Thursday, July 23, 2009

We Want You to Breastfeed, Honestly, We Do.

What's the old truism? If someone uses words like "honestly" a lot, than they're probably being anything but.
Well, that's kind of how I'm feeling about the very helpful people from the WIC office.
Oh, yeah, by the way, we're broke. I get WIC, and no, this isn't an invitation to lecture me about your tax dollars. We've paid quite a few of those ourselves before health!fail coupled with economy!fail put us in this position.
So the kindly helpful people at the WIC office.
Their literature says things like "Breast is Best" and all other sorts of glib pro-breastfeeding mantras decorate their walls. They even make a point of saying "feel free to nurse him" when a baby starts fussing during an appointment or in the lobby. They even give nursing moms food so that they can keep on eating, which is kinda crucial to the whole making milk for babies thing.
BUT, I walked out of my last WIC appointment kinda flabergasted at the anti-breastfeeding message they were accidentally sending.
They make it easy to quit.
Too easy.
I should have counted, but failed to, the numerous instances in which they pointed out that even though I'd made the desicion to breastfeed and things were going smoothly, should I decide to change my mind at any time, I just needed to bring in the vouchers printed "Congratulations on your continued breastfeeding success" and exchange them for formula coupons.
I get that its wonderful that for women who for one reason or another feel they can't continue to breastfeed, or breastfeed exclusively, that there is an option available which insures that their infants won't starve, but come on!
First of all, the wording on the vouchers implies that breastfeeding is some sort of extra-credit activity and it's pat on the back worthy. It implies that success at breastfeeding is extraordinary and unusual. It implies that success is something special and therefore not the norm. Instead of encouraging and supporting, it reads like "you're doing well, and we're surprised." It almost reads like the sort of slogan you'd expect to hear at a meeting aimed at helping people overcome their addictions. "Congratulations on your continued sobriety success," as though holding one's breath against a relapse.
Further, these vouchers make it so simple. All you have to do is go back, without an appointment, and exchange them. Why not make it a little harder? I don't want it to be impossible or so complicated that mothers would rather starve their children until the next appointment than go to the hassle of utilizing the formula if they really do hit a wall, but if it were just a touch more labor intensive to quit, maybe women would try harder not to.
I can't tell you how many times they pointed this out to me, but after about five times, it began to feel like the kind woman behind the desk wanted me to cave and say "yes, already, it really is too much for me, please give us some formula!"
Maybe it was just the way she kept referencing reasons a person might want to switch to formula. "If it gets to be too much," "If you have any troubles like sorenes." I wanted to scream "STOP GIVING ME REASONS TO WANT TO QUIT!"
I was most disturbed because, having been the woman who did quit breastfeeding my first, I remember how comforting it was that everyone around me made it too easy to stop. I wasn't as committed last time as I am this time, and so I embraced their reassurances that it was okay, and I held tight to the belief that the support network around me would have made it harder to quit if quitting was really a bad idea.
Well, guess what, folks, quitting is and was a bad idea.
The human animal was intended to be raised on human milk. In much the same way that baby mice do not drink cat milk, and puppies do not drink gorilla milk, humans were not meant to drink cows milk, and were certainly not intended to drink a chemical soup designed in a laboratory and mass produced in China for convenience sake.
No. Humans were made to drink human milk. Studies have time and time shown that being breastfed, and not just drinking breast milk, is the best and healthiest way for an infant to feed. So why then do doctors offices and the WIC office go out of their way to make it so damned easy to quit?
Because, honestly, for one reason or another, they'd prefer it if you didn't. If that's not the case, then please, oh please, let them prove me wrong through their actions, and not their lofty protestations.

6 reflections:

Talina said...

Ha, so true! I am also breastfeeding and am finding similar situations.

You are right we were "not intended to drink a chemical soup designed in a laboratory and mass produced in China for convenience sake." LOL. Good post!

Upstatemomof3 said...

Oh I completely agree with you. I kind of think they should not give formula unless you have note from a doctor that says you are incapable of breastfeeding. Just my opinion.

Samantha @ Mama Notes said...

I agree!!

Erin said...

I totally agree. It seems like every day I have someone tell me how "impressed" they are that I've kept with it. I mean, yes, breastfeeding hurt in the beginning. It wasn't easy. But... it's important. It's the right thing to do, both for my baby and for myself. I, too, wish that formula wasn't so widely available, but, more than that, I wish it weren't so accepted as a perfectly acceptable alternative to breastfeeding. Great post!

Pamela said...

Don't even get me started on WIC. The mixed messages are so numerous I can't even begin. Also, I can't begin because my head will likely explode.

Lauren said...

I completely agree with you to a certain extent. It drives me crazy that WIC pushes formula in place of healthier, FREE breastmilk! I believe that breastfeeding is best and I believe in doing it for as long as baby, not society, wants to. I disagree that humans are not meant to drink cow's milk...because I really like milk! Nothing goes better with a chocolate chip cookie than milk! :)