And they call me a breastfeeding nazi...

I am a breastfeeding counsellor.  I talk with women (and fathers, and grandmas....) every day... on the phone, in their homes, at public meetings, at the school gate about feeding their babies.  I have researched for many years; books, articles, conferences, formal study, on and offline info for hours to find solutions and suggestions for women with feeding issues.  I listen to their struggles, cringe at their physical and emotional pain, cry with them, make food for them, encourage, endorse and empower them to make informed choices, because a choice is only a choice if you have more than one option.

And yes I know how hard breastfeeding can be, and that it doesn't work for some, and that it's not the right choice for everyone because I face it daily.  I walk it, I talk it, I learn it, and I might just know something about something.  And yes I am equally mortified with criticism of any parent for just going about the business of feeding their baby – equally mortified with any tsk tsk attitude towards parental choices.

Yep - I am fairly passionate about families and their babies.  Sometimes I even get angry and righteous in my fervor.  I get angry at the doctor who has been wined and dined by multinational companies and gives formula samples instead of a referral or decent advice to a woman who has gone to them for help.  I get angry at formula companies who, driven by huge markets where the only competitor is human milk, engage in immoral and undermining marketing practises.  This happens not only in third world countries where it is a life or death decision, but here too, where it is true that the cost of formula on the health system is phenomenal, which is why the MOH care so much (for those who care about such things, I don’t need to list my references, just google ‘cost of formula on the health system’).  Understanding the macro-economics of health policy and having respect for the choices of parents are not mutually exlcusive.  I also get a little uptight with the odd health professional who has fed the baby a bottle in the hospital without giving the mother the full story on the possible effects of that one bottle, who is now crying on the other end of the phone, beside herself with shredded nipples and a baby who won’t feed properly. I get marginally miffed with the media whose job is to spin an angle, not present the balanced truth, who in their job of 'freedom of speech' make my job more difficult, and make me out to be the bad guy.

Yep - I get cross.  But NEVER at the mothers and fathers who love their babies and are doing their darndest to work out nurturing, feeding, choices and life with their babies who didn’t come with manuals – just the tools (cuteness and crying) to get their needs met.  To them I say kia kaha... stand strong in your choices for your families.  And turn off the tv.

So decide for yourself.  That’s pretty much my point of view in four paragraphs.  If that makes me a fanatic, so be it.  If that makes me a breastfeeding fascist, then I guess there are worse things I could be.


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