"You can't make me breastfeed!!!" The woman stood in the doorway of the WIC office shouting the words with defiance and anger. She had just walked in the doorway. We were stunned by her anger. I had never seen this woman before in my life and I wondered how she thought that we could make her breastfeed? How do you make women breastfeed? I certainly would like to see all women breastfeed their babies but making someone do it is beyond my belief system.
Yet, there are people in our society who believe that women should be made to breastfeed their babies. When I had a private practice as a lactation consultant, I had a client who upon hearing that I had one time been employed with WIC, said, "those people should be made to breastfeed." Of course, she wasn't actually breastfeeding. She was pumping and feeding her baby bottles of her milk. She felt she had to give her infant her breastmilk because her physician husband felt that his children deserved the best. But she didn't want to actually, physically put her baby to her breast. But she felt that those people who ask for help from the government should be made to breastfeed. I got the impression that she viewed breastfeeding at the breast as a punishment. And that punishment was suitable for "those" people who asked the government for help. All very astounding to me. I find it hard to view breastfeeding as punishment. I hope that all women and men are educated on the risks of artificial feeding. If after learning those risks, parents continue to make a choice for infant formula, so be it. I believe it is our society's duty to set that education in motion. Instead we have beaten around the bush because people are afraid. Afraid that their jobs are on the line, if they speak the truth. So instead the real issues are skirted, avoided. Melamine in formula in the US. Let's blow it under the table for another time, when it is safer to talk about it. Babies in NICUs dying from e. sakazakki from powdered formulas. Rare happenings? Not so, according to some lawyers looking for business. The rumblings about the safety of infant formula are kept under wraps by an industry that has its tentacles wrapped around many a human milk researcher. It also has its tentacles wrapped around various governmental agencies. How many tons of infant formula were sent to Louisiana by the USDA in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina? And how many women in the time after the intitial impact of the hurricane, had such easy and free access to infant formula? But heck they were already trapped by their choice.
The choice of using an artificial milk for her infant, destroyed Tifanny Woods and Emmanuel Scott's family. Society scapegoats the victims, and goes on playing the game that breastfeeding is just a "lifestyle choice," without speaking one word about the risks of infant formula.
Copyright 2008 Valerie W. McClain