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CBB Exclusive: Best for Babes™ interviews fitness superstar Gabrielle Reece about breastfeeding

05/10/2008 at 08:00 AM ET

by Bettina Forbes, CLC, and Danielle Rigg, JD, CLC, Co-Founders, www.bestforbabes.com

Gabriellereece_cbb3Named by ESPN as one of the world’s sexiest athletes, Gabrielle Reece has been a role model to many women and is admired for her incredible strength, tenacity and femininity. Gabby is a hands-on mom and has a hot career: she is a professional athlete, model, sports presenter, Nike™ spokesperson, and Yahoo! health writer, and she has several new fitness videos to help pregnant moms get and stay strong. Yet, she still manages to stay grounded and put first things first.

Best for Babes (BFB), a non-profit dedicated to changing the perception of breastfeeding and revealing and removing the Breastfeeding Booby Traps™, is thrilled to have Gabby Reece as the first BFB Breastfeeding Celebrity Role-Model.™ Because so many women are being set up to fail, despite their best intentions, we are working with celebrities to benefit new moms—to inspire them, cheer them on, and help educate them about the barriers, myths and misinformation that trip women up. BfB is putting pressure on the barriers, not on the women who are trying so hard to succeed!

In this interview, Gabby generously shares personal and intimate details about her breastfeeding experience.  We caught up with Gabby while she was nursing her second daughter, 4-month-old Brody Jo (she is also mother to 4-year-old Reece Viola and 12-year-old step-daughter Bella). At the end of the interview are BfB’s key tips that you can use to make breastfeeding work for you (footnoted like this). Click Continue Reading for the interview!

Photos: Jamie McCarthy/WireImage.com, Splash News, Andy Fossum/Startraks, Frazer Harrison/Getty Images, licensed for use by Celebrity Baby Blog Inc. on celebrity-babies.com

Note: Please keep your comments limited to those specifically about this interview, not our lack of coverage of bottlefeeding.

Gabrielle Reece, Laird Hamilton, Brody Jo and Reece ViolaBefore you had kids, did you have any exposure to breastfeeding?

To be totally honest, when I was in my mid-20’s, I only had onefriend that I was close to that had a baby. At that time, my perceptionwas that it slows you down and I didn’t really connect to it. (1)

So what changed, after your first child was born?

My motivation has always been health — eating healthy andtaking care of myself. When you are about to become a parent, you havethis idea that any way that you can give your child an opportunity tobe healthy, you want to do it, and because it is so logical to me,again, that it’s from nature, the same as the food that I try to eat,it just made sense to me.

Then as I became involved with[breastfeeding] it became about a bunch of other things — the bondingtime, for example. Sometimes it’s not easy because you’re the only onewho can feed the baby — at first. I did feel if I was able, and mybaby was willing, it was a responsibility that I welcomed. It justfeels like, in a sense, when [I’m breastfeeding], that on anintellectual level, on a cellular level, on a spiritual level, it makesa lot of sense to me.

And it’s an opportunity that is fleeting, it’s a really shortwindow, they grow and they’re out of here. So for me, the breastfeedingwas really a discovery. Quite frankly I sort of thought, oh god, if Ican get through these six months, because I was really committed to thehealth idea, and then it turned out that I breastfed my first child for23 months. (2)

Gabrielle Reece and Reece ViolaDid you do anything to prepare yourself for breastfeeding?You’re obviously extremely health and fitness conscious, but did you doanything like read up on it, or take a class?

No, not really, but I talked to my "honey line:" the women Irespect and admire and have confidence in. There’s one thing I’m reallyadamant about, especially when it comes to childbirth, orbreastfeeding, is don’t be around anyone who isn’t sensitive orsupportive of who you are or what you’re doing, so if you’re pregnant,and you’re self-conscious of your size, and someone says, "Wow, you’rereally getting huge," then don’t be around those people. If someonesays, "Wow, the baby is growing really well, and you look great;" thenyeah, hang around those people!

If you’re going to breastfeed, thenonly be around people who are going to support you and nurture you at atime when you are very vulnerable and you need to provide so much tosomeone else, this new little life. And be aware, because the differentpeople around us have such a huge impact, and you don’t realize howthey can get to you … for example, if your sister disapproves, thatcan discourage you or affect you, and you can’t have any of that aroundyou.

And I don’t even care if it’s your own mother; until you find yourown way, I think you only need to be around people who are like, “Whatcan I do to help you? You’re doing a great job, whatever it is”because you will kick yourself later, thinking “I really wanted to dothis, and I got frustrated because everyone around me wasn’tencouraging me so I gave up.” And if it means temporarily suspendingrelationships, so be it. (3)

Did you need any help learning to breastfeed?

When my first daughter came, I did have a lactation consultantcome to the house one day. I think what happens, especially in thosefirst three days and for your first baby, is that you tend to worrybecause you’re making colostrum only and you can’t see it. But thensomeone said to me, well, is she peeing? It’s important to have thereassurance of being told that if the baby is peeing, and the meconiumis coming out, that she is doing well.

(Rule of thumb: In the firstweek, exclusively breastfed newborns should have at least one urine forevery day they are old, i.e. one pee in the first day, two in thesecond, and they should eliminate the meconium by day 3-4 and stoolsshould transition from black to brown to yellowish brown at thatpoint.—BfB.)

These are little clues that you need to know, to know thatthe baby is getting something and it’s okay, it’s good! I’m a bigbeliever in not overthinking things, because I think within stillness,there are answers and an opportunity to live. (4)

Gabrielle Reece and Reece Viola

Was there anything about your breastfeeding experience that came as a surprise to you?

I really thought I was going to be less nurturing than I am andI was surprised how much I enjoyed it. There is nothing like having ababy with their little legs wrapped around you while you are nursingthem!

I think that it’s become part of our culture, where we put ourkids in the stroller, and they zone out, and we zone out, and Iactually think that the more you hold them, the more you have themclose to you, the better for their long-term development. So I wasreally surprised at how much I enjoyed it, I didn’t mind it, whenoriginally I had thought I’d put my time in and then I’d be done.Instead, it turned out that I breastfed my first child for 23 months.

People have this perception that your one and a half year old is alwayson the boob, when really they may only be on at night before bedtime,for comfort, and to continue to boost their immune system. As they getolder, they breastfeed less. I think more women need to realize thatwithin the time you are breastfeeding, there will be different stagesand degrees of it, that it is always changing, and that you’ll be ableto have your freedom, and still be breastfeeding.

So in my experience,every woman should tailor it to her experience and her preferences,there are 100 right ways to do it. You can escape to go to the gym, youcan pump, go back to work. Some women want to slow down and sit in aquiet room and nurse; other women are on the phone and working andchasing two kids and getting it done.

