I admit that when I first started breastfeeding E, I had a pretty narrow view of advocacy: breastfeeding = good, formula = bad. That narrow view has gotten pretty broad in 18 months. From my own story to the experiences of others to learning about breastfeeding, I've learned that it's just not that cut and dry.
- I thought it would be easier to list out what breastfeeding advocacy is and isn't. Please note, these are my opinions. Take what you like and leave what you don't.
- Breastfeeding advocacy is supporting a breastfeeding mother. It is NOT reducing that support if she has to use formula.
Mothers do the best they can with the knowledge and resources they have. I've noticed a lack of support if baby is given formula. She is not less of a mother or a quitter if she uses formula. Even though breastfeeding is natural, it doesn't always come naturally. That being said, I believe that formula should be used as a last resort after other options have been exhausted rather than an easy solution.
- Breastfeeding advocacy is supporting a mother who chooses to breastfeed her baby as long as it is mutually desired by both mom and baby. It is NOT suggesting a mother wean her child because they have reached a certain age or have achieved a certain developmental milestone.
I've been told my son needs to wean because he can talk, sign milk (I guess that's asking for it...), is over a certain age, and has teeth. No one has been able to give me a good reason as to why I should wean. Next time I want to ask them about the impact it has on their life: "I'm really curious about how me nursing my 18 month old affects your life. Enlighten me please."
- Breastfeeding advocacy is supporting a mother nursing in public. It is NOT adding a "but only if she's ________" stipulation to the end of that sentence.
45 US states have laws that specifically allow a mother to breastfeed in any public or private place. A number of states also have laws that exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws. It depends on what state you're in, but chances are really good that the mother does not have to cover up or go to a specially designated nursing area if she doesn't want to.
The best way to react if you see a mom nursing in public is to do nothing. The second best way is to give her a thumbs up or a smile. She's not trying to make a statement. She just wants to feed her child and move on with her day. And please, PLEASE please do not ask her to be "discreet" - discretion is subjective!
What does breastfeeding advocacy mean for you?