Hi, my name is Jessica and I'm a lactivist. To everyone else this has probably been obvious for a long time but this is the first time I'm admitting this fact in a public setting. I'm not sure how it happened really. In my head it was a sudden shift that came out of nowhere and has caught me by surprise. Is that my voice? Is that MY voice? I ask when I hear myself speaking about breastfeeding... again. One day I was a normal, level-headed, regular person and then the next I was talking about breastfeeding all the time, crazy-advocate and a *gasp* real lactivist. There was a time when I read literature on breastfeeding and responded with small nods and "Hm, that's interesting" but now I'm pounding the table yelling "Preach it sistah!" I've even introduced myself as "Hi, I'm Jessica, The Leaky B@@b."
No, seriously, I have.
What the...? How did that happen?
In reality the shift was probably gradual. Sure, there were some monumental, no-turning-back moments such as when I decided I wanted have my babies at home or when I became a student midwife, but since nobody would ever have described me as level-headed in the first place, maybe I wasn't that far off from the beginning. The funny thing is, when it comes to feeding babies, I actually think I'm more level-headed now than I ever was.
How do I know I'm a lactivist? Well, there are some tell-tale signs that I can no longer deny in myself. So I now bring you:
You might be a lactivist if...
- You read every article on breastfeeding you come across. Even if you already know everything it says. Maybe even if you've read it before. You can't help it, you have to read them and your significant other is likely going to get an earful about what you read regardless if the tone of the article was positive or negative.
- You don't flinch, blush or feel even a little awkward with words like "breast," "boobs," "nipple," "areola," "bra," etc. Around anyone, ever. You may not even care where you say them. It is common to say them often.
- You have to resist the urge to applaud a woman breastfeeding in public. Or smile broadly at her while staring. Or hug her. Or point her out to, oh, everyone. Or stalk her, just a little.
- Little gets you hotter than another story in the news about a woman and her baby being asked to leave an establishment while breastfeeding or invited to breastfeed in the bathroom. Seriously, the bathroom? It's been said before but you'll say it again; would YOU want to eat in the bathroom? Didn't think so. What is wrong with people having an issue with a baby eating? You will go on and on and on about this to anyone willing to listen and sometimes, even those that aren't.
- Talking with someone that has just had a baby you don't hesitate to ask "how's breastfeeding going?" You don't actually know if they are breastfeeding but you assume they are. And if things aren't going well you're ready to spring into action to help. Your baby gift is a pair of the softest reusable breast pads, a tube of lanolin, a water bottle and a boppy.
- The idea of someone touching your breast or you touching someone else's breast to assist with breastfeeding a newborn is like, so whatever. Since that's what b@@bs are for, it's no big deal any more. You might even forget that it still is a big deal for others and inadvertently make new moms uncomfortable. Got to work on that.
- You have downloaded and printed or purchased "Thank you for breastfeeding in public" cards to hand out to breastfeeding moms you spot while out and about. And you use them too. There are some in your purse, your glove box, your diaper bag, the back pocket of your jeans, and your kids backpack. You consider it a good day if you got to hand out a few at the mall.
- There are at least 2 Facebook groups you follow about breastfeeding and Twitter too. Maybe even a forum or two. You check often and share lots of links and stories. Reading the stories others post there is addicting and before you know it you've spent hours reading about breastfeeding. All for the cause, all for the cause.
- You get home from a trip to the zoo and post on a FaceBook wall how many women you saw NIP while you were out. Probably on one of those pages but maybe even your own private Facebook. This doesn't seem strange to you at all, after all, how else are we going to normalize breastfeeding? Seeing mothers NIP should be celebrated, you're just doing your part. Nothing crazy about that!
- You have taken pictures of yourself breastfeeding. Or had your partner or older child snap a few for you. It's real serious if you've had a breastfeeding sitting with a professional photographer. Is it framed and on your wall? Is there a piece of breastfeeding art, photograph or other, that isn't of you? Why not, right? It's beautiful and natural. In fact, you probably have more pictures of you breastfeeding, most likely of just your chest, arm and little one, than of you actually looking at the camera or doing any thing else.
- You have shared pictures of yourself breastfeeding online. On those groups or forums. Or your own blog. Even better if it's your profile image on a social networking site or discussion board. You're a proud breastfeeder! Breastfeeding is not obscene Facebook! You probably even "liked" the Facebook page that says that.
