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Breastfeeding is a hot topic these days. I’ve especially become aware, just recently, of how prevalent it is in the blogging world. A discussion on Blogging Baby regarding the recent UK study which indicates that there is a correlation between epidurals and lowered breastfeeding rates, really got me thinking. It especially brought to light something that really bugs the hell out of me: the indignant refusal to take responsibility for one’s decisions. The findings in the study basically indicated that babies whose mothers received epidurals were less likely to breastfeed. This was pretty much *duh* information for me but apparently it’s not for many people. In fact, it’s caused quite a bit of an uproar. I don’t really understand why. See, for me it’s pretty simple. When women agree to receive epidurals during labor they are agreeing to the injection of powerful drugs into their bodies as well as to those of their as-of-yet, unborn children. This is not a secret. That is the point of an epidural, afterall: drug induced numbness. Some of the most common side effects of Fentanyl, the active ingredient in most epidurals, is fatigue and drowsiness. Now, these are drugs that are powerful enough to numb and paralyze grown adults so why does it come as a big surprise that these strictly controlled narcotics would have a negative and/or sedating effect on an infant? It’s pretty damn obvious. So I gotta think there is a lot of misplaced denial going on. And the root of the problem is with the guilt. Parenting and motherhood especially, come with a lot of guilt as it is, so it’s really not a surprise that women don’t like to be confronted with their own shortcomings. But here’s the thing. Adulthood, and parenting as a result, are all about responsibility. It sucks, I know. Boy do I know. But I’ve seen this often, and especially regarding breastfeeding, that women are simply unwilling to take responsibility for their actions. See the way I see it – you make a decision and then you live with the reprecussions. Period. Choose an epidural and you choose to drug your child. Period. But know that that is the decision you are making. Don’t try to minimize your choice by arguing with science. Often times women, and especially mothers, are afflicted with a martyr complex. You know the one. The one where mothers put their children’s wants and needs far before their own. And, in fact, it can almost be a test as to how selfless a mother can be to the point that if and when they do put their own needs in front of their children’s they feel guilty about it. Case in point: epidurals. The fact is, that an epidural is not in the best interest of any child being born vaginally. It’s not a matter of speculation; that’s simply the way it is. An epidural is a comfort measure, soley for the sake of the mother. Choosing an epidural means putting your own comfort above the best interest of your child. The problem is that women can’t seem to admit that. But why not? That’s the truth. The problem I have is not in the epidurals themselves but in the women who refuse to admit that their decision is a purely selfish one. And really, what is so wrong with that? Sometimes being selfish is a good thing. Having never gone through childbirth, I can’t say I won’t ever get an epidural myself, but if I do choose one, I will do so knowing that what I’m doing it for my sake and my sake only. I will not try to justify that decision with pseudo-scientific delusions that my choice was without its risks. Similarly, if you choose not to breastfeed, fine. Really, fine. I’m all about female empowerment. Our bodies, our choices, afterall. But, by choosing not to breastfeed you are making the decision to deny your child adequate nutrition. Too blunt? Too bad. It’s not about demonizing formula or judging that decision. It’s about straight up medical facts. Breastmilk is not superior to formula. On the contrary, it is simply the adequate standard and it is formula that is inferior to breastmilk. Choose not to breastfeed? Fine. But own that decision. Own it. It is yours. There is nothing wrong with making your own choices. What I have a problem with is people making choices but not taking responsibility for the results that their choices influence. If you are going to formula feed because that is what is easier for you, then great. But don’t try and justify your decision by undermining the values of breastmilk or making excuses. Take your decision and own it for what it is. Admitting that you don’t always put your child’s needs 100% before your own isn’t the mark of a bad mother. But refusing to take ownership and responsibility for the ramifications of your decisions does make for a less than stellar adult.

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