There are no such thing as breastfeeding Nazis. At no point in history has there ever been women who breastfeed joining fascist parties for the sole purpose of committing the mass genocide of women who do not breastfeed. Using the term “Nazi” to refer to anything but the actual Nazi government of Germany or any far-right fascist group makes you sound like an ahistorical buckethead with no understanding of genocide.
Comparing women who are pro-breastfeeding (regardless of whether or not they are rude) is disgraceful. It makes a mockery of the murder of millions of innocent people. It’s an asinine hyperbole.
Am I pro-breasfeeding? Yup.
Do I have a problem with the government’s latest attempt to increase breastfeeding rates by offering new mothers up to £200 in shopping vouchers? Absolutely.
It’s a ridiculous policy which does nothing to target the real reasons why women “fail” or chose not to breastfeed. It doesn’t target the phenomenal number of myths about breastfeeding peddled by formula manufacturers. It ignores the very practical realities which result in women choosing not to breastfeed [or the emotionally, abusive behaviour of partners which has resulted in a not insignificant number of women being unable to breastfeed]. It ignores the physiological reasons why women cannot breastfeed.
It ignores the chronic underfunding of NHS maternity services which have resulted in inadequate numbers of midwives available to support women. It ignores the lack of training midwives receive to support breastfeeding. It ignores the lack of qualified support workers to help women once they have left the hospital. It ignores the failure to diagnose tongue-tie which results in women being able to breastfeed.
It ignores the myths propagated by the media that women’s breasts are only for sex and that breastfeeding ruins your body. Hell, it ignores media doctors like Christian Jessen who seem to actually believe that breastfeeding ruins your breast [here’s a hint: rapid weight gain in pregnancy fundamentally changes your body. It doesn’t “ruin” your body. It just changes your body].
This policy ignores the amount of advertising from formula manufacturers who are big fans of the “most women can’t breastfeed” myths because it increases their revenues.
Increasing breastfeeding rates in this country requires the following:
- a complete ban on formula advertising
- more investment in midwives
- more investment in breastfeeding support workers
- prosecuting and fining formula companies for their aggressive [and frequently misleading] formula advertisements
- it requires a fundamental cultural shift wherein breasts are no longer viewed as sex objects
- it requires a culture which understands the reasons why women chose not to or cannot breastfeed.
And, it requires women showing other women some kindness. We are all judged for the choices we make. It doesn’t matter if we breastfeed or formula feed, there will always be someone who judges us negatively for them. We need to learn to be more confident with the decisions we make.
We also need to start understanding that analysing the conditions in which women make the “choice” to breastfeed or not is not a personal attack on an individual women but political analysis. A woman who “chooses” a different way isn’t doing so with the express purpose of hurting your feelings.
And, if someone is rude about the “choices” you have made, tell them so. Ask them if they meant to be that rude. Or, walk away. Using the behaviour or language of one person who is being rude to dismiss the “choices” of the entire group of people who made that “choice” is also ridiculous.
£200 worth of shopping vouchers won’t help anyone actually breastfeed. It won’t make up for poor maternity care, lack of support or an abusive partner who thinks breastfeeding is “gross”. We already know what will actually help women who choose to breastfeed to do so successfully without making women who choose not to feel like shit. How about we actually finance those programs?
And, if you do come across someone who is so pro-breastfeeding that they are rude to you, don’t call them the breastfeeding nazis or gestapo or mafia. That’s ahistorical nincompoopery.