So no hiccups or bumps?

Not really. But that’s just how it was for me. I kind of thinkit’s like other things I had experienced, when I have had a lot ofpredisposed negative emotions and anxieties, chances are, that’s howit’s going to go. And I didn’t know how it was going to go, so it washard for me to have positive emotions — it’s not like I was thinking“hurray, I’m going to breastfeed.” But I was open to it. I think ifyou’re thinking, I don’t know, like, are they going to want me all thetime? Am I going to have time for myself? Are they going to pull mybreast, and blah, blah, blah … then you’re doomed.

But I think ifyou’re excited, if you can do that, then good for you — I wasn’t one ofthose people, but I did say, okay, I’m going to try my best, and seewhat happens. And I have found it to be such a delightful experience!Also, it’s
an opportunity, a lot of the time when your baby is upset,you can comfort them so easily. Of course, it’s not the answer all thetime, but a lot of the time, it works out pretty well!

Yeah, it’s like the magic bullet.

Right! My husband even told me that if he could give milk and calm the baby down then he would be worthy!

Laird Hamilton and Brody JoSo your husband (pro surfer Laird Hamilton) was totally on board with it.

Yes, Laird was supportive. But I think women need to besensitive when they are nursing because during this time there is sucha strong mother/child bond. I think by making time to give my husband alittle undivided attention once in a while, it helped him be moresupportive of breastfeeding.

You know, a lot of men get neglected inthe whole birth process, the baby comes, it’s all about the mother andthe baby, I’ve even seen people not congratulate the dad!

Having a babyis an adjustment for husbands too, and they might be thinking, whatabout me, and what about my wife, and when do I get her a little bit tomyself. I think it’s important for women to be a sensitive to that. (5)

Wise words, Gabrielle. We had to go to relationship bootcampto learn a lot of that! Now, talk with us about how you fit fitnessinto your life while nursing.

Taking care of yourself is so important. If I were not strongfrom building workouts into my schedule while breastfeeding, then Icouldn’t do things like walk around while Brody nurses discreetly on meunder a swaddling blanket!

With both kids, I started working out againat 16 days postpartum, but I treated myself with kindness, doing mildworkouts, because my fitness level was lower. After about a month, Iwas putting in 100% effort, and my capacity slowly increased, and nowit’s back to where it was before I had the baby. But my body is alsoconditioned for that. Sometimes women are so eager to get back to thegym, and they try to work out as they had before, and they wonder whythey can’t. After having a baby, you have to learn how to crawl, thenwalk …

With Reece, I would pump and then go to the gym. BeforeBrody (my second daughter) was born, I developed my 15 minute workoutvideos (see www.gotogabby.com)for women like me, who didn’t have a lot of time to spare. You don’tneed more than a ball, dumbells and a step. While I was pregnant withBrody, I also developed a series of 3 workout videos, with 3 workoutseach for total of 9 workouts–one for every month you are pregnant, andthese are real time pregnancy videos.

So you’re helping new moms shift they way they think about working out.

Yes. If you can go to the gym, great, but if you can’t, believeme, you can still get it done. Ultimately, moving your own body isharder than anything else: a machine only works certain parts of yourbody at a time, which can be easier.

You seem like a very grounded person, but did you have anyworries before you had kids? Like, how am I going to make all of thiswork?

Oh, sure, and I think I had more anxiety before my second,thinking about traveling, and trying to work, and trying to have arelationship, and having one more kid, and I remember clearly thinking,how am I going to make this work? I think at a point, it’s a choice youmake, and I try really hard to look around me for positive examples, tofollow those.

Gabrielle Reece and Brody JoHas nursing your second child been any different than nursing your first?

Not that much, but I’ll tell you, I’ve made sure both of my kidslearned how to nurse on the go, as in, when that blanket goes over yourlittle head, you’d better get to work! A lot of time, I don’t have timeto sit still, or put my feet up, so I’ll even nurse while walking, ordoing other things.

A lot of times I’ll be nursing and no one will haveany idea, any clue, that that is what is going on. But this is one ofthose things that you can only do if you take care of yourself first,if you are strong. (6)

Any products you particularly used or liked?

When my activity level is high, I like baby carriers that reallystrap the baby in, but I like the slings too. I used the MedelaPump in Style, which is great. Ialso use coconut oil on their skin.

We’re assuming your kids are really healthy. Do they get sick often?

No, very little, Reece goes to Montessori school now, sosometimes she gets the sniffles from being around other kids, but sofar, knock wood, they’ve been really healthy.

So not a lot of ear infections or tubes in the ear or anything?

No, no, not at all. And Reece is in the water all the time.

Do you have any other words of wisdom for new moms considering or currently breastfeeding?

I look at breastfeeding the same way I look at fitness: it’sabout taking care of yourself. Breastfeeding is a gift you give to yourchild and your child gives to you. I am fortunate, by living in Hawaii,to be living in a culture that is more in tune with nature.

We live inworld that makes it difficult to breastfeed. We live in a world wherewe are getting further and further away from out natures and from whatmakes perfect sense for us. I think breastfeeding, in a way, is one ofthose things.

It’s sort of like, our bodies are designed to keepmoving, and when we don’t move it, we’re not going to feel great.Breastfeeding is similar, in that people don’t realize how good it isgoing to make them feel too. Yeah, sometimes you’re not in the mood,and you’re tired, and of course you’re going to feel those things, andI have too. But it still feels right. Even when you’re irritable andyou’re in a rush, it still feels right.

That was beautifully put. Thank you so much.


BfB Comments:
(1) Being aware of the influences on you as a new mom can be so critical to your breastfeeding success. Coming from a family where you are the first to attempt breastfeeding, or not having seen a baby breastfeeding, are factors which can make it more difficult to succeed. If this describes you, part of your homework before the baby is born, is to start getting acclimated to breastfeeding by putting yourself in places where there are nursing babies: attend a breastfeeding support group, ask a friend if you can observe her feeding her baby. The other part of the preparation is to get in touch with your own feelings about nursing so that you can work through any fears or squeamishness before your baby is born. 

(2) Being inspired and motivated to breastfeed is similar to getting motivated to work out. Find out while you are still pregnant which of breastfeeding’s many attributes excite you and are going to keep you going when you are still in the challenging stage of the first few weeks. For ideas, see www.bestforbabes.com/your-mom-made-wonder-food. For som
e women it’s huge health benefits like a lowered risk of breast cancer for mom and baby (yes, breastfeeding lower’s a baby girl’s risk of breast cancer by 25%!). For others it’s the prospect of fewer dishes, less schlepping to doctor’s visits, and poop that doesn’t stink so much!

