is just fine!
Post # 15
@naturalysam: PAIN! My oldest made me hurt so bad I would cry everytime I tried to feed her. AND medication a lot of medications can not be taken while breastfeeding. AIDS/HIV are reasons for a mother not to breast feed… And so many more reasons!
Post # 16
Hmm. My intention was not to actually compare the activities of smoking and breastfeeding, and I apologize that clearly it is being taken that way.
What I’m interested in, is the thoughts around choice, perceived choice, judgement around choice, specifically in regards to issues that are strong public health stances. I meant to use breastfeeding and smoking as polarizing examples, not as actual fodder for debate.
If this thread isn’t helpful for diaglogue, then let’s not continue it. I didn’t mean any harm or argument or drama to come from this. Sincerely.