Breast cancer survivor criticized for not breastfeeding
The only thing worse than entrometidas who think it's their business to tell women what they should and shouldn't do with their bodies are those who think it's totally okay to tell mujeres how they should be using their bodies to care for their children. Just ask Washington Post reporter Emily Wax-Thibodeaux. The breast cancer survivor and new mom had a double mastectomy before giving birth to her son Lincoln, making it pretty much impossible for her to breastfeed her little guy. However, that hasn't stopped countless people, many of whom know Wax-Thibodeaux's situation, from getting all Judgey McJudgerstien on her when they see her--gasp--bottle feeding her happy and totally healthy baby boy.
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Wax-Thibodeaux has had to deflect unsolicited advice and criticism regarding her choice to bottle feed her son pretty much from the moment he was born. In her essay, "Why I Don't Breastfeed, If You Must Know," Wax-Thibodeaux recounts she kind was kind of bullied by the "breast-feeding Nazis" at the hospital within hours of her son's birth. She was still inhaling her son's new baby smell when a lactation nurse came in and insisted that Wax-Thibodeaux "really should breast-feed." The new mom tried to explain that she simply couldn't, as the double mastectomy she had five years prior left her with zero breast tissue, making it virtually impossible for her to nurse. However, that wasn't enough to make the nurse kick rocks and leave Wax-Thibodeaux alone to cuddle her little bundle of joy. According to the columnist, the nurse stuck around and insisted that she "just try," in the hopes that she would miraculously "get some milk." Wow! How insensitive.
Unfortunately, the unsolicited advice and idiotic criticism didn't stop the moment Wax-Thibodeaux left the hospital. "I encountered this 'breast is best' reaction at cafes, parks, even in some friends' houses," explains Wax-Thibodeaux in her essay. "One male friend even noticed that my husband was giving Lincoln a bottle in a Facebook posting and commented, 'So you're not breast-feeding? It's better you know?'" Yes, Captain Obvious, Wax-Thibodeaux knows. The whole world knows. It's common knowledge that breastfeeding provides both mother and child with a plethora of health benefits. But that doesn't mean that breast is best for everyone.
The fact of the matter is, there are plenty of reasons why some women choose not to breastfeed, all of which are completely valid. Some women simply don't want to. Others find it painful. And, still, others feel they're too busy, too tired, too this or too this or too that for breastfeeding to be a viable option for them. Then, there are women who, like Wax-Thibodeaux, cannot breastfeed. Women who've had their breasts removed in the hopes of gaining a new lease on life. In the hopes of reducing the chances of their cancer coming back, and increasing their odds of living a longer life; a life in which they may have children to care for and love and, yes, bottle feed.
At the end of the day, no woman owes anyone an explanation regarding what she chooses to do with their breasts and baby. All that matters is that both mom and baby are happy and healthy. And anyone who thinks otherwise can just suck it.
Image via Corbis