Nicolas Sarkozy: A Determent to Breastfeeding Mothers

French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy welcomed their first child together on October 19.

In case you haven’t heard, Nicolas Sarkozy thinks breastfeeding “is a kind of slavery.” According to The Huffington Post, the French president expressed his jaw-dropping point of view while talking to a group of young French mothers yesterday. He went on to indiscreetly share that his wife Carla Bruni, who gave birth to their first child last month, is “worried about not having enough milk.” He also revealed that he’s pleased breastfeeding lets men off the hook. “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.”

What the h-ll were you thinking, Mr. President?!

Sarkozy’s comments made him sound like an insensitive jerk. He seems to have no compassion for the challenges that breastfeeding mothers face, nor does he seem to appreciate how sacred breastfeeding is. He should know that for many women, breastfeeding is hard and painful and grueling and exhausting, particularly at a time when their hormones are completely out of whack. He should applaud his wife for her efforts, not reveal personal details of her breastfeeding struggles to the world.

I admire Bruni-Sarkozy and every other breastfeeding mother so much. I wasn’t able to breastfeed for long, but I tried my very best, and I’m a little jealous of moms who succeed at breastfeeding. I’m grateful for the fact that Mason’s first food was my breastmilk, and I’m willing to bet Bruni-Sarkozy feels the same way when she feeds her daughter. I hope that after she stops nursing she’ll have some special memories from her breastfeeding experience. I’ll never forget the way Chris teared up the first time he saw Mason nurse, nor the pride and amazement that I felt as I nourished my baby in this special way.

I hope that Sarkozy looks back on his remarks yesterday with regret and embarrassment. (Wouldn’t it be great if his wife made him sleep on the couch last night?) Breastfeeding mothers need to be supported by others, and I’m so disappointed that a person with so much power would make such discouraging remarks about breastfeeding. I hope that he apologizes to his wife and tells her how proud he is of all the efforts she’s making to give their daughter a healthy start. And I hope that one day he’ll be able to recognize what a miracle breastfeeding is.

 

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  1. by Jewels Max

    On November 18, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    I don’t find his comments insensitive at all. I think he is just calling it as it for him. I’ve been breastfeeding my son for 31 months and it is a kind of slavery; One I wholeheartedly am committed to. Why must we be a culture so full of judgement.

  2. by Lauren

    On November 18, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    I don’t think he’s being insensitive either….he’s just stating the facts that as a man there’s not much he can do and it let’s him off the hook, which is totally true, breastfeeding is all on the mothers shoulders…in some ways you do become a slave to the child’s ever demanding needs, maybe he should have used a better word than slave…or maybe it was lost in the translation!

  3. by Jennifer

    On November 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    As a successfully (and currently still, after 13mos) breastfeeding mother I’m inclined to agree with him – it is a form of slavery to grueling hours and occasional pain, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not completely worth it.

    And revealing his wife’s milk worry, haven’t we all thought the same at some point? I would think that it humanized him to the public in a way, to publicly reveal that they have the same fears/concerns as everyone else.

    My husband was relieved too that I chose to breastfeed and stuck with it despite my fears. He was overwhelmed with being responsible for such a tiny person when our son was born, especially with it being our first child and him having virtually no experience with infants.

    Ultimately, I think this writer is a little high strung. Yes, the french president was insensitive, but no need to demonize the man over it… he’s a politician, he can do that himself!

  4. by Michelle Patry

    On November 18, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    I agree with Jewels. Seriously, lighten up. I am a currently breastfeeding mom too and I don’t find this in the least little bit offensive. He is correct, it is a form of slavery and he clearly understands the troubles it is causing his wife if he states it as such. Also, it’s not as if he shared his wife’s underwear colour with the world. He shared a problem which they are BOTH facing in what probably was an attempt to relate with his public. Perhaps you should not be so insensitive towards the men involved in breastfeeding. They have a right to speak about it to.

  5. by Stacy Elofir

    On November 18, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    I agree. We need to chill out with the finger pointing. He is a guy after all…Breastfed all 3 of mine loved it and was happy to have alone time with the babies while my husband rubbed my feet. Not. But I did it because it was the right choice for me…for some it is not and I didn’t expect to be treated differently because of that choice.

  6. by Jennifer Abramshe

    On November 18, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    It is a tad insensitive. Since she is breast feeding he doesn’t have to get up at night with the baby? I am currently breast feeding 8 month old twins and if they wake up, whether it is one or both, my husband goes to their room and gets them and brings them to me to feed them, he then changes them and gets them back to sleep. After breast feeding four kids I know how wonderful it is to have a supportive husband that doesn’t mind waking with the baby and helping out.

