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Breastfeeding is a big deal: Normalizing what’s already normal

This is not a rant. This is not a protest. But this is a call to moms to make breastfeeding a big deal.

breastfeeding is a big deal

Dear mamas and mamas-to-be,

I realize that not all of you breastfeed your babies and I’m okay with that. Truly.

Some of you have tried and circumstances have gotten in your way.

Some of you feel guilty and some of you feel proud.

Some of you have angst and some of you indifference.

Some of you have breastfed for weeks and some for years.

Some of you simply choose not to.

But wherever you stand on the issue, no doubt your heart is for your babies… and no doubt your heart is for other mamas too.

So we need to do something together.

We need to make breastfeeding a big deal again.

You see, somewhere along the way it became controversial. Somewhere along the way it became indecent. Somewhere along the way it became hush hush… very personal.

And it is personal

But it’s also not.

Around half a million babies are born every day. And those babies? They need to eat.

And those mamas to those babies? They’ve been given exactly what they need to feed their babies.

So why have we let breastfeeding become a word that needs to be whispered? (Or maybe just “translated” to nursing?)

Why is it that there are campaigns running to (re)educate people on the benefits of breastfeeding?

Why is it that there are lawsuits in relation to breastfeeding in public?

Why is it that the television and movies we watch every day rarely include this normal part of daily life?

And why is it that we have to form clubs just so that we can feel comfortable with our choices? (P.S. I’m not a fan.)

The answer? Because we’ve had to.

What happened to breastfeeding being normal?

Somewhere along the way the “normal” has been lost.

Somewhere along the way the “necessary” has been swept aside.

I’m more than aware that some women aren’t able to breastfeed. We are not to gang up on them or make them feel inferior. (That helps no one, gets us nowhere.) Many of them have struggled to reconcile this sensitive issue within themselves as it is and we need to support those mamas too. (This beautiful account from one mom will probably make you cry.)

But the vast majority of women are able to breastfeed, so why aren’t we making a bigger effort to empower them? To educate them? To provide for them?

And to normalize it for them?

Breastfeeding needs to become a big deal again so that it becomes “no big deal”.

It needs to become a big deal so that mothers can get on with the business of feeding their littles (and feeling empowered to do what they were designed to do) in whatever environment they feel comfortable with.

And it needs to become a big deal so that everyone else will let them, encourage them, and honor them as they do so.

Let’s not leave the breastfeeding endorsements to the “lactivists” or the La Leche League-ers or people from this or that category of parenting philosophies. We need “normal” moms everywhere to help push this issue into the light… even more than it already is.

Dear friends, what do you think? Should we be making breastfeeding a big deal? Or is it a “shrug your shoulders” sort of an issue for you? Why?

 

P.S. You guys are amazing. AMAZING. As of May 10, 2012 we are up to 2446 clean birth kits donated and being made/sent to us. (This tally doesn’t even include all those who have emailed saying that kits are on the way without telling me how many.) Talk about a Happy Mothers Day!!! Thank you for being so awesome and for getting involved in this important issue by helping mamas and babies in the developing world. (Need more info? Here’s your place.)

 

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About Adriel

Adriel Booker is a writer, speaker, and difference-maker living Down Under with her Aussie love and littles where they serve in full-time ministry (and full-time parenting) together. She writes about celebrating motherhood, building families, strengthening faith, enjoying life, empowering women, changing the world, and telling the story.

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42 Responses to Breastfeeding is a big deal: Normalizing what’s already normal

  1. Dr. Rupe May 9, 2012 at 11:00 pm #

    Amen sister!!!!! Great post!
    Dr. Rupe recently posted..Why I Hate the InternetMy Profile

  2. Dionna @ Code Name: Mama May 9, 2012 at 11:25 pm #

    I love this! What a compassionate call for action.

