We have another installment of a lovely guest blogger to describe what she, and other mothers face in modern times. In case you missed it, this is part of my monthly theme dedicated to women's experiences in various environments.
Today's entry is by the lovely Roxy. She's a co-worker that I'm also blessed to call a friend. She is hardcore, but there is no question in how dedicated she is to her three beautiful children. I should say that if you personally know Roxy, you can take a good guess about what this entry is about. If not, prepare yourself for a long, intense stance about breastfeeding.
"I’m afraid I’m a rather passionate person. I have my pet causes. These have changed over the years. I still feel strongly about tattoo acceptance, marijuana legalization, and consumers buying products made in China. However, those topics were shoved to the very back burner when I became a mom.
I’ve learned a lot since those first nine months when my life was forever pointed down a completely different path from the one I was on. Trust me, that path was leading straight for jail, rehab, and a slew of similar issues…. I can say with all certainty that my baby girl saved my life.
My first pregnancy, I was uneducated and naïve. I thought that the doctors knew best (had no ulterior motives) and that if I ate a balanced diet and didn’t drink, I’d have a healthy baby. She would signal her imminent arrival and I’d go to a hospital, they would numb my entire body, she would pop out and all would be well. Fortunately for me, that’s exactly how it went. I know many mothers who expect that and experience far, far less. One thing I never faced was the question of whether Bear would be a breastfed baby or not. She certainly would! My mother is a La Leche League leader, I come from a family of breastfed children… it was the complete norm for me. I didn’t even know how to mix up formula.
It would be easy! Put the nipple in the kid’s mouth and happy milk magic would occur and I would never have any problems! Let’s all stop and have a great big belly laugh right now at my expense…
That first week was harder than my entire pregnancy, including the hip pain and insane carpal tunnel syndrome. I actually took Bear and moved in with my mother so I would have help available 24/7. I had sore nipples (don’t ever underestimate the pain of sore nipples. It’s like having hot clamps on them), engorgement, blocked ducts which ended in mastitis (oh dear Lord), thrush, and just the general difficulty of figuring out how to position her so we could both be comfortable. And still, I know that these problems are mild compared to what some people go through.
I became passionate about breastfeeding. There is this magic little book from La Leche League called The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. It became my breastfeeding Bible. Between that book and my mother, I struggled through those first trials and was able to become a na-na champ. So many mothers, though, just don’t have that support. And that breaks my heart.
"Breast is Best." We hear it all over. And few, if any, folks doubt the statement's validity. But is it "best"?
Breastmilk is NORMAL. Breastfeeding is the biologically normal way for humans to feed human babies.... with HUMAN MILK. I'm sorry. I know people are offended when I say it.... But anything else is subpar. We are lucky enough to live in a world where we actually have back ups in case a mother isn't physically able to breastfeed. Too often, though, women stop for reasons much less than a physical inability. That, however, is a completely different post….
Breastmilk is antifungal, antibiotic, antiviral, contains stem cells, contains over 40 ingredients that CANNOT be duplicated, prevents breast, ovarian, and other cancers for mothers and babies, is environmentally friendly, is always the right temperature, is used so completely that the only reason breastfed babies poop is to keep their colons healthy, and can kill cancer cells. But women are still led to believe that formula is "just as good"? Surely you jest....
But every day, every minute, breastfeeding is undermined by society saying that breast is "best", but formula is adequate. And it is hurting our society, our mothers, and, most importantly, our children.
Every time you see a news report of a mother being asked to leave a public place because she is feeding her child, "the best" is undermined. Every time a mother is quietly told to feed her child in a bathroom where people defecate, public health takes a giant leap backward. Every time a celebrity tweets that he isn't hungry anymore because he saw a child eating the way he or she was biologically intended, women take a punch in the ideological stomach. And every time "politically correct" persons agree that women shouldn't be required to cover their faces, but should be required to cover their breasts as they are nourishing their children, civilization somersaults back down the hill. Every time an online community or social network removes pictures of a child feeding because there is a glimpse of areola, but leaves alone a picture of a scantily clad teenager in a bikini, "best" is cut down. Every time a medical professional tells a mother that she must "pump and dump" because she is on antibiotics for mastitis, a breastfeeding relationship is ruined.
I am a breastfeeding mother. I have been pregnant for two and a half years out of my 30 on this earth. I have nourished a child with nothing more than my own body for almost five years, Those years aren't consecutive. But between, I remain passionate about breastfeeding. Why? Because I truly believe that our society is being led down a dark path toward disease and ill health. Our children are being fed sugar from day one and we wonder why childhood (and adulthood, for that matter) obesity is reaching epidemic proportions. Because children are leading sheltered lives due to their asthma, allergies, and autism. Because we can do better, but we are led to believe that our bodies are incapable or inadequate.
Why? Are we broken? For millennia, women have been revered for their ability to make and sustain life with their own bodies. Only recently have we been made to feel that pregnancy is a disease that must be prevented (and if it occurs, should be rushed away to the care of a specialist who can take care of this dangerous situation), and that breastfeeding is something shameful or sexual that must be hidden away in a home or under a blanket. Again....WHY?
May I just go ahead and step on my feminism soapbox? Kaythanx.
WOMEN ARE MADE TO MAKE AND NOURISH LIFE. Don't undermine me as the lesser species. Until a man has held a life in his belly, nourished it until it was capable of making it outside of a womb, and then was able to sustain a human life with nothing more than his breasts, I refuse to believe that women are weak. Women have been revered as supernatural and spectacular.....until relatively recently. And I refuse to believe that there is any reason that should have changed. And, by God, I refuse to be ashamed of it.
Women are making leaps and bounds when it comes to business, politics, equality in general. But every time a woman is thought of as laughable because she is "nothing more" than a mother, feminism in its entirety sadly shuffles in reverse. Every human being on this earth has a mother. And money may make the world go 'round, but women make the world.
I’m afraid I’m a rather passionate person. I have my pet causes. These have changed over the years. I am a natural birth advocate, a lactivist, I believe that every baby has a right to life, I practice and promote a lifestyle full of natural remedies and whole and raw food choices. These are my on my front-burners. And I believe that babies should have the advantages of being fed in the way God intended them to… from their mother’s breasts. I'd rather my child thrive because of me than survive in spite of me."
If you couldn't tell by this entry, Roxy is a bit outspoken. But frankly, she knows what she is talking about & is the first person I go to when it comes to nutritional questions. Her voice, strength & passion are so inspiring. She also has a blog that covers everything between rants & recipes. Be sure to check out her page: Two Jugs of Milk and a Shot of Whiskey.