I express myself much better in writing. I always have. Perhaps most people do, but it was glaringly obvious to me after being a guest speaker on The Feminist Breeder and Friend’s Blog Talk Radio Show. Even when I can prepare what I want to say, put me on the spot and it doesn’t come out like I want it to. I guess I did okay though. People said I did. Maybe I should just stop being hard on myself. I know. Welcome to the club, right?
Anyhow, one question Gina, aka, The Feminist Breeder, said she might ask me, which we didn’t get around to, was why I think breastfeeding moms should unite. I realized I’ve never addressed this before and since it didn’t get any air time, I thought I would answer it here.
Why I want breastfeeding moms to unite is why I started this blog.
I have seen attitudes that exist within the breastfeeding community that make some breastfeeding moms feel uncomfortable, in relation to other breastfeeding mothers, about their breastfeeding choices or life circumstances. Usually this is because someone significant in their lives doesn’t support what they are doing or the mom herself doesn’t think it’s the norm or socially acceptable. This could include early weaning, child-led weaning, breastfeeding a toddler, breastfeeding an older child, holding off solids (or introducing them early) and/or breastfeeding in public. Sometimes their feelings of discomfort come from something else completely unrelated to breastfeeding, like having a hospital vs. homebirth experience, or a doctor vs. a midwife-attended birth, and/or parenting beliefs and values that aren’t mainstream (or maybe they are but the values of the people around them aren’t).
A breastfeeding mom may or may not belong to a circle of breastfeeding mothers. Maybe she doesn’t have any breastfeeding friends or she’s the only woman in her family to breastfeed. The members of one’s local La Leche League is often the beginnning of creating a breastfeeding community. However, some La Leche League groups have been accused of not making some moms feel welcome. I have heard this from women of colour, single moms, working moms, lesbian moms and other moms who fit into any of the above categories who just don’t feel like they could be accepted into the perceived clique of their particular La Leche League group.
La Leche League is an organization that makes itself available as a breastfeeding resource and support group to all women. Leaders are trained to ensure that all moms regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, life circumstances, etc. feel welcome to attend meetings and/or call for telephone support. As a worldwide organization it has helped countless breastfeeding women (including me), but as it is with any group, if someone feels like they don’t belong, for whatever reason, she will not likely return. And she’s definitely going to complain! Enough of these kinds of complaints put people off and further widens the gap between all the different kinds of breastfeeding moms.
That’s where Breastfeeding Moms Unite! steps in. While some of you might not always be able to relate to all of my experiences, know that it is my objective to make you feel comfortable here.
Breastfeeding moms should unite because
we need each others support.
we give each other strength to nurse in public and nurse full term.
when we can’t breastfeed as long as we would like to we need to know that we’re not failures, and/or that we did the best we could do with the information that was available to us at the time.
the presence of a breastfeeding mother goes a long way to normalizing breastfeeding and helps to break down misconceptions that breastfeeding is gross or hurts. When people get used to seeing breastfeeding they can then be more open to learning about it.
positive breastfeeding images will help send positive messages to teenage girls, especially those who become teenage moms. This is especially important because breastfeeding rates are so low within this age group.
nursing in public is a right regardless if one chooses to do so. A public breastfeeding mom should know she will be supported by her breastfeeding sisters, even those who choose not to nurse in public themselves.
diversity needs to embraced and celebrated. We are all different. Some of us work and pump, some of us stay at home, some of us breastfeed exclusively, some of us want to but can’t.
But if all of us who breastfeed are passionate about doing what is best for our babies, then breastfeeding moms should unite.