Activism Life

Why I am Celebrating Today and Everyday

August 7, 2015

Hey readers, guess what week it is? World Breastfeeding Week! I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t learn about it earlier in the week, but better late than never! This morning was actually the first time I had heard about this week and I had to google it just to be sure. Unfortunately, what popped up first was not at all positive, but instead this article, written by Dr. Amy Tuteur. Now, I certainly don’t have her level of qualifications and I won’t pretend to, so my response is not at all regarding IQ levels or health of children who are not breastfed (although I will point out that she sites no sources…). But instead my response is this:

Celebrating breastfeeding does not mean that one is anti-formula. Personally, I’m all for breastfeeding if possible. From what I’ve read, the nutrients found in breast milk are beneficial for the infant and breast feeding is a natural thing–but it’s not the only way to feed your child, and that’s perfectly okay. What is not okay is making women on either end feel bad, and that’s how the article made me feel.

I was breastfed. My mom breastfed me for a really long time, to be honest (extended breastfeeding) but that doesn’t mean it was all I got. There were times when my mom fed me other nutrients as well as breast milk. It didn’t take much for me to latch on and from what I hear, I was an easy baby when it came to breastfeeding. But I am not everyone else. Let me repeat that, I am not everyone else. Some babies won’t take to it, and that’s okay. Some women won’t produce enough milk, and that’s okay. Some women will choose to go with formula instead, and that’s okay too. But writing an article that says if I celebrate the way I was fed, I’ll make others feel bad that they weren’t fed the same way is a bit much.

This is me breastfeeding as an infant.

This is me breastfeeding as an infant.

My other large concern with Tuteur’s article is that she states this:

The vision of the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Advocacy (WABA), the sponsor of World Breastfeeding Week is “a world where breastfeeding is the cultural norm.”

In other words, WABA hopes for a world where breastfeeding is not the personal choice of the woman who owns the breasts in question but a moral imperative.

Woah, hold your horses there! My take on WABA’s vision is that they want a world in which breastfeeding is less stigmatized and more socially accepted. It would be great to live in a country where women are not told to go to the bathroom to breastfeed, or told that they are not allowed to breastfeed on a plane because it’s disturbing to others. Unfortunately, that’s not the USA today. I have yet to hear the same kind of story when it comes to a woman bottle feeding her child.

I am celebrating World Breastfeeding Day because right now, women are not able to breastfeed in public, or in private, without being sexualized and shamed. I am celebrating because breastfeeding when possible is beautiful and healthy. I am celebrating because women deserve to be celebrated in any and all capacity. I am celebrating breastfeeding, but that does not and it never will mean that I don’t support you feeding your child by any means necessary. It is a choice, and in my book it shouldn’t be a shameful one, no matter what.

Xo, Willa

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