(3) The road to breastfeeding success is paved with preparation and support because the hardest time to learn about breastfeeding for the first time is after your baby is born when you are exhausted and vulnerable. So the “honey line” to which Gabrielle turned for inspiration and preparation is a beautiful and smart way to help her gain confidence and information. Ask well-meaning, but ill-informed relatives and friends to refrain from negative comments. And, if you think they are open to it, you can try giving them a bit of evidence-based literature to read. See www.bestforbabes.com/your-mom-made-wonder-food.  Attending a really good prenatal breastfeeding class or breastfeeding support group (such as offered by www.powerofbirth.com) has also been proven to be effective in helping moms get off to a good start and stick with it. The more knowledge and support you have, the more you will be able to get your best game on and hit the ground running!

(4) As Gabrielle illustrated, first time moms tend to be especially anxious before their mature milk comes in (usually between 2 and 5 days) and they need to turn to someone knowledgeable for support (a breastfeeding specialist or peer counselor). Yes, breastfeeding is instinctive – newborns can even crawl to the breast and latch on all by themselves! However, new moms need to understand that nursing is a skill that both mom and baby need to master, and that it takes practice and patience. This is the time period we call the “learning curve” and it usually lasts from a few days to about 4 – 6 weeks. 95% of breastfeeding problems could be avoided if every mom simply had good breastfeeding help to check in with during the early days.  To find a lactation consultant in your area, log on to www.ilca.org.

(5)
Studies show that the support or lack of support from a partner/spouse is the number one influence over a woman’s decision to initiate and continue breastfeeding. So having the “buy in” of your “other half” about the importance of breastfeeding, and having them know what to expect and how to support you, is crucial to your success. You want to be on the same page and you want their loving support from the beginning, especially during the learning curve of the first 4-6 weeks.

(6) A great nursing cover-up can up your confidence while out and about—one of our favorites is the Lilabean cover-up which is well-designed and glamorous too!  See www.lilabean.net.  Plus, a percentage of the proceeds are being donated to support breastfeeding moms!


BestforbabesbreastfeedingverticalBest for Babes™, is the first nonprofit dedicated to changing thepublic perception of breastfeeding and to revealing and removing thebreastfeeding booby traps™ that keep women from succeeding despitetheir best intentions. Myths and misinformation prevail, and today’sgeneration has few breastfeeding role models. That is why Best for Babes™ is working with celebrities to raiseawareness of social and cultural obstacles to breastfeeding, and toprovide inspiration and smart info on how to overcome them.

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Showing 59 comments

Jessica on

What a great interview! She is awesome!

Keila on

That was a great interview…

I have a quick question for all the moms here- I am getting ready to prepare my body for baby number 2…. My daughter is 10 (I had her very young) and now that I am doing it again it really is like I am doing it all for the first time because 10 years have passed. Are there any books that help us PREPARE our bodies BEFORE making babies. I have found a slew on how to when you are pregnant but what about before… ALSO any must have books on making breastfeeding easy.

I breastfed with my daughter for 14 months but the first two weeks were HELL because she had a very hard time latching on… She lost weight and there was 0 sleep and the doctors even told me to give up and go to formula!!!

Thanks

Sarah on

I breastfed my son for 2 years and 1 month til I found out I was pregnant with my 2nd child. I breastfed my daughter for 2 years and 7 months. Of course, both kids ate solid food (rice cereal, etc.) starting at 4 months! It was my personal choice because I am a big advocate on breastfeeding. I enjoyed this interview and it’s nice to read that a celebrity mom breastfed for longer than a few months.

Bren on

GREAT interview!! I respect mothers that choose not to breastfeed, but in my opinion breastfeeding is such a wonderful thing only us women can do.

Gabrielle is right on so many things! I loved this interview!

Eve on

I love to hear celebrities talking about extended breastfeeding, and plan on doing the same (my daughter is only 9 months). I do think it is a little bit naive (slash offensive) to claim the reason breastfeeding came easy is because she was positive. I have always known I wanted to breastfeed, but I had four months of extreme soreness due to blisters and cracked nipples. I do think that being positive helped me stick it out and continue nursing, but I think there is luck involved when you don’t have any breastfeeding obstacles.

shirleyk on

I think this is great that she is such a great role model as a mother. I love reading all the positive information out there about breastfeeding. However, it makes me feel bad. I tried to breastfeed, had a LC come over every day for 2 weeks until my son lost 15% of his weight. My breast reduction made it impossible for me to BF exclusively. I cant begin to explain the guilt I felt about not being able to give him the healthiest option. I still continued to supplement at the breast for 6 months, and am now getting over the guilt.

I think the BFing information is great (and so is Gabby), I just wish the information could be given without making it sound like formula will make your child sick and weak.

Kristen on

I thought this was a great article too, but I must confess it’s really stressful for me to see so many celebrities talk about how easy a process this is. For some women this is EXTRAORDINARILY hard, it is not always “natural”. For some it is a learned skill. I struggled immensely with bfng my daughter. I was frustrated and wanted to quit often, but somehow I persevered and am still bfing her today (she’s almost 11 months old). Primarily because I visited a lactation consultant numerous times. One of the primary reasons I continued was because my daughter was a reflux baby so bm was the easiest thing for her body to process. I gave up all milk products for 7 months as well because she had a milk allergy in addition to the reflux. All her “food issues” have since resolved themselves and I am thrilled that I managed to continue. However, I think that I really didn’t expect it to be so difficult and I wish more celebrities would be upfront about that and we could see both sides.

Elena on

I wish there was more balanced information on this site. I really enjoy reading about the celebrity babies, but I feel like there’s a lot of effort aimed at making women feel bad if they can’t or choose not to breastfeed. Although a lot of celebrity mothers do not breastfeed, I feel that we never hear about them, and when we do, the coverage is judgmental. It’s a personal decision and people should really be more considerate than to impose their views on others.

FC on

I love how she mentioned keeping herself active as far as working out and her energy needed for taking care of Brody and Reece Viola balanced each other out. I just love her style of how she makes things work for her, gym or no gym. I’m the can’t afford pricey gym memberships and making do at home type of person anyway, so I’ll be keeping her tips in mind. ;)

Very insightful read/interview!

Maddie on

wow, thanks for posting that. It ws extremely inspirational, and I don’t even have children yet! I’ve grown up in an extended family with a very strong breastfeeding culture, so am looking forward to nursing my little ones when the time comes. It’s great to see CBB is giving breastfeeding such positive press and is really encouraging new moms. Support and encouragement are vital.

