Breastfeeding Community of Practice

I sat down at 1pm AST today and I nursed my baby.  We didn’t make the news.

Though I was in a retail setting while feeding my baby I wasn’t at a nurse-in (nor was I asked to leave for doing so).

Though I run a small business and brought my child to work today I’m not the owner of an Italian restaurant (nor was I served a complaint by a health official).

I am closing out the year feeling blessed to raise my child in an uplifting environment encouraging of and nurturing in my relationship and care taking of my baby.  I live and work in Halifax Regional Municipality.

I fed my child at Nurtured today.

 

I fed him while customers were milling about boxing week specials and in my place of business.  I fed him in our breastfeeding friendly area, outfitted with signage and lounging furniture (including a specific armless chair purchased through a government grant in fact) in an area filled with resources for parenting (both breastfeeding and bottle feeding friendly mind you).   There is a plaque hanging nearby stating this place of business is a proud member of the Breastfeeding Community of Practice.  There is a sticker on the door with the international symbol for breastfeeding.  My customers and coworkers likely saw my chest.  The way my toddler feeds he likely exposed my breast.  Heck, he put his hand down my shirt.

I also fed him at the grocery store this week while I was buying eggs and again at the checkout.  We didn’t make the news then either or receive any complaints.

Yet twice in the span of a week two mothers in HRM and their breastfeeding babies made national news shining light on the discouragement of our province’s breastfeeding community.  In a recent opinion article by the Chronicle Herald’s Lezlie Lowe she cited the “wretched” 12% breastfeeding rate for babies in Nova Scotia still nursing after 6 months.

Indeed public places are also for babies  as we’ve seen in other media of 2012 and a message from our Minister of Health.

But are they for babies in HRM?  Lezlie Lowe’s article this past year questioned that. This week’s news questioned that.   If your jaw didn’t drop over the news this past week perhaps it did over the fact these mothers are still nursing their eight month olds.

Congratulations to Kendra-Ann and Hannah for continuing their breastfeeding relationship past our province’s “norm”.

Alas, that part didn’t make the news.

Nursing your baby at your place of business while clearing a table or in a busy retail setting while sitting down shouldn’t make people pause for questioning whether this is in or out of place, convenient, healthy or good for business. The past week’s unfortunate events wouldn’t have happened were we a true utopia of a breastfeeding community.  To contrast, Mongolian mothers will commonly lift their shirts, grab their breasts and wave them at their hungry child [from birth to 6 years and up].  I know this isn’t Mongolia nor do I particularly want it to be.  However, I do wish we supported women breastfeeding publicly as if they could unabashedly charade such intentions. Call me a lactivist. I wish all mothers could breastfeed.   I wish expecting and adoptive parents knew more about the possibilities of lactation. I wish there was a local milk bank. I wish someone higher and mightier than me would realize the health stats for mothers and children of our province would be better simply by an increase in our breastfeeding rates.   Rest assured you don’t have to be able to breastfeed to be pro-breastfeeding.

No matter what I wish, let’s agree in the new year a mother’s arms are the safest place for a baby to be.

I have a resolution for 2013 I’d like to suggest:

On the eve of a new year as a business owner, a breastfeeding mother, a member of the Breastfeeding Community of Practice and a resident of Nova Scotia, Canada,

I’m resolving to consider a child feeding or being comforted as a human right.  I hope you’ll try the same. I’d like to think Nova Scotians are ready for it.

Your baby or your neighbour’s baby  may not file taxes yet or vote, but he is the future of our province.  He’s a stat in the health, the educational well being and economic outlook of the province.  I don’t feel a sense of entitlement in pointing this out.  Frankly, I feel ignorant I didn’t put more weight into this fact any earlier.

I sat down at 1pm today and I nursed my baby.  So what?

I feel like the immediate community nurturing my breastfeeding relationship is newsworthy. Free drop-in breastfeeding support with Pampered Mamas Doula Services was at 1:30pm AST today at Nurtured. I met a brand new mother that I hope is well on her way to a great start after today’s meet up. Personally it’s fourteen months going strong; I’ve surpassed where I my first weaned. My child is healthy.  I’m healthy.  His immunity benefits in this second year of breastfeeding are now higher than those in the first.  My rates for developing breast cancer continue to lower.  I am privileged to bring him to work with me and I nurse him in plain view of my coworkers and customers without much thought, air of arrogance or complaint.

Generally I am caught off-guard by the community of well-wishers while I am nursing.  Let’s make that the news in 2013.  Let’s promote the health of our children and the support we receive from HRM and Nova Scotia.  Become a community cheering on breastfeeding goals be they learning a proper latch while still in hospital or just when your milk has come in, establishing a healthy supply during maternity leave or returning to work.  Continue a community of encouragement as you watch these babies reach milestones and live a healthy lively life well into adulthood and parenting their own tiny Nova Scotians.

For 2013 when you notice a mother feeding her child just walk on by or give her a thumbs up.

Happy new year.

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