Breastfeeding = Breastfeeding

“You look like a breastfeeder.”

I had just met the woman that said that to me and we were not even 10 minutes into our first conversation.  We met at a friend’s birthday party when the what-do-you-do question came up and I mentioned The Leaky Boob.  After explaining what TLB is to her “excuse me, say what?” response she surprised me with her response.  After I got over my own shock at her statement I wanted to say “why yes, of course I look like a breastfeeder, I’m a woman with a baby!”  Instead, I laughed.  Because I knew exactly what she meant.

I was offended a little bit though, in part because I didn’t think I did look like a breastfeeder at that moment.  Often I do but I was actually pretty not-breastfeeder looking that day, I thought.  I really thought my style was funky-artsy-cool.  Then it hit me, I was offended that someone thought I looked like a breastfeeder.  I mean, my hair was short and funky, I was wearing my cool cat style green glasses, blue jeans, halter top and a hoodie.  My nails were even done!  As you can see from the pic below, just a quick head shot on my phone I know, but taken on that very day, I don’t scream breastfeeder, do I?

Except for the female part.  And the breast part.  And the kids part.  And maybe The Leaky Boob part.

But I don’t want to look like a breastfeeder outside of those things.  Because it has a certain connotation in our culture.  Looking like a breastfeeder means you look weird.  Means only a certain type breastfeed.  It means that as of yet breastfeeding is not so normal in our society and there is a brand that goes along with breastfeeding that is more specific than a female with breasts and children.  Really, every single woman should look like a breastfeeder, not just one type.

I have to tell you something.  It’s not exactly easy for me to admit this and I’m afraid you’ll look at me differently but I need to get this out there:

The truth is I’m a pretty green mom.  Green as in… crunchy.  As in environmentally aware and “natural.”  As in we use cloth napkins and cloth diapers, have home births and don’t follow the recommended vaccination schedule.  We have almost no plastic play things and avoid most trademarked characters on clothing and toys as well.  I really, really am pretty crunchy.  But I think of myself as funky-normal, a variation of mainstream.  I can’t always afford to buy organic and I really like make up.  I haven’t recycled my glass in like 2 years because the city doesn’t pick it up and there isn’t a drop off anywhere near me and after lugging boxes of glass bottles around in my van for months I decided that I was probably wasting so much gas from the weight of the glass in my car that it totally offset recycling them- if I ever got to recycle them.  Oh, and I haven’t been to a homeopath since I had kids.  No Birkenstocks either.  There are plenty of not natural, non-organic probably bad for you products in my house, some of them we eat.  Also, I have a PILE of reusable shopping bags, I’ve even made some of them but I forget them more often than I take them with me to the store.  So I’m green but not green.  Not Kelly green, more like 1970’s linoleum avocado green and I have the glasses to prove it.

I have another confession.

While it is true that we avoid prepackaged foods and artificial colors and flavors in our foods we go to fast food a couple of times a month and my kids get candy full of crap 2-3 times a week.  Some of you are shaking your head going “tsk, tsk, she’s poisoning her kids!” and others are going “yeah so, we go out to some place like that every meal or would if I could afford it and I freaking LOVE Skittles.”  Personally, I’m with both of you.  I wasn’t allowed to have that stuff growing up and my mom made us have healthy substitutes instead.  We’d take our own piece of cake to birthday parties, adults would never give us the candy other kids got because my mother warned them not to, we’d get these sesame honey stick things my mom called “good candy” instead and the snacks we brought to play groups looked suspiciously similar to mulch.  Everyone looked at me sympathetically.  I hated being that kid.  H-A-T-E-D IT.  So I don’t make my kids be that kid.  They eat the crap candy their teacher hands out.  And in full disclosure, my lactivist self is a traitor and I even let my kids eat the Nestlé candy they get.  Shame on me, right?

I have another confession.

Most labels make me uncomfortable.  If I were to use one to describe myself someone could quickly point out how I am not that.  Every time I try to label myself I have an immediate exception ready.  So I don’t call myself an attachment parent.  But I do wear my babies, they sleep in our room, there is almost always a parent with them when they are young (me or The Piano Man and rarely sitters), and we don’t spank.  That said, I also believe in regularly leaving them for my own sanity and because I’m a better parent when I do, I like my stroller, and sometimes I pump a bottle of milk just because I feel like I’m going to have a panic attack if I have a baby on my boob one more time.  And I LIKE it that way, it works for my family.  Which by some standards means I fail attachment parenting.  By other standards it means I win at label-rejection I guess.

I have another confession.

We homeschool.  But I don’t want to.  In fact, I have such a hard time with it I almost can’t say it out loud.  It’s been a struggle for me for the last 4 years and as a homeschool graduate myself I swore I would never, ever homeschool.  NEVER.  I knew I wasn’t cut out for it even before I had kids and I still know I’m not.  If The Piano Man didn’t homeschool with me and we didn’t have some great homeschool programs there is no way we’d be making it.  Obviously I feel our reasons to homeschool are important enough to be doing it right now but it’s not going to be this way forever because I can’t wait to send my kids to school. Besides, I don’t look like a homeschooler either.  Right?

I have another confession.

I’m a lactivist but I don’t particularly love breastfeeding.  True story.  As a lactivist I have lots of thoughts about formula and formula companies.  Shocker, right?  Here’s the real shocker: I don’t think formula is poison!  gasp  Though I think there need to be better standards, higher quality ingredients and a heck of a lot better regulations, I’m never going to say formula is poison.  I also don’t think a mom bottle feeds because she’s lazy or selfish even if she claims that’s why.  Nope.  Instead I think there are much bigger, much deeper issues involved that she may not even understand but are a result of the booby traps so prevalent in our society and I don’t want any mom that doesn’t breastfeed to feel guilty about it.  Should I hand in my lactivist card now?  Should I be smacked and scolded “bad lactivist!” and denounced?

I have another confession.

I was a breastfeeding mom from the get-go even when I was decidedly not “crunchy.”  Before I recycled or used cloth diapers, I breastfed.  When we ate Hamburger Helper regularly as part of my rebellion in getting to eat whatever I wanted and I didn’t even know what MSG or Red 40 was, I breastfed.  When I had one carrier I hated, kept my baby in her bucket car seat all the time and planned on spanking to discipline, I breastfed.  When I worked full time, had a hospital birth, and bought every Winnie the Pooh decoration and toy I could find, I breastfed.  The idea that it was a “natural parenting” choice didn’t even occur to me.  These things weren’t even on my radar and I’d never even heard most of these terms.  In fact, over 12 years ago I went to a La Leche League meeting and was completely freaked out by my experience there and those “natural types.”  I didn’t co-sleep, didn’t want to garden, and couldn’t handle the idea of putting a candle in an ear to cure an ear infection.  Since I didn’t fit in I never went back.  But I did keep breastfeeding in spite of having almost no support.

Recently I’ve seen conversations that almost assume that everyone that breastfeeds is on the same page regarding every parenting choice.  Like we’re a club that talks, walks, dresses, eats and sleeps the same.  But we’re not.  The mom across the street from me breastfed her son for close to a year, pumping for him when she returned to work.  Unlike me she lets her son eat prepackaged food daily, have character toys and clothing and she has him fully vaccinated.  Like me, she does curbside recycling.  Also like me?  She loves her child more than she could begin to articulate.  I admire her, she’s an awesome mom and I’ve learned a lot from her and I hope maybe she’s learned some things from me.

Here’s the thing: the natural parenting/crunchy/hippie/green/stay-at-home-mom/work-at-home-mom/gentle-parenting/natural birthing/what-ever-you-want-to-add-here communities do not have the corner on breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding ≠ all natural parenting.  Breastfeeding ≠ attachment parenting.  Breastfeeding ≠ crunchy.  Breastfeeding ≠ a parenting style.  Breastfeeding ≠ rejecting mainstream parenting.  Aside from having lactating breasts, there are no real parenting style requirements to breastfeed.  No card to carry that you’re in danger of losing if your baby sleeps in a crib in another room.  Every woman that breastfeeds is a part of the breastfeeding mom club no matter how long she breastfed, where her baby sleeps, what she eats, how she introduces solids, where she gave birth, if she stays home or works, if she loves her stroller or has a dozen carriers, if she used a form of sleep training that involved cry-it-out or if she co-sleeps, if she vaccinates or doesn’t vaccinate, if she circumcises or is staunchly against it, if she covers when breastfeeding in public or just puts her baby to her breast, or even if she uses formula to supplement.  Other moms don’t have to agree with or like her choices but it doesn’t change the fact that if they breastfeed they are all still breastfeeding moms.  Moms that are the more natural, crunchy types are just as much mothers and breastfeeders in need of support as those that are more mainstream types or those that defy labels completely.  And vice-versa.

I worry sometimes that if breastfeeding is perceived to be a part of the complete “natural” package we will discover some push back against it completely.  What if they’re not interested in co-sleeping but are willing to breastfeed and then in the experience of looking for breastfeeding help and support they discover they are also expected to co-sleep?  Or a new mom plans on breastfeeding for the first 6 weeks, encounters some difficulty but is determined to get through it only to ask for help and get chastised for not planning to breastfeed until the child self-weans?  If it starts feeling like it has to be all or nothing as though breastfeeding is some sort of lifestyle then for some it will be easier and less intimidating to choose nothing than to choose all and fail.  Breastfeeding isn’t a move to pick up any label or style of parenting.  Being a breastfeeding mom doesn’t automatically make someone a babywearing mom, or a co-sleeping mom or a gentle parenting advocate.  Being a breastfeeding mom means she’s just that, a breastfeeding mom and whatever else she chooses to be.  You don’t have to adopt all or even any of the stereotypical aspects of “those natural types” in order to be a breastfeeding mother.  Just because I eventually did doesn’t mean it’s right for you and I can respect that and still support and encourage you.  Personally, I seek to support and empower women, families, parents and breastfeeding moms and their supporters regardless of their labels and choices in parenting styles.

