Breastfeed That Baby! (And other forms of pressure)

The Duchess of Cambridge is due pretty much any time now.  Good for her.  I hope that they’re happy, that their baby is healthy, and that the Duke and Duchess are able to be the kinds of parents they want to be.  And I really, really hope that people remember that she’s going to be a first time mother, not a symbol.  However, suggestions that she needs to breastfeed that baby for the public good don’t exactly do that.

Breastfeed That Baby! (And other forms of pressure)I read an article, which lead to another article, and another.  Before I knew it, I was reading an article on how the Duchess essentially has a social responsibility to breastfeed that baby in order to combat low breastfeeding rates.

The exact words were “As if there wasn’t enough pressure on her already, what we really need is The Duchess of Cambridge to get her Royal orbs out to feed our future monarch. And to be applauded – not seethed at – for doing so.”

I say back off.  If she chooses to breastfeed, formula feed, or hire a wet nurse, it’s none of our concern.  Even if we are somehow concerned, it’s still not Kate Middleton’s job to be the parenting example of all of England.  That’s an unfair amount of pressure to put on anyone.  It doesn’t matter if she’s a future Queen of England by birth, by marriage, or not at all.

If the Duchess decides to breastfeed that baby, good for her.  If she decides to breastfeed in public, then fantastic.  It would probably do a lot for normalizing breastfeeding and helping the cause of lactivists everywhere.  If she decides not to (or can’t, for whatever reason), then lay off.  The future of the world’s breastfeeding success or failure is a lot of ridiculous pressure to put on a new mom.

Should public perception even be part of the equation?

Image credit: derivative work by Surtsicna, used under Wiki commons licensing

 

About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.

Comments

  1. Cindy Batchelor says:

    Lots of things for the princess to contemplate! thanks for the fun post! xo xo

  2. Rikky Mushrooms says:

    Thank you for this post. I had also read the article you mention and it made me immensely sad. People in this world really need to chill out!

  3. I completely agree with you! Choosing how to feed your baby is a personal choice. I get that she’s a public figure, but she still deserves the privacy to make such private decisions without pressure.

  4. Rachel N says:

    This is so annoying! She is a person just like you and I. She can choose how she wants to feed her baby and we should all be supporting her in whatever choice she makes because being a mom is hard work.

  5. Jennifer says:

    It makes me so sad that people are already saying she should do one over the other. As a mother who genuinely tried to breastfeed her first and had equipment issues (as well as the fact that I hated it), the pressure to breast feed is unbearable. And because of it, I exclusively pumped and took all sorts of things that reeked havoc on my system to increase my supply. I hated that too, but I did it to make everyone else happy. With my 2nd (and now 3rd) – I’m doing it differently. Do what makes you happy. Nothing more, nothing less. If it works for her great, but if it doesn’t I hope she’ll make a choice that’s good for her and her baby.

  6. I believe every mother should try. If it doesn’t work out for her then there’s no judgement here. The choice shouldn’t be as easy as it is and I’m a firm believer that formula comes too easy to parents masking the importance of successfully breastfeeding. My opinions aren’t negative of moms who need it for whatever reason, but the fault is (I believe) with society. Too much pressure could backfire, too. I’ve seen it.

  7. mel cole says:

    I love breastfeeding. And yes, it’s up to every woman to accept it. It’s not good to put pressure on other people. http://www.heartscontentofamama.com/2013/06/white-cloud-luxuriously-soft.html

  8. I really hope that she plans on breastfeeding. As more and more famous people breastfeed, I think it will help normalize breastfeeding. I know that in the USA many people feel that breasts are sexual and not for feeding baby. When the opposite is true. Breasts were created to produce milk and feed your baby. http://upliftingfamilies.com/category/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-support/breastfeeding-qa/

  9. If she chooses to breastfeed (and I hope she does), then I think that breastfeeding will get a boost. However, public perception should not be the reason that she chooses a method of feeding her baby.

  10. While I agree it’s her choice, the bottom line is that she is an example for the general public in England. Whatever she chooses will have a ripple effect throughout the country, so if she doesn’t choose to breastfeed or can’t for some reason, then at least she needs to be open and honest with everyone as to why she is not breastfeeding. Given that the rates of breast feeding are dropping and that there is a lot of effort into conveying that “breast is best,” being open and honest is the least she can do. It’s her choice, but everyone will be watching and wanting to know what choice she makes and why.

  11. It’s her choice. People go overboard

  12. There is going to be enough pressure on this first time mother to do *everything* according to the ‘perfect mommy handbook’. It’s unrealistic and unfair to expect her to do anything other than what is best for her baby and her. If that means she breastfeeds, she will.

    But I highly doubt there will be public nursing, or lactivist behaviour out of the Duchess. If she chooses to breastfeed, I doubt any of us will see it. The Duke and Duchess have already proven to be very private individuals, I see no reason why that would change just because she was breastfeeding her baby.

    Long story short? Public perception shouldn’t matter in this situation, regardless of what fortunes have rained down on her to make her a public figure, her child is not a public commodity.

  13. Like Jennifer, we couldn’t get it going, and I exclusively pumped for what seemed like forever, and only started supplementing when there was just no other way, physically or psychologically. I think that for many, particularly educated people, the choice doesn’t feel like a choice (but, of course, it is!). It feels more like: “You breastfeed, or you’ve failed,” no matter how many times others say, “No judgement,” and no matter how much they mean it. The message is out there to breastfeed – and that message is a great one. Just from the perspective of someone who had a rough go of it, I’would agree with this post – no new mom needs the additional pressure. I’m sure the couple, like all couples, will do what is right for them.

  14. Vanessa Coker says:

    Public perception should not be part of the equation. However, I realize that we, as humans, are very much so social beings. Unfortunately, we rely on examples and cultural “support” in order to accomplish things. With breastfeeding it is no different. Yes it is a lot of pressure for a new mom, any new mom… but it is undeniable that what she, as a public figure, does or does not do plays a role on setting “examples” for many other people.

  15. I feel people judge the formula fed baby without understanding why the mother may be doing it. I have a sister that will not be able to breastfeed though she wants to. I truly hope she doesn’t get a lot of scrutiny because new mothers are very sensitive. While I feel breastfeeding is the best option if you are capable there are many complications that can lead to an addition or substitution of formula.

  16. I do think Kate has the potential to be a great role model. But I also have to say I’m glad no one is scrutinizing my every move as a mother, because I make plenty of mistakes! I was so proud of Kate for facing the public the day after giving birth and letting her post baby belly be visible (Go Kate! You’ve never looked more beautiful!) because I think it helps give a more realistic body image than we usually see in the media.

  17. I agree with you. Although it would be excellent if she did breastfeed, it really is none of the public’s business or concern.

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