The Pressure to Breastfeed Is Getting Out of HandS

If you don't breastfeed your child (exclusively, and for a very long time) then you are an uneducated, selfish piece of shit who sucks at being a mother and doesn't love her baby enough to not bottle-feed it the equivalent of rat poison. Or at least, that's the way all this pro-breastfeeding sentiment is beginning to feel. As advocates groups are laying it on thick and public policy is being created, new mothers are being shamed into turning to prescription drugs—a drastic, dangerous measure—to produce more milk.

Women who have difficulty with breastfeeding often turn to lactation consultants, who, by the nature of their job, are so dedicated to the philosophy of "breast is best" that they're encouragement can sometimes border on browbeating. Your baby isn't latching on? Keep at it. Your nipples are bleeding? Keep at it. You're frustrated and losing your mind? Keep at it. Because anything is better than formula. (Despite recent studies that find that formula isn't the boogieman we've been told it is.)

One common problem for new moms is poor milk production, meaning that her body is unable to provide enough breast milk to adequately nourish her child. According to The Daily Beast, lactation consultants are recommending prescription medication actually meant for gastrointestinal distress that they say increases prolactin, the hormone responsible for breast-milk production. But they have serious health risks.

The two most popular drugs, according to medical and lactation experts, are Reglan, which has been found in rare cases to cause an irreversible facial muscle-spasm condition, and Domperidone, which is not FDA-approved and mostly found via Canadian online pharmacies. One of Reglan's side effects, according to the FDA, is depression-a condition some new mothers are already at risk of.

The drugs, and the risks they carry, are just another example of the extreme lengths to which nursing moms are willing to go. Some pump their breasts every few hours, setting their alarms for the middle of the night. Some buy breast milk from strangers on an unregulated black market. Others sacrifice their careers or their sanity. It's all part of this new mindset that has elevated breastfeeding from "an ideal option for new mothers to a mandatory prerequisite for ‘good' parenthood," as The Atlantic's Gayle Tzemach Lemmon says. And it's stressing new moms out.

The irony is that much of this pressure is coming from progressives and feminists. The excuse is that they want to educate women on the benefits of breastfeeding. But assuming that women who bottle-feed are just ignorant and don't know any better is pedantic and undermines not only their intelligence, but the choice that they made for their own bodies.

Women's bodies are sacrosanct. Whether it's abortion or promiscuity or rape or fat-shaming, we don't want anyone making decisions or laws or even having opinions on what we choose to do or don't do with them. Why shouldn't those tenets extend to breastfeeding?

Image via Valua Vitaly/Shutterstock

Breastfeeding Pills' Risky Results [The Daily Beast]