It’s not that we can’t talk about these different choices, we can and should.  In fact, it is through encouraging and respectful dialogue about different choices we’ve made that others can be empowered to consider something other than what they already know.  For many, that’s probably how they even considered breastfeeding in the first place.  So let the conversation flow freely but let’s be careful that we don’t have a string of parenting style requirements to breastfeed and be willing to put aside our differences and still offer genuine support.  I hope we get to the place where you can’t pick a breastfeeding mom out of the crowd based on how she’s dressed or how she interacts with her children or what baby products she has with her.  That regardless of our other parenting and even lifestyle choices breastfeeding is just so normal that we don’t assume breastfeeding women look or act a certain way other than being a mom.  Whether she’s a fashionista like Kourtney Kardashian or a babywearing, homebirthing, Birkenstock sporting hippie or something in between several different stereotypes, a breastfeeding mom deserves to be supported regardless of her parenting approach.  Nobody has the monopoly on breastfeeding.  We can all be a part of the club and we all deserve support.  Just like no matter how we feed our babies we’re all a part of the mom club too.

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Do you fit any labels?  Or find that you are a little of this, a little of that?  How would you describe your parenting style and does that have any influence on your breastfeeding?  Do you find that sometimes you look down on others that parent differently than you?

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By the way, I think all of this goes for any other parenting choice.  However we feed our children, our family and household rules, discipline, educational choices, and so much more, we all have one thing in common for sure: we’re parents that love our children.

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Comments

  1. I think this might be the best thing I’ve ever read about breastfeeding/parenting. Thank you SO much for writing this, at a time when seemingly all we hear is criticism from other moms when we’re all just doing the best we can. This made my morning! 😀

    • This made my morning too!!! Just so well written and so from the heart! Wow, I just don’t know what to say other than THANK YOU for writing this and sharing it!!!

      • Hearing we’re not alone is so freeing, isn’t it? 🙂

        • I actually admire your style. I’m 26 and LOVE wearing brown, Lucky Brand, love 70’s…ok so maybe I’m an indie chic with my dark brown thick rim glasses. But I long to be MORE green, MORE natural, and so-forth. The money can be hard to support that choice. But I want whatever is best for my little owl.

          I’ve been told I look to young to breastfeed. I’m still happy of my choice, especially since nobody in my family breastfed or even considered to. I love I’m bringing more awareness to it. I’m so happy for this online community since I feel very alone in real life.

    • This made my afternoon! As a mom who breastfeeds, but doesn’t really do anything else “naturally” (I had a c-section and am waiting to move into our house next month to break out the cloth diapers), I sometimes feel left out in support groups because my baby has his own room and we all sleep happily with it, even if he cried at first. I also feel left out with all my friends because I’m the ONLY one who has stuck with breastfeeding these 6 months and my co-workers give me hell over it. I joined the Leaky Boob because I wanted support with BREASTFEEDING. I”m really interested in other things, but don’t necisarily agree with them. Thanks for so eloquently addressing an issue I think more moms-who-look-like-breastfeeders-and-those-who-don’t need to know.

      • “Thanks for so eloquently addressing an issue I think more moms-who-look-like-breastfeeders-and-those-who-don’t need to know.”

        My pleasure. I love how you put that, “more moms-who-look-like-breastfeeders-and-those-who-don’t.” That just about covers it doesn’t it?!

      • @Kathryn I’m far less “green” than many moms I see on BF sites/groups etc… I agree with you. I hate the feelings I get in some BF groups, forums etc… that imply that because I don’t “insert whatever here” (co-sleep, home school, think I’ll BF ‘til my son is in preschool etc…), like many others on these sites do that I am in the wrong some how. Hey cut me some slack ladies. I may not agree with all you do either but we each have our own reasons for the choices we make.

        I failed at the natural childbirth I’d hoped for (I too had a c-section too to top it off). Even though I know it was the right choice for us at the time the activist type attitudes some women espouse make me feel guilty sometimes. For that reason I’m very sensitive about people being vocal and what at times appears to be very judgmental about those who don’t BF long enough, don’t try hard enough at it etc…I know most of these women (the lactivists, intactavists etc…) mean well and intend to empower women but (from the perspective of one of those who couldn’t) these attitudes about those who can’t “xyz…” for whatever reason and the sense of judgment that often seems to come with it sucks. BTW my son still nurses at least once most days at 20 months, not sure how long he will (thought I’d wean him at 2 years, still think that’s likely but who knows for sure) and he is as they say “intact”.

        Although I do use cloth diapers most often, made my son’s babyfood (he ate far more veggies at 8 months than he does now 20 months), try to buy Organic (especially for the L.O.) and recycle a fair amount I too sometimes feel left out too. Often I don’t feel green enough or like enough of an activist (I BF yah, I’ll gladly share that info) but despite being a fairly out spoken and generally liberal person I don’t shout it from the roof tops. I nurse in public but prefer to use a cover, my son has rarely slept with us, sometimes he throws a bit of a fit when we put him in the crib but he gets over it quickly and we all sleep better for it. And that’s all OK. Others can co-sleep but it’s not for me, nursing “openly” not for me either but if others choose to that’s cool (my son loves Elmo & I’m OK with that and despite what that may imply he doesn’t watch much TV) once he starting liking Elmo I started getting books from the library. Even if I may not agree with your choices or at the very least wouldn’t make some of those same choices for my family I try not to judge you. I wish you would afford me and the other less crunchy, activist, liberal etc…whatever you choose to call it of us the same courtesy.

        • Lauren B in WV says:

          Amen. Great post and comment stream. I too, did not have the natural childbirth I prepped and hoped for. I sure as heck tried and ended up having a c-section after 40 long hard hours of labor because my son just wasn’t able to turn and enter my birth canal. We don’t co-sleep. We were open to it but LO wouldn’t sleep lying flat or without motion for the first 4 months. And we realized that we preferred not to have our baby sleep between us for the foreseeable future, that we wanted some time to be husband and wife and not only parents. Sometimes my sweet baby cries before he settles down to sleep in his crib. Yes, it feels awful. It is always excruciating to hear your baby cry! But we are all getting so much more sleep than we were when I jumped up (5, 6, 7 times a night at his first peep), which makes us all happier and healthier. I love to wear my baby. When he was little he loved to snuggle up in the ergo and fall asleep. Now that he’s older, he gets frustrated because he can’t move around and see as much as he wants to. So I sometimes use a front-facing baby bjorn–the horror!! I know it’s not as good for his back/hips, but guess what? he loves it!! he also loves his plastic laden jumparoo. In moderation, these tools allow me to get things done. I don’t recycle because my rural county has no recycling facility. It kills me and I still separate all my glass, plastic, and aluminum…and then take it to the dump. I still consider myself a wholesome and natural mother, who, like every single mom out there is doing the best she can for her child. I love breastfeeding and will continue as long as it keeps working for both of us. I use cloth diapers but not exclusively. I like to hang out with liberal, progressive people, crunchy, activist (insert label here…) open-minded people. I don’t like to spend time with liberal, progressive, crunchy, activist (etc etc) self-righteous people that make me feel inferior for the choices I’ve made and the parenting path I take.

    • “… we’re all just doing the best we can.” I think the massive amounts of criticism we encounter is because we forget that most parents are just doing the best they can. Because we’re so committed to our own paths, and we should be, we start to believe that if everyone was doing the best they could they’d be doing it exactly how we are. It can be scary to admit that someone else may not be wrong simply because they aren’t doing things the way we would because it implies that we could be wrong. Not that it has to be like that, just that sometimes we behave that way. Most of us really are just doing the best we can.

      So happy to have made your morning with this post, you made mine with your comment!

    • Breastfeeding = Breastfeeding
      Terrific idea. I am not “crunchy” or “green”. I don’t eat organic unless it comes from my garden or my neighbors. I live in rural America, which means there are no LLI meetings for me to attend that don’t involve a considerable drive. My best friends in the world all bottle feed their children. Yes, I respect that and have learned a great deal from them. I am 40 years old and I have a 3 month old, 6 year-old and 8 year-old. I have breastfed them all and plan to continue with my youngest as long as he and I can. I had c-sections with all three. First time was medical emergency, second time I would not dialate at all, third time just scheduled due to previous experience. And yes I felt like a failure. I couldn’t give birth naturally to my chldren. I wanted that experience more than anything in the world. It was very disheartening. I guess that is why I breastfeed with such gusto. I don’t recycle much, I don’t use cloth diapers, my kids eat pretty much what most kids eat, and we eat out a lot, and I love my husband and kids more than anything. So I guess that’s all. I breastfeed and sometimes that is all I have in common with my online mom-friends other than being a mom. As my six year old littke man says when he sees me nursing “Boob powers activate!”

    • Becky Mok says:

      Thank you so much for sharing! It’s amazing to hear you say these words because all of it could have come out of my own mouth. Sometimes we think we are an outsider, out on our own when in truth we aren’t.

      Thank you again for this priceless article.

  2. “Here’s the thing: the natural parenting/crunchy/hippie/green/stay-at-home-mom/work-at-home-mom/gentle-parenting/natural birthing/what-ever-you-want-to-add-here communities do not have the corner on breastfeeding. Breastfeeding ? all natural parenting. Breastfeeding ? attachment parenting. Breastfeeding ? crunchy. Breastfeeding ? a parenting style. Breastfeeding ? rejecting mainstream parenting. Aside from having lactating breasts, there are no real parenting style requirements to breastfeed. “

    This really, really, really needed to be said. Thank you.

