Marisa Mackle: Anti-breastfeeding and birth stories!
There was a pretty hateful article in the Herald on Jan 26 2011, from a chicklit author called Marisa Mackle, all about how she “hates, I mean really hates” breastfeeding in public.
I was in the middle of researching Marisa and her article so that I could blog about breastfeeding attitudes in the media, when I came across this post on another blog, which I think sums up my opinion on Marisa’s article better than I could myself.
So rather than focusing on the anti-breastfeeding rant from Marisa, I decided to highlight her final bitter paragraph instead. She’s talking about supermodel Miranda Kerr, who recently caused quite a stir by releasing this photo showing her breastfeeding her new baby son. Poor Marisa was appalled by this photo. But she seems to have just as much of an issue with Miranda sharing details of her birth story.
Marisa writes: Kerr was also keen to let her public know that she took no pain relief during her labour. Why she needed to make this detail public knowledge I am not sure. My guess is that her message to all the non-supermodel, non-millionaire mums out there is that, not only does she look far better than any of them, she is just all-round better than them, too. Quite sad, really.
A quick internet search turns up details of Marisa’s own birth story. Her baby was breech, so she had to have a caesarean section. Was it quite sad of Marisa to make these details public knowledge? Of course not! That’s what new mothers do! When you have a baby, people first want to know what you had, how much it weighed, and then finally in whispered tones “And how was it…you know…the labour?”
Apparently Marisa’s only interested in the horror stories though, because she takes such a personal affront to Miranda’s declaration that she didn’t use pain relief. There’s no doubt about it, that final paragraph is quite sad, but not for the reasons Marisa thinks. It’s sad that a national newspaper would publish the opinion that the only reason a woman would go through labour without drugs is to send a message to other women about how superior she is. Oh yes Marisa, that’s exactly what I was thinking when I opted not to have an epidural.
When asked about having my son, I always tell people that I found the experience manageable and amazing, and that I didn’t get an epidural. I also tell them that when the midwife told me “I know by looking at you, you’re not in labour yet.” I said to my husband “If this isn’t labour, I’m definitely getting an epidural when labour starts.” As it turned out, I was already at 6cm, and managed fine without it. But would I have been any less proud of myself for birthing my baby if I had decided I needed it? Absolutely not.
After all, every labour is different. I have friends who’ve had more than one child who opted for pain relief on one labour but none on the other. So I share those details of my own story, not because I want to proclaim my superiority over those who require pain relief but because I thought it was an incredible experience, so far removed from what I had been led to believe it would be like. If I thought for one second, someone felt I was sharing my story simply to put them and their experience down, I would be horrified.
God, that article made me so angry. It’s so sad that she feels this way. I experienced this attitude once when I was nursing in public (with a breastfeeding cover). All they (two twenty-something women) could see was a little pair of feet sticking out, yet the dirty looks and snide comments made me feel so upset.
There’s not enough support for mothers as it is and articles like this aren’t helping.
Irish attitudes towards breastfeeding are appalling Carol. People don’t bat an eyelid anymore at semi-nude photos gracing the front cover of a magazine, but a photo of a baby being fed is obscene. If women were encouraged and supported to feed their babies in public, the sight would become so commonplace that people who stop feeling so weirded out by it.
Everything about this article is just plain wrong. I read a comment on another site saying that it’s far more damaging to women than the recent sexist comments by the sky sports presenters. I tend to agree!
I breastfed my little girl and it was a great experience, but not everybody is able to. I read in the Herald that Marisa Mackle’s little boy ended up in a coma in hospital and she was ordered to stop breastfeeding by the doctors. It sounded like a really dreadful experience to happen to any mum. One of my sisters also hates women breasfeeding in public too. I don’t know why but she really does. She says she finds the stares intrusive. I think most people don’t mind if it’s done discreetly but each to their own. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and what works for one person doesn’t mean that it’ll work for everyone.
I read Marisa’s second article in the Herald as well. It certainly does sound like she had an awful time after her baby was born, and I feel terrible for anyone who has to go through that. But I think that’s a separate issue to trying to make breastfeeding women feel like they are doing something wrong when they decide to feed their babies in a public place. Before I had Little Man, I felt quite uncomfortable being around a breastfeeding woman. It only happened a few times, but each time I felt that same sense of “oh my God – where do I look?”. But I recognised that as my issue, not the issue of the breastfeeding mother. And I would never have done anything to make the mother feel uncomfortable. I think Marisa needs to do the same, and realise that the issue is hers to deal with.
I think that Marisa Mackle , from what I have read,encourages breatsfeeding. She is more pro-women and pro-working moms than any other journalist I have ever met. I hope she runs for President. She has a MASSIVE following.
She didn’t sound very enouraging in that article Ricky. 🙂
I breastfed my first daughter and bottlefed the second (for a number of reasons). I had c-sections with both. I didnt feel elated or happy after the births. I felt shellshocked, like I had just been hit with a bus. It took a long time to feel normal afterwards.
But 8 years down the line I can now see that as new mothers we constantly measure ourselves against other mothers. Are they doing things better than us? Are they doing it all right and we have got this mothering business all wrong?
Instead we should each take our own experience of birth and feeding as just that, our experience. Its not a competition.
I love that pic of Miranda Kerr. I loved breastfeeding my eldest. I’m also glad I bottlefed my second.
8 years on, none of it matters you know.
What matters to my kids now is when are One Direction releasing their next single and how soon in advance can you send out invitations to a birthday party!! Bet you can’t tell from those statements what kind of birth they had, or how I fed them!!!
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I love that picture too Ellie – it is just beautiful. Little Man was both breastfed and formula fed – while I would have liked to breastfeed for longer, I don’t regret giving him formula either. It was the right decision for us at the time. And that’s what I always think when I see someone judging someone for choosing to breastfeed or formula feed, or giving birth with or without drugs, or whatever the distinction is between their parenting methods – you don’t know the reasons for the choice that was made, so you have no right to judge.
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