Erika on

What a great interview!!!! I am currently nursing my 21 month old daughter and am having to wean her early due to some issues with my current pregnancy (I am pregnant with high risk identical twins). I was planning on nursing her until she self-weaned, and I find that thinking about weaning her in the next month or two feels TOO SOON for both of us…like it’s not her time. Thank you, GR, for making nursing a toddler seem normal and beautiful! I know it has been for us and I will be very sad for it to end.

Natalie W on

Elena, I’m sorry you feel like coverage here is judgmental. One of the reasons I’ve enjoyed reading this site is because I feel like they strive to make it NOT judgmental, regardless of the celebrity mom’s choices. It’s true that the comments sometimes get peevish, but I don’t think the posts themselves ever judge moms for not bf’ing. In fact, when it is mentioned that someone isn’t bf’ing, the authors often request that commenters refrain from engaging in breast vs. formula debate. Saying that bf’ing is great is NOT the same as saying “moms who formula-feed are bad”.

In response to Keila who asked about books… Not sure about books to prepare your body for pregnancy, but as far as bf’ing books go, I really liked Dr. Sears’ The Breastfeeding Book for general troubleshooting, and The Milk Memos for support in going back to work and pumping.

Keila on

Natalie thank you so much! Much appreciated.

Lucy on

So, when are you going to do an interview with a celebrity about bottle-feeding? I like the site, but your bias on this issue is coming through strong and clear. There are women on this website who can’t or won’t breastfeed – are they less deserving of information that can help them and make their experience easier? Apparently they are.

CelebBabyLover on

Lucy- I am not at all surprised that CBB hasn’t done an interview with a celeb about bottle-feeding, for a very simple reason. Everytime an interview is posted on this site where a celeb mentions choosing to bottle-feed, the celeb gets raked over the coals for it.

I mean, look at all the critcism J-LO got when she revealed that she is choosing to bottle-feed her twins. And that critcism is very likely just the tip of the ice berg! Behind the scenes, the CBB staff probably get thousands of breast vs. bottle comments every time a celeb mentions choosing to bottle-feed their child! Then they have to go through each one and decide which ones to publish and which ones to delete. Personally, that would give me a gigantic headache!

Also, if you want information about bottle-feeding or resources to make it easier, all you have to do is look elsewhere! There are plenty of places on the Internet where you can find out everything you need to know about bottle-feeding.

Personally, I have no problem with CBB being pro-breastfeeding. That is their right, and they aren’t the first, nor will they be the last, to do so. Babytalk Magazine, one of my favorite parenting magazines (I love reading it, even though I’m not a parent at this point!) is also very pro-bfing.

nikki on

I realli enjoy reading this site daily, but I must admit that I agree with the previous comment. The site has become very critical and biased about women who do not breastfeed. I know several mothers who have completely healthy infants and toddlers that are rarely ill, and they did not breat feed. There are many women that have to go back to work after 6 weeks and can’t pump. It’s just sad that so many comments interviews bottle feeding sound terrible.

Ellen on

Interesting interview. The whole initiative to get information out there is noble. Gabriella seems really down-to-earth.

As for the breast-feeding issue, I don’t think the site shouldn’t put this information out there just b/c some people prefer bottle-feeding. Natalie really said it all with her post, I think.

DLR on

I agree with Elena and Lucy. CBB is really great with regards to stuff about breast-feeding and fostering a positive attitude regarding breast-feeding. However as Elena and Lucy pointed out, not all new mums are able to breast-feed even if they want to. For example, they may have a disability or an illness. Are such new mums any less worthy than those that breast-feed? Of course not, and CBB should also think of that segment of the population and provide the same information about bottle-feeding as they do breast-feeding.

Stef on

This is my belief in general, not directed at any comment:
I sincerely doubt that women who choose to bottlefeed do so because they have some willful desire to harm their child. Everyone’s situation is different, and some women bottlefeed, some nurse. Get angry about children that are being physically abused or severely neglected, stand up to that. Don’t go after mothers–who love and care for their children–as if they were criminals because they make a decision that is different from yours.
*gets off soapbox*

Renee on

Celebritybabylover and Natalie, I agree and both of you make great points :)

hkdiaz on

Thank you for putting this interview up! I breastfed my daughter by pumping exclusively for 1 year-she had latch on problems. I understand that breastfeeding comes easy for some and is hard for others, but thi story is great! For those of you who feel that CBB is critical of bottlefeeding, I’m sorry you feel that way. I don’t think they are critical, I just think that they are promoting the scientific fact that “breast is best”. In no way does formula feeding make you a bad mom-breastfeeding does not work for many moms!

Lucy on

CelebBabyLover – if they can’t get an interview with a celebrity (which I doubt very much is the reason they’re not doing it), why not just talk about the products? There have been plenty of non-celeb baby posts lately, advertising products or simply giving info (the autism post, for example). Why not put up a discussion post about glass vs plastic (very important atm), why not mention that bottle-feeding can be a great bonding experience with Dad? There’s issues that need to be addressed when a parent chooses, for whatever reason, to bottle-feed.

I’m sure the contributors on CBB have personal opinions about bottle vs breast (and I think we have clearly been shown what they are) but the fact of the matter is that many of their readers likely bottlefeed their kids. No, they don’t have an obligation to give information, but what is the harm in helping out people that need it? I believe a site like this has a wonderful opportunity to present mothers with ALL the information, and then let people decide for themselves, without moral judgement.

Ellen – I wasn’t suggesting that they shouldn’t put this post up, just that they could present more than one side to the issue.

Danielle, Celebrity Baby Blog Publisher on

Note from CBB Publisher Danielle:

We have chosen to work with Best for Babes for this interview because there is a profound lack of positive and factually correct information and inspiration about breastfeeding. We have covered BPA-free feeding options in our reviews section but I see no need to further promote formula feeding- the formula industry and mainstream media are doing a good enough job of that as it is.

I respect a woman’s choice not to breastfeed but that’s not what Best for Babes and this interview is about. Nowhere in this interview do Gabby or BfB say anything about women who don’t breastfeed or even talk about formula!

This interview and our philosophy is about supporting women who WANT to breastfeed and helping them succeed. We are not interested in making women feel guilty that they weren’t able to if they wanted to or telling them they made a bad decision if they made a decision not to breastfeed. I genuinely believe that the reason most women are unsuccessful with breastfeeding is because there are too many roadblocks- between hospitals who hand out formula at delivery, pediatricians who push formula instead of offering lactation support, family members who think it would be easier for you if they could feed the baby with a bottle, the fact that many of us who are having children now were not breastfed ourselves (and the fear that by breastfeeding that we may be insulting them), social and cultural barriers, shame of our anatomy, the enormous budget formula companies (whose hospital-based formula programs are taught as case studies in business school) have, the lack of paid or long-term maternity leave in the US, etc. It goes on and on.

