02 August 2012

Breast is not always best, part 2.

Note: I'd like to refer everyone to a post I wrote a couple of months ago about the fact that there are antidepressants you can take while breastfeeding.

In a previous post, I wrote about why Breast is not alwaysbest. Today, I’d like to discuss a specific facet of that.

Usually, people who espouse the idea that Breast Is Always Best will acknowledge that “Of course this doesn’t extend to women with legitimate medical issues”. Here’s the problem that I often see: these people will either not truly acknowledge PostPartum Depression as a legitimate medical problem, or the women with PPD will not realize that they fall inside this criteria and will still succumb to the guilt of “If I get help and have to stop nursing my baby because of medications, I am not doing what is best for my baby”, thus either prolonging the time they go without treatment or, if they do seek treatment, adding unnecessary guilt which may make it even harder to deal with the PPD. Also, when women give a reason other than a “legitimate medical problem”, they are dismissed and scorned as “selfish”. What those doing the dismissing too often fail to take into consideration is that the new mother may in fact have something like PPD going on below the surface that they either don’t realize or don’t want to talk about it.

Even if there is no medical problem, again, if they just do not want to nurse, they should not be made to feel guilty for that. As I stated in my previous post, a woman who breastfeeds due to pressure and guilt, despite not wanting to for her own reasons, may end up suffering negative repercussions such as difficulty bonding, depression, and a host of other problems.

We need to get away from this idea that the only acceptable reason to not breastfeed is to have a “legitimate medical problem”. We need to realize that using this terminology and pushing this mindset may cause those very problems. Who are we to decide what constitutes a “legitimate” reason to make a particular non-life threatening choice?

Of all the issues that we could be devoting our time and energy to, we choose to spend it on judging women for why they choose to feed their child a certain way? As I’ve said before, by all means, let’s educate people about the benefits that breastfeeding can give to both mother and and baby; benefits such as passing along to the baby the mother’s immunities, reducing the mother’s risk of cancer, assisting the mother with weight-loss, the fact that breastmilk contains/helps the baby develop pro-biotics and pre-biotics, and many other positive benefits and side-effects . But please, let’s do so in a manner that makes the mother feel empowered to make an educated choice as to what she feels is best for her and her baby and family, rather than feeling judged for making her choice, a manner that does not add to the stigma, myths, and problems that women with PPD (and their families) already face.


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