Friday, April 27, 2012

Are Attachment Parenters Giving Breastfeeding a Bad Rap?

She's not "into" carrying her baby around, strapped to her boob all day.

Future Attachment Parenters? Into baby-wearing?

That's what she told me when I messaged her about her soon-to-be first-born. I wanted to let her know that if she chose to breastfeed, I was there to help her out- be a resource. I'd be happy to answer any questions she had about breastfeeding, before or after delivery.

I remember being 19 years old and pregnant. 10 years ago isn't that long, really. And I knew that there were things I would... and wouldn't... do as a mom. I also knew there were a lot of things that just turned me off. I didn't even know what Attachment Parenting was at the time, but I knew that I didn't want to parent in that way. Yes, I wanted to breastfeed my baby, but the rest? The co-sleeping... the baby-wearing... not for me!

Thankfully, I knew a lot of breastfeeding moms who didn't practice attachment parenting. They parented more like my own mother, and reflected my values and goals. I knew that while breastfeeding had a nurturing aspect, it was first and foremost about feeding my baby, not about defining my parenting style.

Unfortunately, my young friend didn't have the same experience. We live quite a ways away from each other and haven't seen each other in a few years, so she hasn't around my growing family much. It seems that most of the breastfeeding moms around her were Attachment Parenting (AP). And it seems that she was under the impression that breastfeeding meant you had to do all these other things that go along with AP. It seems that AP wasn't a fit for her, and so she thought breastfeeding wasn't a fit for her, either.

Let's face it: because of the on-demand feeding philosophy, AP moms tend to breastfeed in public more often than breastfeeding moms who practice other parenting philosophies. So, for most people in the US, the image we have of breastfeeding moms is one of an AP mom. I have certainly had many people make assumptions about me and the way I parent based solely on the fact that I breastfeed! And for some people, AP can be a real turn-off.

But the beauty of breastfeeding is that it's not about a parenting philosophy. It's about feeding your baby.

Breastfeeding can and does "work" for parents who subscribe to all different types of parenting practices. You don't have to feed on-demand or in a sling or in a family bed or anything. You can breastfeed however you want, in whatever way works for your family. After all, breastfeeding is like chili--- best the way you like it!

So are APers giving breastfeeding a bad rap? I don't think so. But I do think that they are quickly becoming the stereotype that is linked to breastfeeding, and that can be a problem. Not because there is anything wrong with AP, but because breastfeeding is a much more broad and diverse experience than what is typically associated with attachment parenting.

What do you think? Are there other stereotypes or misinformation that is giving breastfeeding a bad rap?


  1. Great great post! And great conversation to be had. I did not practice AP with either of my boys, but breastfeeding them was very important to me. I think you are so right when you say that breastfeeding is not about a style of parenting, it's about feeding your baby! So true. I was steady with a schedule with my babies, but when it was time to eat, breastfeeding it was!

  2. Agree. When I was researching attachment parenting, breastfeeding is actually listed as a "characteristic" of AP. Along with baby wearing. I don't get it. It makes it sound like AP is the only parenting philosophy that embraces breastfeeding which is really misleading. I am more Babywise-ish, opposite of AP and I breastfeed and wear my baby when he likes it. Has nothing to do with my views on parenting.


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