Normalizing breastfeeding is very important to me, but I was going about it the wrong way. Why did I decide to let my inner warrior go? I’d like to share my story with you.
I’ll admit, when it comes to dealing with life’s challenges, I have always been more of a furied fighter than a patient yogi. If I have a vision I go for it. Quickly.
But when my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child, the warrior in me relaxed. I took off my armour and settled into my safe place.
Even in the womb, I could feel how this baby was shifting my priorities.
I was shifting away from “not gonna let anyone stop me,” and towards, “appreciate this moment before it’s gone.”
It’s amazing how new life creates new ways of looking at life.
Then the baby arrived.
And I was caught totally off guard by a battle I never expected. My sword and shield were packed away in a closet so when the first shot flew at me I was shocked.
“Your baby won’t get enough nourishment if you breastfeed like that.”
I slowly lifted my head up from my newfound mindfulness.
“It’s really unsafe to sleep with your baby.”
What? Another one?
“If you breastfeed too much your baby will be spoiled.”
Yikes. This was really happening.
Then, on the news, “Woman accused of indecent exposure for breastfeeding her baby in public.”
The warrior in me was back.
Every time I went out with my baby, my eyes darted around like a cat sensing danger, ready to retaliate if necessary.
On an airplane, I saw a woman nursing with a cover. I wondered why. Who would say something if she took it off? I was ready to defend her. And breastfeeding.
I learned about the other warrior mothers out there, just trying to raise and feed their babies the way they choose. Court cases, pumping laws, talk show hosts who tell their viewers to “be discrete.”
I learned that this battle is so big that women need to join forces in Latch Ons around the globe, just to get the message out there that this. is. normal.
To learn about Breastfeeding World’s Big Latch Ons that will take place on August 4th and 5th, 2017, visit our home page.
I live in Italy and I can tell you that the struggle is real here, too. The ad for a Latch On in Rome shows a breastfeeding mother with the ultimate warrior look. And here’s a video of a Latch On in Bologna.
Like all these mothers I was reading about and getting to know at La Leche League meetings, I was on a mission. The mission was to normalize breastfeeding. To educate. To defend my choices in motherhood.
I memorized my breastfeeding rights in case anyone challenged me.
I didn’t buy a nursing cover.
The pediatrician told me that my child was “too dependent” on me and I flipped out.
So I started firing back. I was waving my sword around like a mad woman.
I preached the benefits of breastfeeding to whomever would listen (especially pregnant women). And I was ready to attack whoever challenged the bond, the antibodies, the right to feed my baby the way I wanted to.
I had to win. Yet, I was so confused as to why this was even an issue.
It was quiet.
In part because I ran out of ammunition. In part because I realized that I was firing randomly and “the enemy” was actually not on the battlefield.
I thought that there were a bunch of people out to get me. Out to change me.
But really there was just an absence of knowledge and experience.
In so many families, breastfeeding is not normal. Many pediatricians are not trained in the physiology of breastfeeding.
But no one is out to get me, really. A lot of people just don’t know. They don’t know what a gift this is.
They don’t know that giving my milk to my babies, like pregnancy and giving birth, is like pure magic.
I put down my sword and shield.
And I picked up my baby.
I unfurrowed my brow.
And shifted my focus.
There is no war. Only ignorance. I can’t fight ignorance.
I can educate, but I can’t force that either.
All I can do is breastfeed my babies, with a smile, knowing that I am doing what’s right and good for us.
The critics will come and go, and I’ll hear their words. But their words won’t hurt me, because I know that they are coming from a place of “unknowing.”
People can sense if you are living your life with calm resolution. The naysayers will have less and less to say if they realize that this, for me, is a non-issue.
I’m just going about my business, breastfeeding or not, pacifier or not, co-sleeping or not, when I want, where I want, how I want.
I’m still a warrior at heart, and living in the moment is still something that I have to consciously choose, but at least I have left this battle behind.
With the Third Annual Times Square NYC Big Latch On approaching, I applaud all of you mothers who proudly breastfeed, showing the world what is normal, natural, not always easy, but magical.
We can make this normal again. And there doesn’t need to be a battle. Just a bunch of mothers breastfeeding will do. With a smile. In peace. Together.
What about you? How do you normalize breastfeeding? Please share your experiences with us in the comments below. It would make my day.
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Latest posts by Anne Kathryn Rice (see all)
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