The Importance of Inclusive Breastfeeding


The word literally haunts follows me around social media, landing in my inbox from some far off place full of rage and simmering indignation.

"You should be ashamed of yourself!"  The naysayers tell me, "have you no discretion??"

We've all seen the argument, right?

They tell us to feed our babies privately; to cover our breasts.  They tell us that nobody wants to see our cleavages, as they happily walk past 10 foot tall, cleavage-laden billboards on their daily commutes.

Such utter ignorance.

I've said before that there is a big problem with the notion of discreet breastfeeding.  (You can read about it here.)  And I've made myself very clear in my opinion that in order to see breastfeeding as normal, we need actually see it.

These facts remain true.

Yet nothing in this world is straightforward, especially since we are living in a society that sexualises the breast.  We live in a world where breastfeeding is not the social norm, even though it is the biological norm and is recommended by every single health authority across the globe.

So how can we bridge this disconnect?  How can we support and empower new moms on their breastfeeding journeys, while simulatenously navigating the social stigma that too often runs alongside nursing?

As a new mom, I was not brave enough to nurse in public.  I hate that I even have to use the word brave there.  But it's true; I didn't have the confidence to break our misplaced and dangerous social taboo.  I was recovering from a traumatic childbirth and I was bone-achingly exhausted.  I simply didn't have the strength to challenge the norm.

But little by little, I found my strength.  I found my voice.  And yes, it got pretty loud.

Now I will happily nurse my 4 year old in public, without even a second thought.

Yet breastfeeding is not all or nothing (I've made that comment before as well - you can read it here.)  There is no one-size-fits-all model when it comes to mastering this skill set.  Some moms breastfeed directly from day one, without so much as a cracked nipple...while others navigate mastitis, clogged ducts, tongue ties, supply issues and so much more.  Some moms pump at the office, while others pump exclusively.  Some moms breastfeed anywhere and everywhere uncovered, while others prefer a shawl.

And while I often hear the argument that 100% direct, uncovered breastfeeding, 100% of the time, is the most effective way to normlalize breastfeeding in our society, I have to disagree.  Because this line of thinking creates some serious boobie traps.

If we lay out only one pathway, only one route through this epic adventure of breastfeeding...we are inadvertently failing the majority of mothers.  Ironically enough, the very notion of a 'gold standard' of breastfeeding sets it aside as something 'special'; as something potentially unattainable and distant.

This is exactly what we don't want to happen, surely?

Surely, we want new moms to see breastfeeding as something normal and accessible.  As something that most people are doing - albeit in different ways - and as something that is flexible enough to try out.

Surely, the more of us that master this skill - in whichever way works best for us - the more voices there will be encouraging one another along on this journey.  And the more voices there are, the louder the message...

Breastfeeding is normal.
Breastfeeding is accessible.
Breastfeeding is not a one-sized, elitist model.

Quite simply, breastfeeding is inclusive.

This week, I'm running a giveaway on my Facebook page for a bundle of goodies from Bamboobies (see below for details!)
Bamboobies is a company that specialises in breastfeeding, with a product range carefully designed to support moms along their individual breastfeeding journeys.  One of the items included in this giveaway bundle, is their nursing shawl.

To me, a nursing shawl is a poignant example of accessible, inclusive breastfeeding support.  Because moms who choose to use a shawl, for their own personal reasons, are just as successful at breastfeeding as moms who choose not to.  If a shawl gives a new mom confidence to begin her nursing in public adventures, then it's certainly got my vote.  (Plus, these shawls from Bamboobies are made of silky-soft gorgeousness and since I'm a sucker for luxurious fabrics, they had my vote from the start, anyway.)

Because doesn't it all boil down to choice?  No mother should be made to cover up while breastfeeding.  Nor should a mother be made to feel like any less of a breastfeeder for choosing to do so.

And the more moms who feel empowered to breastfeed, the more normal breastfeeding will become in society in general.  Because each and every mother who chooses to breastfeed plays a part in this journey of normalization.  Whether she's rocking a beautiful nursing shawl or nothing at all...surely, every journey counts.


The Bamboobies Giveaway!

Bamboobies has put together an amazing prize bundle for one lucky Mama Bean follower to win!  The bundle includes one of their beautiful nursing shawls, a multi-pack of reusable nursing pads and a jar of their organic nipple balm!

Here's how to enter:

1. The giveaway has been created for Mama Bean followers, so if you haven’t already - make sure you “like” my Facebook page!

2. “Like” and comment on this post on my Facebook page:

Time for a GIVEAWAY!!Bamboobies has put together this amazing prize bundle for one lucky Mama Bean follower to win! ...
Posted by Mama Bean Parenting on Monday, March 28, 2016

Remember, you can share the love and share this giveaway with your mommy friends!

And here's the small print, just to be thorough:
  • The giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada.
  • The giveaway will close at 19:00 (GMT) on 31st March 2016.
  • A winner will be selected at random.
  • The winner will be contacted by being tagged in the giveaway post on Mama Bean’s Facebook page (so make sure you comment on the post!)
  • The giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Facebook.  By entering this giveaway, participants fully release Facebook from any liability.

Good luck!

Thank you to mama Cara Rose for allowing me to feature her picture in this piece.   For more photos in celebration of breastfeeding and motherhoodjoin the Mama Bean village on Facebook!

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