Choice: The Holy Grail of Infant Feeding

Choice has become the holy grail of infant feeding.  Female liberation has been predicated on the "freedom" to choose between infant formula and breastfeeding.  So are women freely making this choice?  Or is society, our medical-industrial-social-marketing-government institutions, creating the propaganda to influence choice?  

I seem to have stirred the hornet's nest, particularly on Facebook, regarding my comments on my previous post to my blog.  The blog writer for Fearless Formula Feeding wrote regarding me--STFU.  And a number of facebookers agreed to that statement.  I had to look up what STFU meant.  Yes, shows my age.  It means shut the fuck up. Wow. Yeah I seem to be the only one on the Virtual who is initial-impaired.  Rude, eh?  What can I say?  Oh yeah I am suppose to shut the....

Sorry, can't shut up, getting too old to shut up.  So I have an answer for those facebookers who think I should STFU.  Put your hands over your ears, close your eyes, and don't read my blog.  I allow humming while reading my blog and actually I do allow people to disagree with my point of view. 

I believe that biologically the mammary gland is a working organ and meant to be used.  Not using that organ has health ramifications for both mother and baby.  Long term there is enormous ramifications to society in terms of health care costs-physical and emotional.   Yet I do not believe that society and in particular government should force women to breastfeed.  I feel a woman has the right to refuse to breastfeed.  The right of refusal is a subtle but crucial difference than in believing in "choice."  Breastfeeding is normal mammalian behavior.  But as I have said many times before we do not live in natural/normal environments.  So while breastfeeding is normal, our culture makes it abnormal.  We struggle with learning to breastfeed because we do not see it in order to imitate it.  Humans are the great imitators.  When women are asked to leave public establishments because they are breastfeeding, it sends a message not only to the mother and her family but to the rest of the community.  These messages are pervasive in the USA.

Choice isn't choice when the person who makes that choice does not know the full consequences.  When a government, a society, withholds crucial information or an industry subverts that knowledge, then choice is a stacked deck.  If women knew about all the patents on human milk components or read the infant formula patents, I believe that they might question the safety of infant formula feeding.  They might question the belief that choice really exists in infant feeding. 
Copyright 2011 Valerie W. McClain

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