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Under Pressure: Dad Speaks Out Against The Breastfeeding Culture

Dads can struggle with breastfeeding too!

Usually it’s moms that are up in arms over whether or not breast is best. Now, a new dad is speaking out about breastfeeding and why he doesn’t necessarily think breastfeeding is the best way to go.

In an article published in The Atlantic, Chris Kornelis, music editor at Seattle Weekly, writes about how badly his wife wanted to nurse and the difficulty the couple faced as a result.

“There were problems with the ‘latch’ and with Thomas getting enough to eat. We went to a lactation consultant, rented a pump, and were up every two hours for a hazy routine of turning on the machine, attaching the tubes, applying the supplemental nipple system, and trying to feed a crying baby. There wasn’t much milk, but there were plenty of tears.”

Kornelis writes how switching to formula immediately changed their lives and enabled them to enjoy their son.

“That meant that I could get up on my own and feed Thomas while his mom went for six hours of sleep,” he writes. “The advantages extended beyond quality REM sleep. I got to bond with my son. I got to sing him songs and tell him stories. Those hours of father-child bonding were a good thing. I got to take him to my parents’ house for the day—without worrying about having enough milk or keeping it cold—and give Betsy an afternoon to rest. Betsy and I got to go away for a long weekend—to be together, to work on our marriage, something that was not just good for us, but good for the baby, too.”

Shine From Yahoo points out that “plenty of dads manage to bond with their babies even if their wives are nursing.” So? That doesn’t mean it’s the best option for everyone. I’m so sick of the whiff of failure that seems to surround people who choose not to breastfeed for whatever reason. It’s a personal decision and the breast is best culture seems to go out of its way to shame those parents that formula feed their babies.

As Kornelis points out, the warnings on containers of powdered formula made him and his wife feel like failures.

“I’ve never seen a sticker on the outside of a box of frozen chicken nuggets that says ‘experts agree, feeding your child chicken that’s definitely chicken and not covered in breading is best’,” he writes. “Our pediatrician told us it was no big deal to switch to formula. Do you think he’d say the same for a steady diet of fast food?”

In a response to Kornelis’ article, Shine from Yahoo’s Lylah Alphonse writes how “The problem isn’t which feeding method moms choose, it’s the fact that parents who are striving to be perfect don’t stop to consider what works best for them—and that some people think “breast is best” is a personal attack instead of a medical suggestion.”

It’s not that “breast is best” is mistaken as a personal attack. It’s that so many people make it a personal attack. I’ve seen it a thousand times on websites like Babble. Moms accusing other moms of not wanting the best for their children, pointing accusatory fingers and making new mothers who choose not to breastfeed feel like failures. Friends, moms, moms-in-law all pressuring mom to breastfeed and keep at it regardless of what mitigating factors are going on in her life.

Yeah, yeah, we all know that breast milk is the healthiest option, but that doesn’t necessarily make it the best option. A slew of other things need to be factored into the breastfeeding scenario to determine whether or not it really is the best option for a particular set of parents. It’s not for everyone and the constant breast is best drum beat only serves to make women feel terrible when it doesn’t work out for them or if they simply choose to formula feed because they don’t want to breastfeed. There is a way to promote breastfeed without making parents feel like they’re failures if they end up formula feeding for whatever reason.

 Photo Credit: ahealthyus.com

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