Pride of breastfeeding

A certain pride beats beneath my chest,

like a child riding her bike through the fields

I feel a surge of accomplishment.

As the sound of cheering from family/friend or observers spurs the child on, so is the silence of a suckling babe and the swelling of rosy cheeks against my bosom.

It’s not a contentious pride that comes from outsmarting an opponent, nor the sort that comes from defying a bully.

No.

It’s a pride seated in overcoming one’s own fears, of attaining something we desired, but also feared we couldn’t reach.

Like a child playing my keyboard at the school recital, I have no desire to mock others who can’t play, or choose not to play the keyboard, nor those who play a different tune. I am simply lost in the symphony of my artistry.

Please forgive me if I play out of synch or sing a little too loud; I do not mean to cause offense. I am simply excited to have attained my breastfeeding goals.

Happy breastfeeding week!

One placenta – two people.

One bosom – two people.

Initiated by nature – sustained by a triangle (mother, child, and life).

 

 

What matters? Does it really matter?

Breastfeeding Poster V2I had no plans of writing a post about this topic as it is one that really divides the ranks. And even as I write it the tune of a solemn nature echoes in my head as I fear that with my words I might be burying myself in murky waters. Gasping dramatically for air, here goes: so the discuss on discreet and indiscreet breastfeeding in public has become a reoccurring motif through the script of normalizing breastfeeding campaigns.

While everyone chants in unison ‘power to the breastfeeding mum, let’s normalize breastfeeding.’

Silent whispers rumble ‘normalizing breastfeeding doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be discreet.’

Silent whispers rumbles  ‘normalizing breastfeeding means we shouldn’t be discreet.’

Prior to writing this post I would probably have fallen firmly on one side of the divide, now I ask myself, what really matters here?

The underlying debate rises from our personalities as individuals which doesn’t change a whole lot with the advent of breastfeeding. Some mums are extremely private people and some are not, this has nothing to do with confidence and everything to do with their personalities. Some mums prior to baby had no issues with showing some flesh; some found a flash of skin a little off putting, and for some it’s the other way round; breastfeeding and motherhood doesn’t rid us of those traits, if anything it further compounds them. For all I know and can remember mothers have breastfeed their young in different places (on the farm, at the market, on the buses etc.), in different ways (covered with a wrapper, shawl, uncovered, breast out, breast underneath etc.) you get the picture.

So why the chasm and why is it widening?breastfeeding 2016

Social media: thanks to this fascinating tool of modern day life which makes it possible to share my thoughts with you, the same tool has the abilities of exaggerating the acts of everyday living into catastrophic levels. Throw social media into schools and kids start to pull all sorts of pranks including online bullying to get attention, throw it into politics and leaders say one thing to be politically correct and recant it via tweeter, throw it into entertainment and the most ludicrous or horrendous actions become entertaining.

With the advent of social media we have all become extremely socially aware. And that’s the essence of social media; to be social with the media and with others who use the media and to unknowingly empower the media that uses us (Ezinne Ukoha). We can now create our own media stories, sadly the media only celebrates or recognizes extreme issues, no one wants to watch normal life on the media. Sadly no matter how awesome and widespread media is, it will always remain a snippet of reality, and though it seems intrusive we must remind ourselves that some of our own works,pictures etc might also seem intrusive to another person.

Secondly the breastfeeding cause is a cocktail of causes as it is a cocktail of personalities: breastfeeding and motherhood generally is a very empowering process. It makes us fierce as tigers, we not only want to feed our children in the best way possible but we also want to give/leave for them a world with equal rights and privileges for everyone. And it’s on this second note that we start to differ a bit. The picture of what the best world is differs for each of us, not in the all so big details but in the tiny ones that become obvious on closer inspection. It’s like those spot the difference puzzles, the general picture looks the same, some of the differences jump right out at you, others take a while to spot, some matter, and others don’t. More importantly each person takes a different amount of time to solve the puzzle.

What is the point here? We have mums who are activists, feminists, conservative, naturist, and so many other terms which describe people. At the end of the day the common thread between all of them is that they’re breastfeeding mums and that’s all that counts.

normalizing breastfeeding 2016

Best way forward:

Stick to the cause that matters to you per time; for this week and beyond its breastfeeding. Strip off all the other labels and find the common ground – we want more breastfeeding mums and there is no single format for reaching out to everyone because there is no single format for being the best mum except putting the well-being of your child first.

We are all making statements on a daily basis with our choices, breastfeeding is no different; discreet/indiscreet you’re telling /showing the world how nature intended for us to feed our babies in way that suits you best. Doing what makes you comfortable, working at your own pace and a healthy baby is all the empowerment you need.

Whatever cocktail you make of your motherhood journey if you can remember where you came from, where you’re and most importantly where next you want to go I say rock on.

 

Normalizing breastfeeding: what it means to me.

I didn’t start my breastfeeding journey with a head full of knowledge or a mind set on a particular aim. I dived in on a whim and a prayer. I went to several antenatal classes, but it was more from the angle of a newly pregnant mum many miles away from home trying to get a holistic glimpse on parenthood. I don’t think I thought of how the baby would be fed until I went to those classes. The choice to breastfeed for me started as a trial decision, if it works well if it doesn’t … two months into it and I wanted to quit, but thanks to the support I got from my sister, and Bambis, I carried on.

