Sunday, 4 July 2010

Topics that bring out the worst in mothers - Breastfeeding, immunisation, circumcision, controlled crying

An article in UK's Mother and Baby recently brought outrage to mothers around the world when the deputy editor decide to write about why she bottle fed.

Under the headline “I formula fed. So what?”, Kathryn Blundell says in this month’s Mother & Baby that she bottlefed her child from birth because “I wanted my body back. (And some wine)… I also wanted to give my boobs at least a chance to stay on my chest rather than dangling around my stomach.”
She goes on to say: “They’re part of my sexuality, too – not just breasts, but fun bags. And when you have that attitude (and I admit I made no attempt to change it), seeing your teeny, tiny, innocent baby latching on where only a lover has been before feels, well, a little creepy.”
She concedes that “there are all the studies that show [breastfeeding] reduces the risk of breast cancer for you, and stomach upsets and allergies for your baby. But even the convenience and supposed health benefits of breast milk couldn’t induce me to stick my nipple in a bawling baby’s mouth.”
She continues: “I don’t think I’m the only one, either – only 52 per cent of mums still breastfeed after six weeks. Ask most of the quitters why they stopped and you’ll hear tales of agonising three-hour feeding sessions and – the drama! – bloody nipples. But I often wonder whether many of these women, like me, just couldn’t be fagged or felt like getting tipsy once in a while.”

 Now I bet there are lots of people out there who think as she does.  And of course there are those that are totally outraged by the whole idea.  Nothing brings out the worst in people like breastfeeding.  However I think a lot of people are just like me - yeah, it's good to breastfeed but you shouldn't condemn or pick on those who choose to formula feed.  Sometimes the breastfeeding nazis really can be quite annoying.

It is not surprising that men agree.  After all they feel like they were there first, they should belong to them!  Is there something sexual to breastfeeding?  I admit myself, then when I first did it, I felt a bit awkward - after all would I be turned on by breastfeeding like I am if a lover is at my breast?  The thought of that made me uncomfortable.  But after breastfeeding both my children a little over the 6 month stage, I have to say that I didn't really have that sort of feeling.  There would have to be an emotional component to whoever is at your breast to make it erotic or sexual.  After all, running a hand down someone's back can be immensely erotic but if you do it to a friend or a child, it's not the same thing.  The same goes for the breast I think.  Holding your child's hand as you cross the road is not the same feeling you get as you hold your lover's hand as you stroll in a park.  But there are limitations when you're breastfeeding - stimulating the breast when you're full of milk ends up in messy leaky situations - such that you'd have to make sure you've "milked yourself" before you go around for some horseplay.  Which of course can sometimes kill the mood - "Oh wait, let me empty my breasts first before we.. you know..." Hehe.

Immunisation - another topic bound to have people on both sides of the fence hurling insults at one another.  Though I tend to be in the proimmunisation camp - a bit hard not to be when you're in the medical profession.  Sometimes these people who carry on about how vaccinations can be bad for you... people in 3rd world countries are amazed that we can have something for free which prevents the complications that you can get from major childhood illnesses and they wish they could have it.  But I have to admit I have had the occasional (well maybe more frequent than that) thought about wishing that an epidemic would wipe through Australia and those who were immunised were protected from it and those who were not had serious disabilities or died from it.  Harsh yes, but sometimes I do think it serves them right for being so silly about the whole thing.

Circumcision is something I've never though was barbaric - after all, I'm an anaesthetist and the procedure is done under general anaesthesia and they are given good analgesia at the end.  Maybe people are misinformed as to why circumcisions are performed?  I know there are religious reasons for Muslims and Jews but as long as they do it humanely I don't think there is an issue.  Look at all the phimoses that occur, gosh you wouldn't want to be uncircumicised and have problems when you're older.  Of course if you're doing it without analgesia/anaesthetic I think that's a terrible thing and I agree that should be condemned.

Controlled crying is one of those things that some people really hate but for some people is a blessing.  Those who are against it say that you're torturing your child and you're an uncaring parent.  I don't think that though, for some people it is a necessary thing which leads to salvation of their sanity.  Sometimes babies cry because they want attention, even after everything is done for them.  And you need to break them of bad sleeping habits. 

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