  3. Our Muddy Boots May 9, 2012 at 11:42 pm #

    Very nicely said Adriel. We do need to make breastfeeding normal again also so that every new mom has accesses to resources and support- not just those of us who know to ask for them.

    This is an important piece and I am grateful that you wrote it.

  4. Lindsy Griffis May 10, 2012 at 12:50 am #

    Amen! So very very true. We all eat to live – why must this form of eating be so controversial?? Why must this absolutely natural part of motherhood be deemed “inappropriate”? Ridiculous. Thank you for this reminder! Very well said.
    Lindsy Griffis recently posted..Baby #2 :: 32 weeksMy Profile

  5. Sushi Mama May 10, 2012 at 1:29 am #

    I was a little bit uncomfortable talking about breastfeeding until I had Emersyn last Friday, now I just see it as her source of nourishment. I’ve been blessed with a lot of encouragement, and so far, an easy nurser, but without those it would be very very hard, so it’s important to get the word out!

  6. InBabyAttachMode May 10, 2012 at 3:06 am #

    Good post! I look at it like you use your breasts for breastfeeding just like you use your legs for walking. No one would sit in a wheelchair when it’s not necessary. To me breastfeeding is just on of those things that you do because you can.
    InBabyAttachMode recently posted..Pumping milk at work – a technical reportMy Profile

  7. CJ May 10, 2012 at 3:09 am #

    In a few days we will hit 18 months! Woo hoo!!

  8. Erin May 10, 2012 at 5:32 am #

    I confess… I get squeamish about implying even in the gentlest way that “breast is best,” because I’m so loathe to make mothers who don’t breastfeed feel judged. But I did cheer when the AAP recently amended their recommendations to say that it’s not a lifestyle choice, but is in fact a medical issue. I like to think that I help “normalize” breastfeeding by talking about the challenges that I’ve had, which is my biggest problem with most “lactivists” – refusing to acknowledge that it could ever be hard. In my opinion that does not help women who want to breastfeed but hit a roadblock and give up.

    Recently my mom was here to help with my new baby and she talked about some of the issues she had with breastfeeding me in 1978. Her parents’ generation was VERY anti-breastfeeding! Her mother and mother-in-law both gave her a hard time about it, forcing her to cover up with heavy blankets (even in private!) and sending her Dear Abby columns about how breastfed babies in Africa were dying of starvation (seriously!). It was so interesting to hear my own mother talk about her breastfeeding experience.
    Erin recently posted..Bellybutton BreakMy Profile

    • Adriel Booker May 10, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

      Wow Erin. Times have certainly changed. How those old columns are erroneous! Babies in Africa are LIVING because of breastfeeding. Yes, they are still dying, but certainly not due to BFing. That’s just insane.

      I’m so glad we have it easier than your mother’s generation. I suppose it varies by location too, as one lady who commented after you (see below) is referring to her experience when I was born (1977) and says that it was no big deal then too – everyone fed that way. Perhaps different social circles had different beliefs? Not sure.

      I know what you mean about the “breast is best”. It is sensitive and always best to approach the conversation with grace. I do think sharing honestly – like you said – helps.

      Thanks for your feedback. So interesting!
      Adriel Booker recently posted..parenting to build relationships, not robotsMy Profile

    • Adriel Booker May 10, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

      p.s. I cheered at the AAP’s amendments too – such a good thing.

  9. Raia May 10, 2012 at 6:47 am #

    Agree! Great post. I am still breastfeeding my 18 month old daugter, in public too, if she wants : ). In the rural midwest, where I am from, breastfeeding moms tend to hide with their babies. My father-in-law will leave the room if I start feeding my daughter, either out of respect for me (I never ask him to…) or because it makes him uncomfortable. Where I live now, it’s much more accepted and I don’t feel like I have to hide to feed my baby. Breastfeeding is normal and nothing to be ashamed of or kept hidden in a back room.

    I had great support and encouragement from my own family and I wish that every new mom could have access to that kind of help. All too often, I feel women who want to breastfeed are not given the support and information they need.