To be crystal clear- no one at CBB or BfB has any kind of negative opinion of women who don’t breastfeed, or blames anyone but these aforementioned barriers for the low breastfeeding rate in the US. By running frank interviews like this one, we hope to make breastfeeding become a more mainstream thing. In sharing her nursing experience, hopefully Gabby will inspire some women who hadn’t given much thought to breastfeeding and hopefully inspire those who are having trouble to stick with it.

I think this is a really powerful interview and I have to say that I am disappointed that so many readers found something negative to say about it and CBB’s pro-breastfeeding attitude instead of focusing on specific things that Gabby says in the interview. You can say that you disagree with something she said but I see no point in constantly revisiting the breast vs. bottle argument. This interview is about overcoming obstacles to breastfeeding.

I don’t know how anyone could jump to the conclusion that we try to shame anyone. We are not talking about breast feeding vs formula- we are talking about breastfeeding, period.

If you don’t want to breastfeed, great. But don’t come here and tell us that we’re making you feel guilty for your choice. We never say anything negative about formula yet we can’t mention “breastfeeding” with people posting what I believe are defensive comments stemming from internal pressures and guilt. If you think we are condemning you for not breastfeeding, please show me the exact words. Let’s parse the text.

If you wanted to but were unable to breastfeed, instead of interpreting this interview as a condemnation of your motherhood, why not read it as help for the future for overcoming the obstacle if you have more children or in helping your friends? We say don’t accept defeat. If you are among the 1-5% of women who physically cannot breastfeed but want to give their child breastmilk, let’s work to make milk banks as ubiquitous as blood banks. If you didn’t know that there are resources are available to help you, we’re here to tell you about them. If you had other obstacles, we are telling you that most women are not given the opportunity to succeed and that is probably why you had trouble, not because you don’t love your child enough.

As such, I respectfully request that you keep your comments limited to the scope of this interview- Gabby Reece’s sharing of her breastfeeding story.

emma on

Keep up the good work Danielle & CBB staff!! Excellent article!!

I’m still breastfeeding my 18 month old and training to be a breastfeeding counsellor!

Lori on

Debate aside, I loved the interview. Gabby seems very well grounded and focused on what is best for her family and herself. Bravo to Gabby and bravo to BFB for depicting her choice to breast feed in such a positive light

Cindy M on

This article reminded me how important, precious and fleeting the child-bearing years are. (ALMOST made me feel like wanting to have another!) The first time was challenging-I breast fed my first for 9 months (with minimal support) and then switched to formula, as I had trouble with pumping and my patience. The second was easier and he went straight to a cup after 14 months. If I could do it again, as Gabrielle mentions, I would take care of myself better in advance, so I could be one of those Moms who can actually walk around, talk on the phone and do other things while breast feeding! At the same time I am grateful for that time in our fast-paced world that I could just STOP what I was doing and take it all in. Thanks. Cindy M.

farley on

What a nice, positive, down to earth interview. I think it is important to support women who WANT to breastfeed and who luckily are able to.

My mother-in-law was from an era where breastfeeding was considered to be for those who couldn’t afford formula.(IGNORANT) She also insinuated that I lacked modesty, especially by making others uncomfortable when I was breastfeeding….even in my own home!

This generation of moms needs to know the benefits of breastfeeding because alot of our parents didn’t breastfeed. My mom was supportive of the decision I made even though she could not offer me any advice based on her own personal experience.

I agree with Gabby, new mothers, old mothers, 2nd & 3rd time mothers should surround themselves with supportive people that make them feel confident about parenting, on ALL levels.

Stef on

Danielle–I have to admit that I’m confused by your comments. Of the many dozens of women I know who have had children in the past 15 years, I only know of two offhand who formula-fed exclusively. And the second one tried desperately to nurse but wasn’t producing (mainly cos her baby was born with complications and spent the first couple months of its life in NICU and she was unable to keep lactating during his treatment.)
I have never heard anyone say, “I felt forced to bottle-feed.” But I do know my friend who had to bottle-feed got hassled by many people for “giving up on nursing” too soon (as if she needed the extra stress and feelings of guilt).
In the UK it is illegal to advertise formula directed towards newborns and young infants. It’s ILLEGAL–now THAT is media pressure if I’ve ever heard it. And they wish to ban all formula advertising in general. Feels like formula is being made out to be a bit black market if you ask me.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/health/womenfamily.html?in_article_id=495421&in_page_id=1799
What upsets me is that our society takes advantage of every opportunity to use guilt against women, especially mothers (it is a trick that has been in constant use since the birth of modern advertising), and blames every choice a woman makes for damaging her family–bottle-feeding, having a career, not using exclusively “green products” is the new one, etc. I say use education, NOT guilt or shame to making a convincing argument.

Rebecca on

ITA with Danielle. There’s no need for a positive spin on formula feeding because the media does that already. I’m really sick of formula feeding moms acting like they’re being persecuted because someone tells the truth about breastmilk being better than formula. If you can’t breastfeed because you don’t make enough milk (which is a REALLY low number of people, I’m not counting the women that got breast reduction surgery) or you have medical reasons (an illness, take medication that isn’t safe for nursing, got breast reduction surgery) then you CAN’T and you shouldn’t beat yourself up over it, you just can’t do it. If you made the decision not to, for whatever reason, then that’s your decision, and you have to live with it. If you regret it, then educate yourself so that you can do better with your next child or relactation could work for you, but don’t sit there and get upset at OTHER people because you regret something YOU decided to do. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” – Eleanor Roosevelt.

Melanie Roberts on

I thought breastfeeding my two children was one of the best things about having babies. I was lucky to have my mother and husband support me in that decision.

fuzibunni on

i really wish i could have breastfed.
due to a surgery i had much earlier, it was a very difficult process for me and i didn’t produce enough milk.

it’s nice that everyone is trying to promote it… god knows that people need to be informed… but it’s not the easiest thing for everyone.

i tried and failed.

lucky gabby that it was so simple for her.

i still feel guilty about it years later.

Eden on

Great interview – and I have to agree with Gabrielle’s conclusion, that we live in a world that makes it difficult to breastfeed. I have friends who chose not to breastfeed for a variety of reasons . . . including because they were on anti-depressants and didn’t want to expose their baby to the medication and because their infants developed health complications that required extended stays in the NICU and it was too difficult for them to pump for such an extended period of time.

BUT the truth is that, for the majority of women who feel strongly about wanting to breastfeed long enough for their infants to reap the full benefit, there are significant societal and medical obstacles that can keep them from doing so when it doesn’t come easily.

