Friday, February 24, 2012

Let's encourage, support...and stop the attacks


Yesterday, I posted this article and said the following:
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say this is why so many people look at lactivists and think we're nutty. I do NOT agree with everything this article says however there are a few things I want to say. 1. How did the protestors of this ad know anything about the situation that lead to this baby being fed a bottle? Perhaps mom died, perhaps she works, perhaps she was at the dr, perhaps she exclusively pumps, perhaps she has cancer and is on chemo and can't breastfeed...WHO KNOWS!? 2. If we're going to portray an ad that includes a daddy bottle feeding his babe, don't we want it to look JUST LIKE THIS ONE?! We always say that feeding time should be an intimate experience, regardless of if it's bottle or breast...how could this be any less intimate? Daddy is holding his baby close, kissing baby's head, snuggling baby...that's about as perfect of a bottle feeding as it gets. 
What do you think?
Of course, as soon as I posted that some of our readers got defensive about using the word "protesters" and said we were calling lactivists nutty...among others. Le sigh. I knew this would happen when I dared to disagree with the breastfeeding community, but I really do feel that the removal of this picture is just simply unnecessary. I know I know...that's going to make people angry that I said that. I accept that but I really want to say something here.

Why I'm upset about people being upset about this image is that it shows a daddy being so loving, so involved with his childs feeding....it's such a sweet, beautiful image. Absolutely, breastfeeding is best and normal. We KNOW that. I mean come on people..do some people honestly think that we have some hidden agenda trying to normalize bottlefeeding and The Good Letdown is just a front? No. We take hours of time our of our lives to normalize breastfeeding, to assist mothers, to answer questions. We moderate our facebook page, comb through the list of people who joined to look for obvious trolls, we communicate with other breastfeeding pages on facebook about potential trolls...we do this all free. We get together and have meetings about how we can make this the best blog and support group for all the mamas out there...simply because we care. We do not make a single cent off this page. Often times, we buy things for giveaways...just because we want to. Our time, energy, research...it's all because we are passionate about breastfeeding and we truly want to normalize it and help others. That being said, I still disagree that this picture needs to be removed.

There are situations where bottles are necessary. Maybe mama works full time and daddy stays at home. Maybe mama died. Maybe he's a gay dad. Maybe both parents work split shifts so that someone is always home with baby. Maybe mama has severe postpartum depression and needed to go to the doctor. Maybe mama just wanted to go to the freaking grocery store along for 45 minutes and drink a cup of coffee. We don't know what the situation is that leads to this image of this papa feeding his baby. Maybe it's expressed breastmilk and maybe it's formula. In a perfect world, all babies would be breastfed and all mamas would breastfeed whenever and whereever. In a perfect world, breastfeeding would be shown on TV shows, talked about in novels, would be on Sesame Street and Sid the Science Kid. But as we know, there are babies who are bottle fed. And there are babies who are on formula. And as strongly as I believe all babies deserve breastmilk, I also understand that it's simply not always going to be the case. And if that's the case, I am comforted by the fact that the papas in the world would feed their babies like this papa is feeding his baby. Snuggled closely, kissing baby's head, not propping the bottle...he is involved with the feeding.

I am NOT saying that daddy's need to feed their baby to bond with them. That's not what I'm saying AT ALL. What I AM saying is that IF daddy has to feed the baby a bottle, for whatever reason, this is the way to do it. What we have here is a picture of a young daddy, snuggling his baby close to him so baby can hear his heartbeat, feel his breathing and kissing baby's head while he feeds him. This image is the perfect example of how we should feed a baby IF baby cannot be breastfed.

Now, all that being said (man, I can't believe how I have to defend this), I do see why LLL leaders in NZ did what they did but I do think they could have handled it differently. What if, instead of removing this lovely image of papa feeding his baby, they put their efforts into normalizing nursing another way? Could we have two commercials? Could we have two families in the commercial (which, by the way, is a non smoking commercial)? I mean...can't we find another way that doesn't take away this image of a daddy feeding his baby in the most loving way possible? To me, this picture is empowering for young fathers who may not be as involved. Let's fight the bottle propping, the formula advertisements and continue normalizing breastfeeding and breastfeeding in public instead of fighting an ad like this. If it the mother had ANYTHING to do with this ad, I could see an argument but the mother isn't present.

