Maybe I'm being naive, but I think the Mommy Wars are made up. They're a convenient way for media to categorize stories (and sometimes make stories out of non-stories). But I've never had any real life experience with a Mommy-War. For all the time I've spent on Mommy groups on Facebook, I've seen quite the opposite, in fact. Mostly when I talk to working moms, they know how hard it would be to be a stay at home mom. And stay at home moms know there are challenges to being a working mom as well. Yet, we're told stories that women and families who make choices are implying that everyone should make those same choices. It's just not true.
Take feeding, for example. I truly believe most people understand that feeding is a personal choice. While the evidence points to the benefits of breast milk, they also understand that evidence isn't all there is to the story. Personal history, body image, community support, and advice from professionals/friends/family (that may or may not be accurate or kind) also work to impact a family's choice. There are pumps that might or might not work and work schedules that while legally should give you unlimited time to pump, might not realistically do so and tongue/lip ties that might or might not be identified or adequately corrected. All of this and more go into a family's decision about how to feed a baby. My heart goes out to all the mothers out there who are facing these challenges.
But breastfeeding month is about counterbalancing a history of assumed formula use. For a period, formula was considered a symbol of high status-of having the disposable income to spend on formula instead of giving breast milk. Breastfeeding became more rare to see and went underground. Even today most medical professionals receive less than one hour clinical training about breastfeeding. That includes pediatricians. These issues are affecting us now. As a result, our community has had to relearn what breastfeeding looks like. These are some big challenges. We have to examine what is leading some people to believe it's obscene to breastfeed. And we could also benefit from examining the paradigms that make people comfortable aggressively confronting women who are breastfeeding or publishing photos of them on social media with the intent to shame.
We breastfeeding women don't want every woman to breastfeed. We want every woman who wants to breastfeed to be properly supported-to have access to education about breastfeeding; to have partners, families, friends, and employers who understand how to support breastfeeding; to have pumps that support your supply; and a community who doesn't even miss a beat when that feeding starts. And for every woman who can not breast feed for physical or emotional reasons to have access to safe, reasonably priced formulas-full of the best nutrition that can be created for these babies.
I know that moms on both sides catch flack. If that has happened to you, please remember that it's not your fault. There are people out there who can help you. Find support from a friend who understands or online. Know that you have the support of breastfeeding and formula feeding moms all over this city. All over this country. We love you. We love your journey. Journey on.