Why should it be the case that so few pediatricians know anything about lactation science? And why should new mothers be given formula “gift bags” when they leave the hospital with their newborn? Regardless of the choice that one’s mother, or mother-in-law, or the stranger sitting next to a nursing mother might have made about breast vs. bottle, why shouldn’t those individuals be anything but supportive (that means refraining from snarky looks and judgmental comments) when they see a woman breastfeeding her child?

Until we live in a society where women get the help and support they need to breastfeed successfully, it’s important for celebrities like Gabrielle, and sites like this, to help spread the word and educate women about the resources that are available to them.

hkdiaz on

Rebecca-I completely agree with everything you said!

Eden- I also agree with you. There are so many obstacles to breastfeeding, especially in te workplace. I was lucky enough to have a boss that supported my choice and was able to take 3 20 minute breaks a day (in addition to my lunch hour) to pump. I’m not sure if he was really supportive of breastfeeding, thought of it as one of those”unmentionable woman things”, or thought it was a law hat he had to let me do it (which it should be) LOL, but either way, I was lucky! Many women that I have encountered only breastfed during their maternity leave and felt they had to give it up upon their return to work. Its very sad.

Patricia on

I didn’t want to breastfeed, and I gave my son formula. But let me ask you girls this. For babies whose mothers who can’t breastfeed, wouldn’t it be great if they had access to screened, pasteurized, donated human milk? Why aren’t milkbanks as prevalent as blood banks? Why don’t hospitals keep donated milk on hand? Don’t all babies deserve the best food? I know I would be willing to donate milk–my best friend had a double mastectomy due to breast cancer, and if she got pregnant again, I know moms would help her out! I hope more women put their energy into fighting for better maternity leave policies, and hospitals and doctors that support breastfeeding, instead of defending the formula industry which is no different than the tobacco industry–marketing a product with significant health risks and masquerading it as a “personal choice” while making it impossible to succeed. Girls, get smart, guilt is useless unless used for change! Our parents didn’t use seatbelts either but now we know better. This is the same.

Eve on

I agree that formula companies and hospitals do a good enough job pushing formula that it doesn’t need to be done here also. I love to see women standing up for breastfeeding, and appreciate that CBB is a platform for spreading information about breastfeeding.

However, I don’t think it is helpful to pretend that breastfeeding is easy or for CBB to shame us for having dissenting opinions. I don’t really care if Danielle is “disappointed” that not everyone loved the interview. I’m disappointed that I can’t post a comment on this site without worrying that it will be edited out.

M. on

I live in a city where formula isn’t mentioned in hospitals, at dr.’s offices, nor out in public. Containers of it are lack at our stores, and if they are in stock they are very very expensive to buy (yet another reason to stick with breastfeeding).
I never knew there was such a big problem in the States.

I commend groups like BfB for advertising themselves with the help of Celebrities. Anything to help dispel myths helps.

For those who do formula feed, for whatever reason, there have been a few celebrities who have been mentioned on this site, Jennifer Lopez comes to mind.
Though I don’t know of any specific organizations (apart from the formula companies) that would recommend formula, perhaps another reason why CBB hasn’t made a post like this speaking positively for formula.

Take care!!

Trina on

Let me first say, I really enjoyed reading this article on Gabrielle Reece. She’s a great woman to look up to and admire. I had my first child at 25 and my second at 34, nine years later. I wasn’t able to breastfeed my first but did my second for over a year. Once she started going to daycare a few hours a week she became sick and the ear infections started. Yes, we ended up getting tubes. My first had them as well….One breastfed, one bottle fed. There is such a stereotype of tubes and people thinking the mother had to have done something wrong, eat something wrong,whatever. I don’t smoke, exercise often, eat right, you name it, I too am all about taking care of myself. I’ve been told by many doctors along with researching it myself, the make-up of a child’s ear has a lot to do with needing tubes. Many children have small ear canals which don’t drain right. I think asking Gabrielle if any of her kids have had tubes is unfair and labeling. Just because a child has to have tubes doesn’t mean one parent is better then the next. I think people should educate themselves more before judging people and their life choices.

shannon on

I think she is an awesome person and I really like how she (and CBB) focus on it just being part of a normal and healthy lifestyle. I think its great women can come on here before having kids and be exposed to it.

CelebBabyLover on

Patrica- I agree with almost all of what you said. However, I don’t think you should be comparing the formula industry to the tobacco industry. I am extremely pro breastfeeding, but come on! Tobacco can actually kill you, while formula cannot. It may not give all of the health benefits that breastmilk does, but it also isn’t posion!

In fact, there are babies who would die if they WEREN’t fed formula. I was one of those babies. My mom had no problems breastfeeding, but, for whatever reason, I just wasn’t gaining weight. When I was about three months old, my mom made the painful decision to stop breastfeeding and switch me to formula. Once I was on formula, I began gaining weight almost instantly. In my case, formula was literally a life-saver!

Rebecca on

Trina, I don’t see anywhere where they said if your kids have tubes in their ears that you’re a bad mother, can you point out where they said that?

I don’t think Gabrielle was trying to put up some kind of front like breastfeeding is easy, it was easy FOR HER. Every woman and every child is different. I had a hard time nursing my first in the beginning (I attribute it to the epidural and the vitamin K/hep B shot she got shortly after birth causing jaundice) but with my second I had no problems (I had a waterbirth with her, she didn’t get the vitamin K supp and we’re not vaccinating, she never got jaundice, even though it’s prevalent in Asian babies.) Do I have to watch who I offend if I say nursing my second was easy? I hope not, because that was MY experience and if someone takes it as gospel that it’s going to be easy for them then that’s their fault, not mine.

brannon on

Well said Trina – I took offense at that as well. I also breastfed my son, am healthy, don’t smoke, etc. and he IS healthy, but still needed tubes. This article makes it sound as if it was my fault for not making him healthy enough! In fact, for some reason I usually find interviews by Gabby and her husband to be offensive but I am not exactly sure why? They often come off as very judgmental to me. I think I will just skip them from now on.

Lulu on

I’ve been reading the blog for about 3 years now – and am the proud mum to a 14 month old girl. One of the most powerful images that I saw when I was pregnant was the CBB montage of breastfeeding mothers – it struck me as being strong and nothing to be ashamed of. In fact I thought it was kind of amazing that so many women were so proud of breastfeeding that they wanted to send in their pictures. I wanted a piece of that feeling! Despite the hospital wanting to put my daughter on formula on day 2 of her life, I persevered with the breastfeeding and was able to share the wonderful feeling with my little one for 8 months. I then switched to formula, my choice. I can see the positives in both. But I would like to commend CBB for one of the most powerful blog items I have ever seen and for giving me a little ‘nudge’ to make the committment to breastfeeding. I still read every day!