  7. by PT

    On November 18, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    slavery may not be the choicest term to use. We would not want to go say, that working hard to provide shelter, food and clothes for our children is slavery. A more helpful term could have been used by stating it is being responsible to provide what we believe is the best for our little ones. Whether that is mixing up the formula and cleaning out bottles, or nursing. either way it is really all about being responsible to provide the best we can for our children.

  8. by Fatima

    On November 18, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    That’s why GOd choose women insted of men to be a mother…he is a jerk of course!!!!!….those who think nursing is a slavery…please think about all the benefits our kids have because of that….I have a 22 months daugther still breastfeedind and I so proud to do it…GOd bless you all.

  9. by Tara

    On November 18, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    Unfortunately, we’re not getting the whole story. As a mom who was pregnant and/or breastfeeding for the last 5 years, part of me was happy and sad that my almost 2 year old wanted to stop. 5 years is a long time to be devoting your body to someone else, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I feel like comments like his discourage breastfeeding in a world where it’s not given the credit it should have. It’s easier on your body (not wallet) to go out and buy your kid formula and in our country it’s “the norm” . Breastfeeding isn’t supported as much as it should be. Then, a president has to make comments like that about it. Most committed breastfeeding mothers don’t look at it as slavery. We are helping our babies to grow as big, strong and healthy by breastfeeding. Please don’t go into it thinking it’s that or most likely you won’t want to. Surround yourself with supporters, cheerleaders and advocates. Find a person you can trust to call when youre so tired that you want to cry, then it hurts to nurse. Have that person support you. It will get better. You’re doing what God intended mom’s to do. A year (or more) is not a long time and it’s one of the best gifts you can give your child. It’s not slavery, it’s a sacrifice, but it’s your child.

  10. by Hanks

    On November 18, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    yuck, americans just can’t take a joke… every man has these same thoughts but as americans we are forced to not speak our minds due to our repressive culture. It’s such a same.

  11. by Becky

    On November 18, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    I don’t think he was being insensitive…he was speaking from a man’s point of view, my husband supports my nursing 100 percent but to him it’s very time consuming and can be a form of “slavery” if you will…my husband didn’t have to get up with our daughters every night I did because I chose to nurse! my husband didn’t get that bottle feeding time to bond because I nursed…I was enslaved to my child and I wouldn’t have that any other way!!! and ya know we as women talk about our low milk supply or sore nipples or engorged breasts so why is it wrong of him to talk about his wife’s fears?? I hope she finds the self confidence to continue!!

  12. by Wendy S

    On November 18, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    It IS slavery, and it is NOT worth it!

  13. by Virginia T.

    On November 18, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    I’m about to get “judgey” Wendy S. maybe your just selfish! Breastfeeding is NOT slavery! It is a choice and it really is worth it, which you find out more and more as the months go by. I have been breastfeeding for 10 months now and I think it is amazing! It can be isolating at times and it definitely gets hard sometimes (like when I’m sick or have a migraine or I’m extra tired and can’t ask hubby to take care of the night feeding) but as far as I was concerned there were no life circumstances keeping me from breastfeeding so it was the ONLY option. The way I see it, even if you do have to go back to work or any other thing preventing you from actually feeding from the breast the only other option was to pump and feed. Formula was NOT going to be used in my home unless I had milk production issues. I also don’t think Sarkozy was being insensitive, he was just telling it like it is and when he said his wife was worried about producing enough milk it might have made many women feel better about their own fear of that. And I must say I don’t fault my husband for reveling in his extra sleep time while I am up feeding the baby (well maybe in the middle of the night when he starts snoring during a feeding, that makes me a little annoyed LOL)and he, more than anyone can see how isolating breastfeeding is for the mother. So maybe “slavery” was the wrong word to use but clearly he can see how hard it is for his wife and that he acknowledged it is pretty noble if you ask me.

  14. by CMP

    On November 18, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    As a Mum who had difficulty establishing breastfeeding with my first baby but successfully did so with my second and third, I can’t help but agree that breastfeeding is a strong committment. However after my failure with my first I was delighted to be enslaved to my baby the second time. I worked hard with my first to establish a feeding routine that closely resembled breastfeeding, holding him for all feeds etc. but to feed my babe myself was beyond wonderful for me. It gives as much to Mum as it does to Baby.

