When I was a Formula Mom, I used to pour formula into Medela bottles, so that the other moms at playgroup thought that it was pumped breastmilk. I felt their eyes on me. I felt shame, and embarrassment. I was different.
Now I am a Breast-Feeding Mom, and I get funny looks and nasty stares when I nurse in public. I feel everyone’s eyes on me. I feel shame, and embarrassment. I am different.
I am tired. I am angry. I refuse to carry the weight of everyone else’s judgment anymore.
I am standing up today to say with pride, that I am feeding my children with love.
And I’m 100% sure that you are too.
I am standing up with Suzanne Barston, The Fearless Formula Feeder and author of Bottled Up. I am standing up with Jamie Lynne Grumet, a breastfeeding advocate and blogger at I Am Not The Babysitter. We are standing together, and we’re asking you to stand up with us.
You, at the La Leche League meeting. You, in the lactation consultant’s office, perfecting your newborn’s latch. You, in the Nordstrom’s dressing room, nursing quietly on the couch. You, at your older son’s baseball game, nursing openly in the bleachers. You, who have cried rivers of tears over your feeding choices, and you, who chose without fear.
I support you.
You, in your hospital gown, asking the nurses for formula. You, shaking a bottle with one arm while your baby snuggles close in the other. You, who have researched the healthiest, most tummy-friendly formulas. You, who pump and mix and combo-feed. You, who have cried rivers of tears over your feeding choices, and you, who chose without fear.
I support you.
You, with your partner, as you feed the baby that you are hoping to adopt. You, who had a mastectomy and are locking eyes with new life. You, who chose your mental health, or your physical health, or your freedom, or your lack of freedom, so that you could feed your baby in a way that protected both of you. You, the Daddy who is finger-feeding your infant. You, the Mommy who lovingly pours formula into a G-Tube. You, at the NICU, pumping your breasts by the light of the machines that are keeping your baby alive. You, with the foster child who you are loving back to health. We see you. You are a part of this conversation too.
We support you.
World Breastfeeding Week isn’t just about those of us who feed our children from our breasts. We are standing up together to say that it can be about all of us. We are all feeding our children with love. What would this world be like, if instead of the vitriol and the hate, the judgment and the propaganda, we simply said to each other “I Support You”?
“The I Support You movement is a respectful, empathetic, compassionate exchange between parents. We all feed our children differently, but we are all feeding with love, and in ways that work for our individual circumstances and family dynamics. I Support You is the first step in helping formula-feeding, breast-feeding, and combo-feeding parents to come together and lift each other up with kindness and understanding. We have chosen to announce this movement during World Breastfeeding Week, to honor the commitment of those who fight for better support for breastfeeding moms; we are inspired by this, but believe that by changing the focus to supporting all parents, we can truly provoke positive change without putting the needs of some mothers above the needs of others. The “I Support You” movement aims:
1) To bridge the gap between formula-feeding and breastfeeding parents by fostering friendships and interactions.
2) To dispel common myths and misperceptions about formula feeding and breastfeeding, by asking parents to share their stories, and really listening to the truth of their experiences.
3) To provide information and support to parents as they make decisions about how to feed their children.
4) To connect parents with local resources, mentors, and friends who are feeding their children in similar ways.”
-Suzanne Barston and Kim Simon
Now, it’s your turn.
Throughout the next week, Suzanne, Jamie and I will be asking you to stand up with us. You can be a part of the rising tide of parents who stand up to say that they are tired of fighting in the Mommy Wars. How can you help?
Send us your photos. Suzanne is creating a slideshow of photos to show how beautiful support can look. If you are willing to let her use your image, then take a photo of you/your baby/your family/you and a friend – doesn’t matter – with a message of support (i.e., “I exclusively breastfed, but I know every mother does what is right for her – and I SUPPORT YOU” or “I may formula feed, but I’d fight like hell for a woman’s right to NIP. I SUPPORT YOU”) and send it to email@example.com by Friday, August 2nd.
Interview Your Opposite! Are you a blogger? Are you a formula-feeder who is best friends with an extended breastfeeder? An adoptive parent who knows of a mom using an SNS nurser with a baby in the NICU? We want you to interview someone who is feeding in a different way than you are, and then publish it on your blog. If you’re interested in participating, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a list of interview questions. On Sunday August 4th, we will ask you to share your story with us, by adding your link to the I Support You blog hop. Don’t know anyone who feeds in a different way? Send me an email and I’ll connect you to someone!
Join us for a Twitter Party on August 7th, at 5pm PST/8pm EST . We’ll be asking you to share your truths about your feeding choices, and connecting you to other parents who might be feeding their children the same way. You can find us with the hashtag #ISupportYou
Check out Suzanne’s post about the I Support You Movement, or write your own and link up with us on Sunday August 4th!
We’re standing up. We’re reaching out. We’re asking you to tell your truth about how you feed your children. No shame. No embarrassment. We’re going to hold out our hands to give you a high five, because we know how hard this is. We’re going to raise our voices to make sure that you hear “Well done, my friend. Well done.” We need you to stand up with us. We support you. Now who will you support?