    What a wonderful post.

  3. You have inspired me to share these simular thoughts now with my readers! I have been getting a lot of negative abuse type attention towards my BF and parenting. I am a breastfeeding mother that cloth diapers too, I do what I can for my children, and yet other moms feel its ok to depict what I do is either gross or just plain wrong.

  4. Thank You!!!!! That was beautifully put. I do not fit into any label I don’t think… The only reason I think I have made it this far breastfeeding my 11 mo old daughter after my 2 formula fed babies is because 1. I am on PPD medication this time from the start and 2. My daughter has made it VERY easy. She doesn’t comfort nurse, she doesn’t cluster feed and she only nurses for 10 min tops at a time every 3 hours.
    I try to be a healthy as I can and buy the right food but my kids are vaccinated, circumsized, junkfood eating, juice drinking publicly schooled kids who wear the latest pop idol clothes. But I love them and I TRULLY appreciate that you recognize that there are many different kinds of mothers out there and you respect them even though they are not like you. I TRY not to judge people and would appreciate others to do the same even if I do yell at my kids once in a while.
    I love the Leaky Boob

    • Acrophile says:

      I think even the greenest, gentlest, most liberal parent yells at their kid once in a while. A dirty little secret just about all of us keep, and it makes all of us feel alone. Don’t feel alone.

      • Oh heck no, I’ve never yelled at my kids.

        Except maybe when I’m sleep deprived, stressed, burnt out, frustrated, or just plain ol’ fed-up.

        Wish I could say those things never happen, but they do. And you know what? I think my kids and I are going to be ok even so.

        • NyxEris says:

          http://www.ustream.tv/decoraheagles

          yesterday, one of the parents was trying to feed and the LO’s were squabling and fighting for position, one of them bit down on the parent’s foot and he/she knocked it halfway across the nest….it sat there for a while in a “timeout” of sorts before the parent gathered it up and stuffed it back underneath. while I never actually tossed one of mine across the room…I totally identified with that eagle in that moment. Throughout the animal kingdom, you see parents lose patiance, snap, growl, push away or even just walk away when they’ve had enough… it’s how they learn, and in every instance, you’ll see the parent regroup, find their equilibrium and go on…cuddling, feeding, teaching….mom’s everywhere have this in common.

    • I love that there are so many different styles of parenting out there, that each of us, in reality, just has to make it our own. To me that’s a good thing, our kids aren’t cookie-cutter children, why would our parenting be?! Hearing your breastfeeding story just briefly here is the perfect testimony to that. Beautiful and major kudos to you to breastfeed your 3rd and for bravely finding the way that worked for your family for all 3 of your children.

  5. LOVE THIS!! (and the glasses, btw!) I’m also in the “non-category, category”…It’s hard, people always like to assume…you knw what happens when you do that!! Thanks for the honesty, it’s refreshingly beautiful in a world that regularly lies to itself…you are a beautiful, articulate, truthful and loving mom…Lucky lil kids 😉

    • Do you think if I tell my kids they are lucky they’ll say thank you? Yeah, probably not, LOL! 😉

      Maybe some day, right after we normalize breastfeeding, honesty will be the next thing to become normal. We can hope, right? Being honest with myself has been one of the most difficult challenges of my parenting journey almost without exception.

      From one non-category mom to another (maybe we can create our own non-label label?), I think our kids will turn out ok even if we don’t have our perfect checklist.

  6. I actually teared up reading this. Thank you so much you are right on! I hate the labels too. Labels will forever make us feel like we are not living up to some unreachable standard.

    • You know, I almost put in my post “labels suck” but thought it sounded too juvenile. Now though I’m thinking that would have been appropriate- like high school. Empowered moms are free of labels, they are designing their own.

  7. I agree with Valerie! Thank you so much for writing this!! I am successfully EBF my 3rd child for 5 months now. I was not as successful with/did not EBF as long as I wanted with my first two (almost to the point of exasperation) and had some very discouraging encounters because my children had a bottle. I think the “nipple nazi” mentality is a big turn-off, especially for very young or first time mommies and can really add to the guilt a mom feels if she has really tried to BF and for whatever reason was not as successful at it as she would have liked. I’m not sure that I “look” like a breastfeeding mom, except for the fact I have a small baby with me and my boobies are HUGE, but I think I might find it a compliment if someone thought I looked like a BF mom!! 🙂 I absolutely LOVE TLB and am so happy my friend introduced me to you!!! Thank you again!!

  8. Amen. I love this. Thank you for articulating all of those things that have been arguing in my head along this journey called parenting.

  9. Heather E*K says:

    OMGravy!!! ROTFLMP(regnant)AO!!! Holy B@@bies – I love it! Can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard – I really needed that!!! I have spent a LIFETIME not fitting in any label because of something. I can totally relate. I like “instinctual parenting,” you go with what comes naturally, and you change as change is required… maybe that’s “evolutionary parenting”… that sounds nice and inflammatory ;-). I have Annie’s Organic Mac and a freezer full of Stouffers. I have a Medela pump I LOVE <3 and I have 3 baby carriers. We cloth diaper and use lady fluff and there is Tinkerbell crap all over my house. I drive a Honda Odyssey because it holds my family and *GAH* I love it more than any car I have ever owned! What am I? I AM A WOMAN! I AM A WIFE! I AM A MOTHER! I'll be damned if someone tells me I am not because I do not fit "their" mold!

  10. Holy crap Jessica…..I freaking love you. You are SO REAL and this post is so thought provoking. It is so easy to fall back on stereotypes and assume that things go together. I’m guilty of those assumptions sometimes myself. For example, I assume if I see someone wearing a baby that, of course, they breastfeed.

    I’m “crunchy-ish.” In fact, one of my favorite written student comments I ever got on an evaluation form was “Damn Hippie!”

    After almost 15 months we just moved Squishy out of our room. Our other kids moved out much earlier. It’s taken me to baby #3 to really get the hang of babywearing but I love it. I nursed my oldest until he was 3 and am looking forward to doing the same with my youngest. We have tons of plastic crap toys and Stormy is obsessed with Dora [blech]. I’m militant about car seat safety. We can’t seem to afford organic and I can’t keep a plant alive to safe my life.

    I have no interest in fitting into a mold. Who has time for that? The only mold I fit right into is “Mama.”

    Oh..and I have had the same two pairs of Birkenstocks for 15 years and I would seriously wear them everyday if it wasn’t so stinking cold where we live now.

    Kudos to you for provoking conversation and keeping it real!!

  11. Ashley Jensen says:

    WONDERFUL article! This really made me feel better about everything I do and have done that doesn’t fit the “natural mom” mold. 🙂 Thank you!

  12. Thank you! I feel like I have been closed into this package that doesn’t fit me or my family just because I breastfeed. We combine many aspects of different types of parenting to what works for us. We co-sleep, we spank, we eat processed food. I breastfeed. We watch tv. I am a Christian and often feel like because of that, I should hide under a tent when nursing in the spirit of modesty or should flee from human interaction until the “dirty deed” is done. I rarely cover. I don’t flee.

    It will take all of us being precisely who we are as we nurse our little ones for breastfeeding to be seen as normal. Thank you for your transparency!

  13. I love this! This pretty much describes my “type” of cruncyness, haha. I love that there are so many choices out there that each mom can pick what is best for her – you don’t have to be “just” mainstream or “just” crunchy. And as a mom with big-time breastfeeding issues who just learned about milk sharing with number three, I appreciate her saying formula is not poison. If so I’ve poisoned two of my kids and I’d never be able to live with myself. Thank you for sharing this article!

  14. Wonderful. Makes me feel better about my decisions and not allowing myself to “wear a label”. Thanks for this article, it was amazing. 🙂

  15. kelly v. says:

    i once sought out the store manager at the grocery store to tell him all the organic milk was past due and while i was walking with him, baby in sling, he asked my if i home-schooled. duh, um no. and i once sat in shock while my now fired pediatrician told me that they don’t accept babies in their practice that have been born at home because the parents don’t vaccinate, all the while looking at my home birth kid who is fully vaccinated. it’s not all or nothing here. thanks for your candor.

  16. This is great!!
    It is as if I am reading about my self. From the first child to the last.
    I teach BF to teens and what you have said, is what I tell them.

    We all want the same thing for our children, Happy, Healthy and Safe, and if it is extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping gets them there or if it is supplementing and a crib in the next room, they get there. That is all that matters.

  17. Fantastic, as usual. As a breastfeeding mama who (mostly) attachment parents her vaccinated, circumcised son… I’ve always felt welcome around TLB. I come there for breastfeeding support and try to avoid the politics. We’re coming up on our 6 month anniversary and I *know* I wouldn’t have made it without you.

