Nursing Noodges should knock it off

Posted by Erica Noonan  March 29, 2010 01:04 PM

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One of my best friends is pregnant, and recently got The Question from someone in the birthing-industrial complex: Will she breastfeed?

She'll certainly try, she told them. But after watching dozens of other women encounter problems, she's keeping an open mind (and buying a can of formula.)

Oh noooo, howled the Nursing Noodge. There is no try! You MUST be determined to nurse! Rah rah ta-tas! Lactivation!

(Brief aside: Moms Are Talking About has a major peeve with the term Breastfeeding Nazi. The words breastfeeding and Nazi do not belong in the same sentence, ever, and anyone who insists on combining them should be forced to read the works of Elie Wiesel and Gunter Grass until they weep.)

Anyhoo, back to the blog....

My friend is too savvy to be bullied, but she was still very, very irritated.

She is still in her third trimester, yet the implication was that she was already a neglectful mother whose baby will have rickets or dropsy or scurvy or something. There will be LIFELONG ramifications to bottle-feeding, she was warned.

Oh, please. Why, I ask, must the Nursing Noodges be so obnoxious?

Isn't it enough that they are absolutely, incontrovertibly right? Breast is best, yes, we all heard you the first ten thousand times you said it.

So why make well-informed women feel like garbage if they have to settle for second-best? Why do the Noodges have so little faith in a woman's ability to make up her own mind about what's the right choice for her and her baby?

There are a lot of valid reasons not to breastfeed, including Numero Uno: the woman doesn't want to. Also on the list are:

- doesn't like public nudity
- can't make enough milk
- is an adoptive mom
- baby has a cleft palate or other birth issue that makes nursing impossible
- it hurts too much/mastitis
- inverted nipples/breast issues
- needs more than 30 minutes of sleep at a time
- wants her body back
- wants dad to take an equal role in feeding and parenting
- can't pump at work
- can pump at work, but would die of embarrassment if the words "breast" and/or "pump" were uttered in a professional setting...

What were your reasons to not breastfeed? Is it OK for someone else to tell you what to do with your body or baby?

And Nursing Noodges out there, I know this isn't what you want to hear, but please chime in with your side. Tell us why it's important to keep pressuring new moms to do it, even when they are sick of your lectures?

Leave a comment or drop an email to enoonan@globe.com

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about the author

Erica Noonan is chief of the Globe West bureau. Before joining the Globe in 2000, she worked for the Associated Press in Boston. Raised in Wellesley, she has a master's degree in political communication from Emerson College and a BA in political science from Trinity University in San Antonio. She lives in Natick with two energetic children: Dennis, 6, and Lila, 4.

Contact Erica

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