Monday, July 05, 2010

Lone Lactivist


Welcome to the July 2010 Carnival of Nursing in Public

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Nursing in Public hosted by Dionna and Paige at NursingFreedom.org. All week, July 5-9, we will be featuring articles and posts about nursing in public ("NIP"). See the bottom of this post for more information.

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by Hannah Rodriguez


I live in a land where breastfeeding is foreign and atypical.

While many women across North America may often feel this way, I dare to say that my situation is different.

Although there are no statistics on breastfeeding by county, I can share the statistics of my life experience. I live in Hidalgo County, Texas. It is an area that is characterized by low education and high poverty - two factors that greatly affect the rate of breastfeeding, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and numerous other statistics.

Of my husband’s entire extended family (my family is 800 miles away), which consists of roughly 15 mothers, I am the only mom who has breastfed exclusively at any age. When I first took my daughter to the church nursery, the volunteer exclaimed, “Oh! It’s been a long time since we had a breastfed baby!” And several weeks later, after my daughter's first nursery poo, a volunteer came up and whispered into my ear with great concern, “It was a little runny and yellow - maybe she has a tummy ache.” Needless to say, declaring that there is a lack of breastfeeding awareness would be a severe understatement.

Everywhere I go, the fact that I have breastfed at all brings astonishment and surprise, much less the fact that I have done it exclusively for six months now with my first child. My husband is proud and supportive of our breastfeeding relationship, but understandably still retains much of the stigma of the “breastfeeding is foreign,” and “breasts are sexual” culture around us.

So, when the time comes to feed Bethany, do I nurse in public? No, I do not. A good day for Beth and I is when she can eat in the same room as family and friends, covered, instead of going off to a bathroom or other solitary room. Undoubtedly many (or most) readers will think that I am weak and foolish for choosing to submit to my husband’s wishes and remain covered, but I choosing to live my lactivist life in other ways. Already I have influenced my sister-in-law so that she has been able to successfully breastfeed her second child, and I often receive serious inquiries about breastfeeding. and encourage nursing relationships with my own positive testimony.

So, from a lone lactivist in south Texas, I salute you moms who nurse in public. Perhaps one day, maybe by my second child, or when Bethany is older, I, too, will join the ranks of you warriors. For now, each day of breastfeeding is another day that I shape the subculture around me, making breastfeeding a little less foreign, and a little more normal.


Hannah Rodriguez is a former educator living in South Texas, and stay-at-home mom with her six month old daughter, Bethany.


Visit this page for additional linked resources (books, websites, articles) on breastfeeding.

Danelle's response to Lone Lactivist can be read here: We Are All Lactivists


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Art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/Welcome to the Carnival of Nursing in Public

Please join us all week, July 5-9, as we celebrate and support breastfeeding mothers. And visit NursingFreedom.org any time to connect with other breastfeeding supporters, learn more about your legal right to nurse in public, and read (and contribute!) articles about breastfeeding and N.I.P.

Do you support breastfeeding in public? Grab this badge for your blog or website to show your support and encourage others to educate themselves about the benefits of breastfeeding and the rights of breastfeeding mothers and children.


This post is just one of many being featured as part of the Carnival of Nursing in Public. Please visit our other writers each day of the Carnival. Click on the links below to see each day’s posts - new articles will be posted on the following days:

July 5 - Making Breastfeeding the Norm: Creating a Culture of Breastfeeding in a Hyper-Sexualized World

July 6 – Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers: the New, the Experienced, and the Mothers of More Than One Nursing Child

July 7 – Creating a Supportive Network: Your Stories and Celebrations of N.I.P.

July 8 – Breastfeeding: International and Religious Perspectives

July 9 – Your Legal Right to Nurse in Public, and How to Respond to Anyone Who Questions It


14 comments:

  1. I don't think you are any less of a lactivist - you are doing what you are comfortable with, and you are making an impact. Thank you for sharing your story!

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  2. It must be so hard for you, to feel lonely. But it always took one Mom to breastfeed for others to continue the tradition. I commend what you do, to help and to inform others.

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  3. The country I live in is owned by a predominate formula feeding culture. So much so that when my youngest was in NICU with jaundice, I was told that my breastmilk was poisoning her, that formula is best for sick babies, and that breastmilk starves them. Proof of this was that the babies lost weight. This was by the pediatric consultant and NICU nurses. My kid was the only breastfed child on the ward of 6. The rest were fully formula fed, while they tried to convert me. I was even physically prevented from breastfeeding at one point. I rarely see people breastfeed, let alone extended breastfeeding. Only our doctor knows. I have not fed in public for a long time. It doesn't mean that I am not a lactivist, weak etc, it means that I know that people here can't even cope with the idea of a bf'd newborn, I think a toddler may be a step too far. My husband is extremely supportive. The only one among all others. For this I love him more.

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  4. You are trailblazing! Bless you!

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  5. I admire your strength and courage. You are an inspiration.

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  6. I don't feel that you're less of a lactivist, but I feel sorry for your child that you can't nurse her in public.

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  7. You are definitely a lactavist in your own right, though not in the same way that moms from other places in the country are. It takes courage to be the only one to do something, whether you know its the right thing or not. Keep it up mama, you are doing the right thing.

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  8. Thanks for sharing this with us! When thinking about how nursing in public is often disapproved of and looked down on, we forget that in some areas, the very act of breastfeeding itself is disapproved of. I think you're doing great to just make the IDEA of breastfeeding accepted where you live!

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  9. I live in Hidalgo County, TX and we have an amazing AP group here! We are on meetup.com, so Hannah, if you are reading this, please look us up! We are baby-wearing, co-sleeping, extended breastfeeding, and cloth diapering earth mamas!

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  10. What a great work you are doing! Huzzah!

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  11. Hi there!! My friend Dawn posted earlier but I wanted to chime in and let you know you aren't alone down in South Texas!!! The RGV AP group is 60 members strong and we are very vocal advocates of breastfeeding, gentle discipline and even cloth diapering. Just wanted to reach out and let you know we are here if you need a support group!!

    Mari Freeman

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  12. I applaud your lactivist efforts! The fact that you have helped one person already speaks to what you are accomplishing. I hope that one day you too will feel comfortable NIP but until then (if ever) keep up the good work momma!

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  13. Thank you for this post. There are many reasons that moms choose not to nurse in public. Nursing in public, or nursing out of view, isn't about making a statement. It's about doing what is best for the mom and baby.

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  14. Nursing is what really counts. Whether you choose to take a stand by nursing in public is really up to you, and your own comfort levels. There is no shame for covering up, just as there is no shame for deciding you shouldn't have to. Wishing you joy on the journey.

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