- You know what the World Breastfeeding Symbol is and you have used it either online or in real life. Do you have a bag or shirt with it? Does your baby? A car decal? Or is it part of your profile pic? Yeah? You've got it bad baby. If you ever happen to see the symbol in a business you'll probably hug the shop owner.
- You know when World Breastfeeding Week is and you get a little giddy when it rolls around every year. Events are planned, give-aways are entered, and lactation cookies are baked. You know what organization is doing what, where and when and you plan on being there. That is, if you didn't organize it yourself. You probably even got a special shirt for the occasion. Maybe even learned a dance.
- You don't like Nestle and avoid buying Nestle products. Even if your favorite candy is Butterfinger. The fact that the BlogHer conference was sponsored by Nestle really bothered you and you even asked your favorite blogger how they could participate. When Halloween rolls around you debate digging through the kid's loot to find the Nestle products and throw them away. Except for the Butterfingers, you eat those rationalizing that at least you didn't pay for them.
- Covering for breastfeeding to you means making sure your belly, back and sides are covered but you don't worry about who may catch a brief glimpse of a little b@@b. In fact, you have mixed feelings about breastfeeding covers. Whatever helps a woman feed her baby is great but should we be hiding breastfeeding? It's complicated and you're just happy for breastfeeding in public at all. Personally, you just don't want your flab showing.
- Breastfeeding past a year is normal, passed 2 common and over 3 no biggie. It's the people that have a problem with it that are weird. You know that the global average age for weaning is age 4 so people just need to get over themselves since breastmilk doesn't suddenly turn to water after a certain age. It's not like there is an expiration date on breastfeeding, sheesh.
- The Kelly Mom, Best for Babes, Dr. Jack Newman, La Leche League, and other breastfeeding websites are bookmarked on your computer. You also have a considerable breastfeeding library which you loan out often. In fact, you bought several copies of your favorite breastfeeding book to have on hand to give to new moms. You do so with excitement and a list of those websites and don't even notice your partner throwing a breastfeeding-cover-apron-thingy over his head while you jabber on excitedly. When you do notice you give him a "Thank you for NIP" card.
- You can name at least 3 celebrities that breastfed. You might even know how many kids and how long they breastfed. But you're not sure what movies or TV shows they are from and maybe have never even seen them in anything or know why they are even celebrities at all.
- Science comes out with new information that breastfeeding has "new" health benefits for mom and/or baby and you say "duh." The information is good to know, you're glad they've done research but it just seems kind of obvious that feeding as nature intended would be a good thing, right?
- You meet someone for the first time in a non-breastfeeding related environment and you somehow are talking about breastfeeding within 20 minutes. You know if they were breastfed, if they did or intend to breastfeed, how long, what they've read, if they are aware of your favorite breastfeeding resources, etc. Later you may not remember their name but you'll be able to confidently greet them with "You breastfed your youngest for 16 months, of course I remember you!" This applies to men too.
- You think maybe Gisele was on to something. Even if you don't exactly agree with what she said or that it could even happen you can totally understand it and even secretly wish it was possible. You're cautious about saying that anywhere but can't help wonder "what if...?"
- The phrases "if breastfeeding offends you put a blanket over your head" and "if breastfeeding is sexual then a bottle is a dildo" make you laugh and you really, really want to share them somewhere. You probably have too. And you know more and have come up with a few of your own. They are what go through your head when having conversations with anti-breastfeeding types. Sometimes they even come flying out of your mouth.
- Your children think feeding babies with bottles is weird. In their minds the only reason to do so is because something is wrong or the mother is unavailable and then it would be expressed breastmilk. They may not even know what formula is.
- It is strange that you haven't typed or said "breastfeeding" in one full day. Woah, how did that happen? You must have been sick.
- Out on a date your partner asks if you could talk about something other than breastfeeding for a little bit. Whether you were talking about you breastfeeding, someone else breastfeeding, breastfeeding in the news, or something else, you didn't even realize you were until he asked to change the subject. It just seemed... normal.
- You want to replace the slogan "breast is best" with "breast is normal." You've thought long and hard about this and you're ready to change the world. Breastfeeding is normal!
- After reading an online article about breastfeeding in public harassment incidents, you read through the comments and respond to every uneducated reply posted. You only walk away after you realize your blood pressure is through the roof. And in search of some chocolate.
Recognize yourself at all in any of these? Know anyone that fits these? I bet you could add some too, share yours in the comments here so I know I'm not alone.
Ladies and gentlemen, Hi, I'm Jessica, The Leaky B@@b and I'm a lactivist.
Now... I need some chocolate. Or maybe some baby kisses. Or both.