It’s almost 11 at night and the kids are all asleep. Around nine, I had two overtired and fussy kids– we had an exciting day at the Farmer’s market and Fascinate-U Children’s Museum downtown– and at 9 I was wishing they would sleep so that I could. And now I’m wide awake!
It’s because I spent the time rocking the baby to sleep reading an article about baby care and all the subsequent reader comments. I get these emails from a website called “Baby Center” and they have little articles about development and baby stuff. So this article called “8 things your baby needs to thrive” had one paragraph that read:
“Breast milk or formula will provide all the nutrients your baby needs for the first six months, and will be an important part of his diet until his first birthday. Breastfeeding is best for your baby — among other benefits, studies show that breastfed babies have lower rates of allergies, diarrhea, respiratory problems, and ear infections. Breast milk may also give your baby’s IQ a boost. Although formula can’t replicate all of the unique properties of breast milk, formula-fed babies can thrive, too, so don’t beat yourself up if you’re unable to breastfeed.”
I didn’t think much of it but it got some comments! Some people were very offended that it even mentioned breastfeeding was better that formula and said that the article was saying that their children would lead horrible lives and it was all their fault for not breastfeeding, while others were sure to repeat that these are facts of science and women that didn’t breastfeed should have tried harder.
Woah people can’t we all just get along??
I guess its sticking in my head tonight because the reason I was at the children’s museum is that I am beginning my application to become a La Leche League Leader and was meeting with a leader and another applicant here to begin that process.
According to their website “La Leche League International strives to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother.”
Today the Leader asked why we wanted to become LLL Leaders.
I said that because I really fought to breastfeed my first daughter, and had some very daunting difficulties, I want to help other women that want and need it. If a woman doesn’t want to or it didn’t work out for her, that’s her choice and I don’t see that its any of my business really. But if a woman wants and needs the help, or is even curious, I want to help her, because breastfeeding has meant so much to me as a mother, and I see the health and emotional benefits in my children.
If I hadn’t gotten help from a LLL Leader, I would have given up, and I would feel badly about it. I know I would. I would feel guilty. I would be the one reading about breastfeeding statistics and facts and getting upset and feeling like the world is telling me I’m a bad mom. I would feel that way because I felt so strongly that it was the best thing for my kid.
Maybe all the woman who got so upset by what I thought was a tame article, which clearly said not to feel bad and that your kid will be fine on formula– she maybe just needed a little help, and I’m going to try to become a Leader give some support to other women.
I guess it has me thinking because I had heard negative stereotypes of LLL before. Some people think they are militant activists out to make other women feel bad or something. That hasn’t been my experience. Every Leader I’ve met has been gentle and un-judgemental, and made me feel better about, or helped me to clarify, my choices.
When I was giving a presentation before I finished my degree, one woman, who did breastfeed, started talking to me about it and said that she knew LLL people were really pushy and she doesn’t think they should be that way. I told her it hadn’t been my experience and had she met one of the local ones here? And she said, “no I’ve never actually met anyone in LLL.”
So I guess the lesson in that, for me, is that people are always going to be touchy about some stuff and people are always going to stereotype in some ways.
But I still think I’m doing something here that will make me happy and hopefully help another woman like me, who wanted to nurse her kid and needed some serious information and help. Some seriously non-judgement, loving, no strings attached, help. That’s what LLL has been for me!
For me, as a mother, breastfeeding was a big deal, for others something else is a big deal. Let’s just embrace our differences, geez.
Can’t we all just get along???