Destigmatize public breastfeeding. Educating Men. Empowering Women.

Our goal and mission statement is simple, we need to normalize breastfeeding once again.

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The Perfect “Imperfect” Mom!
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My Husband Doesn’t Want Me To Breastfeed?!!
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Are Negative Nursing in Public Incidences at a New Sky High?
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Dads “If I Could, I Would”

The Perfect “Imperfect” Mom!

Motherhood

What do you think of when you hear the word “motherhood?” What images does it conjure up? A quick check of Google images will pull up dozens of beautifully airbrushed pictures representing the concept of motherhood in our society. But do those heavily edited photographs really represent the word “motherhood”?  In today’s social media saturated culture, it feels like motherhood has evolved into some sort of art form. Everywhere I look these days I am confronted with images of unattainable perfection. Elaborate birthday parties, thrown by ever cheerful mothers for their perfect little children. Dashingly handsome husbands sitting down to a gourmet meal in a spotless, expertly decorated home. Images like this one, where everybody is happy and smiling, and things look perfect.

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We now have entire websites designed just to help you keep track of every meal, decorating project, toddler craft, and gardening project you aspire to complete. I don’t know about you, but my Pinterest board is full of projects I will never get around to, vacations I will never take, furnishings that I cannot afford, and books I do not have the time to read. It’s depressing. And it’s not just Pinterest. I can’t tell you how many times I have read a mommy blog, magazine article, or even a Facebook status, and come away feeling defeated.

The Real Motherhood Journey.

I’ve recently realized something though. Perfect is just a mirage. Perfect is not normal. Perfect is not real. Would you like to know what is real?

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This is my family. This is real, a lot more real than the first picture I posted. The reality is, most days I’m in my jammies until noon because I shower when the baby takes a nap. I can spend all afternoon cleaning, only to have my three little tornadoes undo it in a flash. Just today, while I was brainstorming with Hector for this blog post, my cloth diaper sprayer failed, flooded my house, and destroyed a good amount of flooring. While I was cleaning it up, that cute little bookshelf climbing baby stripped naked, mauled every apple in the fruit bowl, then threw a shoe in the dirty toilet. I plunked him in the bath tub to clean off, where he promptly pooped. This is my reality, this is what Motherhood looks like for me, and I am slowly realizing that my reality is a lot more normal than I thought.  Motherhood is not perfection.  Motherhood is not a hobby that you follow on Pinterest. Motherhood is a calling.

Motherhood is laughing at spilled milk. Wait, let’s be honest. Sometimes motherhood is yelling, and then apologizing, about that spilled  milk. Motherhood is midnight feedings, sore nipples, and 5 am wake up calls from energetic children. It is kissing scraped knees, soothing wounded spirits, and cleaning up vomit for the tenth time that day. Motherhood is powering through tough times, because you know that any minute you’re going to have one of those glorious moments that make it all worth it. That first smile, after weeks of sleepless nights. Watching your kids’ eyes light up when you choose to ignore the chaos and sit down to read them a story. Those are the precious moments we all live for. 

Do you know what else Motherhood is? It is a season. And like all seasons, it is brief. As mothers, we need to savor every moment, both the easy and the hard. Someday, we will look back on those hard times an laugh. Or at least not grimace. When I grow old, I don’t think that I wish I had baked more bread or folded more laundry. I think I will look back and shake my head and wish I had spent less time participating in this “mompetition” and more time living in the moment, cherishing the brief seasons of motherhood and all of the challenges that come with them. We need to stop this expectation of perfection, and embrace the imperfection that is real life. Our families don’t want perfect. They want Mom. 

They want YOU!

Here at Project: Breastfeeding you will hear us talk a lot about normalizing breastfeeding. But in celebration of Mother’s Day, let’s take it a step further. Let’s normalize normal! Normal, awesome moms have fingerprints on their windows, laundry on their couch, and sometimes feed their kids pizza for dinner three times in one week. Normal moms aren’t perfect, and that’s OK!  So do us a favor Mom. Pat yourself on the back. Realize that you’ve got this. You are awesome. You’re a MOM.

My Husband Doesn’t Want Me To Breastfeed?!!

Have you ever been in a situation where your husband did not want you to breastfeed?  No explanation given; Just a firm “I do not want you to breastfeed!”. I would love to say this is not reality for a lot of women and their babies, but unfortunately it is.  I will be the first to admit that I never gave breastfeeding much thought. As I’ve shared before, I had been turned away from our own hospital’s breastfeeding support class, so I walked away thinking that it wasn’t something I needed to worry about. My wife had expressed interest in breast feeding, but even she wasn’t exactly sure of her feelings on the matter.  So there we were, both completely clueless and naïve about the whole process.

Is breastfeeding weird? Sure, it can be, the first time you are exposed to it as a man. It is something many men do not understand. Think about it.  For most of us, until our child is born, the only exposure we have had with breasts is sexual in nature. No one is talking to us about the benefits and importance of breastfeeding for both the mom and baby and breastfeeding benefits certainly aren’t the talk of the locker room. So it’s a subject about which most of us guys are completely ignorant.  I might ruffle a few feathers saying this, but women sexualize their own breasts as much as men do; then when it comes to breastfeeding they get upset that men think of breasts as purely sexual objects.  Once a women has a child she is able to distinguish the difference between using her breasts for nursing or sex, for most men that switch doesn’t go off as quickly.  We cannot have our cake and eat it too – although sometimes that would be the ideal scenario, it’s not realistic.

