August 05, 2011

Behind the Scenes at the WCC - Latch On America Event

As promised, I am reporting back from the Latch On America event.  In full disclosure, this is my second time writing this post.  I wrote this post immediately after coming back from the event, all charged up to tell you about it and then with a one mistype, I erased the whole thing! Here is take II.

{University of Pennsylvania, College Hall}
Upon arriving at the event, I was able to put my judgments aside once I inquired about the location and motivation for this particular event stop.  I was told that each city on the campaign trail had an opportunity to put in a bid for the location of the parked bus and accompanying event.  Since one of Milk for Thought's calls to action is education and research around breastfeeding, the University of Pennsylvania won the bid for Philadelphia, as the university apparently plays a big role in breastfeeding research and advocacy.  Despite the obvious academic setting it appeared that there were many community members participating.  There were a lot of moms, babies, and older kids from a cross-section of Philadelphia's diverse communities.  Additionally, I learned about MANY resources in the Philadelphia area to support first-time as well as seasoned mothers and families from all socio-economic backgrounds whose needs vary greatly (FYI - many of these resources will be added to the WCC website resource section in the coming days).

{Me at the Latch On America Event}

Among the many fantastic women (and men) in attendance were representatives from Belly Pilates, Penn Medicine, Choices in Childbirth, Breastfeeding Resource Center, Nurse-Family Partnership, MotherBorn, and Nursing Mother's Alliance.   

What I began to think about during the event were the larger feminist, socio-political, and psychological implications of breastfeeding.  Amie Newman wrote about these issues, including perpetuating the "mommy wars," work place safety, family planning, and reproductive health, in the Huffington Post in 2009 here. As a matter of fact,  I learned that the University of North Carolina holds a yearly symposium on feminism and breastfeeding.

However, there is the flip side of this conversation that demands attention: what if for medical reasons you cannot breastfeed or you simply don't want to?  I love this post over at the Crunk Feminist Collective blog speaking directly to this issue.  So, what do you think - is it ok to simply not want to breastfeed?  

In my opinion, breastfeeding is a relationship between you and your child, just like any other relationship.  For many women, breastfeeding may not be the right fit.  No matter what the reason, I really don't think that it is another woman's place to judge.  I think that while mother's milk may be "best," that does not mean that formula is inherently bad.  This particular argument often gets ignored and in part leaves mothers who formula-feed their babies feeling bad, wrong, ashamed and villainized.  This for me is part of the larger feminist conversation.   

What are your thoughts on feminism and breastfeeding?  Want to share your story with us? Leave a comment!

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