Is Breastfeeding Mandatory for Mothers?

Last week we started a discussion about women breastfeeding in public. I interviewed to women who said that they love breastfeeding. They told us that at some point, it just makes practical sense.

But what about mothers who can’t breastfeed? Should they receive criticism for bottle feeding? There is more than one side to this discussion. Here’s how Erin Strange feels about bottle feeding.

I don’t breastfeed. Shortly after Elliott’s birth I realized that I wasn’t producing enough milk. He was jaundiced and his numbers continued to rise even after the typical peak days. In order to get the jaundice out of his system and avoid light therapy, we had to supplement with formula. I am producing about 4oz daily, and we were trying to breastfeed while supplementing, but he rejected the breast and became frustrated. In order to get him to eat we had to bottle feed. I still pump daily and give him the 4oz I get.

I am really insecure about the fact that I’ve got to bottle feed. People close to me have been supportive when they know that I’m unable to breastfeed, but it’s hard to be asked all the time if I’m breastfeeding and then feel like I have to explain why I’m not. [Read more...]

Should Breastfeeding Be Allowed in Public? (Part 2)

erin durbanLast week I started a discussion about the debate over breastfeeding in public. I shared a story from Maureen Shaw, one of the Feminists for Choice writers. Today I am sharing the experience that Erin Durban has had with breastfeeding.

Breast feeding is the best option for me and my baby. The primary reason I chose breast feeding was because of the immunities and health benefits that babies get from milk. As we both worked really hard the first month to get breast feeding established, I kept that in the forefront of my mind. However, there are so many other benefits to breast feeding: intimacy, convenience (once everyone gets a hang of it), and cost savings since formula is so expensive. It certainly isn’t easy, though, and I know there are a lot of good reasons why other folks do not breast feed. We were lucky to have a lot of support from our birth center, my partner, my sister and brother-in-law, and our friends. I know that has made a huge difference in terms of being able to continue breast feeding.  [Read more...]

Should Breastfeeding Be Allowed in Public? (Part 1)

Last week Elin and Hennie discussed a Youtube video of mothers breastfeeding in public. Those mothers received death threats in the video’s comments section, and the video has subsequently been removed from Youtube.

Some mothers in Indiana staged a nurse-in and breastfed their babies outside of a pizza restaurant where a mother had previously been ask to leave because she had breastfed on her previous visit to the restaurant.

There is obviously a lot of controversy about breastfeeding in public, but there is also a debate about whether women should breastfeed at all. I interviewed three women to ask them what breastfeeding means to them. These stories show that there are many sides to the debate. [Read more...]

Julie Stephens Talks Postmaternal Thinking

Feminist Conversations is a regular series here at Feminists for Choice. Today we are talking to Julie Stephens, author of Confronting Postmaternal Thinking: Feminism, Memory and CareJulie Stephens, about the book and the concept of postmaternalism.

1. What inspired you to write Confronting Postmaternal Thinking?

Initially, I was inspired by re-reading Sara Ruddick’s Maternal Thinking: Toward a Politics of Peace, almost twenty years after its publication. I was struck by the contrast between the wonderful promise of Ruddick’s notion of maternal thinking as a different way of seeing, knowing, and acting in the world that fostered non-violence and peace, and the reality, twenty years later, of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the dominance of social policies that were cruel to those most vulnerable.

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Book Review: Rebel Moms

I’m not a mom yet, and don’t plan on becoming one for years. However, like many women today I’m already worrying about the dreaded “having it all”: how will I combine a career and child-rearing and what will happen to my life once I decide to reproduce and bring forth little humans who my husband and I will be completely responsible for? The book “Rebel Moms” edited by Davina Rhine perhaps provides some answers to these questions, which perplex so many of us (also increasingly men as well – yay for equality or boo – for today’s society where it seems to be so hard for everyone to have a family?).

The moms in Rebel Moms are all self-described “counter-culture” women with fascinating life stories. They do awesome things – they’re activists, writers, teachers, tattoo artists, professional bassists and actresses. No 9-till-5 corporate jobs for these ladies! They all stayed true to their (mostly) non-consumerist, non-mainstream ideals through their pregnancies and beyond and live to tell the tale. It was truly inspiring to read about so many women who are moms and don’t stop being themselves, even if who they are doesn’t fit with what society tells us mom “should” look and behave like. [Read more...]

