With all the negativity, drama and offence being taken over the sharing of breastfeeding information and the celebration of breastfeeding mothers #makingitwork, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on why breastfeeding matters to me and what played a part in me becoming such a fierce breastfeeding advocate.
A lot of it stems from the fact that I failed.
I failed at breastfeeding the way I truly wanted to, the way it was meant to be.
I failed at breastfeeding, but I can tell you confidently what I didn’t do. I didn’t become bitter and hateful towards breastfeeding, breastfeeding mothers or breastfeeding advocates.
I didn’t take offence to mothers supporting each other, I didn’t take offence to hard facts about breastfeeding and breastmilk, no, instead I educated myself, and through education I vindicated my feelings of failure, because through education I have realised that I did not really fail at all, I WAS FAILED.
I was failed by the lack of support after my emergency c-section.
I was failed by lack of baby friendly procedures in the NICU.
I was failed by uneducated peadiatricians, gynaes, nurses and other hospital staff.
I was failed by the dietician pretending to be lactation consultant.
I was failed by the hospital who hired the dietician knowing full well she is not certified.
I was failed by unsupportive health care providers.
I was failed by own family.
I was failed by unsupportive friends who mocked my desire to provide my child with my own milk.
I was failed by a lack of acceptance, support and knowledge being available to me when I needed it.
I was failed because no one picked up the tongue ties, or SPD, or reflux.
I was failed because no one cared that breastfeeding was important to ME, because it was just easier for everyone else to tell me to just give up, than actually help me.
The anger doesn’t belong to the Breastfeeders, it doesn’t belong to the advocates who share information, it doesn’t belong to the volunteers who take time away from their families to help mothers breastfeed. The anger doesn’t even belong to the doctors, nurses, family members or anyone else.
Most importantly the anger and misdirected feelings of failure do not belong to me.
They don’t belong to me.
They don’t belong to you. They don’t belong to your baby. They don’t belong to your body. They don’t belong to your breasts.
It belongs to a society that doesn’t value the importance of a woman’s right to breastfeed, it belongs to skewed morals in a world that over sexualises women’s bodies, it belongs to the lack of education in our health care sector because breastfeeding doesn’t line anyone’s pockets, it belongs to the people who actively prevent mothers from reaching their personal breastfeeding goals by spreading ignorance and hatred. It belongs to the lack of support because it’s too much effort in this fast paced world. It belongs to the lack of community.
Instead of fighting against breastfeeding and those who promote it with such passion and love, I put aside my feelings of failure and stood up with them, to fight against the misinformation, to fight for support, to fight for a woman’s right to breastfeed, to make sure that through the spreading of information, education and showing support and love, no mother who wants to breastfeed will ever be let down again. I stood up to fight because I now know what it feels like to be let down, to not succeed, to have no support, to lack the knowledge and resources to help myself, and this is something I will not fail at, I will continue to stand up for women who want to breastfeed, I will fight for them, celebrate them and support them, because I don’t want them to ever feel what I had to. I advocate for the mothers who want to breastfeed.
It is sad that I even have to mention that my support for breastfeeding mothers does not equate to a lack of support for formula feeding mothers.
I am a breastfeeding advocate. I support women. I support mothers.
I support all mothers, formula feeding moms, I support exclusively pumping moms, I support adoptive moms, and I support breastfeeding moms.
That is why World Breastfeeding Week is important to me. So I can be a part in helping other mothers succeed where I couldn’t.