WBW is in full swing and the month of breastfeeding awareness has begun.
So far in just the first 4 days, I’ve seen support, I’ve seen scoffing, I’ve seen irritation and snarky responses, I’ve seen thankful hearts and grateful mamas, I’ve seen indifference to this cause, basically all of the above… but let me tell you, mamas… WBW and the month of focused awareness on breastfeeding education needs to be brought back into focus.
Breastfeeding Awareness Month is SO much more about bringing education and support to the mothers who didn’t or don’t have support, have no clue what to do, were told they shouldn’t bother, told they couldn’t do it, etc..
It’s not an observance for patting ourselves on the back for the job we did/are doing. It’s about spreading education, normalizing it, bringing awareness to the places and people who have NO idea how important it can be or why we aught to care.
By all means – be proud of what you have done, but know that is not the point. it’s not “Breastfeeding Pride Month” – it’s Breastfeeding *Awareness* Month.
This is a world-wide observance and push to educate, normalize and strengthen the hearts of mothers who want to breastfeed but need support to do it.
In the almost 7 years I’ve been managing this page, I’ve seen hundreds of mamas who felt that sting of regret and shame as their bodies didn’t do what they had hoped, or for whatever medical reason they felt they couldn’t breastfeed.
Nearly all of these women were not given support, were shamed into thinking they’d done something wrong, had been told by literal strangers they were failing because they couldn’t breastfeed – and in almost EVERY SINGLE CASE, it was because they were not given accurate information and they were shamed and afraid to seek support.
I’ve had mamas leave this page because they were too angry and ashamed to even ask questions.
THIS is why this week and month exists.
There is NO reason a mama should feel so shamed for NOT breastfeeding that she abandons a community specifically designed to help lift her up.
That’s unacceptable, in my opinion. The thing is, once a mama has been shamed, told she can’t, made to believe it’s impossible and given an easier alternative… then WE, the breastfeeding support teams, look like the bad guys. We look like the pushy friends trying to make them work harder to fit in to some kind of elite, password-only subculture. Why? Because they are hurt, angry, feeling unsupported, feeling like we are better than them and that we are just rubbing in what we could do and they could not, for whatever reason.
This is why education and awareness of the challenges needs to be brought to a mother’s attention BEFORE she has her baby so she understands all these misty, hazy photos of gorgeous moms breastfeeding their sweet, pink-cheeked babes in gauzy dresses with gentle smiles like angels with perfect make up and patience and composure… those are NOT reality.
The reality is it can be uncomfortable, it can be hard, it can be terrifying and there are a thousand things that could go wrong and hundreds of people who will tell you you MUST use formula because your body isn’t enough. A mama MUST be armed with that reality before she walk into the delivery room because once that baby is in her arms and she has no freaking clue what to do, the football hold isn’t working and she doesn’t think she’s even producing milk yet… THAT is when she needs to understand how breastfeeding works, how HER BODY works and how it’s okay, it’s normal, how she’ll be fine and how her baby will be, too.
Mamas, you need to know who to call and who to listen to before you deliver because that first few hours is critical and the hospital won’t even send a lactation consultant to you till probably the day AFTER your baby is born!
Awareness is not about putting metals on mothers who could breastfeed. Breastfeeding isn’t a sport. You don’t get awards for doing it. There is no such thing as the “platinum booby award” and supporting ideas like this defeats the purpose of education and inclusion. We’re not a club of special women. We were either lucky or properly educated and had the support we needed to succeed.
Awareness is for lifting up those who struggle and educating those who have yet to get there. It’s for educating grandparents, husbands, boyfriends, best friends… how NOT to shame the breastfeeding mama in their lives by placing unrealistic demands upon them or imposing their own ego and selfishness onto the act that mama is attempting to perfect for the sake of her baby.
So, this week and this month… please do your part to spread awareness and education through inclusion and empathy for the struggles we ALL have felt.
This is not about us, the ones who have been here for years and either could or could not do it ourselves for our babies. It’s about those who have yet to show up, those who will be knocking on the door with questions, fears, shame and worry. Our job is to be ready for them, not partying and praising ourselves.
Be THEIR cheerleaders, not your own. That is what this is all about because breastfeeding week isn’t for me. My children are 6 and 8 years old and I’ve been dry for almost a year and a half. My time of being in that place is over. Now my job is to help pave the way for others about to start this journey. Join me this month in supporting the new mamas, the mamas to be by bringing awareness and education. Please, let’s stop tooting our own horns and instead, sing out the call of support. Join me in showing new moms and their families that it’s about them this month. Not us.