Even though I am way beyond the early years of having and raising babies, breastfeeding remains a frequent topic of conversation in my home. Of course, my line of work lends itself to friends and family sending me breastfeeding stories in the news, or social media posts by celebrities making statements around their choices to breastfeed (or pump) whenever and wherever they choose. But the conversations are also sometimes like this…
During a recent discussion about my line of work with my daughter’s boyfriend, I asked him if he was breastfed. “No,” he replied and quickly added, “but I turned out just fine. And look at Olivia,” he continued, “she’s great, too.” To which Olivia piped up, “Uh, I breastfed for three years.” That tidbit of information didn’t appear to phase him. In fact, it reminds me of when I first started learning about breastfeeding relationships and how they could look, which was much different than my limited exposure imagined.
I recall being at a La Leche League meeting with my 5 week old baby and seeing a toddler nursing in his mother’s lap. I had never seen a child that age nursing (until I had my own I had little experience with babies breastfeeding) and it took some getting used to on my part. Clearly, I made it past all that considering my own breastfeeding journey and later profession.
Do I think breastfeeding is the only way to feed a baby? Absolutely not. I’ve seen far too many situations where breastfeeding was not working for one reason or another. We aim to support mothers and families where they are. However, I do believe breastfeeding is a human right, and that it saves lives and helps communities. I desire to see mothers supported to successfully breastfeed, and I want negative beliefs that undermine their success to be challenged.
August is National Breastfeeding Month in the US, which is celebrated in order to support and increase awareness of breastfeeding and its benefits. World Breastfeeding Week was the first week of August and commemorates the Innocenti Declaration On the Protection, Promotion and Support of Breastfeeding, signed in August 1990, by government policymakers, the World Health Organization (WHO), and UNICEF to promote and protect this important first food.