    Thank you for the refreshing honesty!

    http://thegnomesmom.com

  18. Love it! Thank you thank you for the reminder and clear explanation of what TLB is all about!

  19. This is amazing. It should be required reading for all moms/dads/people.

  20. Amen, amen, a-men!!

  21. I agree, this is the very best post on parenting I have ever read. This is about so much more than breastfeeding. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

  22. Elisabeth says:

    Thank you for this. I have always felt a little guilty I guess for not conforming to all the stereotypes… I am definitely a “combo” of many styles. I Breastfed my ODD for a year, then quit because everyone around me seemed to think it was best, even though I felt it wasn’t the right decision. I am currently breastfeeding my 11.5 month old twins, and will not make that mistake again. But I have never made enough, and they have had formula supplementation all along. I felt really guilty about that as well, as if I wasn’t “as good” of a breastfeeding mother, a fraud I guess. I kept hearing how formula was poison from many lactivists, and while I wanted to consider myself a lactivist, I didn’t seem to “fit in” because of that. I returned to work full time when my babies were 4 months old (took extra time off because they were preemies and in the NICU) but have always wished I could be a stay at home mom. It just isn’t in the cards, and again is something I feel guilty about. I make all out baby food, and try to buy organic when we can, but we also eat fast food on occasion and buy prepackaged crap. And again, I feel somewhat guilty about it. We circumcise and vaccinate because they seem to be the best decisions for my family (I am a scientist and base those decisions off of numerous studies I have read), but again parts of me feels guilty about those decisions as well. We co-slept with all the babies, but just moved the twins to their own cribs, and again more guilt on my part. However, I make all these decisions trying to be the best mother I can be for our family, and this article has helped me to realize that I need to let some of this guilt go and stop trying to conform to a label/type that I THINK I should be, and rather continue just trying to be the best mom I can be. Very thought-provoking post… thanks for that.

    • Mamaishtari says:

      This is the most empowering article (and comments) I’ve read as a mama.
      Elisabethm I’m commenting on your comment as I, too, have often felt guilty about not conforming all the way to “crunchy.” Mighty Munchkin is circumcised, has some vaccines, we buy mostly organic, and I’m a peace-loving, hunting (since meeting hubby) hippie married to a crunchy (since he met me) Republican hunter. We don’t fit any stereotype.

      I have friends who proudly declare they haven’t spent more than 2 hours away from their 3-year old because the kiddo needs to nurse. I would go bonkers and be a terrible mother. I sometimes need more time than a couple of hours to myself to rejuvenate and I’m grateful my husband will happily give our 21-month old a cup of cow milk (organic, unless it’s not). I’m tired of feeling like I must be a terrible mother for this.

      When I was 16 my step-dad used to say I was 16 going on 36. Well, now I’m nearly 36 going on 16; I feel so unsure and insecure about my choices and that I don’t “fit.” This article is so empowering to me and while I can’t say I won’t cry any more tears of doubt, I do plan on printing this out to remind myself that it’s ok as long as I’m making the choices that are best for my family and myself.

      I had planned a natural birth at a birth center, and ended up being transferred to the hospital, having pitocin and an epidural. The greatest lesson that taught me was not to judge other people’s choices; to realize that most everyone is doing the best they can with what they have and you just have to do what works for your family.

      Well, I’m off to book club and I’m going to let my husband put Mighty Munchkin to bed without me. 🙂

  23. Really love this post. Thank you for writing it. I formula fed my first son because I did not get the support I needed at a critical time. My family and friends were all supportive but the one person that I needed to be, who could have really helped me, chose to chastise me for being induced, ending up with a C-section, and supplementing with formula. She actually said to me, “Formula is for babies whose mothers are dead”, forgetting, I guess, that I had called her for HELP with breastfeeding. It’s one of the cruelest things someone has ever said to me. This was someone from the LLL, btw. So I can attest to the validity of the questions you pose in your second to last paragraph. It’s really important that mothers get support and not judgment.

  24. What a great post. I am sharing it on my facebook! I am very anti-label as well, I hate when people try to classify me based on choices I make. That said, NONE of the breastfeeding moms I know look alike. We are all completely different people with different interests, as well as completely different parenting styles. Even something like gentle parenting or gentle discipline is so broad a topic that one parent’s version may be completely different from my own.

    And I love your stance on formula. I’ve never used it, but it’s important not to alienate women who have. They still love their babies, we don’t know their stories, and we absolutely DO NOT need to make them feel guilty. We are all doing the best we can with what we’ve got.

    How do you do it? How do you be so awesome?

    • My littlest is already 16 months, but it still brings tears to my eyes just to read your acknowledgement that moms that feed their kids formula have stories and shouldn’t be judged. So many people don’t realize that I would have breastfed if I could have. My little guy had colic and had to be on a lactose-free formula starting at one month. I kept pumping while trying the formula, in case it didn’t work, and I cried so hard when it did. However, as wonderful as breastmilk is, it’s not worth keeping your baby in pain. Neither of my kids successfully breastfed (had to pump and bottle-feed my first, so she got breastmilk but never breastfed), and I have always felt inadequate because of it. I feel like I missed a vital part of motherhood through no fault of my own, and have always envied other mothers. I feel like so many breastfeeding moms who saw me with a bottle looked down on me and had no idea what I would have given to have been able to do what they did. It feels like a luxury that I’ll never be able to experience. So I thank you for writing that formula-feeding moms shouldn’t be made to feel guilty, because often there’s more behind that decision than is obvious to the naked eye.

      And while I’ve never thought of myself as a BF mom even though I tried, I do recycle, bake my own desserts, work full time and make more money than my husband, use disposable diapers, vaccinate early and often, didn’t circ my son, and left my hometown of Berkeley, CA to marry a US Marine. I buy organic when it’s the same price, and I had an epidural with my first and napped during my 6-hour labor, then had a completely natural childbirth with the second because he was so fast (didn’t make it to the delivery room). Labels don’t fit nowadays, and I wonder how well they ever fit in the past, either. I really appreciate this article on so many levels it’s too hard to describe them all here.

      • “Neither of my kids successfully breastfed (had to pump and bottle-feed my first, so she got breastmilk but never breastfed), and I have always felt inadequate because of it.”

        I think you deserve a medal for pumping exclusively! Don’t you dare feel inadequate! 🙂 I pump at work and breastfeed at home. Honestly, the only reason I pump is so I don’t lose my supply because I love nursing my son. If he could have formula during the day and I didn’t have to worry about losing my supply I would do it in a heartbeat. To me, the fact that you pumped without the reward of breastfeeding makes you a HERO. It was a completly unselfish act and you should be SO proud of yourself.

        • I don’t mean to imply that anyone who formula feeds is a lesser person…if breastfeeding wouldn’t have worked out for me, I would be feeding formula. I hate pumping. 🙂

  25. I LOVE this article. LOVE. I hate the labels and didn’t really know about them until I was pregnant with my youngest. With my older two the internet wasn’t the same as it is now or I didn’t use it the same. I never thought about my parenting ‘style’/label. I just did what I felt was best at the time. Some things have changed as I’ve grown and learned more. Some things haven’t.

  26. I’ll add this based on my limited experience so far:

    Breastfeeding = Hard!

    I love your perspective in this post. Refreshing! We should all support rather than label and criticize. I’m a new follower and am looking forward to browsing your posts in search of encouragement and tips!

  27. ALSO – I figure my semi stretched out shirts {from lifting to nurse} gives me away as being a breastfeeder but never thought that my style of dress or hair cut or use or lack of a stroller would equate to breastfeeding or not.

  28. I simply adore this post!

    I breastfeed my 18mo son. I still co-sleep. But I am NOT crunchy. I use disposable diapers. I try to eat organic when I can, and I avoid HFCS, but I don’t avoid other bad things.

    I too felt odd at my LLL meetings. I wish there were more support for the non-crunchy breastfeeding moms out there.

  29. Bloody brilliant. Thats all I need to say :o)

  30. I couldn’t agree more with this entire article.

    I LOVE the part about being a crunchy mom, and yet looking and feeling mainstream! LOVE. IT. I was literally just telling my DH the other week that that’s exactly who I want to be. I’m definitely crunchy- homebirth, no vax, whole foods eating, etc, etc, etc. But I’m not the birkinstock wearing, not shaving, no makeup wearing person. I have no desire to be that, no offense to those that do. 😉 I want to feel and act and look “mainstream”. And honestly, I think we can do more to help our “cause” by looking “normal”. Because if we look and act normal, and fit in in normal scenarios, then the things that we do like homebirth and eating real food start to look normal as well. And they should! Because they are!

    Thanks for the perspective about being “That kid” who wasn’t allowed to eat any of the fun stuff. I need to be careful to not become that mom in my zeal to create a healthy life for my family.

    Interesting perspective about homeschooling as well. I was homeschooled, and at this point I do NOT want to homeschool my LOs(my oldest is almost 3 right now). But at the same time I’m nervous about sending them into the public school system and all that entails. I guess we have some decisions to make in the next few years.

    And yes, no one type of momma has the corner on breastfeeding. Love it. This is the best blog post I’ve read in a while.

  31. Awesome post on *real life* breastfeeding. Love it. If you go to my blog you will get this next sentence….I would look at my daughter as a teenager and say, “But I breastfed you…until you were 3 and a half.” Breastfeeding, while being a wonderful, nutritious option to feed our precious babies, is not the be-all, cure-all, panacea that some make it out to be. Love your honesty!

  32. Way to be! To heck with labels… we should ALL do what works for us as mothers, and respect those that find different ways of effective mothering. I’m not crunchy… I despise the term. I am not an attachment parent, or a breastfeeder… but I co-sleep and nurse my babies. I will NOT be defined by my lifestyle choices… or my attitudes, ideas or any of my preconceived notions . I am an ever evolving individual, striving for truth, and trying to live more of my life with love for others. BTW, I really like your blog:-)

  33. Antonella says:

    LOVE this post, but I have to say, I’m guilty of seeing people and assuming they are or aren’t a BFer. And, usually I’m right. As far as the whole package, there is a stereotype about BF moms being green….and I do think most stereotypes are grounded in a little bit of truth, but of course stereotypes can be harmful and as you said, if a mom is considering BFing, she may be turned off by the whole hippie, green BFer image.
    I know that growing up in a FF family, really the only images of BFing women I had were the ones in the videos…the hippie- like, 30 something women wearing long skirts, long kind of not styled hair talking in a soft voice about how natural BFing is…….for me, the look was not something I really identified with at all, but the natural, green thing is something that I did identify with.
    I totally agree that any woman with a baby should look like a BF mom. It’s kinda sad that we don’t see things that way.

