Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Breastfed in the Park

The Breastfeeding in the Park event went great. We gathered at 11, sat around and ate and chatted, latched on the babes at noon, talked to the news crew and reporters, chased the toddlers around and oohed and aahed at the littler babies, then cleaned up. I saw some old, good friends and made some new ones, which is always awesome. We had 25 babies/children nursing, and many more people came to show their support.

Mad props to my fave store Giggle, and to my beloved Stamford Hospital lactation consultants, for showing up to support.

Something one of the reporters said made me realize that some people think La Leche League is about pressuring moms to breastfeed. It's not. It's about supporting moms who want to breastfeed- because believe me, we need support (my husband asked me to elaborate: many things can challenge the breastfeeding relationship- painful latches that need to be corrected, decreased supply after an illness of baby or mom, preemie having trouble nursing, the stress of pumping at work, being given a really crappy place to pump at work, bad advice from others). The mission statement says it all: "Our Mission is to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother."

Speaking for myself, I do not feel it is my business how any other individual mother feeds her kid; rather, I want to be able to feed mine how I want, and the support and advocacy of La Leche League makes that possible. LLL is how I knew exactly what my pumping rights at work were, and how I know that I don't have to automatically believe my pediatrician when he tells me that age one is a good time to wean, or that after age one, you can't count breastmilk toward their nutrition or calorie needs. (How is that even logical?)

LLL, as far as I can see, is not about guilt-tripping parents who use formula (as the News 12 reporter Gillian Neff seemed to be trying really hard to make it seem in her 5pm segment- more on that later), but about educating society in general about breastfeeding, and thereby making it easier for women who want to breastfeed to do so. Nursing in public is one easy way to show that breastfeeding is a normal, natural, non-freaky act. I know that for me, seeing my sister nurse gave me the idea that it was a good thing to do- other than that, I'd never seen another person nurse a kid. I do not care if individual people breastfeed or use formula- plenty of my best mom friends do both. I do want people to know though, that nursing can be a very cool thing, and to try it if you're interested, and to get help if you need it from LLL or Stamford Hospital lactation (not your pediatrician, for goodness' sake, not your coworker or sister- get real help, and it's free!!!).

I probably used to have a stereotype of LLL as a bunch of hippies who are sticking their nose in people's business, pressuring them to breastfeed and trash-talking parents who formula-feed. I am sure there are some people in the organization like that, but not in this chapter. And anyone who acts like that is not following the philosophy of LLL in a positive way. LLL is about helping moms and babies, and that's why I am so pleased to be a part of it.

Plus I've just met some really cool people through it.


David's Mommy :) said...

Love your post! Right on! I ditto your sentiments exactly. Since Gillian interviewed me I can tell you that your vibe is absolutely spot-on. She seemed almost disappointed that I was not willing to attack moms who formula feed. Why would I? She was looking for a story that simply wasn't there.

Anyway, it was interesting to see what snippets they used of a 5 minute interview. There was so much actual substance and information I gave that wasn't used. Of course all of it was positive and non-judgmental, so maybe that's why. It was also random that one of the shots they used of my little one and my voice over were from different times. Weird to me, but I guess that's how they edit.

Maura said...

This post was a nice antidote to the piece in the Courant yesterday about the CT mom who was told to stop breastfeeding openly in a public park and then later asked by a cop why she was still breastfeeding a 2-year old. The online comments for the article were horrific -- people saying there must be something wrong with the mom to breastfeed a baby with teeth, comparing breastfeeding to defecating or having sex in public, etc. The majority of "reasonable" ones said breastfeeding is okay, but the woman should cover up the feeding child. There were some supportive comments, too, but they were outnumbered by numbskulls who seem to think that their discomfort with the concept of breastfeeding trumps all.

Sheesh. I don't have children, but for God's sake, it's just BREASTS, people.

And the irony is that the female breast is SO exposed in our culture in general -- but most people are totally okay with the exposed female breast as long as it's exposed in a way to sexually arouse men, not feed babies. I mean, this incident happened at a beach, so I'm sure "innocent bystanders" on the beach saw a lot more exposed breast flesh from swim suits all day than from one mom's 2-second nipple flash before the baby latched on. I really think it's not about modesty, it's about people who see women as primarily sex objects being uncomfortable with reminders that boobs aren't just there to admire sexually, they're actually how we mammals usually feed our young.

Anonymous said...

Very well said! And I think breastfeeding is pretty cool myself :)

Julie said...

Love it! You have my full support, as always.