  15. by susanddz

    On November 18, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Apparently the President of France is an idiot. Breastfeeding is a commitment, not slavery. It defintely does not let fathers “off the hook”. If you have a sharing relationship with the father/partner of your child, he will be there to support you. Breastfeeding is an amazing, fullfilling experience. I’m so blessed to have had a wonderful experience with my children. And very pleased that my daughter has had the same experience.

  16. by Bubblegum

    On November 18, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    The President of France has got to be crazy. Even if he believes that, why would he say it? And besides, what the hell does he know about slavery? How can he compare the two, because I doubt he has been involved in either breastfeeding or slavery. Not a comparison at all, Mr. President. Speak on topics that you have personal experience or knowledge of.

  17. by Tracy

    On November 18, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    I don’t think he was being insensitive at all. He was acknowledging how hard breast feeding is. Breastfeeding is just as hard as it is a beautiful gift. It is one of the best most difficult things I’ve ever done. I breast fed for 6 months and it is challenging to be the only person who can feed your child. You never get a break. It’s easy to feel discouraged and be tempted to give up especially if you think it’s easy for other moms and you’re the only one who is exhausted, or the only one who comes close to buying formula because you’re not sure you can take another sleepless night, or the only one who wishes JUST ONCE someone would give your baby a bottle so you can sleep for 4 hours instead of just two. If every mom went into breastfeeding knowing how demanding it is for everyone then maybe more moms would keep breastfeeding. I thank President Sarkozy for giving breastfeeding moms credit for doing something wonderful no matter how hard it is as well as letting moms know that EVERYONE struggles with breastfeeding.

  18. by kat

    On November 18, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    I think someone sounds a bit hormonal…
    He did not sound insensitive to me. I think he was being comical, and you are just PMSing or something. Yes, I am a woman who breastfed both her children past the age of one.

  19. by Jessica H

    On November 18, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    I get why a men would say that b/c they don’t get the pleasure of experiencing it for themselves. Lucky for me I have a wonderful supportive husband that was totally on board for me to breastfeed our twins…yes twins. I’m still 15mo later breastfeeding 2. I also work full time & pump while at work. It’s not slavery at all. It’s a choice for a mother to breastfeed or not & a choice every woman has a right to make & for her own reasoning. If you choose to breastfeed don’t turn around & consider yourself a slave. That’s so hypocritical.

  20. by Jennifer

    On November 18, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    I think maybe he was just stating things as he saw it. Breastfeeding can be challenging, especially when you’re on no sleep. Sounds to me like he hit the nail on the head. I’m currently breastfeeding my 1O mo old, and I’m not going to lie, I’m looking forward to getting my body back when she weans. I couldn’t do it with my oldest, and that sucked, but some days it would be a blessing to give the baby a bottle so I can get stuff done. I chose to breastfeed because it’s the best for my child, not because it’s fun to be someone’s entire food supply. I think the president was just brave enough to say what a lot of us have thought at one time or anther. So kudos for him for even talking about it, breastfeeding is still sometimes regarded as a taboo subject. Thank you sir for telling it how it is, even if you muddled it! =)

  21. by renai

    On November 18, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    Wht is wrong with him just being honest? The big problem with breastfeeding is no 1 evr says the bad things about it how hard it is how time consuming and it puts pressure on young mothers, many who quit bc they r under the impression tht this should b easy. We spend so much time judging others opinions tht we miss the truth n Wht they r saying. The man expressed his opinion, u don’t have to agree but don’t condemn him for stating his truth.

  22. by Katryn

    On November 18, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Not to be redundant, but I agree with the multitude of posts saying this being blown out of proportion. Maybe slavery is a strong word, but for those of us who put the health and well-being of our children(medical issues aside- and “it hurts” does not count as a medical issue) above all else Do Not have a choice and, therefore, are enslaved. And my husband IS off the hook… Why do both of us have to be up 3 times a night to feed a baby when I’m the only one with breasts? That’s just selfish. Sure, it’s annoying dome times when she begs to nurse in the middle of a pt conference (or target). Sure, more people than I ever signed on for have caught a glimpse of nipple when she decides to pull away and smile at me at an inopportune time… But still. I actually APPLAUD him for speaking public ally and honestly about his wife’s fears and struggles. That’s not a detriment to breastfeeding- that’s encouragement. And any woman who is swayed by a those comments wouldn’t last out the first two or three excrutiatingly painful weeks. Four children, six years total nursing…

  23. by Heather

    On November 18, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    Thank you all so much for reading this post and sharing your thoughts!

  24. by J

    On November 18, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    Great article! I agree Heather! Some things are better left unsaid (better yet, “unthought”).