So back to the title of this post, how would you react if you were faced with the question of whether or not to breastfeed?  Would you have an open dialogue with your husband about why breastfeeding is important, while also listening to him and his concerns?  Would you tell him that you really don’t care what he thinks, that it’s your body and you will do it anyway?  Does a father have a say in this at all?  Is breastfeeding a decision that should be made together as parents?  After all, it is as much his child as it is yours. Since a mother’s right to make parental decisions never ends, why should a father’s? Read More

Are Negative Nursing in Public Incidences at a New Sky High?

By Jennifer Pitkin and Liz Neighbors of The Family Friendly Business Initiative

Jenny, a mother of three, recently traveled on a Southwest flight across country. Her best friend’s sister passed unexpectedly in her sleep. Jenny immediately booked tickets for herself and her three children though it was a huge expense, knowing she had to care for the children alone as her husband had little vacation time left.

According to Jenny, “Traveling with a 4 year old, 2 year old, and 9 month old by myself is not ideal. I know this. However, when your best friend’s sister passes suddenly and you need to be by her side, it’s what you do because it’s the right thing to do. A departure time of 6 a.m. two days after you receive the bad news is all that’s left, so it’s what you take to get there. It’s no big deal, I tell my husband. I can do it because I’m confident in my mothering abilities. Who would have known that my confidence would be shaken by an ignorant flight attendant on the trip?’

‘Mid-flight, while everyone around us was sleeping, my 9 month old started screaming and thrashing her body in protest. I quietly began nursing her, soothing her as to not wake the sleeping passengers around me. A few seconds later, the flight attendant comes up to me and with a look of disgust says, “You don’t have a cover?” I quietly reply “no” as she storms past me. I then hear her telling the other flight attendant, loudly, that I was feeding my baby in the aisle with no cover on, as if I had done something terribly wrong.”

“I confronted the other flight attendant, who projected it back on me telling me that she was sorry that I was upset. After landing, I complained at the counter and was referred to file a complaint online. After a few days, customer relations calls to apologize, refunded my tickets, and promised that policy changes will be made. I’m still waiting for it to happen. I tell her that while I appreciate the refund, I ultimately want all mothers to be protected on flights and for policies to be put into place. No mother should have to be publicly shamed for doing what’s natural by feeding her child. Southwest does not currently have a policy with regards to nursing on a flight. That leaves room for flight attendants to use their own judgement, as was so unprofessionally done in my case. That also leaves rooms for mothers to be vulnerable and open to harassment.”

WHAT?  Another NIP Incidence?

Yes…but wait! We’re working to remedy that. I promise. :) YOU can help too. As many of you are aware, two other mothers had very similar experiences on two major airlines (Delta and Frontier Airlines). Both released public statements after multiple bloggers, advocates, and mothers took policy enforcement into their own hands via social media. Jessica from The Leaky Boob and Jamie of I am not the Babysitter were instrumental in utilizing their huge social media outreach to ask for policy to ensure that businesses would at the very least make a public statement.

WHY in the world does this keep happening?

Weak or non-existent policies, lack of inclusion about corporate policy regarding nursing mothers in operations manuals, bare bones or non-existent education on how to welcome nursing mothers, and the complete lack of follow-up procedures are just some of the causes.

Weak or non-existent policies leave judgments to be made on the spot by employees whose personal feelings may not reflect the stance of the company as a whole, also resulting in negative press for the business due to a poorly handled issue or lack of understanding of a policy. Perhaps even more importantly, an uncomfortable mother that is dealt with negatively has the potential to start a firestorm of bad press and will cause the business to lose clients, profits, and credibility as a result.

How about this…

Make ALL employees very aware that the company feels that all mothers should be welcome to nurse wherever they are allowed to be without restriction AND hold employees accountable for not following company-wide procedures. Without investigating complaints, enforcing company protocol, and offering corporate lactation education, repeat offenses are inevitable.

Follow-up with Southwest Airlines:

Jennifer Pitkin, BS, IBCLC, RLC, a volunteer with the Family Friendly Business Initiative and independent contractor for corporate lactation training reached out to Southwest Airlines on Jenny’s behalf. Two representatives from Southwest have assured us that they are working to remedy the situation.
We’d love to see if changes are made. Here’s where you come in…ASK Southwest to show you their policy. Tweet to @Southwest Air #showusyournippolicy

About the authors:

Jennifer Pitkin is an IBCLC and the founder of Family Friendly Business Initiative. Jennifer is a current La Leche League Leader, and former WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor. Jennifer has a 5 year old daughter, and 3 year old son.
Liz Neighbors is an RN/BSN and an IBCLC. She owns private lactation consultation company, Beyond Baby. Liz is married to an optometrist and amazing breastfeeding advocate. She has three daughters, ages 5, 2 1/2, and 3 months.

Contact Us:

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Dads “If I Could, I Would”

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