Friday, August 04, 2006

Slipping on my lactavist cap

Did you know that it is World Breastfeeding Week? Some folks wonder, "Why is that necessary?" to which I reply, "If we can have any number of goofy days and weeks thru the year, we can dedicate a few days to the importance of breastfeeding." You would be surprised at how many people truly do not understand the impact of mother's milk for an infant.

I learned about this picture through
The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action website. A mother of a 13 year old boy considered this magazine cover offensive, even calling it 'pornographic" before shredding it. I understand the importance of modesty, but really, sheilding a young adult from a visual such as this does more harm than good.

We need to teach our children that breastfeeding is not 'best' - it is normal. It is the reason the female species have lactating breasts after delivery. There should be no shame attached to the act of breastfeeding. Ever.

Long ago, while living in California, I was a member of a very active breastfeeding support group. We helped new mothers learn why and how to breastfeed. We talked with local pediatrician offices and offered our help, free of charge. It was successful.

At one point, we heard of a mother who had been harrassed by a mall employee. The mother was sitting on a bench, nursing her young infant. She was not using a cover up, but did not show an inch of skin. You simply saw a mother cradling an infant. The mother was told to use the restroom for "that." The mom, unsure of herself to begin with, took her baby and went home.
What a shame. Once she cried her tears and found her wit, she called the group.

I called the mall office and spoke with a very kind woman. She had heard there was a problem and apologized. She had planned on sending the mother a card of apology. That was great, but it wasn't enough. We agreed that an inservice of sorts was necessary. On a Saturday morning, before the mall opened, the mall office had all of their employees gather for a meeting. I, along with 2 other support ladies were in attendance.

We walked every inch of the mall and made note of every ad that showcased the female breast in a commerical and/or provacative manner. Between Victorias Secret, Spencers and many others stores, it became apparent that the media in our society uses the female breast to sell everything, except breastmilk. If you throw in the average teen girl that visits the mall, wearing much less than the average nursing mother, and you can figure out why so many people are confused. Our senses have become twisted. We are numb to blatant sexuality, but offended at the natural act of breastfeeding.

The days are gone when women received breastfeeding advice (that is correct) from mom, grandma, aunts and family friends. We live in a world were, "As long as you are happy, it doesn't matter." I disagree with that statement, but we'll save that for another entry.
Instead, we have new mothers scrambling for help - believing every myth under the sun and falling prey to the ever growing marketing ploys of the formula company.

I am happy to see a swing in breastfeeding trends. Most mothers start out breastfeeding these days - a huge improvememnt from 10 years ago. Sadly, the average mother introduces formula by the 8th week and discontinues nurisng altogher by month 6. We have a long way to go before hitting the recommended 12 months put forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization.

So, what can you do to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week? If you are a nursing mother, great! Enjoy this special time. If you are out in public and see another breastfeeding mother, give her a smile. If you have children past the age of nursing, take the time to teach them the importance for both mom and baby in regard to berastfeeding. It is time to take the shadow of shame off of breastfeeding and rejoince in His great plan for nurturing.


Blogger MEH said...


I am a first-time mom; my daughter is 9 months old. At her check up yesterday, her weight had slipped from 50th percentile at 6 months to 25th percentile this visit. The nurse suggested that I might not be making enough milk. It's a good thing I'm "old" or that comment would've really thrown me off my game. Of course the nurse could be right, it's hard to say, but Violet is gaining weight and I nurse on cue - she never fails to let me know when she's hungry. Of course we're also experimenting with solids, but I see no reason to discontinue breastfeeding. Back at the beginning when doctors thought she might be allergic to milk protein, I was thanking God that I was breastfeeding because I could control the dairy in my diet, which would've been much harder if she'd been on formula.

Before I got pregnant, I figured I'd "try" nursing for 4-6 months. The first 3-4 months were often difficult. But we settled into it and it's such an amazing thing! It helps her go to sleep, it calms her down when she's upset, it has bonded us so very well. At this point I can't imagine weaning until Vi is ready - I'm hoping for at least two years. And I'm blessed with a supportive husband who is often charmed by our nursing antics.

Thanks for this post. I love the cover of that magazine. Breastfeeding is a beautiful thing.

8:22 PM  
Blogger Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

I breast fed my first, bottle fed my second two. I had two special needs kiddos that couldn't nurse. Seriously. I realize that it is a very smalllllll number but in all honesty, we could not. I was just glad to have a baby that made it alive.

I think you are right on, we need to teach our children that it is NORMAL and BEST. I won't debate that.

But there is also this stigma for the moms like me who had no choice, that somehow we've abused our kids or something. I dunno, it hurts. But in the end, you do what you gotta do.

10:24 PM  
Blogger mackenzie said...

I have 3 kids, nursed 2 out of 3. All were very healthy as infants, never getting a cold til they attended preschool. I did not see a difference health-wise, or any other way, in breast feeding or formula feeding. I think it is up to the mother to decide what works best for her and her infant. A mom should not be criticized because she chose not to breast feed, and vice versa.

9:37 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

No one is criticizing. My post, if you read it again, is about Breastfeeding Awareness Week. It is something I find noteworthy, so I posted a blog entry. I really think people, for whatever reason, are choosing to read too much into the entry.

9:03 AM  

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