  34. AMEN! Thank you for this! I have officially BF my daughter for a year as of yesterday. This whole year has made me question my choices as a parent. We have a family bed, try to eat organic, are cutting plastic out of our lives, don’t use CIO, don’t spank, etc. Yet I read these women’s blogs who seem like the picture perfect AP parents and I’m left questioning myself. What about our cleaning/laundry products? Should I let her watch her movies? Should I let her eat candy or prepackaged foods at other people’s houses? Should we homeschool? When I get frustrated with her, am I dooming her for life? None of these other mom blogs come right out and say, “My way is better than yours! I’m a better mom!” but I feel that way after I’m done reading them. I feel like reevaluating my life after their posts. But after having read yours, I feel good about our choices! Thank you, thank you , THANK YOU for posting this! I’m bookmarking it so that when I feel like a crap mom I can read it again and believe in myself :0)

  35. Thank you. Your post made me realize that I AM judgmental at times! I am a full time working/pumping mom with a baby in daycare. She’s the only breast fed baby out of 8 and when I’m pumping at work I often wonder why more moms don’t breastfeed. I have serious ADD and little patience but still manage to haul my PIS to work every day even though I hate it! I know not everyone can do it though. You helped me see that I need to look at the value of my own commitment to providing milk for my daughter and not worry what other people are doing!

    I would say that I’m not too “crunchy” and not too soft. I’m probably more chartreuse than Green. I recycle everything and buy organic when I can, but ply my 3 year old with chocolate milk and Cheerios. As far as fitting into a label? never!

  36. This is so timely. I was having a similar revelation yesterday at work. A young black woman came through my line. While she was returning an item we were talking about how big our kids are getting. She asked me what I fed my 5 mo and I told her he was ebf. Her eyes got so big, “YUP! That’s why! My oldest was bf for two years! They love the boob, don’t they??” We then went on to discuss all the benefits our children were getting from our hard work 🙂 I TOTALLY did not expect that from this girl. As a black woman, myself, it’s rare to find other women like me who bf. Much less younger than myself. I often assume I don’t “look” like the bf type, and I wonder what people think about me when they realize we ebf. I’m assuming it was similar to my reaction to this young lady.

    Jessica – I really respect you and your work, both with your family and with the bf community. I talk constantly about TLB and how helpful it’s been to me. I’ve sent the link to friends of friends who are expecting even if they’ve never met me. I think we all try to make some kind of difference in the world in hopes of leaving it a little better when we’re gone. You have truly done that and I hope you know the good you do! Keep it up, my friend!

  37. I. Love. This. And that is all. 🙂

  38. Catherine says:

    Thank you for saying this. I hope many people read it and see it. SO many times when we go looking for breastfeeding support and find all that extra stuff attached like you said. I am comfortable, myself, knowing that it is interchangeable to what works in my life, but others are not. Thank you again for reminding all of us that breastfeeding is a SINGLE choice among the many as a mother.

  39. i loved this post so much, i wrote a response. http://leavesofmytree.blogspot.com/2011/03/my-choices-more-love.html

    thank you SO much for posting this! i could really relate. it is an uncomfortable, humbling path to realize you are being a judgmental mother. all mamas love their children and are making the choice they believe is best for their families, and who am i to say they are wrong?!

  40. jenny cooper says:

    My favorite breastfeeding article yet!! Im afraid maybe i “LOOK LIKE” a formula feeder however. I drive an SUV(2 big dogs and baby to tote around) hospital birthed, use disposable diapers and vaccinate but my baby will never have formula, at nearly 8 months she’s never even had a bottle, from the breast only and i sleep with her and wear her often and she will have only home made organic baby food…in having an identity crisis now 😉 thanks for being open and honest!!

  41. Thank you for taking the words right out of my mouth/heart and putting them together in such a profoundly astute way! Sometimes I feel like I am the *only* one who lives in parenting limbo land. I, like you, and “semi-crunchy”, but make every one of the same “mistakes” you make!

    Anyway, I love this. Love you. You rock. My socks. 🙂

  42. I am a breastfeeder. I’m a full-time working, daycare-using, BFing, pumping mama of a 10-month-old and and 8-year-old. I might be an extended breastfeeder, but instead will wean at her first birthday so I can go back to my potentially life-saving medication. I use disposable diapers (daycare won’t do cloth), feed my kids packaged foods, let them eat fast food too often, own three carriers, a stroller, AND a bucket car seat, circumcise, vaccinate, public school, and like you, forget my reusable shopping bags most of the time.

    My kid sleeps half the time in her crib in her own room, and the other half the time in my bed. I don’t intend to buy her character clothes, but who knows what life will bring us three years down the road? This is real life, and if my kids grow up healthy and happy and I get to survive the experience, I will mark it in the ‘win’ column.

    Thank you for not making me feel like a failure as a mom for doing what things I can for my kids with the life I’ve been given, and letting the other stuff go.

  43. Absolutely LOVE this post. I’ll be sharing it on FB next :-). Though I think of myself as kinda cruchy, I’m also one of those mammas that doesn’t fit any label perfectly. Do any of us?

    I’m BF’ing my 15mo DS, he’s not gotten formula, but has gotten bottles of BM that I pumped with my Medela since I returned to work at 7m. He’s not circ’d but is fully vaccinated, though we did it on a more spread out schedule. I love the wood toys, and he has plenty of them, but we also have plastic little people sets around. I try to buy organic, especially for him, but we certainly don’t eat 100%organic. Much of his baby food is home made, but he still eats some Gerber jar food too occasionally. We like the idea of baby lead solids, though we certainly are not 100% with that since he has gotten plenty of puree’s. We eat out a lot, though we try to make healthier choices when we go out… We visit Bruester’s Ice Cream more often than I care to admit and DS loves his tiny bites just as much as we love our big bites :-). We cloth diaper and EC, but use disposable wipes, and disposable diapers for travelling. We cosleep half the night, but DS falls alseep in his crib (next to our bed) every night and then he comes into our bed half way through the night.

    Cruchy? Sure a bit… Hippy? Sure a bit…. Momma? Yepp! 100%!!!

    Thank you so much for such a thought provoking blog. I know there have been times where I’ve wondered why other mommas make the decisions that they do (because my way is obviously the best ;-)…), but its important to have the reminder that what is best for me and my family isn’t necessarily what is best for other families.

  44. Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this post! One of the most daunting parts of reaching out to other Mom’s who might be like-minded, is that I’m just starting my crunchy journey so I sometimes feel like I’m not crunchy enough. Like if they see me with my Wendy’s frosty, they will kick me out of their club!!

    The other intimidating factor is that my first is not being raised like my second. There’s a twinge of guilt when I think about all the things I would and am doing differently this go ’round. I wonder if she will resent that I didn’t make the same choices for her as I am for her little brother. I can only hope that she understands that I did/am doing the same thing every parent does: making the best choices they can for the information and the resources they have. Adapt and survive.

    Anyway, it’s just nice to know that there are plenty of crunchy moms who get soggy in milk, be it cow’s or coconut!

  45. yay!!

  46. Staphanie says:

    If you ever do find a label for yourself, let me know. Because, it fits a lot of us! I am a military spouse who is a veteran myself, I have 4 kids 15 yrs- 5mos, I breastfeed ( because of about 40 reasons) I homeschool ( and I hate it half the time) we recycle ( because a hate throwing away stuff, not to save to planet .*gasp*) I clothdaiper (I am cheap) I don’t vax and don’t eat boxed food, But I miss the boat on many “crunchy” things… and a hate the judgement ( I want to scream get over yourselves ladies!) The only thing I can count on is to not fit IN.

  47. Excellent! Made my day!

  48. “There is no way to be a perfect mother. There are a thousand ways to be a good one.”

    This article is right in line with that. 🙂

  49. Great article.

    I was a Babywise mom, and I breastfed. Hubby and I even facilitated the classes — and I breastfed.

    Breastfeeding was important to me, and I was more crunchy than some of the BW moms I knew.

    And breastfeeding was so important to me, that’s why I’m now very vocal about the crud in Babywise. Yup, I was one of the typical moms who lost their milk supply around 4 months (so common with BW, but BW leads moms to blame themselves not the faulty bfing/routine info in BW.) But I couldn’t see at first that the scheduling was causing my supply problems. (And a whole other host of issues. . .)

    But, especially among breastfeeding moms and lactivists, Babywise is anathema. (And in reality, it should be.) Like you said, though, breastfeeding moms are breastfeeding moms. I think BW moms who are breastfeeding need extra support and information, but like you said, breastfeeding moms are diverse.

    • I find it very, very hard to reach dedicated BW breastfeeding moms. I’m so glad you can speak from your experience to them, I hope it helps. It makes a lot of sense that BW breastfeeding moms need extra support and information, their very parenting philosophy/style and approach makes breastfeeding more difficult. That said, they are breastfeeding moms and it isn’t my job to talk them out of their parenting choices but to empower them to find their own was of success. How wonderful that you can speak to that from personal experience.

      BTW, I’ve been reading your blog for ages. Thank you for coming by, I’m honored.

  50. This is a great read! It really created a definition for me. I always felt guilt about not beeing green enough and I’m breastfeeding, I should be perfectly green, but I’m not. Plus I even judged you when you said that you don’t have plastic toys and all that. I thought this is “that” woman – a “breastfeeder” that I don’t want to be associated with. Or I would judge other women when they wouldn’t breastfeed, but would be green to the point of craziness. I thought why are they trying so hard – they must feel guilty for not BF. I don’t know where I’m going with this I guess I just had to spell it out. How to get rid off steryuotyping and judging other people!!! Help!!

