NIP

Some of you may wonder what that stands for…. others may already know. It stands for nursing in public. It’s an abbreviation used on forums about breastfeeding. A video was shared on the Le Leche League forum that I watched today that was so powerful to me, that I felt like I needed to write this. I need to get my thoughts on “paper” and maybe, just maybe, someone would read this and re-evaluate how they view NIP, at the least give it a thought.

Breastfeeding is a subject near and dear to me, and the education of today’s society on it is very important. It’s a subject that is surrounded by plenty of controversy with “mommy wars” being fueled daily with “breast is best” slogans and “my child was fed formula and they turned out fine” comments. Mostly, I stay out of this. Although I do feel that breastfeeding is far superior to formula and that if a mom can breastfeed, she should. There is obviously a need for formula as there are cases where a mother cannot (realistically a VERY small percentage – but it does happen as I know someone personally who could not) or shouldn’t. Just take a look at the scorecard that the US received from the CDC for 2012. It’s appalling that such stats exist on breastfeeding and that the CDC actually has to campaign to increase the number of breastfed babies.

Anyway, back to NIP. I would love to walk into a room full of people and ask for a show of hands on who would be offended or embarrassed by a woman nursing her baby in public. I would not be surprised to see a large percentage of hands raised. But then, I would pose the question – who would be offended by a woman wearing a low-cut shirt with sizable cleavage? How many hands would be raised? I dare say nothing close to the previous question. In this over sexed society, the simple act of feeding a child the way that we were intended to be fed has become a lewd act that has caused mothers to be treated with terrible disrespect. There are stories of mothers being kicked out of restaurants, asked to leave stores, even You read the stories all the time how a mother was treated as though she were acting like a stripper while breastfeeding. Let’s be honest, people see more on a commercial for an upcoming blockbuster than you would see from a woman nursing her child.

This is not a battle that needs to be fought, yet woman are fighting it daily. What is wrong with a society that sees nothing wrong with a bikini clad 13 yr old on an Abercrombie wall, but wants to persecute a mother feeding her child?

Since I am on baby #2 with breastfeeding, I have found it somewhat liberating to not really care where I feed him these days. It has taken almost 3 yrs for me to feel comfortable feeding my baby at the table while we eat dinner out in a restaurant. When I was pregnant with #1 I did not ever think that would happen. There is an enormous mix of emotion that surrounds NIP for me… frustration, anger, sadness… those are with society. Then there is the simple satisfaction that my child is having his needs met in the most natural way possible. Should I feel uncomfortable? Should I be ashamed to expose my breast to feed my child? NO. Am I? At times, yes. It is a sad day that mothers have to feel this way. And the fact that only 3 yrs ago I was one of the woman who felt like breastfeeding should be done in the privacy of your own home makes me so regretful. In my life, there is only a small circle of woman who breastfeed, and only a couple that would ever NIP. I hope for the day that this changes. I hope to be a part of that change. Each time I NIP now I hope that some mother who is embarrassed to do so sees me, and feels a little glimmer of hope that she can do the same.

Here is the video that prompted this post… it is powerful to me and I hope that it is to others.

Just a note: in case you are not aware of some of what she is referring to – formula companies were going into third world countries (without clean water sources and little to no income) and pushing formula as superior breast milk. Mothers would stop or not nurse, causing their milk to dry up and then be unable to provide safe or enough food for their babies.

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Are YOU mom enough?

To realize that the “mommy wars” being fueled in the media are doing nothing to help women, babies, or families in general.

I could not resist writing something about this. After all, it’s creating quite the stir. I have seen some really heated debates on this and it makes me sad and angry at the same time. Do I believe in breastfeeding? Yup. Do I believe in extended breastfeeding? I sure do now. Do I follow attachment parenting? Um, I wouldn’t really consider my parenting style attachment parenting, even if it follows some of the same lines. Do I feel the Time article furthered information that breastfeeding is good for children and that studies show that extended breastfeeding is even better? NO!!! This article did bring the subject to light, and it has spurred lots of discussions on the subject – ultimately allowing more people to be educated in this area. But it has also spurred a lot of arguments that are very counter-productive to what a “lactivist” would really wish to accomplish.

Do moms really need another topic to feel judged, and that they may not “measure up”? I ask a lot of questions, because I feel that everyone should ask this of themselves when they get involved in some of the debates. I have heard some pretty mean and hateful things said in result of this cover. It never ceases to amaze me the lack of knowledge that people spread about subjects they have no real understanding of. More to the point though, is the insanity of people being horribly harsh with one another – possibly complete strangers – over an article in a magazine that was put out to incite just that! I actually had to stop reading comments, because if I read another “that’s just sick” or “extended breastfeeding is for the benefit of the mother” comment I think my head would explode. Really people??? lol Just ask a nursing momma, I can promise that it is NOT for their benefit, well unless you are referring to the fact that nursing will quiet a fussy, in pain, teething baby faster than a shot of whiskey. (no, I don’t give Ashton Jack Daniels when he is teething, lol) Well, that’s for everyone’s benefit now, isn’t it?? There is nothing, and I mean, NOTHING, sexually arousing about nursing a child.

