Stop Telling Women to Trust Their Bodies!

As a die-hard, home-birthing, placenta smoothie-prepping, breastmilk-medicating, coconut oil-loving, once-vegan doula and women’s rights advocate, I have a potentially unsettling confession to make. Hearing a woman being told to “trust your body” sincerely pisses me off. Let me silence all … Continue reading

My Family’s Fight With Food Allergies

It’s every mother’s worst nightmare. Your child is hurting and you can’t fix it. My son, Jaxson, started showing troubling symptoms around one month old. He had bleeding diaper rashes, his skin was covered in eczema, and he cried all … Continue reading

World Breastfeeding Week: Just 10 Steps

World Breastfeeding Week: Just 10 Steps Aug. 1-7, 2010

For breastfeeding mothers, healthcare professionals and self-styled ‘lactivists’  all across the globe, World Breastfeeding Week is a time of celebration; a time to pay homage to and show active support for something that for many women is more than just feeding or nutrition, but the foundation of a lifestyle of ‘mothering at the breast’.

This year’s WBW theme is ‘Just 10 Steps’, which is referring to the list of 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. While our local hospitals have come a long way in the promotion of breastfeeding in our area, none of the three we checked have mention of these 10 steps being implemented on their maternity floor listed on their websites. In addition to it being our opinion, it’s also the recommendation of UNICEF that these ten steps be followed in order to ensure that those mothers who wish to breastfeed may do so successfully.

Wouldn’t you love to have research-based information, hands-on assistance and access to more trained breastfeeding professionals available in the hospital both during your pregnancy and after your baby’s birth to help you meet your breastfeeding goals? You can help make that happen! One of the ways that you can personally support breastfeeding this week is to call, email or send a letter to the hospital that you delivered or plan to deliver your baby at and let them know that you want to see their active support of breastfeeding through the implementation of the 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding initiative. Tell them how your experience would have been enhanced had they fully embraced and promoted the 10 steps, and how much you want to see other mothers succeed. Better yet, do all three! Grass-roots movements have motivated many businesses to change their policies or bend to public demand and our hospitals are no different. We can help make this change in our community.

If such acts of hard-core activism aren’t your style, there are other ways to show your support. One of the best ways is, of course, to be unashamed to nurse your baby when he needs to be fed. Texas law protects a mother’s right to breastfeed her baby in any location that the mother has the right to be. So in other words, if you can be there, then you can feed there. In fact, you can even get a card from the Department of Health Services that states the law!

Another way is to blog about it. Tell about how your experiences have changed you or your family, how you overcame difficulties and how much you enjoy breastfeeding. If breastfeeding didn’t go how you planned, talk about that, too! Mothers need to hear stories of breastfeeding that are successful; that show how women overcame difficulties, stories that tell what you’ve learned and what you’ll do next time that will better your success rate. As a community, we need to share our experiences about how breastfeeding helped make us into the mothers we are today.

This is The International Breastfeeding Symbol. This symbol is recognized all around the world to denote breastfeeding or breastfeeding mothers and the support and promotion of the same. You can read more about the history of this symbol here, and can get you own breastfeeding symbol window clings, bumper stickers, patches and more at the Breastfeeding Symbol Store. Wouldn’t one look awesome on the back of your car or on your canvas grocery tote? If you’re a local business owner, having this symbol on your door is a great way to attract women into your business! You can also get this symbol as a small sticker on your Facebook profile picture as a sticker with the Twibbon application.

Something we hear from many mothers who were the first to have a baby in their group of friends is that once they’ve breastfed successfully, for any length of time, they find that they suddenly become the experts on breastfeeding in their group of friends. We think that’s awesome, and it’s an amazing way to make a real difference in a mother’s life. While we definitely encourage mothers to support their friends, and for friends to seek out peer support, sometimes it’s nice to consult a professional. We have a couple of options in Southeast Texas;

the Christus St. Elizabeth Breastfeeding Warmline 409.899.8523 or toll free 1.800.810.2829, and La Leche League of Beaumont 409.347.1245. Both are free to call and if you leave a message, someone will get back to you. La Leche League International is a breastfeeding support organization that works worldwide and our local group meets on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 9:45AM at St. Jude Thaddeus in the Education Building, Room 5. The next meeting is Thursday, August 12.

In conclusion, there’s really no wrong way to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week. The special relationship between a mother and her nursing baby or toddler is renowned in literature and poetry through the ages, so there must be something special about it. If you’re pregnant and considering breastfeeding, then get out there and talk to some nursing moms and find out what that special something was for them. Find out what makes moms who’ve breastfed several babies keep coming back to it. In a world where babies are pushed to be more and more independent, World Breastfeeding Week truly celebrates the togetherness of mother and child, and we hope that you’ll take part in that celebration with us.

~h

Heather Thomas is a former breastfeeding mom of two with a combined 6 years of breastfeeding experience under her belt. She has worked with La Leche League and in the community as a breastfeeding educator for over 6 years, and is one of the founding mothers at Whole Mothering Center. She is currently homeschooling her two boys and writes at This Adventure Life.