  10. Jody Lee Collins May 10, 2012 at 9:54 am #

    Agreed, Adriel. Great post. In the generation which you were born in (along with your cousins, and my son, to name a few other people you know) read “The 70′s”, it was No Big Deal. It was like why even talk about it ’cause it’s what you did.

    Then a couple of generations passed and now it’s become a science, with specialists, and classes, and nurses…and sheesh! The focus is NOT on feeding children it’s on the moms, it’s all about them. I’m sorry being judgmental here. But that is my two cents.

    I do sense a sea change with young moms like yourself and hope that the world will continue to spread to get things a right a gain.

    Jody
    Jody Lee Collins recently posted..Future ForwardMy Profile

    • Adriel Booker May 10, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

      That’s so interesting Jody, because I’ve heard from a lot of women from your generation who were encouraged to formula feed. Perhaps it depended on the area of the country or the social circles you gathered in? Not sure, but interesting!

      As for the specialists, classes, etc. I probably have a different perspective than you. I think those are all really important. If you look at the statistics of how many women start off trying BFing but then quit after a few days or weeks, then you can see there’s a big problem! They need to be prepared and educated about the process and know that it can be tough at first, but it does (usually!) get better!!! I think with more focus on educating and supporting women, there would be more who decide to give it a fair go and perhaps stick it out for the few weeks it takes for your breasts to adapt and your baby to learn how to latch properly.

      I suppose it used to be that this type of information was passed down from generation to generation and naturally within the context of community. Sadly, that’s not the case any more so women need to find there education and support somewhere!! So I say yay for classes and lactation consultants and books and blogs helping women learn!

      In saying that, it’s not all about mom. It’s about baby too. That’s a given!! :)

      Appreciate your feedback!
      Adriel Booker recently posted..parenting to build relationships, not robotsMy Profile

  11. Laura May 10, 2012 at 11:02 am #

    Definitely a big deal! I firmly believe that breastfeeding needs to be normalized in our society. Women shouldn’t have to feel bad for nursing in public or even feel the need to cover up. For me it is less about “breast is best” and more about getting the public to accept breastfeeding as normal and healthy and positive.
    Laura recently posted..Mama HomeMy Profile

  12. Jessica May 10, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    This is a great post! Seriously. Breastfeeding is normal. It’s not disgusting or unnatural or wrong. It is normal. Not everyone can breastfeed but many can. I’m sharing this post now!!

  13. Megan @ boho mama May 10, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

    Excellent. Thanks for writing this! I always have a hard time articulating my feelings about things that I feel very passionate about, and breastfeeding is one of those things. I worry I will come on to strong or aggressive and get my mouth running, when I really want to be encouraging and supportive and speak from a place of love. So I tend to stay on the quiet side. But you do it with grace and wisdom and I’m so glad!! I’m seriously contemplating becoming an LC, it’s a dream that’s kind of come out of left field, but isn’t that how God usually works? ;)

  14. Melissa May 10, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    I love this Adriel I read this post last year – Breastfeeding as worship!! loved it.. have a look http://www.sortacrunchy.net/sortacrunchy/2011/08/breastfeeding-as-worship.html#tpe-action-posted-6a00e54fb985aa883301676660443e970b
    Melissa recently posted..Meaningful Mothers DayMy Profile

  15. Rachel J. May 10, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

    Whenever I read news articles about incidents regarding breastfeeding in public, it makes me absolutely crazy to read some of the comments. There are people who actually believe it’s “vile and disgusting”. One comment I read had those exact words.

    HUH???

