Can’t VS. Won’t Breastfeed

Often times in breastfeeding support groups you will find women who like to constantly preach that there is a difference between not wanting to breastfeed and being unable to. While it certainly is true that some women really don’t want to breastfeed I don’t think that this is EVER an appropriate response to hearing the plight of your fellow breastfeeder.

Breastfeeding is easy for some and difficult for others. Some mothers and babies are able to get the process right away and others take a longer time to even get a good latch down to a science. Some women have flat or inverted nipples that make it hard to achieve a good latch without practice. Other women have what I like to call “gum drop” nipples and do not struggle to get their nipple deep into the infants mouth.

Are you starting to understand my point? There are a number of reasons that someone might struggle to breastfeed and you will never have a complete understanding of the physical and emotional pain that any mother has gone through.

By telling a woman that she could have breastfed if she had tried harder you belittle her experience and any effort that she DID put into breastfeeding. You intentionally make her feel guilty and build yourself up as better because YOU were able get passed YOUR obstacles and breastfeed your baby. This is wrong. We are not all the same. You did not automatically have the same issue as another mother. Your ability to cope, your knowledge of breastfeeding, your support, the time you were able to dedicate to breastfeeding all make your experience very different.

Telling a woman that there is a difference between can’t breastfeed and won’t breastfeed is also just downright mean. You are going to hurt that woman’s feelings and make her insecure. Perhaps now she is going to be even less likely to seek consolation when she struggles with subsequent babies. Maybe now she isn’t even going to try to breastfeeding because the lactivist community was cruel to her and she doesn’t want to associate herself with you.

It only takes ONE lactivist to ruin one person’s view of the entire lactivist community. Do you really want to be that lactivist?

If you want people to believe in your cause is being mean to them really going to make them understand it? My personal experience is that calmly expressing your opinion is more effective than shoving your opinion down a person’s throat.

And maybe instead of criticizing that mother you should offer suggestions for solutions. Ask her what she has tried. Ask her if she has support.

You should NEVER be insulting towards a mother that is trying to share her story and her grief. She is trying to heal from an ordeal that was difficult for her. She is mourning the loss of her breastfeeding relationship with her child.

So remember. There IS a difference between can’t breastfeed and won’t breastfeed.

But there is also a difference between can’t be nice and won’t be nice.

Please don’t ruin the lactivist community for those of us that want to help other women.


Facebook Continues to Censor Breastfeeding

When is Facebook going to learn that it is WRONG to delete the pictures or the profiles that belong to women that post pictures of breastfeeding? I’m sure we would all like an answer to that question…but will we ever get one?

Kate Hansen, an amazing artist, mother and breastfeeding advocate has had her Facebook profile DELETED. Why? Because she posted some of her VERY beautiful breastfeeding portraits.

A page has been made on Facebook titled “Bring Kate Hansen Back” in an attempt to get her profile reinstated. The only way that this page can make a difference is if you join and spread the news.  It must be made clear that breastfeeding is a perfectly natural (and medically preferable) way to feed babies. There is nothing gross or wrong about it.

Tell Facebook that breastfeeding is not obscene! Support Kate Hansen! Support breastfeeding mothers EVERYWHERE!

Breastfeeding on Sesame Street

Below is the public letter that I have written to Sesame Street, prompted by reading Big Bird Learns About Breastfeeding on the Peaceful Parenting blog. As many of us know already, there is very little acceptance in the media–and in much of the United States culture–when it comes to breastfeeding.

I also created a discussion page on the Sesame Street Facebook page titled Breastfeeding on Sesame Street.

I encourage you to also write an open letter to Sesame Street in your blogs and/or on the Sesame Street Facebook page.

To Whom it May Concern,

In the 1970’s and 1980’s Sesame Street aired clips of mothers breastfeeding their infants. Since then, all infants on the show have been shown as using bottles. The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and continued breastfeeding until at least the age of two years old. You may not be aware, but only 13% of infants were still being exclusively breastfed at age 6 months in 2006 and the number is barely improving.

The United States has severe nipplephobia and often times mothers that are active breastfeeders are criticized for nursing in public and sometimes for nursing at all. There are laws in place that protect a breastfeeding mother’s right to feed her child in public without covering up, but many women are still kicked out of restaurants and schools for breastfeeding. Some are even asked to breastfeed in unsanitary, cramped bathrooms.

Breastfeeding is not considered normal; it is even considered grotesque to feed an infant in public. Some parents complain that children should not be exposed to breastfeeding mothers because it is going to mentally scar the child…this only leads to breastfeeding being further demonized; which will lead to less and less mothers breastfeeding their infants.

Breastfeeding has been proven to pass important antibodies onto infants; something formula fed babies do not receive.

Sesame Street is viewed every day by hundreds of families and children. I feel that it would be a very empowering move for women if breastfeeding was featured again on the show. It would help to normalize breastfeeding (the single most normal way to feed a baby IS breastfeeding, after all) and hopefully create a feeling of acceptance in the media for children and their families.

Thank you for your time,

Sarah Dailey