I stumbled on the word “Lactivism” a few months ago, and I loved it instantly.
I am and always will be an activist at heart: the champion of my causes to the grave. I care about mothers and babies and breastfeeding, I care about unborn babies. I care about animals, everyone’s right to eat nutritious and wholesome food, and I also care about education and healthcare, as well as natural remedies and our bodies’ awesome abilities to heal themselves. I strongly believe in protecting God’s green Earth and it’s wonderful bounty! If we were being super thorough, I’d have to keep listing more and more topics because my interests and passions are extensive. But these are the main ones.
There are ways to be an activist, and there are many styles of it. Not all of them work extraordinarily well; not all of them are suited to every person–or will appeal in the least to them.
Since I care deeply about mamas and their young, I care deeply about how they are treated and the rights that they have. I want to be someone they can turn to, a voice in the silence when they think nobody else is thinking about what their mind’s eye is on. I want to be an arm outstretched and a comforting person. BUT I have to know when someone is interested in having me fit that role for them. This goes for breastfeeding. Come on, we all KNOW “Breast Is Best.” Every new mother knows that its what she should do–it’s constantly discussed and held up high, and we all realize that it provides a vast amount of benefits. Unless they are under a rock, they know that breastfeeding is strongly encouraged. But some mamas have a very hard time with it, and some ladies have experiences that make it excruciatingly difficult to breastfeed. As a lactivist, I must know this, own it, and see it for the truth that it is. Not every woman is going to be able to do it.
HOWEVER: I see this, and I have heard other women’s stories, grieved with them that they were unable to do what they had hoped for their little ones. Kind of like what happened to me with my would-be natural waterbirth. I know that their babies are still going to be vibrant and healthy thanks to God’s grace and provision. But I will always practice gentle lactivism. I try not to be in anyone’s face about it. I try to use my actions more than my words in order to practice what I believe in, but not step on other mothers’ sensitive and already possibly wounded spirits. I compare it to my belief in Christ, and my walk with Him. Untold numbers of people have been hurt by the church (myself included) and do not want to hear me preaching to them. They don’t want to hear about Christ or what I have been through and how He’s led and loved me. But they will see it as I live my life, and that speaks volumes more than I ever can with my voice.
So what do I do to practice my gentle brand of lactivism? I make sure everyone knows that I breastfeed. I am not shy about it, and I am vocal when August needs a meal! I will say, “I’m going to give August a nursing!” to my husband within anyone’s earshot. I blog about it (like I’m doing now) and talk about it openly and let people know how well it’s going for me! I have had friends without kids ask me about it, ask if it hurts, etc. I am super honest and open with them, and no questions are off-limits when they are curious and want to know. Too few mothers and matriarchs are leading the young women they are surrounded by, and I won’t do that. I want to show other women what is working for me, so that they have something to go off of when they need to know what will work for them. What I do know about my experience is that I did a TON of reading and researching before I actually had to breastfeed my guy when he was born. I knew the possibilities of what could go wrong, and what I could do to try to counteract them. I read really positive stories about women and their great nursing experiences. I tried to beef myself up on facts and good experiences, because it seems our culture only talks loudly about the bad ones (in every area of life, not just bf-ing)and that can be SO hard for a new mom! I felt the sting of so many women who had wanted to tell me their sob stories and angry stories starting out, and that is NOT appropriate to do to a new or pregnant mom. Seriously, quit it folks–know when to share and when to keep it to yourself. I turned my ears off in many instances and asked the Lord to protect me from their negative effects.
Another way I try to be available to new and expectant ladies is this: I will nurse in public to a certain degree, and have even recently nursed with a man nearby (successfully & discreetly!) and without exposing myself. I was pretty proud–if my baby needs to eat, he’s not going to have to wait until a convenient time! I get grouchy if I can’t have a snack when I need one. Haha. But that’s half the solution. Our culture has so wounded women by sexualizing them on nearly every level, and boobs are included. The breast is a FASCINATING, AMAZING functional part of every woman’s anatomy, and the capable and useful feeling of feeding your child with your own body is even more amazing. Our country in particular has robbed women of this, and we need to take back what’s rightfully ours. We need to be free of the notion that we are hussies, sluts, or whatever other horrible term people will throw at you when you’re breastfeeding in a way that someone else might have an inkling of what you’re up to. The gentle, sweet, and so-perfect act of nursing your little one is so far from the sexualized mindset–I believe so many are not able to understand the place it even comes from. They only see a woman for that side of things, and so they will have a hard time with it.
So, gentle lactivism in my book is one part actions speaking louder than words, one part not being afraid to tell people about my experiences when they are curious, and one part counter-cultural confidence about my feeding my son, and how very right it is.
I thought I would share my view on this, because I think so many women can relate or understand or learn from it. I’m sure we’ve all been given “the talk” on numerous subjects dealing with childrearing and pregnancy–from some wise lady who wants to tell you what’s up. I had numerous women try to do that with me during my pregnancy and I just wasn’t up for it. They were people who I didn’t know very well, and they were quite invasive. So I wanted to share how I go about being passionate with this topic, but not insensitive to others.
All my love,