Thursday, July 06, 2006

The catagory overlooked

It's gets very frustrating having to explain yourself all the time when people ask you, "are you breastfeeding?"

I used to be quite honest about it, and say, "no, but I use a breast pump, so he gets breast milk." But this only led to more questions, some of them very personal, some of them very touchy for me. I understood that people were curious, but sometimes, the questions and comments were more than I could bear.
So after a while, when strangers asked me, I would lie and say yes, I'm breastfeeding. Because I figured, what they really wanted to know was whether I was giving him breast milk. Only my friends knew what was really going on. Most of them thought I was nuts, by the way.

When a woman is researching ways to feed her baby, she is presented with two options: breastfeeding and formula feeding. That's it. The books on breastfeeding might have a small section on pumping and storing breastmilk, but it seems like all the information is geared toward women who are pumping only to increase their milk supply for breastfeeding, or only have to pump for a short period of time, or only pump at work. The rest of the time she's breastfeeding. There's no advice for women who are pumping exclusively.

Likewise, most information on bottle feeding assumes that you are feeding your baby formula. Because, of course, if you were feeding your baby breast milk, it would be coming from the breast, wouldn't it?

When I am out in public, and giving Darth D. a bottle of breast milk, people assume it's formula. This has led to some very uncomfortable comments from well-intentioned but extremely nosy people.

Comments like:
"Do you know that you should keep the bottle in a ice bag?"
Actually, freshly expressed breast milk can be kept at room temperature for at least four hours. Now stop looking in my bag.
"He's so young. You didn't want to breastfeed?"
Yes I did, bitch. I tried. You have no idea. You think this is easier?
"It's good your bottle feeding. Then your husband can help."
Oh? Can he pump for me?

I wish there was more, I don't know, awareness out there about moms like me. But I guess mostly I wish there was a nicer way of saying to people I am doing the most I can to do the best I can for my baby. Now go away and leave me alone.


Blogger Epiphany Alone said...

I found your blog through Cecily's. I am a pumping mom too. We are overlooked...even the medical professionals don't really understand what or why we do it.

My baby is 7 weeks old and has latch problems because of a short fenicula. She's still trying though. I am impressed with her tenacity.

I completely agree with you, and started answering "yes, I breastfeed exclusively" and then let people give me weird looks when I take out the bottle. Because, yes, she drinks only breastmilk...well except at the beginning when she had a failure to thrive diagnosis or week 2 when I was on cipro for a kidney infection...

9:34 AM  
Blogger pumpingmom said...

My first comment, yay! I have to go thank Cecily!
I'm so sorry about your baby's latch problems. I hope they are resolved soon. Meanwhile, ignore the looks. It's none of their business.

11:00 AM  
Blogger liz said...

I too found your blog through Cecily and can I just say:


I pumped for 9 months (breast milk bottles during the day, formula at night) and it is hard to explain it.

I just said to nosy parkers, "It's breast milk in the bottle. He prefers never to eat anything bigger than his head."

It usually got them to regret their nosiness.

9:31 PM  
Blogger pumpingmom said...

Liz, you are so funny!

12:08 PM  

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