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The Breastfeeding Flame Wars: Enough!

More empathy, less flame.

There’s been a whole nasty debate raging on Facebook and Twitter and various blogs about whether or not hospitals should give away free formula. The words “supremacists” and “nazis” have been used.

I hesitate to post about this particular flamer because honestly the “debate” about breastfeeding has become such a headache. Even childbirth choices can be easier talk about than how you feed your baby– for this topic, the road to closure is paved with IEDs. There have been civilian casualties.

So thank GOD for Meredith Fein Lichtenberg– “lawyer by training and nature,” postpartum doula and educator– who wrote a magnificent post for HuffPo yesterday with very specific instructions for anyone involved in mom-on-mom “cyber-bullying” around topics of baby-feeding in particular.

Check it:

“We need to stop talking about what ‘Breastfeeding Moms’ or ‘Formula Feeding Moms’ do. Mothers aren’t generic. There are millions of individual mothers, each making decisions about the care of herself and her baby, based on her own values, circumstances and a whole life of context. Mothers are people, not categories. When we forget this, we risk becoming a lynch mob.”

Meredith goes on to reassure mothers that, as Dan Savage says in his message to young gay men about bullying and gay-bashing, “it gets better.” (And now I’m just going to have to quote the shit out the rest of her post because it’s so good.)

“For almost everyone, once your kid is using the toilet, this mommy-wars thing is over. You’ll walk down the street with your seven- and five-year-olds and no one will talk to you about breast and bottle or ask about their births, and everyone will assume that your kids sleep all night in their own bed. Really, it gets better Until then, some tips.

  • If you are responding to someone’s blog post, Facebook status or Tweet, and you feel “hot,” pause before you click “send.”
  • If, online, you need to comment anonymously, it’s a red flag. If you won’t own up to this remark, should you make it?
  • If you write of your own experiences, try not to generalize about mothers as a group – your perspective is limited.
  • If you are using words that conjure atrocities of racism and genocide, pause. The words ‘Nazi’ and ‘Supremacist’ are particularly loaded, hateful speech. They are so provocative that they rarely communicate. You can find something more articulate.
  • And if you are inclined to be provocative online because you get paid only if you create a Scandal-Click-Bonanza, who’s really being played?

“Try to recognize yourself in every new mother you meet, and, when her path is different from yours, to consider how her choices and decisions led her there. You don’t have to think everyone’s choices and values are equally good; they aren’t. If you have a mind at all, it will evaluate and make judgments. That’s what your mind is for. But don’t forget, also, your heart. You do not have to agree with her to be compassionate.”

Read the entire HuffPo post here because there are about 25 other revelations to be appreciated. I have some ideas about this but I’m curious to hear from readers:

Why do we get SO INFLAMED about this topic?

And more seasoned mothers, has it gotten better for you?

 


Read my interview with Meredith about what new mothers need most here. And check out her blog here.

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