Breastfeeding Poster V2
Designed by Emma Devine

Through our journey and afterward I have come to learn a lot more about breastfeeding, its place in society and the importance of normalizing breastfeeding. Normalizing breastfeeding is a major public health campaign; the link between to health of a baby and well-being of the future adult makes it a very important topic. This write up will attempt to summarize my understanding of what it means to normalize breastfeeding:

  • To normalize breastfeeding is to welcome the different identities, social, and religious lattices that exist inside the folds of motherhood. Each phase of motherhood has a way of highlighting our abilities and shortcomings, however, it doesn’t change who we are; contemplative people or social butterflies, naturist or non-naturist and so forth. Each mother ought to be supported to breastfeed in the manner that suits her, publicly or privately.
  • To normalize breastfeeding is to acknowledge the effect a mother’s psychological well-being during pregnancy, baby blues and beyond has on breastfeeding. Everybody knows breastfeeding is a physical act; most do not know or acknowledge the emotional demands it places on the mother. The latter makes it twice as hard for a mother who has encountered or is encountering emotional issues to keep up long term breastfeeding. This is very important as we all know that a well-rested/balanced mother leads to a well-rested/balanced baby. (Rees, 2016)
  • To normalize breastfeeding is to eliminate one of the many divides that can exist in motherhood and parenting as a whole: at some point in history, infant formula was introduced as a status symbol, a commodity afforded only by the working class/wealthy mother. This relegated the breastfeeding mother to the place of an uneducated/common/unemployed mother (Nathoo & Ostry, 2009). The tides are slowly turning, but I fear it brings with it an alternate divide; nature mother vs. synthetic mother, confident mother vs. non-confident mother. These labels do more harm than good for the breastfeeding cause. The choice on how a baby is fed should be made with the optimal well-being of baby as the focus point. This in no way implies that moms wellbeing isn’t important (see point two), but if ever there was a relationship that demanded and tugged at the heartstrings of sacrifice motherhood is at the apex of such. This is a lesson that I am as yet learning.
  • Slide1To normalize breastfeeding is to accept that while the use of infant formula might not be an immoral act, the misuse or marketing of it might be considered unethical. This ranges from the aggressive marketing of formula to mothers in countries with poor sanitary conditions and limited access to clean water, to the distribution of formula samples to new mothers as they leave the hospital in developed countries. This has been proven to derail the breastfeeding journey for most mothers. (Bai, 2013) This point is very important to my breastfeeding journey as the first and the only bottle of formula my daughter had was a free sample from the hospital, thankfully she rejected it, I imagine if she hadn’t and I didn’t have the support network I had in place, I would probably have quit breastfeeding on another bad day.
  • To normalize breastfeeding is not to sexualize or to desexualize the breasts or nursing mother. Through the decades organizations standing on the back of a patriarchal society have made a sex symbol out of the woman’s breast; a tool for selling cars, luring the opposite sex and bolstering your feminine nature. On the other hand, several artworks, campaign groups, and activists have tried to desexualize the breast; I fear both sides haven’t done the nursing mother much good. She worries about feeding in public, she worries about their sexual appeal (which is changed more by pregnancy and less by breastfeeding), she worries about her own personal image, and for some, she worries about her modesty (see point 1). But at the end of the day, she just wants to feed her child in peace and sincerely she doesn’t care if they are sexual or not, those things are secondary. The breast is both a sexual and nurturing organ, it was designed to carry out both roles, and they are not mutually exclusive.
  • To normalize breastfeeding is to accept the previous methods of feeding in the past and align with the present research. This is especially important for people in the medical field, it is true that at some point in history formula was branded the perfect solution for feeding an infant (several reasons have being proffered as to how formula came to be so dominant: some attribute it to an increase in mothers joining the workforce making it necessary for a child-minder to have a ready supply of food, it has also being linked to the industrialization of milk production while others believe it was probably due to a need to have children grow up faster after the war, as breast milk was thought to be insufficient for quick growth), however present research refutes that claim. It is important that medical professionals embrace breastfeeding in its entity, as this will enable them to make sound decisions on how best to support a mother without feeling cajoled to say keep trying even when they can see whatever form of feeding isn’t helping mother or baby. The pressure shouldn’t be to promote either formula or breastfeeding, the demand should be to handle each case individually with the best outcome for both mother and baby in view, regardless of how they were fed or how they fed their own children.normalizing breastfeeding 2016
  • To normalize breastfeeding is to acknowledge the true history of breastfeeding and infant substitutes: finally, we must acknowledge that infant substitutes have always existed in the past, however, the ratio of children who needed it as against those who were breastfed either by their mothers or a wet nurse were few. Babies were fed using different instruments and substitutes including terracotta pots, donkey’s milk, pap, and soaked bread (Dailey, 2014). Formula probably became popular as it was the one substitute which could be transported around the world, had more sterilized equipment, and thus had a lower probability of causing food poisoning when compared to others.

       To normalize breastfeeding is to start baby on the best diet known to man.


Sorry for the mix-up, scheduled the post wrongly and had to repost it again. Breastfeeding week starts on the 18th of this month, I hope we all join in to celebrate it, if you’re new here (i.e. to livehomeandaway) I hope you find this part of my life as interesting as the rest.

Love and light.

Motherhood creed.

To birth and to hold,

To nurture and to succour,

In sickness and in health.

Through tantrums, glitter storms and super hero rescues,

may we bond beyond the placenta.

Motherhood creed.

Breastfeeding Poster V2
Designed by Emma Devine and I

Breastfeeding … helping you uphold the creed.

Share your thoughts on motherhood, parenting, and breastfeeding.

I will be putting up posts (not everyday though) to celebrate breastfeeding week between the 18th – 27th of June. Thanks to Liverpool BAMBIS, for supporting me through my breastfeeding journey and letting me volunteer.