    I don’t know how anyone can have such an attitude toward nursing a baby. You’re absolutely right – it’s a HUGE deal!
    Rachel J. recently posted..Feelings, Feelings, Feelings…And PerspectiveMy Profile

    • Adriel Booker May 10, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

      that makes me beyond angry. :) believe it or not, this is my response to a comment i read on a friend’s facebook page a couple of months ago. i refrained from the angry response… but doesn’t mean those emotions don’t lurk.

      people are crazy. and most of them are either men or women who’ve never yet been mothers. *sigh*
      Adriel Booker recently posted..5 meaningful mothers day gifts under $15My Profile

  16. e wiebe May 11, 2012 at 12:05 am #

    Amen sister! Breastfeeding is definitely not a “shrug-my shoulders, whatever makes you happy” issue! I agree that it is a huge deal. I don’t have kids yet, but breastfeeding is something that I am already passionate about. Thanks for your post.

    • Adriel Booker May 11, 2012 at 11:34 pm #

      love that you’re pre-kids and pro-breastfeeding. that’s an awesome kind of feminism right there. the best kind. :)

  17. Katherine May 11, 2012 at 4:15 am #

    Though the latest Time (U.S.) cover article appears to be about attachment parenting (which does not solely boil down to breastfeeding), this cover is surely going to get some conversations going!

    http://www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,20120521,00.html

    I haven’t read the article but am eager to, the next time I am at the library.
    Katherine recently posted..Ways I am Like My MomMy Profile

    • Adriel Booker May 11, 2012 at 11:33 pm #

      well, would you look at that. surely that will create a buzz!! i’ve seen this all over fb today too. will have to check it out!

  18. Nessa May 11, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    Clapping!! No one in my family or in my husbands family breast fed. I was born premature and sent to a children’s hospital and my mom wasn’t allowed because her milk wasn’t sterile. But still – even my own family thought it was something odd when my daughter was a year old and still breast feeding. ti should become something that people don’t look twice at. Normal, everyday occurrence – like giving your child a sippy cup. Boring. That is my dream.
    Nessa recently posted..Dear DeedleMy Profile

    • Adriel Booker May 11, 2012 at 11:32 pm #

      “my mom wasn’t allowed because her milk wasn’t sterile” <–amazing! *shakes head*

      and yes, boring like a sippy cup! genius.

  19. Charissa Steyn May 12, 2012 at 4:28 am #

    so glad I found your blog! I love it :) I’m gonna be a new mommy in September!! Would love to breastfeed!! Trusting that its not painful :)
    Charissa Steyn recently posted..What I Want My Son to Be…My Profile

    • Adriel Booker May 12, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

      Congratulations on your pregnancy Charissa! That’s wonderful. I hope you’re able to breastfeed and have some supportive people around you to help if you do end up with any challenges. It’s a beautiful thing!
      Adriel Booker recently posted..parenting to build relationships, not robotsMy Profile

  20. Tasha May 12, 2012 at 6:28 am #

    This is great! I am so passionate about breastfeeding too (I have been reading Kathy Dettwyler’s book….so fascinating!) but can credit my success at breastfeeding to having the best, most loving example and guidance from my own mother. If I’m honest with myself, I can get feeling so passionate about bfing that I become prideful. It’s humbling to realize how blessed I was to have that example set. My wish is for more loving, guiding, listening, good examples for future mommies. Breastfeeding is gloriously feminine and empowering, yet is also a servitude and the epitomy of a nurturing relationship (literally). Unfortunately, that is not necessarily valued in our society. With awareness, things can change!

    • Adriel Booker May 12, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

      It’s good that you can recognize when you become prideful. That certainly helps no one (as you know!). But I think it’s shows humility that you can even see that. :)

      How lucky you are to have such a great example in your own mom, and I agree that things can change so that more women experience what you had.

      LOVE this: “Breastfeeding is gloriously feminine and empowering, yet is also a servitude and the epitomy of a nurturing relationship (literally).” Beautiful, and thanks for sharing. x

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  1. Got milk? | In celebration of breastfeeding - August 5, 2012

    [...] But what I want to see changed is the fear and insecurity surrounding breastfeeding that some women feel. And the fact that not everyone sees it as “normal”. [...]

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