    • I’ve never felt breastfeeding was a “green” practice – just practical and less expensive! The hundreds (at least) of dollars I’ve spent on formula for my kids! But just remember that there are sometimes specific reasons – in my case, lactose intolerance primarily. I also know that some women need medications that their children shouldn’t be getting. I’m not perfectly green, but I know that in most cases, BM is healthier than formula. In MOST cases.

  51. Thank you for this wonderful blog. Love it!

  52. Oh MAN! This is fanTASTic! I’m right there with you on the disliking labels thing. I think if someone came up to me and said I “look like a breastfeeding mom,” I’d probably get really snarky and sarcastic. I hate, hate, HATE labels. Why does everything have to be categorized in our society?

  53. I agree with nearly everything you said, especially that our parenting is at its most effective when we avoid using blanket labels. The thing that troubles me is your statement that you don’t vaccinate. You not only put your kids at risk (there is pertussis in every community, measles is in many communities, etc.) but you also put other children at risk. Those of us who vaccinated our children know that it is not 100% effective and there are some children who cannot be vaccinated for documented medical reasons. We as a community are kept safe by “herd immunity.” There is no scientific data to support your position. There is significant scientific data to support vaccination.

    • We shouldn’t label or judge others for the choices they make. That child that has not been vaccinated will not affect your child in any way. Choice is beautiful. You have the choice to protect your child from potential deadly diseases, while others have the choice not to vaccinate and protect their child from harsh chemicals and potential mild to severe side effects. I choose both. Both were scary. So I decided what and when for my children. One at a time, starting at six months and all not necessary. Either way an educated decision is whats best for your child.

      • Well said. Thank you.

      • I, too, believe in choice, but I feel it necessary to correct what you said about how your decision not to vaccinate your child will not affect mine. There was a baby with pertussis in my son’s daycare. My son was old enough to have had the first dose of his vaccine. The baby with pertussis was under 3 months old and didn’t have the option to be vaccinated. That’s why all the people around her should have been vaccinated if they could have. Luckily, she survived, but she was in the hospital for about 3 weeks. That’s what is called herd immunity, referred to above. When a person cannot be vaccinated for some reason, they rely on the people around them not to bring that exposure to them. Even people who have been vaccinated are not completely immune, but are less likely to take it to all the people they have contact with.

        That’s not to deny the often very carefully thought out decision to decline or to delay vaccination. It’s just a reminder that the reason the CDC is involved in vaccination is because one person’s decision may affect an entire community. This is similar to the decision to recycle or use public transportation. It’s up to all of us to do our part.

  54. Beautiful article! I think there is definitely a presception out there that it’s an “all or nothing” situation when it comes to bfing. I am the mother of 4 and my parenting choices completely run the gambit. My first ds is circumcised the other 3 not, the 1st and 4th were born in hospitals the 2nd & 3rd weren’t, all were med-free births, we send our kids to private Catholic school but I’m still considering homeschooling when they’re older. We delay vaccines until age3, all coslept (although I hate it), I tried cloth diapering for a week and will never ever do it again. I don’t like to spank, but will admit I’ve done it, I let my children watch more tv than I should, and I am currently struggling with whether or not to try letting my 5 month old, who refuses to nap, cry it out. When it comes to bfing, when I was pregnant with my first I planned on bfing 1 year TOPS and realistically, 6 months, however, I fell in love with bfing. I bfed kids well into their preschool years, I tandem nursed when others came along and the previous one wasn’t ready to quit. My parenting choices and philosophy are constantly evolving (or some may say devolving) but I can say this for certainty I never changed my ways because someone criticized, belittled or berated me. I made choices based on what works for us and if that excludes me from someone’s club so be it! I think there are as many definitions of a “breastfeeding mom” as there are breastfeeding women.

  55. This is easily the BEST post on how we shouldn’t label each other as Moms on the basis of any ONE thing ever! Breastfeeding… or whatever else we happen to decide is the mot du jour!
    I also went to an LLL meeting, 9 years ago for me, and was totally freaked out by the fact that NONE of the women had babies and NONE of the women were nursing anyone! They were just more like a Mom’s Social Club who insisted that if you didn’t breastfeed, you were nuts. Talk about weird for a 20 yr old new Mom! Sheesh!

    Thanks for sharing from your heart on the matter. I couldn’t agree more!

  56. I love this article and hope to share with a lot of other moms across the spectrum of crunchiness or non-crunchiness!

  57. I love this! This just about sums up the way I feel about lots of things! Lots of people call me a ‘hippy’ but, I don’t really mind (although I’m sure actual hippies would probably be quite offended, as I am far from a hippy!) But, I do find the more you do things ‘naturaly’ the more of a ‘hippy’ you are seen as! I think its just a word thats chucked around really!

    I didn’t BF my first for long enough, he was 6 months when I stopped, I do feel incredibly guilty, more so because he now has intolerances, so I do like to pass my knowledge of benefits onto friends, but most are like blablabla, she’s off again! Never mind hey! I am still BFing my 15 month old, and its fab!

    Love your blog! Thanks for a lovely read!

  58. triskelion says:

    I really enjoyed this entry and will bookmark it to come back to. I definitely feel the same way about parenting labels. I am an exclusive pumper-I started because my daughter didn’t latch but I quickly realized bottle-feeding worked better for our family so we made the transition to elective EPing shortly after she was born and I’m considering not even trying to nurse future babies but EPing from the get-go. This is a choice that not a lot of people understand and I often feel it’s at odds with the communities that I share a lot of other parenting values with.

    • I had to do that with my first, and would have with my second if he hadn’t been lactose intolerant. My only gripe about it was I had clogged ducts about 3x per week after a few months and it hurt so much I eventually stopped about 2 months after going back to work. (Too painful to be effective at work and no time to unclog after I got home!) It worked for us, and allowed my husband to feel like he was participating in the cuddling and holding during feeding time, too. And he could take some 2 am feedings!

  59. bravo!

  60. This is probably the BEST article I’ve read in a LONG time! Thank you for this!

  61. Thank you! Wonderful post. No parenting style is all or nothing all families, parents, and kids are different, and what works for some doesn’t necessarily work for others. I have some mom friends who probably think I’m traumatizing my kid for life because we sometimes use time-outs. I have other mom friends who think I’m completely spoiling my kids because time-outs are a last resort, and most of our discipline problems are resolved in other ways. Some who think I must be in sane for letting my babies sleep in bed with me for the first few weeks, and others who think he will end up in therapy for moving him to his crib too quickly. But…we do what works for us. And that’s what all families do!

  62. Love it, love it, love it! A weight has been lifted and I feel very validated. It ultimately comes down to what you feel is right for you and your family regardless of outside pressure. If you’re doing something because that’s what you believe most breast feeding mothers are doing but it doesn’t feel right to you, don’t do it. Soon enough you’ll figure it out and become comfortable with your decision, whatever that decision is. Bottom line, if you feel breast feeding is important then breast feed, if you strip away all the unnecessary stigmas associated with breast feeding you will realize all you’re doing is providing life to your child. Great nutrition, amazing bonding experience and a sense of true satisfaction and accomplishment is just the icing on the cake.

  63. Holly B. says:

    Thank you for posting this. I lost a friend over her “all or nothing” attitudes. I couldn’t bear to listen to her put down all of the choices that weren’t the same as her’s and we drifted apart. I miss her friendship, but I don’t miss the negativity that came with it.

    • I haven’t lost friends over it, not in real life anyway, but I have online. Worse though, I’ve been told I shouldn’t be friends with people that don’t agree with me on everything or in every aspect of a particular parenting style by other people. I find that appalling. So sorry you lost your friendship, that’s very sad.

  64. Jennifer says:

    I feel the same way! I don’t feel I fit into a certain label, although I have become much more “crunchy” with each child. I breastfeed, cloth diaper/wipes, make some baby food, but I buy Gerber also, and can’t stand to have the baby sleep right next to me. I love the snuggles, but I wake up every 5 minutes to make sure I am not smushing him, so I get the worst night of sleep. With 3 kids I can’t afford too many bad nights.

  65. This is an awesome post! Very thought provoking. I had the Nestle dilemma last Easter because my son was given Milky bars. He was jumping up and down all he could see was that it was choc choc!! I decided to let him have the chocolate. It was my decision not to buy/consume Nestle products and it was unfair for me to choose for him when the gift was bought for him with good intentions. I will explain to him when he is older why I do not buy it and let him choose for himself.
    Thank you for widening the blinkers, sometimes when you are so involved with an idea and read articles and pages where everyone agrees with you on a subject such as breastfeeding you sometimes forget that there are alternatives and this does not make you better or worse it just shows how diverse we all are 🙂

  66. Please, please vaccinate your children. Diseases, like Polio that were once virtually extinct are returning because enough people are choosing not to vaccinate their children, and the horror stories about vaccinations leading to autism have been completely proven false, and the “doctor” who started the rumors is completely discredited. Other than that, nice article.

    • Thank you for your concern. However, I’m a little insulted that you imply that I haven’t done my research. I assure you I have. If you’d like to hear about that and engage in a respectful conversation on the topic I’m willing to do so but please don’t assume I did not carefully weigh the different risks involved from both sides. Nor that I made the decision based on one research, which, by the way, has not been “completely proven false…” or that doctor (legit) “completely discredited.” I made my decision to not vaccinate before I had ever heard there was a potential connection between autism and vaccines.

      Again, thank you for your concern, I appreciate it.

      • I honor and validate your decision not to vaccinate, as long as it isn’t based on the false link between autism and vaccines.

        I feel strongly enough about that statement that I will not put anything else in the same paragraph.

