Fight the Mommy Guilt 2: Breastfeeding

This is an ongoing series in which I am exploring some of the issues in which we mommies not only face unnecessary guilt, but also place unnecessary burdens on our sisters in Christ.

My first attempt at this post was deleted between me hitting publish and the actual publishing. I’m sorry if you got  404. This is my attempt at a rewrite.

People who eat broccoli are less likely to be obese, have cataracts, or develop osteoporosis. It contains properties known to prevent cancer and promote blood and heart health. Broccoli is a good, healthy food choice and puts kids on a path to making their own healthy food choices. Now does anyone think it is immoral to not feed children broccoli? Probably not. Broccoli might be a good idea, but there are any number of reasons that a family may not choose to include it in their regular meal plan.

Just like broccoli, breastfeeding is a nutritional decision. It might be a good idea, but it is not a moral necessity. In fact, God doesn’t seem all that concerned about breastfeeding. Historians and archaeologists say that women in antiquity would either breastfeed their own infants, place them with a wet nurse, or bottle feed them animal (most often goat) milk, but God gives us neither an overt command, nor an implied principle that breastfeeding an infant is preferable. No woman who places her child with a wet nurse is ever chastised for doing so. The law contains no command, and that paragon of female virtue found in Proverbs 31 has no reference at all to how the unnamed woman fed her children. Likewise, the New Testament passages that address the things women are to learn make no mention of breastfeeding. Not a single woman in the entire New Testament is even mentioned as being a nursing mother.

I understand that much of the pro breastfeeding movement is a response to the anti-breastfeeding sentiments that occurred in the US between the 50’s and the 70’s. We do not love each other well when we assign other women as either friend or foe in a battle she probably did not choose. When we make this about sides we stop being the Titus women we are commanded to be.

Finally, while broccoli is a healthy vegetable that assists in good overall health, the broccoli your son ate at dinner last night is not responsible for the A he earned in math this morning. Likewise, claims that breastfeeding can reduce SIDS and increase IQ are not only unprovable, they sinfully deify breastfeeding by assigning to it (and to us as mothers) factors that are ultimately in the Lord’s hands and his alone. We can encourage each other to make healthy decisions but when we begin to teach that our decisions have the power to determine something as big as life and death we have crossed a line that is not ok to cross.

I know this is a pretty hot button issue, but I hope that I have approached it scripturally and with grace. I look forward to reading your thoughts.

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About Coralie

After 11 years of infertility, I am now a mother to three, a wife of a Presbyterian (ARP) preacher and a struggling homemaker. Welcome to my little corner of the net. Kick off your shoes, put your feet up and join the conversation. View all posts by Coralie

8 responses to “Fight the Mommy Guilt 2: Breastfeeding

  • Becky

    Well said, Coralie! Thanks for starting this series. Looking forward to more!

  • Mandy

    Great post, Coralie! I really appreciate you speaking about this issue. I wish someone would have shared these words with me when I was a brand new mom and not being able to breastfeed left me full of guilt, both self-inflicted and given to me by other women. I am confident that the Lord allowed me to struggle with breastfeeding so that I would be careful not to push guilt on other women/moms in their decisions on other issues. Thanks for writing!

  • Tressa

    While I don’t push breastfeeding on anyone, I do believe it is best for your baby. Perhaps God didn’t give us a command about it because he thought it was pretty self explanatory. I give you a baby, you make the milk and feed it to the baby…animals get it, why don’t we???

    • Coralie

      well, when an animal doesn’t make the milk another animal takes over, or humans provide a substitute. I don’t think it’s a case of “getting it” or not. Sometimes the mama makes the milk, sometimes someone else does.

      • Tera

        Well said Coralie! Very well said. We don’t just let a baby die if its mother doesn’t make through birth (human or animal), we (and they in the case of many non-domesticated herd animals) find a substitute.

      • Tressa

        I do totally think in many cases it is a case if getting it. Breast milk is the absolute best nutrition and protection for a baby no questions asked. I do understand that in some cases it not possible (ie kev’s cousin was allergic to his mom’s milk…clearly not going to work). I also encouraged my sister-in-law to not breastfeed due to the amount of stress and such it was causing her and her baby…so I get it. BUT these are all results of the Fall. God knew what he was doing and to say that breastfeeding isn’t the best choice for a baby is saying God didn’t know what He was doing. As far as finding a substitute is great, that animal (as you keep bringing up) or baby would still be getting the type of milk which has the exact nutrition and protection God had intended.

  • Melinda

    thanks Cor… with both my boys I tried as hard as I could to breast feed… and i mean AS HARD AS I COULD… you name it, i tried it… and tried it again… i am sure someone may even read this and think “well I wonder if she just did this…” and I assure you i did… it didn’t work out the way I wished it would, or thought it should… thank you for writing this…

  • Carole Bristow

    at one stage during my breast feeding years , your dad said to me ” you didn’t invent breast feeding hon” perhaps I had gone overboard at the time.Easy to do when you feel strongly about something.But mothering is such a personal journey we should be very careful to avoid judgement

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