People are up in arms over some things said by French President Nicolas Sarkozy about breastfeeding. Generally, I tend to have similar opinions to many people when it comes to helpful versus hurtful breastfeeding comments, but not always. Sometimes I find that the not-so-popular angle of something needs to be worked as well.
When I heard he had compared breastfeeding to slavery, I was pretty offended to start. That is, until I actually read what he said about his wife Carla Bruni's nursing relationship, and now I think he was just being honest ... and even kind of amusing.
Sarkozy gave props to breastfeeding, right off the bat: "Carla is feeding the baby. I think it's much better for protecting against allergies and illnesses."
So, yay? It's fantastic he said that. I'm glad. As Gena from Progressive Parenting points out, it's really, really cool he said what he did:
With all the discrimination and ignorance surrounding breastfeeding the fact that a WORLD LEADER is not just talking about breastfeeding but promoting it is a GOOD thing. Anyone remember the last time a president of any country talked candidly about breastfeeding? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
But people seem to be overlooking that, and jumping all over this:
But the woman, it's both a joy and a kind of slavery. However it does free men of blame because we don't have the problem of bottle-feeding. You don't have to get up at night, although out of solidarity, I do open one eye.
I chuckled. If one thing is true about breastfeeding, it's that it takes more work from the mother than formula feeding. Even if you have someone else feed the baby, you still have to put forth the effort to pump. Well, I guess that's not totally fair. When you're feeding the baby yourself, just pulling up your shirt is much easier than mixing a bottle. Especially in the middle of the night. But if you're not pumping, it is true that you are doing all of the feedings, and especially if you don't have support or are embarrassed to nurse with or without a cover around other people, it can feel seclusive as well.
For fathers, it does relieve them of the night job of feeding the baby. It's one of my husband's favorite things about me nursing, and there are many other ways he can bond with our kids and help me out. So problem is ... what? It's TRUE that breastfeeding women need, well, their breasts available to feed their baby. And until you get comfortable or used to how often a baby nurses, it can feel kind of like you're being tied way down (someone needs to teach them about babywearing!). But then he even goes to point out how they don't have to deal with the hassle of bottles, and jokes (yes, I'm pretty sure it was a joke!) that to make his wife feel less alone in the middle of the night, he cracks an eye. Let us also consider that if he can see his wife nursing, it's likely the baby is sleeping in the room or even in their bed. So again, this is another good thing for them.
Problem is where? Oh yeah, still annoyed he missed the baby's birth but ....
Do you think his comment was offensive?
Image via World Economic Forum/Flickr