  25. by Sally

    On November 19, 2011 at 1:13 am

    I agree with him!!! I am sure everyone’s husband thinks the same about it. If I was a man I would!!!
    My son is 10 months and I have stopped breast feeding and every time I feed him I say thank goodness breast feeding is over!!!!!
    I did feel like a slave!!!

  26. by Corina

    On November 19, 2011 at 2:01 am

    Oh, my! Someone is taking themselves entirely too seriously. I am a proud breastfeeding mother (13 months and counting!), but come on! I would hardly call the act of feeding my child sacred! LOL!
    I think him saying it is a kind of slavery is right on. Women should be prepared for the level of dedication it takes to make breastfeeding successful, especially in the early weeks. So many women try breastfeeding with false expectations of what the process should be and are setting themselves up for FAILURE! Tell these poor women the truth! It’s hard, then it get’s harder and then one day it will finally feel like the most natural thing in the world :)

  27. by J

    On November 21, 2011 at 12:33 am

    I wonder if any of the mothers he spoke to were offended. I don’t think his comments were offensive. Perhaps something got lost in translation? P.s. I Am still bf and agree it’s a choice. On a side note, I hate it when people criticize women for using formula. Seems like there’s too much judgment

  28. by Suzette Patterson

    On November 21, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    I can understand how some people may think his comments were offensive. On the other hand, perhaps what he meant by “slavery” is that one must be on hand, at the infants beck and call, at all times, which is very demanding and tough work. As all breast feeding, or bottle feeding moms know, babies are extremely demanding, and caring for them requires one to surrender one’s personal needs and desires, and for a short time, even one’s person-hood it seems. The thing I think is funny is that I don’t really see how breast feeding is any different than bottle feeding in terms of time and commitment (except that the father can do it too). Babies need to eat when they need to eat … breast or bottle. In my opinion, at least for me, I think it is easier to give a baby a breast in the middle of the night than it is to get up, mix formula, heat it, bottle feed and burp. I have been breast feeding my child for 3 years, 5 months. I thought he would want to stop after a year, definitely two, but he is feeding almost as much at three as he did at one. I had major problems at first, but I am so glad I stuck with it. I was lucky that the hospital where I delivered had a lactation center, with lactation consultants, equipment, etc. They also had a lactation support circle that met once a week, where moms could come, discuss their concerns, problems they were having, etc. Since being a new mom can be very isolating, it was a chance to get out, socialize, meet other new moms and to realize that almost everyone has problems at first and that we all manage to get through it.

    I don’t think it is a big deal at all that he mentioned that his wife was having concerns about her milk supply. To me, it is not a personal defect or an embarrassing disease one would wish to keep private. I think he was just letting the public, who are interested in their welfare, how things are going.

    On the other hand, I spent 2 months in France this summer with my in-laws. It seems to me that attitudes in France regarding breast feeding are not as progressive as they are here in California, or in other parts of Europe (my sister in-law said that 6 months was the norm in France – though I am not sure she can speak for all of France) and she referred me to an article written by a “known”, French, pediatric psychologist that basically said that children who are breast fed for an extended period have psychological problems. I looked for the article, but could not find it, but I found many other articles in medical journals that stated just the opposite. Go figure. So perhaps the French attitude towards breast feeding is not quite as pro as we are at this point in time. Who knows. Also, Sarkozy is not really French and neither is his wife. He has French citizenship, but he is of Eastern European origin. His parents immigrated to France when he was a child, so who knows where his views actually originate.

  29. by winterglow

    On November 25, 2011 at 1:56 am

    It would perhaps help to know that “slavery” (esclavage in French) does not carry all of the connotations that it does in English. It’s a very much milder word and is used often to refer to something that has to be done, deprives you of some of your time, puts someone else’s needs before your own. In French, homework is slavery, cleaning the house is slavery, etc.

  30. by Melanie

    On December 6, 2011 at 9:49 am

    What’s the big deal? He’s spot on. It IS slavery. Heck, being a parent is slavery. It doesn’t mean it’s an awful thing, or that most of us would trade it for anything… but it is what it is!

    And really, who cares anyway? Why does everyone have to make such a fuss all the time about breastfeeding or not? Women can be so judgmental about each other, I swear!

  31. by Heidi

    On December 19, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Ah that “charming” French misogyny! Breastfeeding is not slavery; it is a relationship between a mother and her baby, a very special relationship that can be rewarding for the mother as well as the baby! There are important health benefits to the mother and she feels bonded to her baby and proud of her body’s awesome ability to nourish her baby. I wouldn’t have it any other way.