As a professional childbirth educator, I do a lot of reading. Partly because I feel morally obligated to be as educated and up-to-date as possible in the world of prenatal education and partly because I am just fascinated, okay perhaps a teeny bit obsessed too, with all things pregnancy and childbirth related!
I read everything from dry scientific research papers, to heart-warming and emotional birth stories. Pregnancy Cosmo and the Journal of Perinatal Education are just as likely to be bedside table partners.
Recently, a friend shared a link to a Facebook page called The Alpha Parent. She wanted to draw my attention to a very detailed posting on breastfeeding – kind of a timeline from day one onwards, highlighting every possible thing a new mother (or mother-to-be) could want to know about the trials and tribulations of breastfeeding.
Awesome, I thought. What a great resource to share. I “liked” the page so I could get regular updates from other posts she wrote. It wasn’t long until I realised that the so-called Alpha Parent was not the altruistic soul I thought she was. Alpha Parent was in fact more like Rottweiler Parent. Don’t show your vulnerability or she’ll chew you up and spit you out in a very public flogging.
Innocent and oblivious mums out there beware! Alpha Parent and her posse of similarly venomous Alpha Parent wannabes are out to name and shame all those women who have the audacity to stop breastfeeding for whatever reason (medical, personal, emotional, doesn’t matter really). Basically there can be no excuse good enough for her short of having a double mastectomy. Forgive me if I am being crude and insensitive, but wait until you check out Alpha Parent.
Currently at 21,597 “likes” (and growing at a terrifying rate, I might add), Alpha Parent wields no small amount of influence and her reach is wide. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m the first person to extoll the virtues of breastfeeding. I am not going to do a breast milk fed baby versus formula fed baby analysis. I think it’s fair to say that we all know and accept that breast milk is, without question, the best possible nutrition for a baby. The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding until a baby is six months old, but highly recommends that breastfeeding continue until the age of one – and beyond if mother and baby are happy to continue.
That “breast is best” is not the argument. No. My beef is with a woman – and a mother at that – tearing strips off other women for the deeply personal choices they make. I find it the height of arrogance that Alpha Parent feels she has the right to criticise women she has never met, and in the process end up making them feel even guiltier than they already probably do. Because we all know that mothers don’t feel enough guilt on their own! Hell no! Let’s pile it on and bury the poor woman in it.
Alpha Parent also has a 5,764-word article on her website called “Why the Way You Feed Your Baby Is MY Business.” That’s nearly 6,000 words on exactly how you are ruining the world if you don’t breastfeed and why she believes she is entitled to judge you for it.
Her provocative posts on her Facebook page usually set off a veritable cyclone of comments from women who both support and violently oppose her. The comments very often turn nasty and personal and I find this to be extremely sad. Lord knows us mums have enough to cope with. Whether we work inside or outside the home, whether we have a partner or we’re flying solo, whether we have one child or ten children, whether we’re on welfare or living the high life – we ALL experience the extreme highs and lows of parenting. It’s a damn tough job and personally, I think we would all be better off if we could support each other through the tough times.
Can we just lock these nut jobs in a room and let them finish each other off? Like a Mummy-wars fight to the death? Maybe then the rest of us can get back to, you know, mothering.
Tanya Strusberg is the only Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE) in Australia and teaches prenatal education to pregnant women and their partners in Melbourne.
She and her husband Doron have two beautiful children, Liev and Amalia.
To learn more visit www.birthwellbirthright.com