Feminists Warn: Images of Fathers Bottle-Feeding Babies Threaten Breastfeeding Moms

The Equality and Human Rights Commission came under fire from lactivists for posting a picture on Twitter of a father feeding his child in honor of International Menโ€™s Day. Alison McFadden, the director of the Mother and Infant Research Unit at the University of Dundee asked the EHRC to โ€œplease not use images of bottlefeedingโ€ because images like the one used donโ€™t help to โ€œnormalize breastfeeding.โ€

Thatโ€™s right; screw you, dad, and your desire to feed your child. Donโ€™t you understand the breasts of the U.K. are at stake?!

McFadden's response to the image was patently absurd and called out as such by readers on Twitter. The conversation got me thinking about my husbandโ€™s experience night feeding our firstborn son (by bottle, of course; weโ€™re a biology-respecting household). Quite soon after my sonโ€™s arrival it became very clear that breastfeeding was not going to be for me. Thinking back on it two years later, I can honestly say that what bothered me the most was that I was not bothered by the fact that I didnโ€™t breastfeed. Sure, I tried; I went to clinics, consulted with lactation experts and had my son evaluated for the usual suspect tongue-tie. In the end, breastfeeding just wasnโ€™t the way my son and I gelled. I was just as content to feed him with a bottle (formula!) and get on with the more fun aspects of being a mom like playing and exploring outside.

As it turned out, it was my husband who truly bonded with our infant son over feedings. Not a natural communicator, my husband is a doer and a fixer. On nights and weekends he rapidly took to diapering, feeding, bathing and all the other rote chores of parenthood that physically drained my still-healing body. When he volunteered to do the night feedings, it was without a second guess. His ability to run on very little sleep for months at a time, and to fall back asleep the minute he hit the pillow, was what saved my sanity as a new mother. And truth be told, when that season ended my husband didnโ€™t quite know what to do. Heโ€™d lost a channel to connecting to his son and would have to find a new way to bond with him as he grew.

In the meantime, I bonded with my son in other ways. Weโ€™d converse incessantly; Iโ€™d refer to him as my sous chef while babywearing in the kitchen, and relished in narrating our daily walks around the neighborhood. Some folks probably thought I was going batty being in the house all day with no one to talk to, but Iโ€™m a writer by nature. I simply spoke my narrative instead of typing it. Over time the talk turned into simple play, first with fingers, then toes, then toys. Over time my son and I bonded through experiences that only he and I could share. I used to think that was because I was the one at home with him. The reality is that Iโ€™m not the doer and the fixer; Iโ€™m the communicator. Thatโ€™s the way I bond.

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