Has it really been two years since I first posted this? It seems particularly timely to repost it in light of the ongoing debate about attachment parenting.
How many times have we heard this? A lactivist, birth activist, attachment parenting proponent who insists:
Honestly, I don’t understand why other mothers think that I am judging them. If they want to raise their children by doing whatever is easiest for them instead of what’s best for their babies, that’s their decision and I don’t question it. I understand that some women love their jobs more than their children, and, after all, who wouldn’t if she had some fancy-pants career where she made tons of money. It probably makes more sense to her to put money ahead of her children’s well being.
Take my next door neighbor, for example. She makes oodles of money practicing law and leaves her baby each and every day in the care of strangers. I am impressed that her baby welcomes her home by reaching out to her, smiling and giggling. Fortunately, nature designed babies to recognize their mothers, no matter how little time those mothers spend caring for their children.
I’ll admit that I finder it harder to understand how women who aren’t even working give up on breastfeeding so easily, or refuse to allow their children to sleep in the family bed. What’s so valuable about their time or convenience anyway? But I keep my opinion to myself. I don’t let on that I am perfectly aware that there is no such thing as a breastfeeding difficulty that can’t be overcome with enough love and dedication. When other women claim they had a low milk supply or that breastfeeding was excruciatingly painful, I merely feel sad that they never had the unique opportunity to bond with their children that only breastfeeding offers.
And when it comes to childbirth, how can I possibly judge other women who haven’t taken the time to educate themselves the way that I have? I’ve read Henci Goer’s book three times, and Ina May Gaskin is my idol. Everyone knows that the first step to becoming educated on a topic is to join an internet message board. If I hadn’t joined the message boards at Mothering.com, I probably wouldn’t have known that birth is inherently safe and that all that stuff about “risk” was made up by doctors trying to steal business from midwives.
The uneducated women who don’t understand this can’t be blamed for acting like birth is some sort of disease and needs to take place in a hospital. Of course they give in and get an epidural at the drop of a hat because they don’t realize that there’s a difference between good pain and bad pain. And they don’t even understand the real risks of epidurals.
Oh, and don’t accuse me of looking down on women who’ve had C-sections. Sure, they didn’t actually give birth, and they have missed out on the peak experience of a woman’s life, but is that their fault? I know that almost all C-sections are unnecessary, but those poor women actually think that the C-section “saved” their baby’s life.
I don’t judge them, but I do think that I have a responsibility to open their eyes to the ways in which they have been misled. It would be wrong for me to refrain from enlightening them merely because it might hurt their feelings. Women need to understand that anyone who thinks her C-section was “medically necessary” is being duped by those who seek to medicalize childbirth for their own benefit.
Many women don’t realize it, but if they had more encouragement, they’d happily do what’s best for their babies. That’s why I tell my birth story to everyone, whether they want to hear it or not. It may seem unbelievable, but it’s often the very first time they’ve heard that they could have been empowered like me if only they’d made the same decisions I made.
And let’s face it, women don’t get enough encouragement to breastfeed. Some women actually think that a baby who is fed artificial milk (formula) can be as healthy as a baby fed with breast milk as nature intended. I consider it my duty to broadcast the dangers of formula feeding far and wide. It’s unfortunate that we have to scare mothers into doing what’s best by exaggerating the benefits of breastfeeding, but everyone knows that the ends justify the means.
Please do not accuse me of judging those other mothers who don’t love their children as much as I love mine. I’m well aware that different ways of mothering are right for different families. Of course women who are obsessed with their own convenience find that bottle feeding is right for them and their families. Obviously women who have been duped by doctors into fearing birth are going find that hospital birth is right for them. And inevitably those who aren’t really attached to their children are not going to be comfortable with attachment parenting.
I just want to be clear:
To those women who haven’t really given birth because they’ve had a C-section, to those women who gave in to the pain and got an epidural, to anyone who doesn’t understand that only breastfed babies are truly bonded to their mothers …
I am so not judging you.
This piece is satire.