Mothering and Life in General
Lactivist or Lactizilla…
I would consider myself a strong breastfeeding supporter. I will go out of my way to help another baby and mother succeed in whatever their goals are. I find this experience to be just as precious as the act of breastfeeding, that I signed up to become apart of my community’s Mother-to-Mother Breastfeeding volunteer group. I have done this work for 2 years now, and I enjoy it tremendously.
Friends and family know how passionate I am with breastfeeding, but mostly my belief of the woman’s body. Even at the young age of seventeen, I found the biological aspects of life fascinating, so much so, that I loved watching the TLC’s older version of Baby Month. Remember the documentaries of mother and baby connection, how the fetus grows and what hormonally develops in the mother?
Growing up I did have an interest in the breastfeeding relationship between mother and child. I found our human parasitical ways from conception to breastfeeding intriguing. I found my first breastfeeding experience (besides my Uncle smacking me for watching) amazing and the first act of love I wanted to have with my future children.
When I started breastfeeding, articles like these, were everywhere. I fully agree to them and support them in every intent. In Peel, my region where I live, we had the Formula No Thanks campaign. Where posters were everywhere, city buses, billboards, medical offices etc. Saying ‘Formula, No Thanks I am watching my waistline; Formula, No Thanks, its flu season’.
It was the first time I, as a breastfeeding mother, felt apart of this community. It was the first time that, publicly, I was proud to be breastfeeding and I did not have to be shamed into the bathroom or undercover. Even with our local breastfeeding friendly places and stickers advertising that this place is breastfeeding friendly. I have always felt that it was a large oxymoron where everyone promotes it here, but it’s not protected and now finally it was public, no reason to argue.
Now the posters are being taken down, and the pictures are deleted from the Formula, No Thanks site. Articles like The Ten Commandments of Breastfeeding are not being viewed. Why? People are being offended and complaining that these ads and articles are making them feel guilty for not breastfeeding.
Beginning of this year, I ran into blogs and articles explaining a new technique on how to deliver the message to a range of mothers, friends, and families. At first I thought ‘we are on to something, what a wonderful idea’. Welcome and support every mother and still be able to give informed scientifically proven information for them to pass down. Since everyone is in one group and welcomed, breastfeeding is rising above to be publicly excepted.
I accepted this for sometime, and praise organizations like Best for Babes for their efforts in uniting every mother. I still think this organization is on to something, something I think should continue. What I am having issues about is another movement in Lactivism, where it is not correct to ask questions in summary of “Why are you not breastfeeding?” not to say anything unless it’s asked. To sympathize with a non-breastfeeding mother, because the reason she is not breastfeeding is unknown and strictly personal.
A recent example, to clarify what I am mentioning, is an article by PhD in Parenting called I won’t ask you why you didn’t breastfeed. I love Annie, I am impressed on how she thinks outside of the box, her posts are always informative and thought-provoking. She writes in a way I have not seen. However, while reading this post it made me wonder. Most of these things she mentioned she will not do, is what I do or have done in the past.
As I was reading her article I could not help but to think of the friend she was writing about. I pictured me in her friend’s shoes. Most commonly with my volunteer work I hear about mother’s guilt and myths, and things they wish they had known. I thought ‘what if this friend is burning with guilt, what if this friend is drowning with how her body, again failed or didn’t work?’
Isn’t that what Lactivists are trying to do? To help mothers stop feeling this guilt that they did not own to begin with while promoting breastfeeding? What if this friend has another child and is burdened with this belief that she does not work? When if fact she did work, she was not given the chance. Yes, Annie mentions another reason could be as personal as sexual assault. In my eyes, coming from that background, I would be set free if a friend was open to listen or even offer to hear what I can tell. Even if I could not tell the story, and I was honest to say “It’s personal” I would love to hear, “I am here when you are ready”.
Is this not why we are promoting and fighting for support? I know I personalize everything, but it’s the only way I can consider another persons feelings and actions. I always think, if that was me what would I want to know. I know I differ from everyone else, but this thought is behind everything I do and why I am who I am. I think if I can help a friend feel that it was not her fault that she could not reach her goal, than I fulfilled something that was needed.
I just have mixed feelings on this movement. I feel that we are getting some where with the Booby Traps explained by Best for Babes, that part is great and what I have felt to be the overall issue besides society. I feel this direction will help every mother and still be able to get information. However, I don’t think not saying anything in fear of offending and insulting or saying it’s too personal is not the way. Along with insulting and being intentionally cruel. I wonder if we can get to a happy medium?
For now I do, do most of the examples that has been mentioned, and I hope this does not make me, what I call, a Lactizilla. I don’t do this out of cruelty, I do not ask a total stranger at the mall who is giving a bottle to her baby. I do, however, ask a friend to help her talk about her feelings of guilt, and I apologize to her for not knowing enough to be the support she needed. I do ask a mother I support while volunteering when I find out this is her second child and she did not breastfeed her first.
I don’t critically ask “Why did you not breastfeed?” I ask “What do you feel you need from me to better support you, can you tell me what happened with your first child?” Then I move on to placing the blame to where it belongs, and often times, it’s never the mother’s ownership.Yet, the mother is the one paying the ownership price. Then after the correction and the hopeful relief of the mother we move on to myths and education and connecting to her that I am here, just a call away.
I just don’t know about where Lactativism is going and whether I fit that title, maybe I am a Lactizilla. I hope not, but I fear I might be considered one. I have strong feelings about not saying anything is another way of promoting myths and demeaning the mother. I am not for this and never will be. I feel that correcting someone on a myth or a misconception the same way I would if someone states the sky is green, is viable in education.
Personally, if someone, especially a friend takes something I say to be damaging to them and insulting. I would except that friend to tell me about it. I can not mind read and I can not explain in a different way if I don’t know about the insult. I can’t own something if I am not told, I consider this apart of being a friend and the relationship.
I think I am going to need a little help with understanding this new way and how is it suppose to work. I feel that it’s going to be a struggle for me to stay true to myself but also include myself in Lactivism. Wow, I think I have a long way to go.