Keila on

I really hope that the flack CBB is getting now does not influence their choices in featuring moms that breastfeed more often.

Everyone has a choice. However I will say this regardless of what celebrity is being featured with or without a bottle, A NORMAL mom (non celebrity) breastfeeding her child in public gets major sh*t. I was asked in very public popular places by security guards to please do THAT in the bathroom!!!!! Never once did I ever see a mom bottle feeding her baby asked to go to the bathroom. AND NO I did not have the chi Chi’s out at full glory for the whole world to see!

Moms that breastfeed need all of the role models they need – because out in public with the stares you get – it can be a real lonely choice.

Keila

Trina on

Rebecca, Many people blame breastfeeding to non-breastfeeding for ear problems. I was only pointing out that I, me, not Gabrielle, did both breastfeed and bottle feed my babies and both ended up with tubes.

freya on

Fab interview. I love reading about positive breastfeeding experiences as it reminds me of how much i loved feeding my 2 wee boys.
I can’t believe some people only get 6 weeks maternity leave in the states!! I’m in Scotland and we can take a year off (the last 3 months of this is unpaid though) Also in Scotland it is illegal to prevent anyone breastfeeding in a public place.
Well done CBB – you’re brilliant!

regina on

Perhaps it is that I live in metro NYC? But the idea that breast feeding needs any more advocacy is really surprising to me. The looks that I have gotten over the mere mention of not breastfeeding could kill – from the store to the hospital to the Drs office. I dont think any other options were ever even mentioned. Once I realized I couldnt, it was like I had to join the underground railroad to find out information on my options.

I appreciate this blog and its postings but I agree with the previous posters who said that in the interest of fairness, it would be helpful to post information about feeding options other than breast feeding here. People who read and like this site can not all breast feed.

Michelle on

I think it is important to note that while we all get a lot of great information from this blog, it is NOT a health blog. It’s a gossip blog. A great one, but still a gossip blog. Most of us come here to catch up on our favorite pregnant celebrities and thier babies. If you are truly looking for health information or medical advice, then there are thousands of other resources that would be better suited to help you. This article is not about breast-feeding. It’s about Gabby Reece.

Danielle does a great job introducing all of us to new products and such, but maybe we should all try to remember that the primary purpose is entertainment.

Susan on

I loved seeing Danielle Rigg’s name attached to this interview. I met her a few years ago at a Milk and Cookies event and she is a wonderful supporter of mothers. Support was clearly a big part of Gabrielle’s success and Danielle was one of my many supporters along the way. I’m thrilled that her organization had the opportunity to interview such a strong, healthy woman. I’m glad that CBB had the opportunity to post it. I hope that Danielle’s organization will help the new international breastfeeding sign (allowing new mothers to see where breastfeeding is welcome) become more prominent. Kudos to all the strong women involved in this interview.

Dooneybug on

I have to agree with Trina on the ear infection thing. I don’t even understand why the fact is out there that breastfeeding can ward off ear infections? Doesn’t it have to do with the shape of the inner ear, not what’s being ingested? My first child was breastfed until 7 1/2 months and I had to switch to formula because I had become pregnant with my second when he was 6 months old and my milk supply diminished. He’s never had an ear infection, despite having formula for 4 1/2 months of his first year (he’s almost 2 years old). Now on the other hand, my second child is almost 9 months old and has never had a drop of formula, just breastfed and she’s now had 3 ear infections (2 of which were doubles). I know other moms who exclusively breastfed and their kids have had chronic ear infections. So, I just don’t understand the whole ear infections being warded off because of breastfeeding. I think it’s just a child to child issue.

Bettina & Danielle on

Regarding ear infections: Extensive scientific research has proven that formula feeding increases the risk for ear infections and tube implants–some studies say that exclusively formula fed babies get up to 10 times more ear infections than babies who were exclusively breastfed! This is not to say that there aren’t exceptions. Just as we all know someone who smoked and lived to be 80, it doesn’t refute the documented link between smoking and cancer. Therefore, it is best not to go by personal experience when discussing the risks of not breastfeeding, but to stick to the scientific facts. We hope that instead of feeling guilty, or blaming or defending themselves, more women will see how they have been duped, misled and hoodwinked by the excessive marketing and questionable advertising of formula, uncover who is suppressing or denying scientific evidence, and target those who are profiting–certainly not moms and their babies! Breastfeeding is much more difficult today than it should be, because there are a myriad of barriers–we call them booby traps–that have systematically been put in place to keep them from wanting to breastfeed and from succeeding at it. These booby traps include our healthcare system, our employers, our doctors and hospitals, among many others! As a result, many moms mistakenly think they can’t breastfeed, not realizing they have been sent to run a race with a pair of flip-flops. Moms are not to blame! Moms and babies deserve better–just as they deserve to know about toxic chemicals in plastic, or the effect of the transfats in junk food on heart disease. As two women who struggled unnecessarily with breastfeeding, we’ve got your back, babe, but it is up to you lead the way and make a difference.

Annie Swartz on

I enjoyed reading the article about Gabrielle. What a super mom! Great role model for Mothers who need positive reinforcement on breast feeding.

Annie

Marsha Walker on

What a wonderful interview with Gabrielle Reece. The discussion about breastfeeding or formula-feeding is not one of right or wrong, bad or good. Mothers who have difficulty with breastfeeding and must use formula or mothers who decide not to breastfeed often feel defensive when breastfeeding articles or research reveals another positive aspect of breastmilk or breastfeeding. Some say that such articles or information makes them feel guilty and that such things perhaps should not be published. My experience has been that what many of these mothers feel is regret for an experience that they were robbed of because they did not have proper information or sufficient support. Others say that their baby did just as well on formula or that their breastfed baby got ear infections so why bother. We need to remember that research is done with large populations, not a sample of one or two.

Why don’t we as women and mothers find a way to help all of our sisters by removing the barriers to breastfeeding. Just think what could happen if we all wrote a letter to our congressional representative to support the federal breastfeeding promotion act. You can do this easily at http://www.momsrising.org. Let’s make sure that the media hears from us every time they write one of those silly articles that pit breastfeeding mothers against formula-feeding mothers. Much of this animosity is driven by media that loves controversy at the expense of health.

Marsha

Cara on

My hat is off to you Danielle- you eloquently said what needed to be said about the infiltration of negative comments from those who feel they are being attacked for formula feeding. It was well said.

