24 September 2009

Breastfeeding myths and legends

I got a kick out of reading over at the Good Lutheran Moms Blog about the chapter of the Duggar book entitled something like "The Myth of Breastfeeding as Birth Control." Hear, hear, Michelle. I'm still trying to forgive the Kippleys for telling me that our kids would almost certainly be spaced 2.5+ years if I were a good enough mom, and I've got it much easier than Michelle does. I'd like to address it briefly along with a few more myths about breastfeeding.

1. The anovulation thing is way overblown by NFPers. As we've discussed before, it requires a very calculated approach to breastfeeding which can hardly be called natural for many people, and even then often doesn't "work" for a lot of women. Ecological breastfeeding is the coldest of comforts for someone with an early return of fertility, no matter how much she loves babies.

2. Breastfeeding, the magical weight loss cure. It's true for some people. Not everyone. It's annoying at best to a more traditionally built hard core nursing mom when some scrawny young thing beams knowingly to everyone who tells her that she doesn't look like a mother (horrors!), "I just breastfeed!" So do a lot of moms, get it? Wouldn't the imperfect among us be doing ourselves a favor to emphasize the fact that no naturally occurring function or appearance of our bodies is a personal accomplishment?

3. "If it hurts, you're doing it wrong." I've finally gained enough confidence in my own non-idiocy to say this is . . . let's see, how would pious Grandma have put it? Well, I guess I'll go with "for the birds." Incredibly stupid birds. Lobotomized, inbred, Epsilon Minus dodos. Some women have difficult pregnancies or deliveries, not because they're being pregnant or laboring wrong, but because it's just how their bodies (don't) work. And some women have difficulty breastfeeding, not because they're too stupid to understand the extremely simple latching directions or need even more ogling and manhandling by lactation consultants or really should join La Leche League if they're serious about this. For some reason, breastfeeding can be hard even when executed with the correct mechanics, and by hard I don't mean "Ding bust-it spit, this zipper won't zip!" I mean, "Has the old CIA waterboarding team heard about this?" So deal with it, lactation experts. Breastfeeding is just as screwed up as everything else on this screwed up planet. You, of all people, ought to know. Quit blaming mothers who already hate themselves for failing at something beyond their control, and please make the next edition of your propaganda rag how-to book more honest.

>>Then you and Osama were . . .

>>YES. YES. Say it. He vas my... BOYFRIEND.


Ewe said...

I just loved people that gave me the advice to join La Leche League and all my problems would be solved. Their jaw dropped when they heard the closest LLL was 2 1/2 hours away. When I called the national number, LLL didn't really know what to say either. Thankfully I had a good friend who was a LLL leader and she helped me through a lot on the phone. But the phone isn't the same as in person.
Almost no one nurses in this area where I live. I think a big part is no LLL or lacatation consultants in the area.

Katy said...

I remember our first pastor's wife telling me when I was pg with #1 that her cycles returned 5 months after she weaned (every time). I was looking forward to never having a period again...lo, and behold, 6 weeks postpartum...

Also, my mother is an LLL leader and I always get envious comments from friends who have had to hire nursing consultants. It IS a good reminder how helpful she is, because sometimes she can turn into one of those "if you only did it right..." know-it-alls. She actually lectured me about not nursing on demand and thus having my kids too close together.

"On demand" is another myth--my daughter was such a lazy eater, she would have starved if I had gone by her schedule.

Rebekah said...

For all my trouble, I would not have joined LLL. I could not handle sitting in a room with a bunch of people scrutinizing me. I can't think of one piece of lactation advice I receive that actually helped besides, "It's ok to let her have a pacifier"(thank God!). There's really not that much to be said about it besides, "Hold the baby this way, this way, or that way, and good luck."

Katy, good point on "on demand." I didn't get to sleep for weeks after our second baby was born because he was always sleeping. I knew if I went to sleep I'd stay that way for 15 hours and he'd die. It was miserable trying to wake him up all the time.

Katy said...

Oh, I slept 9 hours straight my second night home from the hospital after daughter was born. No every-two-hour alarm for me.

I felt vindicated when my son ate EVERY HOUR 24/7 for the first four months, and I was pregnant again when he was 5 months. You can't really tell your mom "I told you so," but I felt like it.

I think LLL was very beneficial to get moms nursing again when it wasn't very popular (even in the 80's my mom got criticism for nursing), but sometimes they're a little weird about letting it all hang out (their magazine always has a not-so-discreetly nursing mother on the cover). As my old boss said about his wife: "We've got the Leche, we're just not in the League."

Kelly said...

An ecological mechanism that I'm not sure the Kippleys mention: prolactin induced complete and total lack of mojo. Short of human parthenogenesis, I don't foresee any more babies until weaning. :(

As a side note, I am so grateful for the wonderful LC that helped us through our problems. When/if #2 becomes a reality I hope things are a bit easier in that department.

Gauntlets said...


I love that movie.

Rebekah said...

Katy, I wish you'd been around to tell me that. I wouldn't have been so tired and he wouldn't have died :D (of course, my husband was also insisting the whole time that I was insane for pestering the poor child constantly).

Aw, Kelly! :( It's amazing what a difference sleep makes, isn't it? I'm glad your LCs were helpful though. I should also consider the possibility that every single one I dealt with was unusually worthless.

Gauntlets, I knew you'd get it. :D

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Pregnant while nursing? How about the chances of getting pregnant while pregnant!

Can you say "superfetation"?

Gauntlets said...

Ack! Erich, that's just not funny.

OK, maybe it is a little bit funny. :D

Mossback Meadow said...

Goodness - so negative.
I just have to put in a good word for the Kippleys and LLL here.
Maybe I'm just old.

Rebekah said...

Sorry, Mossback. I had some bad run-ins with adherents of both that left me pretty jaded. :P I'm glad they were helpful for you and others.

Anonymous said...

Here is a different perspective - No guarantee that BF is a form of birth control..... just a natural spacer..... no time frame on the spacing. That is God's plan.
I chose breastfeeding because - that is what God designed them for and He made the perfect food for baby. I didn't choose breastfeeding for what I get out of it, ie. weight loss or birth control but because it is the perfect plan from God for mom and baby. Compare it to church - I worship to thank and praise the Lord for what He has done for me- I do not worship for what I can get out of it. What I receive is an added benefit. God gave older women to encourage and help - even in times of breastfeeding - we experienced nursing moms are always glad to offer help and suggestions- the rewards far out weigh the myths.