I'm not saying lactivists are nutty. I'm a lactivist. An outspoken one. Every single person I know, friend, family member, acquaintance, neighbor...they all know it. My book shelves are lined with all breastfeeding books, my mind thinks about breastfeeding way more than it should, I talk about it multiple times a day, I hand out "thank you for nursing in public" cards...I am a lactivist. And I've been called a boob nazi, a breastfeeding nut..etc etc etc. I don't' like that we're viewed that way. WHAT I SAID was NOT that lactivists are nutty. What I SAID was that we are viewed that way and when we get pissed off and jump on this type of thing...it furthers that myth about us. That is all I said. And I also said I didn't agree with much of the way the article was written. But sometimes, people are SO quick to jump onto a few words and it gets out of hand.

Let's fight this:




And let's support and encourage this (and more!):





Sunday, February 5, 2012

Three and a Half

I've been breastfeeding Chicken Little for three and a half years. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine nursing a child passed a year... but here we are... still going strong.  He's the oldest of all the nurslings in my little circle by a few weeks.

I remember sitting on New Years Eve chatting online with folks and wondering if this would be our last year nursing. He is well within the window of natural age self weaning.  It'll be completely up to him on when that window will come to a close. Right now he nurses about 3-4 times a day, mostly just ones that are in our daily routine.

Unlike baby sister Chicklett, Chicken Little has always been the kid that could stay on the nipple for hours. When he was a baby I would watch movie after movie during the day while he lazily slept and boobed during the day. I've almost always had to physically unlatch him with my hands to get him to stop. Now at three years old it's a little inside joke we have. At his pre-naptime boob I usually start to get a little antsy about ten minutes in. He can sense it... and usually smooshes his face into my boob so that I can't get my fingers in there to unlatch him. Fortunately for me, his laughing and antics usually free up space for me to sneak in.

There has been a joke in this house that our daughter would wean before her big brother. She is not quite the boob monster that he has always been. Don't get me wrong, she loves booby milk... but she's always been a "drink and dash" kid. Been a totally different relationship than what I have with the boy. They are 25 months apart, and it could be possible that Chicklett self weans at two years old and Chicken Little is still nursing strong at four. I don't know if that's ever happened to anyone before, but I suppose anything is possible.

At this point we've never gone more than 24 hours without a boob and he is obviously very interested in nursing. From conversations with previous full term nursing mothers it seems like the self weaning process is a slow one. I really don't anticipate this being the year of his weaning, but there is a little birdy in the back of my head saying that if it is his time I will be ready to follow his lead.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Not So Graceful, The Grace Cafe

Imagine if you visited a small business of a cute little cafe... enjoyed your food... breastfed your child... and had an all around pleasant experience only to go home and find this as the Facebook status for that little cafe:


"We fully support a mother's desire to nurse her child, but we would appreciate it if you would use discretion by covering yourself. Thank you."


That is what happened to Charisma and her friend when they ate lunch at The Grace Cafe yesterday in Bellingham Washington. Much of the original post is recorded in screen shots, but it has been removed from the cafe's Facebook wall.  You can see much of the backlash from that status, and it was removed as soon as the owners realized that they were in the wrong. She is citing ignorance to the law and has apologized. It's fantastic that she backtracked and apologized, businesses who stand behind their discrimination until they are blue in the face certain do exist. Remember No Strings Attached in Dekalb? THAT guy was truly a hateful individual.  I'm glad that The Grace Cafe owner realized the error of her ways, and therefore she probably doesn't deserve to be continually attacked by the masses, but I don't believe I would dine there. She may as well have posted on her Facebook status that she would like for African Americans or Gays to sit at the back of the restaurant. It's an ugly cruel thought, and one that is not easily erased just by claiming you had no idea it was legally protected for her to breastfeed without a cover. Breastfeeding in public may not exactly be a "civil rights issue" in the eyes of the law, but it certainly is a civil right in my mind. And most certainly one I will defend with utmost seriousness. 


I gather from the Facebook wall that this morning The Grace Cafe will have a "breastfeeding friendly" sign hanging in the window. What do you think about this? Is it false advertising? Probably not, I think we all know they would be a fool to harass a breastfeeding mother at this point. We all know her true feelings now, and personally I would never be comfortable breastfeeding there based on that original status. This sign will probably put at ease new mothers who are unaware of the incident... but for those of us who know the back story... I would know that she would rather I be covered and hidden. Which, many of us know that covering a nursling is easier said than done. An uncovered mother isn't necessarily showing any skin to the public either, for the record. But, even if she is - your opinions about it being wrong don't really matter. She is protected by law to nurse however she is comfortable doing so.