|Photo from Rehydration Project newsletter - check it out!|
I am a committed breastfeeder and my children are weaning naturally (in years, not months). It's very important to me and sometimes I write about it.
But I have no formal training and there are plenty of expert breastfeeding sites available.
There but for the grace of...
Each mother faces her own journey and obstacles. This is not about judgement.
Had my sister not stood up for my first child against the hospital staff, nobody else (including me) would have stopped his tiny body from being pumped full as he could hold with artificial milk (formula).
I could now (unnecessarily) be a bitter wannabe breastfeeder as well as a bitter wannabe homebirther.
Instead, I have a dream. It's about a different world of baby feeding.
- Breastfeeding is the normal way to feed every baby...and any young child still needing extras on top of solid foods.
- Mothers see breastfeeding from childhood on, within the home and out in public. So do fathers.
- Before the baby's birth, mothers learn even more about breastfeeding the same way we currently learn about birth. Every mother has already joined a community breastfeeding support group (like La Leche League) before she even looks her own baby in the eye.
- There are lots of trained breastfeeding experts who really know how breastfeeding works and why it sometimes doesn't work. They're available to all new mothers, especially those who are at known risk for breastfeeding problems.
When breastfeeding doesn't work
When a mother can't breastfeed her own baby, she
- employs a wet-nurse (a respected and rewarded profession) or
- uses a milk bank (common, affordable, and well-stocked by healthy donors)
- Artificial milk is rarely needed. It would be available only by prescription, not in the supermarket. We know the artificial can't be as good, especially for such a complex substance as biological mammalian milk.
- We don't spend money trying to improve artificial milk or show that it is really just as good - we need that money to support our wet nurses and supplies of donor breast milk.
It takes a mother...and a village
- Mothering your own children, including breastfeeding and natural weaning, is as highly respected and valued an occupation as any that is commercially paid.
- We accept the general benefit to all society of having young children in the consistent care of their own mothers.
- There is tax relief and real social support available to encourage mothers to be the first, best, and most available childcare for the crucial first few years.
Very possible, with a lot of baby steps.
- Milk banks - already increasing again worldwide, now that safe testing is available. Please support the New Zealand Maternity Manifesto, which asks our politicians to support milk banks among other positive initiatives.
- Wet nurses - a golden opportunity and a respectable and valuable way for some mothers to supplement their income in a struggling economy.
- The money - already in circulation, spent on artificial milk. Now we just need to get real.
- The attitude? That's up to you and me, baby.
A tigress has just birthed cubs in an animal reserve. Would her carers decide, "This tiger has a more important job to do as an exhibit in our reserve. We will take her cubs and feed them artificial milk so she can return to her normal life as soon as possible. Nobody has proved that it isn't just as good."
If they did, imagine the reaction of the tigress.
Artificial milk for human babies is largely created from milk stolen from a mother cow or goat and her baby. These placid animals have no choice when their milk, their babies, and their mothering role are taken from them.
Don't your babies deserve a tigress?