Pro-choice News Roundup

Politics of Motherhood: Spaces of Resistance. The Iranian

Anti-choice group targets women Googling ‘abortion.’ Floridian Independent

Take your foot off my neck. RH Reality Check.

Strauss-Kahn’s “invisible” alleged victim gets French feminists’ support. Bloomberg.

Are the Girl Scouts pro-abortion? Salon.

Abortion in Film: Waitress

To quote Gloria Feldt, “Media portrayals, real or fictional, don’t merely inform us — they form us.” In this series, I will be examining five films – classic, mainstream, independent, foreign, and pre-Roe – and five television shows – daytime soap, drama, pre-Roe, critically lauded, and teen-oriented – that address unexpected pregnancy, to examine how past portrayals can influence and reflect society’s view of abortion.

Oh, I so wanted to like Waitress. I have a soft spot for independent films, a long-standing affection for Keri Russell, a love of pie, and a Southern heritage. So really, all the elements were in place for me to love this movie.

Instead, I became so frustrated with how the lives of three small-town waitresses were depicted that I turned the movie off halfway through and only finished watching because I kept hoping that at some point, Russell would turn to the screen, wink, and say, “Just kidding!” Because really, how else to account for a film in which the main character staunchly continues a pregnancy after flatly and repeatedly stating that it will ruin her life, and one of her friends not only falls in love with an almost-cartoonishly creepy man who promises to stalk her until she will marry him – but does, indeed, marry him? [Read more...]

What Can the Octomom Teach Us About Choice?

octo-momGuest writer Shanman is a queer trans boi working on a PhD in Women’s Studies. He is interested in constructions of motherhood, queer theory, and Wii Punch Out. His dog is his best friend. Shanman regularly blogs at Transgrad.

What does choice mean? When we talk about choice are we only speaking about abortion or does choice encompass more than access to abortion? I believe that reproductive choice not only means that female-bodied people can terminate a pregnancy if they desire to but also includes the right to reproduce.

Commentary about the recent Octomom documentary about Nadya Suleman suggests that the decision to reproduce is one that only certain (read: economically stable, responsible, and mentally “healthy”) people should be able to make. In response to the question “What do you think of the ‘Octomom’ documentary?” one Los Angeles Times reader responded, “I did not watch and I do not care! Everybody knows that she’s a loser and all of her kids should be fostered out to some good families, sorry to say. But for their future, it has to be done. They have no future staying with this woman!” This comment and the many others like it suggests that reproductive freedom is about much more than abortion.

Francis Kissling expressed a similar sentiment earlier this month in a article where she argues that it is better morally for a poor ignorant woman to have an abortion then to have a baby (I am paraphrasing, of course). She does not tell her readers what a poor smart woman or rich ignorant woman should do with an unintended pregnancy, perhaps for Kissling these kinds of women do not exist. [Read more...]

Older Mothers Face Critics, Older Fathers Face Comics

older momThe oldest mother to give birth died last week at the age of 69. Maria Bousada de Lara’s twin boys are not quite 3 years old. Her death has revived a debate about how old is too old to become a new parent. Many people have suggested that having a child in your 50’s and 60’s is detrimental because of the extreme age difference and potential health risks.

 Actually, let me be more specific. Many people have suggested that becoming a mother in your 50s and 60s is selfish. They face accusations of being irresponsible and acting in their own self-interest. I find the charge of selfishness to be the most disheartening because it doesn’t make sense. A woman wanting a child to love and care for seems very unselfish to me. It is much more physically taxing for an older woman to have a baby, not to mention the expense that comes with fertilization treatments. It is hard to believe someone would put pressure on their body and wallets for the “selfish” act of motherhood.

 However, there has never been much talk about fathers of this age being selfish. In fact, when men in their 60s and even 70s become fathers it is usually met with a few raised eyebrows, several jokes and some compliments on their virility. 
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