The mother on the cover is a member of a forum I frequent and I follow a blog she writes. She is a strong woman who is doing what she feels is right for her family. She in NO way wants to stir the pot. Her own admissions of that cover photo was that the shot was caught while changing positions, and it seems she is not altogether happy with how the shot was used. Let’s face it, anyone who nurses an older child knows that this is not the typical position for nursing. LOL I actually get a little bit of a kick out of it just for that reason. There were 4 families involved in this photo shoot, and the article was about attachment parenting and Dr. Sears. I am interested in reading the article myself, but I refuse to put any money in the pockets of Time for it.

The moral of my post? Stop the mommy wars, stop buying into the hype and the media induced “stoning” of people who don’t agree with your views. Does that mean that I have to agree with others? No. But does that mean that I should berate them and call them pedophiles because of the way they choose to raise their children? No.

I could post lots of quotes from WHO (World Health Organization), UNICEF, LLL or the AAP on recommendations on proper nutrition of a child, but the fact is, each family must make that decision on what works for them. I do look forward to a day and time when breastfeeding is the norm.. but until then – I will continue to do what works for my family, support any woman who wants help in breastfeeding, and try and convey as much knowledge (limited that I have) to anyone who is interested in hearing it.

Who should decide?

Can you believe it? My little man is almost 15 months old. I still can’t quite wrap my mind around that. He is growing up so quickly, becoming quite the little comedian. He is walking (albeit a little shaky), he is feeding himself with silverware, he is talking a lot, and he even sings now. All that to say…he is still such a baby. I had this vision in my mind that when he turned 1 that he would no longer be a baby, he would be a toddler. And that is sooo different from a baby, right? Um, no, not so much.

We are still nursing…in the morning some, at night, all.night.long sometimes. My goal was a year. I made it. It has been a tough road at times. If you read my post over at wherelovemeetslife I outlined a little of our journey. Now comes the uncomfortable part….the part where people say “your STILL nursing?” I cringe inside every time someone asks. I avoid talking about it. I figure, it’s our business, and we can share it if we want. Oh, and I hate having to explain myself to people. Especially when they just kind of look at me odd and give no input of their own. I get that “oh, crazy lady is going to nurse this kid till its like 84 months isn’t she??” look. Well, let me tell you. I was one of those people. My best friend nurses(d) her little ones for a long time…and she pretty much let them take the lead on weaning (of course, pregnancy jumped in there at some point and made a decision lol). I actually thought for a long time that it was crazy she nursed so long, I mean, they don’t NEED to drink breastmilk after a year. (Sorry, girl, lol I was one of those!!). Fast-forward to the present where my little man is still nursing and doesn’t really shows signs of stopping anytime soon. Do I have a problem with it? Heck no! That’s like asking if I have a problem with someone coming in and cleaning my bathrooms for me everyday…puhlease, knock yourself out! Why do I make that comparison? Because my baby is cutting teeth, those nasty little suckers that make him wake up all night long in pain, that make him chew on his fingers and cry because they hurt. Nursing him during those times is a life-saver! He can nurse for a few minutes and then he is my happy little boy again. Why in the world would I stop doing what works?

Well, it seems that society has decided that only infants should nurse. Why? I am sure there are lots of answers to that question. And I am also sure it depends on who you ask. It is kind of sad how things have evolved so that breastfeeding is not the norm for feeding babies, and that women should be uncomfortable discussing how long they will nurse. I won’t even get started on the whole nursing in public scenario.

Movies depict nursing moms as “treehugging-naturalists” and poke fun at them. I have heard people say that breastfeeding is gross. I have had my eyes opened to a controversial world that has blown me away. Can I understand how people feel, after all, I was one of them not that long ago. But I also feel that having ben educated, I can make better decisions, and form opnions from something that I now have experience in. I am thankful to be a nursing mom. I am thankful to be able to nurse my munchkin through the teething process. I am thankful for the support that I have received over the last 14+ months.

So how long will Ashton nurse? Well, that’s mostly up to him. I may get to the point that I need a break from it…or he may just decide that he can meet his needs elsewhere, in other ways, and not need to nurse anymore. Will I allow society and its silly ways decide for myself and my child? No… no more than I would think that in order to be beautiful I need to be anorexic thin a.k.a super-model thin. Do I buck the system every chance I get? No, let’s be realistic, society does serve its purpose in many ways. But when it comes to the health and well-being of my family, my husband and I will make those choices.

So just out of curiosity, what do you think? What is normal in your eyes? Would you be willing to consider why you feel that way? Take the poll below and maybe we can put some numbers to this thing….