Posted on | July 3, 2012 | 9 Comments
We all have things we feel strongly about and want to share with others. For me, breastfeeding, birth education, and cloth diapering are aspects of parenting that are I think are so wonderful. I try to share information with friends (who ask) and on my blog to help other mamas make the best decisions for themselves. I recognize that not everything I believe in is going to work for everyone.
Natural birth? I haven’t even been able to experience it myself. But, I honestly think it is best for most normal birth scenarios. I wish, desperately, that I had had the chance and will power to stick to my birth plan and deliver Arlo with no pain medication. As it was, things didn’t play out the way I wanted them to. Regardless, I knew what every decision I made during labor meant and how it would affect my child and me. I don’t think there is anything more important and expecting mama can do than learn her rights, learn the birth process, and learn what is best for her.
Cloth diapers? You know I love them. But I know they aren’t for everyone. Some parents don’t want to give them a shot. Some do and hate them. It’s all groovy with me, and I just do what I can to be sure that anyone who is interested in trying gets to learn about them and maybe, just maybe, gives them an opportunity before going to disposables.
And breastfeeding. Oh breastfeeding. Why, oh why, must you be the core of today’s mommy wars? I read a blog post today that set me on fire. I won’t link her blog, because honestly, I don’t want to give her one lick of traffic from my URL, but the idea of the post was that women who chose not to breastfeed are making a choice based on laziness. That women who can’t breastfeed really could (in most cases), that they decide it’s too hard, and that they make up excuses in order to make themselves feel better about their decisions. Basically, anyone who has two breasts can and should breastfeed, and if they don’t, they are lacking in the determination department.
I could, literally, feel my skin crawl up and down my spine as I read her words.
Because y’all? There is a fine line in which advocacy becomes irresponsible. When a mother who had to give up breastfeeding because her husband was deployed, her mother was sick in the hospital, she was at home with a newborn all alone and terrified and dealing with supply issues/mastitis/cracked nipples/what-have-you, with no support reads that post, she doesn’t think, “Wow, you’re right! I AM lazy!” She thinks, “You mother effing bitch.”
Who am I to decide how much effort is “enough” effort in the breastfeeding department? Who am I to make the judgement that because someone chose not to breastfeed, or because someone had enough problems to make them to decide to switch to formula, they are lazy? Exactly. I’m not credited to judge my fellow mamas. None of us can make those decisions, and to spout that kind of hateful language does nothing for breastfeeding advocacy.
Here’s the deal: I quit breastfeeding Sully at six months. I was completely honest about it on this blog. I said that I’d had enough. I said I was ready to have my body back for me, and that I wasn’t interested in breastfeeding any longer. But I was honest with you because I’m a blogger and I make it a point to be transparent in most everything I share. Not everyone makes that decision. Not everyone decides that they have to be 100% completely honest and open with every factor in their life. In fact, most people chose to keep some discretion and decisions to themselves.
And that is fine.
It’s fine for someone to tell me that, “You know what? Breastfeeding was just too hard for me, and I had supply issues.” And it’s fine for me to say,”Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that, but I’m glad you did what was best for your family.” Because sometimes? What is best, isn’t always what I would have chosen.
As advocates, the way we help is by being there emotionally. We support women who want or need our support. We support women for making decisions that are best for their family. We help them by giving them options. We let them know, “If you’re having a hard time breastfeeding, here’s a great LC’s number. She would LOVE to help you.” We work to make sure formula companies have to have honest advertising and that new mothers have access to LCs if they are having troubles, or to PPA/PPD resources if they are struggling with depression or anxiety. We make sure that breastfeeding is something that is socially acceptable in public and that there are clean, safe places for working mothers to pump. And then? They make the decision. If they chose not to follow through with the call, that doesn’t make them lazy mothers. It makes them women making their own decisions as to how they should parent.
Which is exactly what we should want for all women.