Posts Tagged ‘seriously’

Support Breastfeeding Honesty

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

I talk about my boobs a lot, especially here on my blog. It wasn’t something I set out to do – YES! I know what will make me a raging success on the internet! Talking about my SORE, LEAKING NIPPLES! – but when you are breastfeeding a newborn it just sort of happens. In the past three years, I’ve said the word “breast” more times the day than I’ve said my own name. BREAST.

Back in the beginning, when I was really struggling, I spent hours online reading forums and message boards and websites full of breastfeeding advice. Do this, don’t do this, try this, try that, give it time, see a doctor. Some of it was helpful, some of it was scary, some of it was eye-rollingly stupid, and sometimes it stressed me out. But one thing I found invaluable was real-life stories from real-life women. Living, breathing moms with crazy hormones and crying babies and stretched out abdominal muscles. I laughed at their leaky mishaps, cried when their babies were hungry, and sympathized with their pain. Those stories – not the experts – were what got me through the rough start and into happy, 15 month nursing relationship with my first child. I STILL turn to the internet when I have a breastfeeding question and find often myself answering them for others when they pop up on Twitter or Facebook.

There is some worry in the lactivist community that talking to much about the hard parts of breastfeeding instead of just the warm fuzzies and rainbows will discourage women from ever trying to breastfeed. They fear that too many jokes about bleeding nipples and piranha babies will scare mothers away and into the welcoming arms of the nearest can of formula. It is often implied – and sometimes said outright – that it shouldn’t hurt, it shouldn’t be a struggle, it should come naturally, and if our eyes fill up with tears of pain and angst rather than tears of joy as we latch our babies then we are doing it wrong. Shhhhh…don’t talk about that. We’re trying to recruit more women to Team Breastfeeding.

I say that’s a mistake and a disservice to women. This isn’t shirts versus skins – it’s just mothers and babies.

In fact, I say the opposite is true. I say the honesty has led to more breastfeeding. Talking about your personal experience with breastfeeding should ALWAYS be encouraged, no matter how successful or long that experience was. Every single conversation about breastfeeding normalizes it. It becomes just another thing we talk about when we’re discussing babies, like diapers and spit up and tiny socks and why are their nails so SHARP? I have talked about every single bit of my breastfeeding journey, from my giant engorged porn start boobs to using a nipple shield to dealing with thrush and finally, FINALLY having the kind of idyllic, peaceful nursing relationship the books tell you about. As far as I know, I have yet to scare someone so badly they vow to never nurse a baby.

What I DO know is many of my friends who struggled to breastfeed their first child are trying again with their second baby. They are nervous and worried and cautiously optimistic, but they are TRYING. A mother’s feelings about breastfeeding can be so fraught with both internal and external sources of guilt that stopping or quitting, even if it’s the best choice for their family, can be heartbreaking. I like to think my constant willingness to engage in honest boob-talk had a teeny tiny bit to do with their decision.

I am so so proud of these women, whether they try for one day or for a thousand. They are brave for putting it all out there (heh) again and they are all amazing moms. The bottom line is because mothers have found more information and more support and more honesty about breastfeeding there are more babies getting more breastmilk. And isn’t that what lactivism is all about?

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This post has been in my drafts folder for a few weeks while I worked out exactly how to say what I wanted. Just yesterday I saw the Support with Integrity Pledge posted on my friend Gina’s site. I’m thrilled to see over 1,000 people have signed it already and vowed to support breastfeeding moms without judgment or criticism. You can check it out and sign the pledge by clicking on the badge below:
Support with Integrity