Really Gisele? A Breastfeeding Law?

By Heather Sobieralski, originally posted on

When the supermodel Gisele made a statement this summer that it should be a law for all mothers to breastfeed their babies for six months, it got me thinking about my own experience with little ones at my breasts. I had very different feeding journeys with my two children. My second child latched on immediately. He made sweet suckling noises, stared into my eyes and paused his nursing only to smile at me. It was beautiful, natural and exactly how we are brainwashed that it should be. But it is amazing that I had tried a second time at all, as trying to feed my first child was at best, mechanical. I needed eight arms, 17 contraptions, tea bags for my nipples and a big box of tissues for my tears.

I was firm in my decision to at least try to breastfeed. I had read (just like every other anxious and overly informed first-time mother) that breast is best. So if I was going to be the best mom I could possibly be, I was going to try my hardest — despite infections, blood, puss, and completely losing my freedom, body and confidence, damn it!

Breastfeeding is NOT always so natural

I had a hell of a time right off the bat. My baby would suck my breasts like a high powered Hoover Vac for four seconds and pull off (nipple still attached in mouth) flailing, grunting and stretching me before releasing my injured nipple to let out the most unbearable scream as if to say,”YOUR MILK SUCKS, MOMMMMMMYYYY!!!” We tried this ritual every two hours on the dot for the next two days. I had nurses, lactation consultants and friends with “breasts made for feeding” come and try to help the situation. No luck.

My baby was so hungry in the hospital that all she did was cry — literally, that is all she did for two days. But the “good mother” that I was, I refused to give her formula or a bottle because all of my “handy books” said that bottles would result in nipple confusion — and we both seemed confused enough, thank you very much! The nurses talked me into taping a tiny tube to my breast down to my nipple which would run formula into my baby’s mouth, as she was “breast feeding”.  Um, no luck there either — the only difference was that I got a belly button full of formula.

Before I left the hospital I was told I had “inverted nibbles, a slow let-down and a pre-mature baby who had poor sucking technique.”  Good god, what do my boobs do right? The lactation consultants gave me a hand pump to stimulate “let-down” before I had even attempted to nurse. I was to wear plastic, cone shaped “nipple shields” under my bra 24 hours a day to try to pull my nibbles to task, and I was to feed this baby formula through a syringe or that small tube because after all, she was STARVING!

Looking back, it is not surprising that I cried, or that my husband frequently left the room, or that I stiffened my body and wanted to refuse my baby every time she let me know it was time to eat. My nipples were cracked, bleeding and actually had puss coming out of them. For the first 10-15 seconds of each feeding I was in excruciating pain. I was sent on my way to somehow feed this baby alone, at home (without the assistance of eight other hands and a team of professionals).

A natural, beautiful and bonding experience? Not for me! God knows I wanted it to be, but what I was living was far from how all of my “helpful mom books” described it!

Banned from nursing

We spent one night at home with our new baby before our pediatrician told us she would have to be admitted to the hospital for severe jaundice. One of the first things the nurses told me (which to this day I don’t understand, but I was too out of it to question) was that I could no longer breastfeed. I must feed with formula because it helped the bilirubin levels pass more quickly. From this point on, I pumped breast milk with tears streaming down my face because of the physical pain and perceived “failure” as a provider.

So the pair of us never did get the whole breastfeeding thing. Whenever we tried, it would usually go a bit like this: suck suck suck, pull off, scream, breast milk squirting in the face, bigger screams, arching back, scream, put baby down (mom crying now) and pump out the milk so breasts don’t continue to squirt like wild fire hoses across the room. Sadly, by now my postpartum depression had set in (a whole other post) and I felt like I was an awful, ill-equipped and unloveable mommy. In my dark and foggy haze, the only thing I felt that I could give my baby that nobody else could was breast milk. So I continued to struggle, to beat myself up, to pump pump pump pump for TEN MONTHS! I only gave it up because I had no more milk to give.

I was recently asked, “What is one thing you would have done differently as a new mom?” I replied, “I would not have breastfed.” I wish I would have spent my time holding and cuddling my baby with a big ol’ bottle of formula, instead of holding a breast pump, obsessing about how many ounces I had, leaking through my shirt at work and feeling guilty because I sucked at this very thing I was trying so desperately to provide.

