Lactation Lyrics #2

A follow-up from yesterday’s post, with some more offerings from the gang, plus one of mine.

People might make light of it, like this poem does, I think women who’ve been bullied and harangued over infant feeding and other mothering choices never really get over it.

I have a nipple as red as rose, 
and after breastfeeding the redder it goes.
I want to be an eco goddess 
but scabby, oozing nipples are sure to depress.
So I've bought some new bottles and now I'm all smiles, 
and now my nipples don't resemble piles.

The idea that breast milk cures all ills, at an individual health level and now at a planetary level, has caused a few eye rolls over the last couple of years for me – expressed nicely here:

Global temps are rising
The world has gone to shit
Our one last hope is all on you
To pour some breast milk on it

And not to mention this is another thing that women have to do to save the world – it’s all up to me. That pressure is full-on and damaging.

Here’s my offering. Dare me to enter it into the competition?

Lactation Lament 

You tell me
To save the world
with me breasts.
It's all up to me,
All of it,
There's to be no rest.

Don't feed him that poison
wrapped in plastic.
Natural breast milk - 
the benefits are fantastic.
Formula will make him thick,
and fat, and sick. 

You should try harder - 
it's what nature intended, you know.
He's getting enough,
it just doesn't snow.
I loved every minute,
it was easy for me though.

Maybe I was just better at it than you?
And what about the planet?
All those poor cows?

Well, what about me? 
Pumping all night,
Stuffing in the calories,
all those oats and almonds.
And the electricity.
Is that all carbon-free?

Failure to thrive, 
that's what they used to call it, 
when babies died.
We need less humans,
maybe this is the answer.
Survival of the fittest.

 Is that what you meant? No?
Maybe think before you speak.
You're the one
Who needs to try harder
To respect mothers' choices
And babies' rights to eat. 

I will be angry about this forever, I think. But I’ll write about something else tomorrow.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Lactation Lyrics #1

(Yes, really).

Ok, so bear with me if this seems a bit weird. It’s World Breastfeeding Week soon – honestly I feel like there’s about five of these per year, but anyway. The focus this year is on the impact of infant feeding on climate change and the environment. The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action take the position that breastfeeding is unequivocally better for the health of the planet and its people and therefore should be heavily promoted, in these times of climate crisis.

There was a particularly unhelpful article in the BMJ about this last year, which really irritated me, so I wrote this on my other blog, which remains the most frequently-read thing I have ever written. The issue seems to be raising its head again in the media, due in my view to the folks who are determined to promote breastfeeding at all costs grabbing onto the topicality of environmental issues with both hands, as yet another stick with which to beat the mothers of the planet.

Anyway, there’s a breastfeeding support organisation inviting people to write poems for a competition to celebrate the connection between breastfeeding and the benefits to the environment. A group of anonymous friends of mine have come up with a few poems which might help to explain to these folks that things perhaps aren’t quite as binary as they may seem.

(Because – and this is a quick run-down of a very complicated issue – not all women can breastfeed, not all babies can breastfeed, not all women want to breastfeed and they’re entitled to bodily autonomy, the environmental claims are extremely tenuous and adding a whole heap more guilt onto women in a society where mother shaming is an international sport is not very bloody helpful, actually).

So here’s a selection of lactation lyrics by some angry folks, for your delectation. One from me to follow tomorrow.

Roses are red,
Breastfeeding made me blue,
It wasn't worth doing
To save a bit of CO2

Nipples are red,
Breast milk is white,
Sleep is for the weak,
You must feed all night

There once was a lady from Rye,
Who perceived insufficient supply,
She tried triple feeding
til her nipples were bleeding,
The midwife just told her she lie.

There once was a lady from Boston,
Who never formed any colostrum,
The matter was pressing,
So she tried hand expressing,
Cos Aptimel really would cost ‘em

Lactation haikus

On breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is hard
I will not do it again
It nearly killed me

A haiku on humans and our general propensity for world fuck- uppery, breastfed or not

If your kid isn't
Greta, they're likely bad for
the environment.

Advice to new parents in World Breastfeeding Week

Parent, don't listen
It's not your burden to bear
Just feed your baby

And the final word on it:

Breastfed or formula,
the baby will rejoice.
Stop judging others 
and respect a mother's choice. 

CAVEAT: I’m not anti-breastfeeding and nor are any of my friends and allies who I discuss these matters with. If a woman wants to breastfeed and it doesn’t negatively impact her physical and mental health, and the baby is getting enough to eat, great. If healthcare professionals can offer support to enable this to happen safely, great.

But, coercive “support” is not ok. Spurious, unscientific claims about the benefits of breast milk – either at individual, societal or environmental level are not helpful. Parent shaming based on feeding decisions is not acceptable. Babies starving due to formula being demonised and withheld is criminal.

Photo by Luma Pimentel on Unsplash