As World Breastfeeding Week comes to an end, I felt it necessary to write a post about it. I have had a love hate relationship with breastfeeding Delilah, and it still can be a struggle, even after a year of nursing. It has been one of the biggest accomplishments of my life and I am proud to be apart of such a great message.
I try and stay pretty connected to what is going on in Austin, in regards to baby. I was reading a post on Keep Austin NIP, and she mentioned that a photographer was doing a breastfeeding awareness project and needed moms who were willing to nurse in public while being photographed. I immediately knew I wanted to be apart of this, and had no idea of the exposure it was going to get. We went and it was so great being surrounded by other moms who have had the same struggles and who have overcome the obstacles that breastfeeding can have. Everyone was so happy to be nursing together. This project has over 50 participating photographers from all over the world. Amazing.
Leilani Rogers is the photographer behind the project #PBAP2014. She is amazing and has received recognition for being so. If you have a minute, check out her work, you may or may not need some kleenex and you may or may not start wanting another baby ;)
With such a public project, with a subject matter that can make a few people very uncomfortable, you can bet that there are some negative views about this. And yes, I am about to step on the soap box.
To me, this project is about normalizing breastfeeding, making it the norm, not about "you are a bad mother if you can't breastfeed". I understand that moms who formula feed often feel guilty about not breastfeeding, that is not the point and those mommas need support too. Hell, we all need support and a back rub! World Breastfeeding Week is a platform for amazing and courageous women, like Leilani and all of the mothers who breastfeed, to get together and feel the support that is sometimes missing from our society. I know I have had my own less-than-pleasant experiences with breastfeeding in public. If anything, it is a feeling you get when you are being watched by 22 different eyes, it makes you uncomfortable.
The goal is to get to a point where breastfeeding and bottle feeding get the same reaction when we are out in public, that reaction should be nothing. No one bats and eye when a mom is feeding her baby with a bottle, maybe a sweet smile because a baby eating is so cute, and the same should apply for a breastfeeding momma. She is feeding her baby, it is not different and should spark no other reaction. The whole idea, you should cover up, go to the bathroom, find somewhere to sit, do that at home, no one wants to see that, is absolutely ridiculous. Why does that mother have to jump through hoops, that these people have set up, just to feed her baby? Would they want to eat in a public bathroom, don't think so. To me, that is what this week is trying to accomplish, normalize breastfeeding so a mother can go on about her day without weird looks, feeling like she is doing something wrong when her baby wants to eat, or sitting on a nasty toilet to nurse.
I have also come across big baby stores and some museums that have nursing rooms. I appreciate the acknowledgment of a mother needing to nurse her baby while shopping or out an about, but it implies you should nurse in here and not out there. Once again, like you are doing something wrong if you decided to nurse out there. Maybe it is my own insecurity, but that is how it makes me feel. Why can't I feed my baby while I shop, like I want to make the trip last any longer than it needs to. I love how this store has made it ok and welcomed to nurse your baby. Something so simple, honestly takes so much of the pressure away. Like we need anything else to worry about. You know, about 47% of the time I have no idea where my wallet is, and I probably loose my phone 8 times a day. And, sitting in those nursing rooms only gives you that much more time to forget what you were at the store for, to begin with. Hello mommy brain!
I promise, the mother who is out and needs to breastfeed her baby is not intending on making the public uncomfortable, nor is she trying to flash boob in the store, she is trying to hurry up and feed her baby so a major freak out/shit show doesn't happen and everyone can peacefully continue doing whatever it is they are doing.
Before I had Delilah, I had no idea what breastfeeding meant and how difficult it was. I will be the first person to admit, I was very judgmental. But now I know how wrong I was and after getting educated and going through it first hand, I know how important it is to support a mother breastfeeding. If anything, just go about your day like nothing out of the ordinary is going on, because you know what, nothing out of the ordinary is going on.
In a perfect world, no mother would feel guilty about how she feeds her baby. There are so many other things we should be worried about, feeling guilty about bottle feeding or breastfeeding is not one of them. Like my mom always says, "Once you give birth to a baby, you give birth to guilt." That is oh so true.
I am so glad to be apart of this, it is something that I feel very strongly about. If the world is exposed to breastfeeding and sees it all the time, it will hopefully be excepted in public and we can all get on with our lives! Start worrying about the chemicals found in a majority of the food we eat, the extreme amount of waste that is produced on our planet, the fact that many American children are hungry right now, or where they moved the sheets at Target.
Ok, so that last comment went a little overboard.
Happy feeding your baby! Mine is about to loose her shit right now, so off I go...