The online parenting community has been abuzz with THIS picture taken from the Life & Style July 22nd issue.
As I sat down to write my response… I needed to take many deep breaths. Deep breaths to refrain from screaming or WRITING IN ALL CAPS! BAD IDEA? SLAVES? WHAT!?! Deep breaths… deep breaths.
Okay, first, some background: actress and vegan lifestyle advocate Alicia Silverstone has started a breast milk-sharing program called, “Kind Mama Milk Share.” It is a way for those with a milk surplus to provide for those moms in need.
The part of the picture that is true is, “Alicia Silverstone’s breast milk-sharing program is not new.” Wet nurses were around back in 2000 BCE. The profession is mentioned in the Bible when Pharaoh’s daughter needs one to nurse Moses. And could you imagine where we’d all be if that guy never got fed? Yes, there were slaves who took on this profession at various times in history, but the idea of milk-sharing IS nothing new, and it continues to be prominent and IMPORTANT (sorry…there are those caps again) in today’s society (see: the National Milk Bank, Prolacta, and a slew of others).
Personally, I breastfeed my child. I do it because it is what I want to do for and with my daughter. And I am blessed that I am able to do it. So far, the eight months that I have been breastfeeding my daughter have been challenging. In the beginning, I sat in the hospital, exhausted and unable to get my newborn to properly latch and half a dozen lactation consultants came in and out of the room, each giving me opposing advice. I cried… a lot. Once my milk came in, I had an over supply that caused my daughter to spit up… a lot. It’s hard to look at myself after I feed my daughter because in a matter of moments, I go from an E-cup to a B-cup…and not a pretty perky B-cup. A B-cup that droops… a lot. Now that my little girl has eight teeth (!!!) while nursing, she bites… I’m pretty sure she was the inspiration for “Sharknado.” And when she chomps down it hurts…a lot. And there have been days when she is hungry and the ‘ol milk factory just isn’t producing any product and I dive into my stash, or get a formula bottle ready and again, I cry… a lot.
But there are sweet moments too… when I nurse my daughter to sleep, or when she lunges for me with a smile in the morning because she knows Mommy has her breakfast “brewing.”
Since the time I began pumping, it has not been easy. Sitting with a wet vac to my breast is not my idea of a good time. If I don’t do it, I can become engorged and have to walk around with at least one, painful, rock hard boob. Fun Fun Fun! But pumping enabled me to save up milk and soon, my freezer was full.
Then, as I mentioned in “I’m Totally Guilty of New Mom TMI,” a few months ago, I discovered that my daughter developed an allergy to dairy and eggs via my breast milk and I was now unable to feed her anything from the supply I had been accumulating since her birth. I had hundreds of ounces of frozen milk. I did not want to throw it away. There was nothing “wrong” with it. It wasn’t because my freezer broke and everything defrosted nor was it contaminated by bacteria. It wasn’t unusable; it was just unusable by ME. So I donated it to a friend who had a low supply of her own milk.
There were moments where I thought, “Is this weird?” Is her son going to take on my personality, quirks, and neurosis? Are we now related in some way and it will be strange if our children get married some day? There were moments I was very sad. I was sad that I had to give my daughter formula while I got the allergens out of my system and I rebuilt up my supply. I felt guilt that because this allergy came through my breast milk, that it was all my fault. But I was happy… I was honored… I was lucky… to be able to help someone feed her baby.
I fully understand and support the mothers out there who choose not to or simply cannot breastfeed their children. As long as you are feeding your little ones, that is all that REALLY matters.
I know and love people who decided before their child was born that breastfeeding was not for them and they went straight to formula. I know and love people who have tried to breast feed their baby, but because of mastasis, infection, or low supply were unable to. I know and love people who have been unable to directly breastfeed their child but have spent the first year of their child’s life constantly pumping so that they can give their milk to their baby. I know and love people who breastfeed and supplement with formula or use donor milk or solely breastfeed for 6 months, one year, or more.
So, yes, it IS 2013 and it’s time to accept every woman who does whatever she can to feed her child. It’s 2013 and it is amazing that we, as mothers are able to help and support or receive help and support from other mothers. It’s 2013 and how wonderful that Alicia Silverstone is able to create an online community for like-minded moms to find each other and help one another. It’s 2013… get with the times, Life & Style Magazine! You ask, “Can You Believe This?” And I answer; I can’t believe YOU published THIS!