        However, that doctor has been stripped of his medical license, the journal retracted his article first linking autism and vaccines (based on a total of 8 children), and numerous studies have concluded that the rate of autism is no different in populations of children who have been or have not been vaccinated. If you would like to discuss the matter further, please let me know.

        • I feel anger rising when I read this . We all make choices or have made them in this regard and should be allowed to continue to do so. I chose not to vaccinate based on the research and evidence I found. When one meets parents whose children have been vaccine damaged one cannot just shove the facts under the carpet and deny that it ever happened.
          A scientific article I read stated that breast-feeding protects ( while being bf at least) the baby from all the childhood diseases and it fact negated the effect of the vaccination! I found the former to be the case and did not vaccinate my 3 daughters (now 24, 27 and 32) and there were no health problems as a result. Another bit of research shows a worrying side effect of vaccinating and that is that when these vaccinated ‘females’ begin breastfeeding they do not have those protective factor in their milk hence, I would summise, the reason for vacinating as soon after birth as possible! Poor babies!
          No longer leaky boobs,
          Thanks to all.
          Thanks

  67. I love it. I breastfeed, I parent using my instincts and what I feel is best for *that* child (yes, they both are different). I cloth diaper too. I recycle a lot, but sometimes, I throw things in the trash because it’s easier.

    I also LOVE my make up and my heels and will not live life without them. I wish more moms knew they can be awesome moms and look awesome in a cute pair of jeans and heels! We don’t have to be defined by labels!

    • We define ourselves! I too parent my children differently, consistent in some things but always taking into consideration their unique needs and personalities. Sure does keep me on my toes!

  68. I love this. I agree, and I felt like one of those moms for a while that was almost scared off because I couldn’t stay at home, or not vaccinate, or go all natural everything. I am a Mommy student worker, which means I am a full-time mommy, full-time student, and part-time employee. I breastfeed and supplement and am trying to build up a better supply to bf more. I have been through mastitis, three rounds of reglan, bad allergies, and fenugreek, but I am still gonna work on it, even though I eat hamburgers and french fries every now and then. Thanks for this post!

  69. Jessica, you rock. That was an amazing post and I hope you don’t mind if I share it. I find myself slipping into the mindset of having to fit into the “breastfeeder” package, with periodic moments of rebellion. I started out like you (actually quite a lot like you…my mother pushed the health food, we were homeschooled through 7th grade, my husband from 6th grade on). I worked full time, ate crap (still do sometimes), but I always knew I would breastfeed. I did. I had very few problems, thank God, but I had a great support system. That support system included my crisp-as-a-potato-chip crunchy mom, whom I alternately relied on and pushed away from. With my second son, I found myself aspiring to be my mom. I had a natural birth. I babywear. I’ve started to cloth diaper. While I did co-sleep for a few months with my ODS, the goal was always to get him out of the bed. This time I’m just going with it. I really appreciate your reassurance that I don’t have to be all-in or nothing when it comes to my parenting style.

  70. God, i’ve had the ‘You don’t look the type’. Erm….what is the ”type”??? A woman with breasts? Then yes,i am the ”type”. Also may i point out, you are to!?!?!

  71. Well written.

    So very true.

    I BF/don’t cloth diaper/recycle/am pseudo-crunchy and try SO DAMN HARD to make the right choices for us. It is sad that we are so stuck on labeling people and that breastfeeding is even an issue. In my brain it is such a no-brainer…though I don’t look down on people who don’t.

    Thanks for writing this all down, it is more true than ANYTHING I have read in a LONG TIME!!

  72. I L-O-V-E-D this post. Amazing. I am a mom of two little girls and I am a strong supporter of all things MOM. However I breastfed both of them past their first birthdays that’s about as “crunchy” as I get. I often feel like I can’t express my opinions on tlb because I am not “crunchy” and it is so fantastic to read this and know that other moms can agree with it and remind themselves to be more open minded about other parenting styles. I will continue to read and THANK you for your honesty and your openess. It is much appreciated!!

  73. You might be interested in our government’s ad campaign for the normalization of breastfeeding – there are some great tv ads too but I can’t find them!
    http://www.moh.govt.nz/moh.nsf/indexmh/breastfeeding-resources-magads

  74. marisela says:

    I am Mexican, and in my culture breastfeeding is normal and it is assumed mothers will breastfeed, if only for a few weeks. There is not a label attached to breastfeeding mothers.
    It was a bit if a culture shock for me when I started living in the US and realized it was different here. That thing you mention about going to LLL meeting and fitting in happened to me too. I appreciated all the BFing information but was distracted by everything else. I hope there comes a day when breastfeeding is completely normal in the US 🙂

    • marisela says:

      I am sorry, I meant “and not fitting in”.

      • Sorry you had a hard time at a breastfeeding support group. I assure you that it is a huge mix of moms there, most being in between one extreme and the other. La Leche league is up to date on current information and supports woman in their goal, if that’s 6 weeks or 6 years.it is your baby and your body, you know what is right for your dyiad.

  75. I don’t think anyone fits an exact mold. I myself do not for sure. I’m pretty green, I don’t buy paper products … except toilet paper (I can’t.do.family.cloth.eww). But am I affected if someone does? no.
    We need to remember that if our parenting is done from a point of education and love, we cannot do wrong, and what is right for one parent may not be right for another, and that’s totally ok! Thanks for putting the things i’ve been saying for years in a blog post to show others that compartmentalizing people is dangerous, and we never really ‘fit’ in only one area.

    Great post crunchy mama! 🙂

  76. OMG I love this! At one point it even made me tear up. You can’t put a label on any of us. Each one us is unique except in the fact we breastfeed our children. We should be united in this and we should strive to teach other women about how wonderful a gift breastfeeding is. I’m the first one to breastfeed in my family since my great grandmother and I came up against some harsh critics. Critics in my own family. But I stuck with my decision and I have actually changed the minds of a lot of those critics including my mother. Also unlike my mom I cloth diaper and co-sleep…sometimes. I am doing what I believe is the best thing for me and for my family. It is what we should all strive to do. And I for one am sick of other people telling me what I should and should not do. Butt out and take your labels with you!

  77. Jessica, I love this post and I can’t begin to tell you how much. I’m going to share it on Facebook, and send it to friends. Why? Because I’m a La Leche League Leader, with grown children, who has tried for over thirty years to welcome a variety of moms into LLL groups, and maintain LLL philosophy, which actually says NOTHING about baby wearing, co-sleeping, attachment parenting, or natural anything much. The most “natural” statement of philosophy we have is that a healthy diet is a variety of foods eaten in as close to their natural state as possible. There are ten points of philosophy, which are IDEALS and after reading your post I’m going to start reading the pertinent ones aloud at every meeting. I don’t want mothers to think that we won’t support them if they’re not crunchy, if they use bottles, if they feed jar baby food, if their babies sleep in cribs.
    I feel very bad to think of mothers like you who come to one LLL meeting and never return because another mom or moms (or God forbid, the Leader) got going on unmedicated childbirth or homeopathy or organic foods, or some topic that we don’t represent! I loved breastfeeding my babies (most of the time), I cooked healthy (some of the time), I actually wore Birkenstocks (but now I seldom do because I need my magnetic insoles), I didn’t shave my legs very often (because I couldn’t be bothered and I wore jeans), and I used to feed my homeschooling highschoolers Hamburger Helper for lunch. I sometimes buy organic now (always organic soy milk) and I stock up on Kraft Dinner (Mac and Cheese) whenever it’s on sale.
    I realize that being sixty, my breastfeeding hormones that made me stand up and roar have long gone. Now that I’m menopausal, I can still get excited over people doing things that I disagree with, but I’m developing manners. I really, really try to avoid the “OMG, you’re doing what with your baby?” kind of reaction. But really, what I want is for women to have the opportunity to experience breastfeeding, to get to the point that it’s a pleasant (mostly) part of their lives as mothers, a way to enjoy the babies they love. I’m not so picky on exactly how they go about this, not as I remember being when I was a brand new Leader with my own nursling. (Actually, two nurslings at one point, but mothers aren’t obliged to tandem nurse either. Just sayin’.)
    Breastfeeding is not all or nothing. It offers something for everybody, and I want to help moms tailor their breastfeeding to their needs. I know what hooked me: those two beady little eyes (VERY poor positioning) boring into mine, while the little mouth worked away, and then the little sighs of satisfaction and the “drunken baby” at the end. I know women will discover this if they are just given the chance. Thanks, Jessica, for making the choice to breastfeed available to so many women by letting them see that breastfeeding is not some kind of members-only club.

    Breastfeeding is not all or nothing. It offers something for everybody, and I want to help moms tailor their breastfeeding to their needs. I know what hooked me: those two beady little eyes (VERY poor positioning) boring into mine, while the little mouth worked away, and then the little sighs of satisfaction and the “drunken baby” end result. I know women will discover this if they are just given the chance.

    • Amen. And, while I am only 30, I am on my 3rd kid and I have realized that a lot of people with one baby under 18 months or so have a lot of opinions that may or may not stick around in a few years.

    • Helen, thank you so much for your kind words. I love this: “Breastfeeding is not all or nothing. It offers something for everybody, and I want to help moms tailor their breastfeeding to their needs.” So true and what I believe most breastfeeding advocates aim to do, I know I do! You and women like you have been such an important part of normalizing breastfeeding and empowering other women, thank you!

  78. Love this post. I actually blogged something similar this week too about the mom-labels and not fitting into one perfectly! I couldn’t agree more with this. I am a breastfeeder for sure, and do a couple other things that are considered “crunchy” but I do some things that are anti-crunchy too. I appreciate the fact that you don’t force anything onto people, or make them feel bad for their choices as parents/mothers. It is so common today for people to guilt other people into making the same parenting choices they have made, but it should not be that way! thanks for being a voice of reason! 🙂

  79. “You look like a breastfeeder.” What an interesting opinion. This post really did make me think of what boxes I might be putting breastfeeders into.

