She starts out discussing how, like most American women, she was overly exposed to infant formula but she also knew that 'breast is best'. She says that she chose to breast-feed, that it was amazing, really changed her as a woman, and is the most gratifying thing she has ever done. However, Tina Fey hit the usual Booby Traps, and only managed to breastfeed for about 72 hours. She supplemented with formula, and then she decided to pump her milk, which she did for about 7 weeks before switching to all-formula. She claims she pumped while watching Entourage while her baby was in the other room, which, while I don't know if this is true, was possibly the reason she wasn't able to pump very much milk.
All in all, Tina Fey felt like she was "trapped," "attached to a tit juicer," and that she had "failed at something that was supposed to be natural." These are, unfortunately, frequently-heard reactions to the modern-day breastfeeding and early motherhood experience. What Tina Fey, and most women, don't know is that they shouldn't feel disappointed in themselves, they should be disappointed in their culture and institutions that are pressuring them to breastfeed but setting them up to fail.
Tina Fey explains the common reaction that women have when they wanted to breastfeed but "fail." She felt defensive and grouchy whenever the topic came up, especially with women who successfully breastfed, or anyone who touted the benefits of breast milk. Unfortunately, she used these emotions to lash out at these women and call them "Teat Nazis."
These are the women who not only brag endlessly about how much their five year old still loves breast milk, but they also grill you about your choices. You can recognize the TNs by their hand-carved daggers:“Are you breast-feeding? Isn’t it amazing? I really think it’s how I lost the weight so easily. Did you have a vaginal birth? I went natural and I didn’t even tear. Are you back at work already? Do you feel weird about going back to work? I just love my baby so much I can’t imagine going back to work yet. You’re not nursing? She’s only fifteen months; you should try again!”Now, let me be clear; millions of women around the world nurse their children beautifully for years without giving anybody else a hard time about it. Teat Nazis are a solely western upper-middle-class phenomenon occurring when highly ambitious women experience deprivation from outside modes of achievement. Their highest infestation pockets are in Brooklyn and Hollywood.If you are confronted by a TN, you have two options. One, when they ask if you’re breast-feeding, you can smile and say, “Yes. It’s amazing.” (You owe it to your baby to lie.) Or you can go for the kill. The only people who can shame the Teat Nazis are the Adoptive Mommies. If you have a friend who has an adopted child, especially one from another country, bring him or her around, because they make the Teat Nazis’ brains short-circuit: “How can I… feel superior… you… bigger sacrifice… can’t judge…” and their big ol’ dinner plate nipples pop off as they crumple to the ground and disappear.
This is where my enjoyment of the book dropped and I felt annoyed. Here was a mainstream icon and mainstream book encouraging women to be annoyed with women who talk about how wonderful breastfeeding is. No one should keep from discussing breastfeeding simply because it makes others feel guilty. This is like saying that a doctor should not discuss why their patient should eat better or exercise so that they don't make their patient feel guilty about being obese. There are true health effects of breastfeeding or not breastfeeding just as there are for being obese. Tina Fey calling women who love breastfeeding and encourage other women to breastfeed "Teat Nazi's" does little for the image of breastfeeding advocacy and in helping women choose to breastfeed. Stories from friends and public icons about being judged, berated or guilted for feeding their babies formula by militant breastfeeding supporters only contributes to anti-breastfeeding feelings and actions. It is a cultural Booby Trap and undermines serious public health efforts to promote breastfeeding.
Now, I do not think that anyone should judge others for the situations they find themselves in. I think anyone who was openly judging Tina Fey or any woman for trying to breastfeed and switching to formula is out of order. No one should disparage women for bottle feeding, because they do not know that woman's individual story. But it needs to be recognized that a breastfeeding advocate, a.k.a. "lactivist," does not deserve the title "Breastfeeding Nazi" or any other form of such a term.
I also felt sad for Tina Fey and all the women who experience these sort of emotions, because it is not their fault and it is not the breastfeeding advocates' fault, either. Calling each other names, especially one with the word "nazi" in it, is wrong. Lactivists have not killed millions of people, and equating mass murder with breastfeeding advocacy undermines the lives taken during the Holocaust.
Lactivists encourage women to try breastfeeding in the first place (including educating on the benefits of breastfeeding and the risks associated with formula feeding), to keep trying, and give women the skills and tools to do so. The individuals are not to blame, the system is. To read more about institutional and cultural booby traps that are setting women up to fail at breastfeeding, check out Best for Babes.