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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Breastfeeding Fallout: Silver Linings


Tongues have indeed been wagging about breastfeeding and attachment parenting philosophies all week. Time Magazine succeeded in creating a buzz and designing a cover for shock value. The fallout has been tremendous. Public cries of disgust and anger abound. Moms who breastfeed feel that nursing has been sexualized, polarized, and deemed as extremist, especially beyond the first six months infancy. Moms who don't breastfeed feel as though they are under attack for not being "mom enough". And the AP philosophy seems quirky at best, evangelical and separatist at worst.

The media is continuing to work hard to portray us, the moms, with every ounce of sensationalism they can muster. Time may have gotten some attention, but in my experience moms are not a group that you want to alienate and anger. Moms are a powerful force. A force for change. A sea of power. They have the strength of community. And the insight to see beyond the facade. And momma ain't happy now.

But there is a silver lining. We are talking about breastfeeding. We are thinking about parenting. We are discussing doing what we believe is best for our kids. And we are connecting amidst our rage. More and more moms are standing back and calling for tolerance. And many of us who practice "extreme" parenting are stepping forward. The small "sliver" of moms who breastfeed well into toddlerhood are speaking out. And our champions are getting some attention.

Just the other day, USA Today published an article headlining "Breastfeeding a 3-year old is normal, anthropologist says." Interviewing Katherine Dettwyler, USA Today noted "that most children around the world are breast-fed for three to five years or longer." And the article indicated that "it's more common than might be believed, and that moms are just hiding it."

How do we create a sea change? It starts with awareness. If we want to making nursing "normal" and extended breastfeeding "acceptable" it needs to get attention. It needs to be seen and heard; known and experienced. When it's common, it loses its shock value. When everyone is nursing a 3-year old, who is going to plaster it on their magazine cover?

Nursing in public is common and normal, only we don't see enough of it. The Holistic Moms Network's own video, Nursing Our Future, was created for this very reason - to showcase moms doing what is normal and natural, openly, publicly, and proudly. Watch out Time, because moms are "mom enough": mom enough to stand our ground and proud enough to have the confidence to do what we believe, in spite of what the media thinks.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think anyone should let the cover of Time Magazine bother them. As a mom I am secure with the parenting choices I have made for my children (i only breasfed till my kids were 2, I cloth diaper, I don't vax and I birth at home.whatever.) If you are secure you shouldn't be bothered by what you read or what anyone says to you, it just so happens to be different from what you do as a parent. Get over it!

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