Giselle Bundchen must be an awesome mother, because she breastfeeds.

I’m not sure what I would do without a supermodel’s parenting advice. Surely I would not be able to be a truly effective parent without it. Especially advice from the lovely mouth of one Giselle Bundchen. First, Giselle has advised me that my pregnancy weight gain was a direct result of my gestational evolution into a human garbage disposal, which is very helpful advice for anyone attempting to lose the baby weight. Now, it appears that Giselle is advising that there should be an international law stating that every woman should breastfeed for at least six months. Breastfeeding is best, and evidently, what is ultimately a personal choice should be made mandatory.

Well, lawdy, Miss Clawdy.

Is there anyone out there, in our generation, who does not believe that breast milk is the optimal choice for a baby? Of course it is. Does that mean that we should make mothers who do not breastfeed feel like inferior mothers? Here is my story.

My firstborn, Mark, was jaundiced at birth and was an indifferent feeder. He was not a strong nurser and matters were not helped by the fact that it took five days for my milk to come in. I supplemented with formula. When my milk did come in, I nursed him constantly. “Cluster feeding” was the term used by the public health nurses. When I stumbled on my nursing log years later, I started to cry, remembering the feeling of waking up every half hour to feed my baby who would fall asleep twenty minutes into feeding. He lost weight. My doctor sent me to the breastfeeding clinic, where I learned to nurse him for an hour, then give him a few ounces of supplemental formula, a ninety minute process that would start over again in an hour, twenty four hours a day. I rented a scary, hospital grade breast pump to increase production. I went on drugs to increase production. I started to lose perspective and began believing that life would always be like this, I would always be exhausted and sore and my life would revolve around feeding and recording diaper changes and worrying about infant weight gain.

I went to the public health clinic. I can see myself perfectly: hair in ponytail, bags under eyes, carrying forty extra pounds and wearing maternity jeans and a DDD nursing bra stuffed with bloody nursing pads from my cracked nipples. I stood next to another new mother at the change station, while we changed our babies’ diapers. She glanced at my diaper bag and the little bottle poking out of it, and started up a conversation. Boy, was she tired! She nursed her baby every hour. The public health nurses, they were amazed at her stamina. They couldn’t believe she could keep up! But she did. She did keep up because her baby needed her and that’s all that mattered, didn’t it. She turned to her baby and cooed, “You just LOVE mommy’s milk, don’t you? Don’t you? You love it!” Then she turned to me with a smile and said, “Remember, any woman can breastfeed. Maybe you just need to try harder.”

I smiled shakily and nodded, my eyes filled with tears. She was right. She must be. I wasn’t trying hard enough. I got a 4.0 in grad school, surely I could breastfeed. I just wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t a good enough mother.

What I didn’t know then was that breastfeeding does not make a good mother. I didn’t know that breastfeeding is just a blip on the map. I stood there and I let that woman, that woman who didn’t know me or anything about me, make a judgement on my ability to mother. I let her make me feel like I was a second class mother. So fuck you, Giselle. Fuck you and your judgements. Fuck you and your attempt at making millions of mothers, whatever their story, feel inferior. Go back to the catwalk and keep your comments to yourself.

Comments

  1. Times like that are when you just want to tell the woman to fuck off. Of course you don’t because you’re beyond tired and feeling crazy with hormones.

    I had a terrible time with breastfeeding due to inverted nipples and misinformation on nursing with them. Thankfully after struggling for what seemed like forever it did work out for us on that front, but I recognize that’s not always the case.

    I wish there was more understanding from both camps of the breastfeeding front.

  2. I was that perky little know it all. With #1. Who could have offered breastfeeding clinics. He was a champ. #2 self-weaned before he was “supposed to” and I suddenly realized that maybe it wasn’t so easy after all.
    Breastfeeding is good, being a sane and happy mommy is just as good. And sometimes the two just cannot go hand in hand.

  3. Bravo! I love this post. I had a very similar story with my first two. By the third I decided to bottle feed from the beginning and make no apologies for it. I think all new mothers struggling with breast feeding should read this post. I also think it should be made law that Giselle keep her opinions on mothering to herself.

  4. Boy, Giselle sure is making it clear that she has the IQ of a coat hanger, isn’t she?

  5. Nicole, I LOVE this post! Not every woman has the physical ability to breastfeed (which many breastfeeding manuals point out in the beginning of the book).

    I struggled with breastfeeding with all four of my babies. The greatest success was with baby #3, and that was only for a couple of months.

    Finally, with baby #4, the lactation consultant gently told me that I could allow myself to stop trying SO HARD and understand that formula feeding didn’t mean that I loved my baby any less.

    It is so naive of Giselle to assume that every mother can breastfeed. Fuck her.

  6. I went into my pregnancy reading that ‘breast is best’ and although personally bottle fed I reasoned well clearly I’d better breastfeed. When asked about breastfeeding and my medication I was given conflicting opinions. The hospital where I gave birth had a written policy, posted in multiple locations, to remind all employees that not making every effort possible to facilitate all new mothers with breastfeeding efforts could result in termination. That policy coupled with the cultural push to “support” (somewhat like supporting a person’s efforts to quit smoking by tying them to a chair for a week) led to a medical emergency for my then only 5 day old son.

    Thanks for speaking out about it. I think tomorrow I’ll blog about my terrifying experience.

  7. Subspace Beacon says:

    Sounds to me like those specially-built jails for mothers who don’t breastfeed for 6 months, will be filled with some pretty AWESOME women. Personally I think that stupid little girls who make money walking around in overpriced underwear and pontificate nonsense should be locked up. Forever.

    I had such a traumatic time breastfeeding my first child that I had post-traumatic stress disorder when the 2nd child was born and chose to bottle feed him. So suck on that, Giselle!

  8. It amazes me sometimes just how much rage this stuff can still trigger – anything that involves pressuring new mothers and making them feel guilty.

  9. Bea,

    I think it’s because as mothers the women here all understand the importance of “doing it right”. And as the Demotivator poster says “Failure: when your best just isn’t good enough” The sad reality is there is no real “right” in most parenting situations. No one can give you a grade on this homework. If your child grows and thrives you might have done it mostly right. If your child dies… you haven’t necessarily done a single thing wrong. Never does a human being despise mortality as much as when they realize their child is mortal.

    The anger isn’t guilt. It’s fear.

  10. Yet another celebrity making a ridiculous comment that will never be realized nor believed. I think every mother has a choice.

    I am so sorry to hear all these stressful stories. Something that is supposed to be natural and beautiful often isn’t. I too was another one that fought and struggled to breast feed. Although I preserved, it wasn’t without many sleepless teary nights.

    Let us unite and remind celebrities – just because you think you know it all, take a look around and remember there are millions of others that may know different!

  11. BoysRule says:

    Great post. I had the same problem with my first. He DID NOT in any way want my breast. Even the nurses at the breast feeding clinic admitted defeat after what felt like my hundreth visit. Boy #2 LOVED to breastfeed. Too bad I got an infection from my C-Section and couldn’t breastfeed until some nasty drugs were out of my system. Oh yeah after the drugs my production was next to nil. I would have loved to breastfeed but it didn’t work out for me. In my case it wasn’t even a choice I made – it was made for me. And I somehow still was made to feel guilty about it.

Trackbacks

  1. […] very best start in life due to breastfeeding, I get a pang. I think of my own two children who I weaned very early and it makes me sad; but is it the fault of the breastfeeding mother? Is she talking about breastfeeding specifically […]

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