I watched a news report on the Public Service Announcements showing the pregnant women log rolling and the women on the mechanical bull - saying "you wouldn't risk your child's health like this before it's born, why risk it after?" The implication is that not nursing your child is akin to riding a mechanical bull - dangerous and stupid - when the obvious is right in front of you regarding health and well-being of your child.
Over the years, I've had a few women not start out nursing at all. Usually they were women who either had had serious breast surgeries that prohibited it or women with incest/abuse issues. Even my Hispanic clients almost always started out nursing (although they do tend to supplement with chamomile tea and sometimes formula).
As time passes, I am seeing more and more women who do not make milk. Sometimes women with pharmaceutical help still cannot produce milk. I see women with PCOS struggling with milk supply. I see fat women with undiagnosed PCOS/insulin resistance struggling, too. I see women who seem to be in the picture of health struggling with milk production. What is going on?
I've talked to other Lactation Consultants and their words have been so helpful for me to acknowledge my reality is also theirs. It is true; more women cannot nurse today than 20 years ago.
Is our environment killing breastmilk? Is our own pollution, pesticides, and trash causing the survival of the fittest mechanism to snap into action? If we were in another culture where breastfeeding was the only option and a woman couldn't, she would either find someone to do it or the baby would perish.
I know women who want to nurse so badly, they would cut their wrists and drip blood if they thought it would create breastmilk. Women search far and wide for breastmilk, sometimes from complete strangers, so their children are able to have the very best they can't give to their own babies. I know that drive - I did it for my son when he was so, so sick as a baby. I only had to acquire breastmilk until I had my second child, though... a very limited time. I cannot begin to imagine the anguish many women experience when they are unable to nurse their own children.
So, what of these ads? Should we applaud them and say, "So sorry you feel bad, you non-lactating women, but these ads aren't meant for you?" Should we love them and tell women how fabulous nursing is? Putting the previous post's article in their take-home goodie bag of stuff to read? Should we make bottles as heretical as I previously proposed we do to epidurals? (or cesareans on demand?)
How do we take care of women who really, really cannot nurse while also putting pressure on women who don't want to nurse because their boobs might sag? Is my reasoning even valid for other women?
This is often a case of the woman not having enough information to make an informed choice. La Leche League notwithstanding, most women don't have access to immediate and free breastfeeding help (and many don't have the Internet to look things up). Our culture makes it seem so damn difficult to nurse, if we could figure out a way to make it seem simpler, perhaps the rates would climb. Maybe if there were enough of us lactivists around, nursing would become the norm. Instead of bottles of formula everywhere being acceptable and women being asked to breastfeed their children on a public toilet, perhaps slings and babies at work could become the norm.
I saw the commercials and watched the news reports and laughed when they interviewed bottle feeding moms saying how hard breastfeeding was, how tied down they were, how guilty they felt watching the commercials.
I believe if you have no reason to feel guilty, then you wouldn't mind the message. If you aren't comfortable with your decision, then, by all means, feel bad about it.