The debate: breast vs. bottle

The debate continues. This topic certainly has two very passionate schools of thought. Personally, I don’t care if you breastfeed exclusively, formula feed, suppress your milk to bottle feed, whip out your breast to feed your baby while having a conversation with my husband, or have a team of nursemaids to feed your child. I just want moms to be happy. I hope women make their feeding decisions based on what is best for them and what feels comfortable. Happy women make the best moms, so do what makes you happy! (Visit this site for more neutral information about what type of feeding is best for you and your lifestyle.)

What about you? What was your experience with breastfeeding or choosing not to? Do or did you feel this pressure to breastfeed because of societal expectations or your own need to provide the “golden serum”? What do you think of Gisele’s proposed breastfeeding law?

Heather is a regular blogger for and a life coach for moms, school counselor and mama who is committed to rocking her mojo! She has two extremely “spirited”, independent, and strong-willed children who test her, teach her and exhaust her…several times a day. Visit Heather’s site My Mama Mojo for more information on life coaching for moms.

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LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

K s Goh
KS Goh4 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Tiffany Derichsweiler
Tiffany D.4 years ago

Although unrealistic, Im glad that a high-publicity person like Gisele made that comment. We need more prominent people out there promoting the acceptability of breastfeeding so that hopefully one day we might get back to a more balanced view of the naturalness of breastfeeding.

Michele G.
Past Member 4 years ago


Nimue Pendragon
Nimue Pendragon4 years ago

Making an informed choice is all you can do. You can't make a law about this, we're not living in Gattaca or Libria.

Christiane M.
Christiane M.5 years ago

I guess I am a lucky mum. My two sons were (are) naturals on the breast. Both of them latched on perfectly from the very first feed and are thriving at 5 and 21 months, respectively.

That said, I sympathize with women who can't. One friend of mine, her firstborn was born with a milk allergy. He's about 8 now and she's still discovering new allergies he's got. When her doctors told her not to breastfeed and put him on a special lactose-free formula, my own mother was horrified. I remember being very confused... if breastmilk is supposed to be tailored to your child's needs, was her body supposed to be producing lactose-free breastmilk?

Now, with that in mind... please explain to me, why all the fuss over something a stupidmodel said? Oops... supermodel? Does ANYONE in the world take ANYTHING one of them says seriously? Their job is looks-based, not brainpower based! Get over it! Nobody is going to make laws based on their thoughts, or anorexia would be a legal right and lifestyle choice by now.

Jessica T.
Jessica T.5 years ago

I had a similar experience to nursing. When I had me son, I wanted to breastfeed but my son never latched on correctly, my nipples were flat, and it resulted in hour after hour of pain for me and constant crying from my son. He cried nearly nonstop when he was in the hospital and the first few days we brought him home. Five days after he was born I had cracked bleeding nipples. We started him on formula and I continued to pump though we didn't want to give him bloody milk so I just threw it out. My son was a totally pleasant baby after switching to formula. Two days later my left side flow stopped and I started running a high fever I called my midwife who told me that "women often imagine pain in order to justify formula but I just needed to put the pain out of my mind." Two days after that I woke up to an oozing sore on my breast that turned into an abscess. I ended up in the hospital, almost lost both my left breast and my life. I never went back to that ignorant closed minded midwife and I happily gave my son formula. Would I have rather nursed without problem and saved myself tons of money spent on formula, sure, but my life and my health were more important and the fact that my son became a happy content baby the second he started getting formula tells me that perhaps breast wasn't best for us. I will not try nursing again. I applaud women who nurse, but being a mom is hard and you have to make the choices that are right for yourself and your family.

Martha Pendino
Past Member 5 years ago

Unfortunately when I breast fed no one taught me how to do it. I just stuck the baby up there and she went to work. It is not something we learned in nursing school at that time either. For all four children the first few minutes were excruciatingly painful. My toes curled, I stiffened up and tears came to my eyes as I waited for the pain to pass. It wasn't until my daughter had my first grandchild and she was taught the correct way for the baby to latch on could I say "Oh that's how you do it!" I am angry that I was never taught and that it was such a difficult experience due to the lack of knowledge. As for a law? We have too many laws to begin with. Breastfeeding should be encouraged but not mandated.

Dee V.
Dee V.5 years ago

Women really need to understand that while "breast is best" it is not as "natural" as its made out to be and like the author some women really struggle. If thats the case they really shouldn't be judged for having tried. Its the women that won't even consider breastfeeding that need to be reached, but I don't think it should be LAW as anything thats forced is not a choice. At least Giselle's "Supermodel" status is bringing attention to this issue...