Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Breastfeeding Controversy

My mother called me at 8am this morning to tell me to turn the channel to Fox and Friends (part of Fox News). As I did so, she proceeded to tell me what was going on that made her call me. Mom is very supportive of me and reads my blog. She has been there for a few of my seven childbirths or arrived shortly after the babies did. When I chose to breastfeed, she supported my choice, and assisted me when I needed a helping hand. The purpose of her call and me watching Fox was so that I could see a new baby doll that is coming out called "The Breast Milk Baby."
This is a new baby doll that comes with a little tie on bra type top that the little girls can put on (it has pink cloth discs where nipples would be) and mimic their mother's breastfeeding. The doll actually makes a sucking noise and the mouth moves as if sucking. Their is nothing in the top that sticks out like actual breasts or nipples, so the doll does not actually latch on to anything. You can see the advertisement and news clip if you go to FoxandFriends.com. I am sure if you just Googled "Breast Milk Baby Doll" you could see it that way too. Apparently, the toy company that has come up with the doll is catching a whole lot of heck.
During the news clip, they interviewed a psychiatrist and a mommy blogger/parenting expert. Of course the doctor had nothing good to say. He declared this doll to be "damaging" and said it blurred the line between child and adult. Forgive me if I am wrong, but haven't young girls immitated their mothers' feeding babies for centuries? He also made several references to young girls thinking of their breasts in a sexual way. Personally, I do not know many young girls that think of the breasts sexually. Unless they have witnessed some sexual behavior, how would they even know that at some point, breasts become sexual? Well, the mommy blogger called him out on it. Kudos to her because she made him look like a goober. She disagreed with the man saying that breastfeeding is not a sexual behavior. It has nothing to do with sex, and if he thinks of it that way, then he must have issues. I have to agree.
I am not a die hard breastfeeder. I nursed four of my seven children and am terribly sad that I did not nurse all of them. It is a personal choice and I in no way shape or form hold it against anyone that feeds their baby via bottle and formula. Nor do I hold it against those moms that nurse babies for years. The longest I managed to nurse my babies was for six months. I think breastfeeding is a beautiful, natural way to bond and feed an infant.
What is wrong with breastfeeding is how society views it. America seems to be the only country that has issues with it. Breastfeeding is becoming much more popular and many businesses provide private, quiet places for a mom to nurse a baby. Hospitals, as well as doctors, are strongly supporting breastfeeding. There are so many new and cool things to help breastfeeding moms. With my last baby, I had purchased nursing shawls. These are like aprons that can cover an infant while nursing. I was able to go to the store, walk through the mall, or go anywhere in public while nursing my baby. They come in a variety of funky fabrics too. No mom should ever feel that breastfeeding is wrong, or should be made to feel uncomfortable for it.
So what is wrong with a baby doll that allows a young girl to "feed" her baby? Isn't that what you do with bottles too? There is absolutely nothing sexual about breastfeeding. Those people who think so are just uncomfortable with it and therefore they have issues with it. Nursing is the most natural, healthy, inexpensive way to feed an infant. What did women do before formula? They breastfed. I doubt anyone complained then.
When my baby was just a couple of weeks old, I was sitting on the couch feeding her. My two year old daughter had been watching and went and got one of her baby dolls. She came up to me and lifted her shirt and held her doll as if breastfeeding and said, "I feed my baby too." I never made a big deal out of the fact that I was using my breasts to feed the baby. Of course my two toddlers were curious. They had questions. I simply explained that when mommies have babies they get milk in their boobies to feed the babies. And that was enough. They said okay and never appeared distracted or disturbed by it. I did my best to be conservative about it because I did have a fifteen year old who over-exaggerated his emberrassment at seeing his mom's breasts.
It is all in how we portray breastfeeding. I think that it is most definately becoming more mainstream especially because it is so cheap! If we give our children the notion that breastfeeding is gross or wrong or inappropriate, then that is how they will perceive it. If we show them that it is perfectly natural and acceptable, then that is what they will think too. Little girls feed their baby dolls with bottles, why not with a shirt that makes it seem as if they are nursing? It teaches them that this is a practical way to feed an infant, just like with a bottle. My children watched the Fox and Friends video clip with me and I asked them if they would be bothered by it. They all said no. They said that we should get the doll for their sisters.
My husband believes that there is nothing wrong with the doll also. How could there be anything wrong with teaching a young girl how to feed a baby? They make baby dolls that poop and pee, that cry, that talk, that walk, and that eat baby food. They make baby dolls that have heartbeats and get red cheeks like they have a fever. There is nothing wrong with children immitating their parents- it's how they learn.
I think the negativity surrounding this new baby doll would be better spent on things like magazines that portray unhealthy images like half naked anorexic looking stars. What kinds of messages are young girls getting from that? There are many things out in society now that are far worse than a breastfeeding baby doll. Like my husband said, "If you have a problem with it, don't buy it. I don't like those BRATZ dolls that they have on the shelves, but I don't try to persuade the toy company to take them off the shelves. I just don't buy them for my daughters." Hmm. Sounds logical to me. If you don't like it, don't buy it. If it bothers you, turn your head. Just because you are uncomfortable with breastfeeding doesn't mean that it should be outlawed.

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