While this is a “Gossip” blog as a previous poster mentioned, it is naive to think that celebrities and their choices around birthing,infant feeding, and parenting do not have an effect on the general public. When a celebrity outspokenly talks about her breastfeeding experience, you can bet that there are pregnant and postpartum mommas listening. And I greatly appreciate that in this instance, breastfeeding was discussed outside the realm of postpartum body image or weight loss (for the most part). It was discussed for the health issue that it really is. And I appreciated that Gabby discussed a lot of the obstacles to successful breastfeeding and the need for support which is so vital to all women when they become mothers. Her attitude about her body, mothering and breastfeeding is refreshing. Thanks for posting this and taking the time to ask some thoughtful questions and post her very thoughtful answers.

As other posters have mentioned, there is absolutely no need to be touting formula feeding among celebs when marketing of formula is a multi-billion dollar business and the industry has its hands in just about every pregnancy or parenting related publication (except the ones that have chosen to eschew formula advertising in favor of breastfeeding as the normal and healthy way to feed babies).

Formula is not the healthiest food for infants- breast milk is (And breast milk is best for mommas too!). Women who struggle to breastfeed but ultimately decide to formula feed to stay sane as mothers, to make sure their baby is growing because they did not produce enough (and the list continues)- you are to be commended and I am sorry that you were unable to continue to breastfeed. And some others are physically or medically incapable of breastfeeding though as the CBB staff points out, this is not very common.

Women who don’t breastfeed because it is “not for them”, well fine. That is your choice. But it always seems that these are the women who are screaming the loudest about being judged and being made to feel guilty about their choice to formula feed and often try to downplay the difference between breastmilk and formula (ie. breastmilk ain’t all that, my kid is healthy and he/she was formula fed, etc). But breastmilk IS all that. Formula is an inferior food for infants. Period. If you made the choice to formula feed, then stand by your choice without resorting to the “guilt” argument. No one makes anyone feel guilty. We are responsible for our own feelings.

We do not make our birthing/infant feeding/parenting decisions in a vacuum- I am well aware of that as a mother of two children. But it behooves us to have the best scientific information available to make those decisions. The scientific data on breastfeeding is not up for debate- it is associated with a decreased incidence of otitis media in study after study to use just one example of scientific data which happened to be mentioned in this interview. Anecdotal evidence does not supercede scientific evidence though many of us would like to believe it does.

And I say a hearty “hear hear!” to the posters who have mentioned donor breastmilk banks and the need for more, more, more! Just think how this would help the many moms who give up because of problems with their milk supply or a difficult delivery or a bad experience because of lack of support or horrible advice from their health care provider. IF they could supplement with donor breast milk, the guilt factor would not be an issue, maybe those formula companies would see their profits decline exponentially and our children would be the healthier for it.

Cara

tina on

its such an inspiration to a all us women. l will difently contiue to breastfeeding my baby

Nora on

This is such a great article! I think it’s so important for women in the limelight, like Gabrielle, to share their experiences in an honest way and demystify it for women who may not have been exposed to breastfeeding.

I’m fortunate that I was able to breastfeed both of my boys and it was a wonderful experience both times.

steph on

I breast fed my two kids happily. I did this knowing that my kids only needed ‘TWO’ breast feedings a day to get the full effect of my antibodies, that after 4 months I am ‘NO LONGER” passing on helpful antibodies and that my job is done for healthful supplementation and that a mother could ‘PASS HERPES’ on to their child via breast feeding, as well as ‘AIDS’. These facts are NEVER told to women. I feel women are often intimidated into breast feeding without all the facts. If you are going to pass on ANY disease (AIDS, Herpes, whatever) via breast feeding- then breast feeding is NOT the best now is it? Most hospitals do not routinely test for these disease and I have yet to hear of a lactation consultant tell a new mother they need only breast feed twice a day to be just as healthy as babies breast fed full time.
We need to get the correct facts out to moms!

Linda on

Why do women who can’t breastfeed say they were made to guilty?

I can’t fly a jet plane since I don’t have good vision, but that doesn’t make me feel guilty. Instead it makes me feel sad.

If a women can’t breastfeed then I can see her feeling sad.

Now if she choose to not breastfeed after being fully informed of the risks of not breastfeeding and either she or her infant suffered the consequences then she has the right to feel guilty.

Cindy on

I think a lot of women confuse two different widespread influences on mothers that are present in American culture.
1. There is pressure to INITIATE breastfeeding.
2. Cultural standards influence mothers to fail at breastfeeding.

I hear some women say things like, “Breastfeeding is promoted everywhere in my community. I felt so much pressure to choose breastfeeding.” And so they think this campaign is not needed. It very well may be true that the initiation of breastfeeding is promoted. (I have seen it in my community.) But it doesn’t change the fact that we live in a climate that makes it incredibly difficult to succeed at breastfeeding. They were all listed in Danielle’s first comment. Personally, my biggest pet peeve is the ignorance of many health care professionals. Sure, there are some good knowledgable doctors out there but in my experience they are in the minority. It is scandalous that the majority of doctors, nurses, etc. have such poor lactation knowledge!

Susan E Burger on

I always find the defensive responses to positive articles about normal infant feeding fascinating. Nowhere in the article is there a single statement criticizing formula feeders or bottle feeders. Nevertheless, merely mentioning breastfeeding in a positive light creates resentment. The judgmental nature of infant feeding and the intense desire to have our choices validated stems from the difficulty and importance of feeding our babies. We all want to be seen as good mothers. Modern women face huge challenges because we haven’t learned about infant feeding the way that we did in the past, when women had many more babies and when we were observing breastfeeding from the time we were little. As with any endeavor that we undertake and fail due to lack of support, it is easy to target our resentment towards those who seem to succeed with ease. In fact, the anger should really be refocused on those factors that make infant feeding difficult, not against those who have different experiences than our own.

At at the same time, I really have to say that I see even more judgmental comments made about women who do breastfeed than those who don’t. I work with women every day who have the worst nasty negative comments said about them because other people think they are doing it too long (your baby will become clingy and dependent, you’re only doing it for yourself, your toddler will become a sexual deviant) or in the case of one of the posters, you will transmit horrible diseases to your baby (as an epidemiologist, let me make it clear that the risks are infinitesimally low compared to the greater risks of ear infections and diarrhea). Even worse breastfeeding helpers are often equated with Nazis who committed genocide. Even the most clueless breastfeeding helper is not committing genocide, she may just be incompetent at managing the complexities of improving a woman’s feeding experience and her emotional responses to that experience. As for the comment that formula never killed anyone, that simply is not true. Having lived in many developing areas of the world, nothing will erase the imagines from my brain from the far too many malnutrition wards, where I saw the impact of formula in person. The scientific evidence backs this up — formula is particularly deadly when water and sanitation are poor. Fortunately, most of the posters on this website don’t live in those circumstances and do not have to worry about their infants being at risk of dying from those conditions.

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