    On a slightly unrelated note, why do you avoid cartoon characters?

    • We avoid the heavily marketed trademarked characters for several reasons. It’s part of our philosophy to limit the amount of marketing aimed at children our own children experience in order to help them develop critical thinking of marketing at an appropriate developmental age. We also prefer open-ended play things to foster imagination and more creative play. That’s kind of the simple explanation, there’s a little more to it than that but that’s the basic idea.

  80. Loved this.

    Just this morning, I had a conversation about holistic veterinary care (I work at an animal hospital) and how some providers are SO….fanatical that any choice other than what they recommend/believe is the wrong way. Period. And basically, people who try to invalidate your choices, be it how you feed your baby or how/if you vaccinate or what sort of food you feed your dog, are very hard to like. I’ve always said to be wary of people who can’t see shades of gray.

    I too hated breastfeeding, I wrote a whole blog post about it here: http://greatwallsofbaltimore.blogspot.com/2011/01/what-to-do-when-you-hate-breastfeeding.html

    I breastfed both kids for almost a year each, despite not liking it, but it still pisses me off how so many lactivists and LC’s acted like I was a total freak for it!

  81. OMG I lovelovelove you! I enjoyed this article more than I can even say. We are a family of breastfeeders (my mom BF all of us, and my sister and I now BF our kiddos), but a lot of our other choices in life do not coincide with the “natural” lifestyle. I recycle, but that’s about it. My sis is pro-cs. Etc etc. Breastfeeding for us is just a choice we made, not insight into what kind of parent we are.

  82. Yes! Thank you so much! I am a breastfeeder, but EPed for almost 10 months with DD#1. I made her baby food, but didn’t know about BLW and my husband refused to allow cloth diapers in the house. Now, we cloth diaper her and plan on it for #2 due in July. We recycle as much as possible, I use mama cloth and the Diva Cup, drive a fuel efficent car. But, we also have a truck, I have a commute that ends up being over 100 miles a day, use sposies at daycare, feed our child and ourselves junk a lot of the time. I love finding out about more green options, but they are not always a good solution for us. I don’t fit into any mold and THATS OKAY with me. The older I get, the more natural things I want to do, for my family and for the environment, but it doesn’t always work out. Thank you for writing such a beautiful article that says that its okay. No one way is right and the more we can accept, the better off we will all be. We are all moms, we all love our children. What works for me might not work for you. Thank you!

  83. Oh the labelling game… I wrote a blog post about that a while ago, where I was described as Earth Mother and really objected to it because my parenting choices were not made on some principle but reflect personal preferences above all – and like you, no label describes the whole thing. Yes, I breast feed (though formula supplemented no.1 reluctantly), co-sleep and carry my baby a lot; I use cloth nappies mostly – but on many other tickboxes, I’m most definitely not an “earth mother”, really just an average mum, and I do all of these things not because I follow an approach but because it happens to be the stuff that suits me and the babes best.

  84. This post is AWESOME! What has gotten to me sometimes is the idea that it’s not just breastfeeding that’s important, it’s the whole idea of not introducing one single other thing until solids (and then you had better not introduce anything before six months and do baby-led weaning) that about drove me nuts. I had a baby with colic. I gave her gripe water. She spits up. If she had needed medicine for it, I would have gotten it for her. She ended up getting some formula at her 4 month appointment because my ped had me absolutely freaked out (was talking about hospitalization if we didn’t get her weight up). I felt I couldn’t talk to a lot of other breastfeeding moms because I don’t totally fit in. There’s a lot of my parenting I don’t talk about at all and it gets lonely sometimes. I do use cloth diapers but use disposables as well and would likely be using them full time if my friend wasn’t coming to my apartment twice a week, picking up the diapers, and WASHING them for me! I’m a mom of two kids and I’m SO far from perfect it’s not even funny. I don’t even try to put a label on myself because I simply do not fit neatly anywhere. And it’s hard because you almost have to have a label in order to fit in be it online groups or groups in real life. I swear, it’s worse than high school!

  85. Hallelujah amen! 🙂
    Absolutely awesome, and I totally agree!

  86. I left a long comment earlier and don’t know where it went.

    Anyway, I said that just this morning I had a conversation at the animal hospital where I work about how some holistic practitioners are so fanatical that they offend everyone that doesn’t see eye to eye with them. People that try to invalidate other people’s different choices are very hard to like. And I’m always wary of people who can’t see shades of gray, be it about breastfeeding or homeschooling or what food you feed your dog.

    I did not like breastfeeding, although I continued to do it for many reasons. I wrote a blog post about it a couple of months ago, and while I’m long since dried up, it still makes me angry that so many lactivist and LC’s made me feel like an abnormal weirdo freak for the way I felt.

  87. there is so much awesome here that I can’t even say. Also it sounds a lot like the blog post I posted today. And yeah, I hated my first sling 16 years ago. I thought the baby was going to fall out on her head and get brain damage. And I let her cry. IN her bed. Once. I had to. I was going insane. Truly. and yes the older (and wiser) I’ve gotten the crunchier I’ve gotten BUT as RN (L&D at that) and as a breastfeeding mother I don’t want moms to think that the only kids of breastfeeding mother is one that recycles and wear birkenstocks because mammals should nurse. All of them.
    Amen.

  88. Brittany C says:

    Thank you. You don’t know how much I needed to hear this.
    I think my “label” may be “transitional”. I’m pregnant with our 3rd child and trying to learn of a better way to feed and raise our kids. With my first pregnancy I was a single/teenage mom raising the way my mother raised: spanking, formula fed, fast food/packaged food, cry it out some nights, lots of independent play.
    After I was married and pregnant with #2 I decided to give breastfeeding a serious try. Unfortunately I crack under pressure and ended up formula feeding at doctor’s request. I have attempted relaction but son wasnt interested in the breast anymore. I have learned of baby wearing, and sometimes did it, but I also love my stroller when we are out (we have a heavy boy). I have tried to keep away from prepackaged food and feeding baby regular food as he has grown, but we also receive jar baby food from WIC so sometimes it gets mixed with his baby cereal.
    I’m a stay at home momma and would love to homeschool but I struggle with it. I have depression and being at home so much is really hard on me.
    I have always felt like guilty for the “bad” choices that I’ve made in my parenting style and I’m glad that I’m not the only one.

  89. I can see by the number of replies you have received that this is a hot topic! I am so glad you wrote it. I feel I am on the road to crunchy-dom, but it is gradual…seems like it is this way for a lot of us, huh? We learn by doing.
    What has disappointed me as a first time mom is how passionate I am about breastfeeding, yet the support groups I have found like La Leche League are full-on crunchy, and as I’m not there yet, I feel implicitly and explicitly excluded because I don’t also live on a farm in a DIY home with an outdoor bathroom down an unmarked road and grow my own vegetables and never shop at Walmart and wear only wool. I would LOVE to be a leader but because I am not crunchy enough, I feel I would not fit into our local group…even though I know moms that are not crunchy, or semi-crunchy like me, need to see models of, and have help from, breastfeeding moms from ALL walks of life.
    I need bravery.

    • I’ve thought about becoming an LLL Leader too (we don’t have it where I live). I think I’d have a lot to offer just from the experiences I’ve had.

      I’ve a couple friends who have been LLL Leaders (my late mother-in-law was one, I learned a few years ago) – and none of them were really crunchy. There is that stereotype, unfortunately, though. If you think you’d like to do it, I say – GO FOR IT! You wouldn’t be the only “less-than crunchy” Leader – and, while I have friends who have been leaders, I do also have friends who attended a meeting or two and felt they didn’t fit in. Someone like you would be a wonderful leader to help them see that breastfeeding isn’t a “label,” with a checklist to meet, but rather one aspect of parenting open to, as Jessica noted, “anyone with breasts that can lactate.”

  90. PS- I think you look great!

  91. This is pretty good. I am SO not green, other than the fact that we recycle, and I am SO not hippy/crunchy/organic. In fact, I love to eat at McDonald’s and I did sleep training with my child, but I BREASTFEED and I love it. This is my way of life and I’m sure that this same woman would’ve labeled me as a “bottle feeder” People need to get over appearances and labels. it’s a bunch of garbage!

  92. Stephanie says:

    Fantastic post! Also, very well written! I agree with all of it! I still cannot believe how ill received breastfeeding is in our society. Sickens me. I have a 4-year-old whom I breastfed until she was 7 months old and had to stop because I stopped producing. I am currently breastfeeding my 8 month old, and she does not want anything else! I’ve tried every type of baby food mixture you can think of and she refuses it all. I’ve even tried formula….she hates it! Now, am I frustrated? For sure. But I can definitely think of several other things I could be frustrated with instead. I know that I am doing what I think is the right thing to do and I don’t plan on stopping until she is ready, even if I am ready to be done! This post was very inspiring! Thanks again!

  93. Thank you.

  94. Agree with the other comments. What a great read! I’m a makeup and high heel wearing mum. I don’t breastfeed- the result of a surgery I had. And yet I in no way fit the label that is put onto many formula feeding mums… We co-sleep (bed share), I wear my daughter most of the day, we use cloth nappies & wipes, we have a veggie patch, make our own solid foods etc etc. I used to worry about what category of parenting I fit into as I don’t fit solely into any. So now I say that my style of parenting is “Whatever works for us”. We have a bit of attatchment, a bit of routine, a bit of demand and it works. Bottom line, I’m a mum, my husband is a dad and we have a family lifestyle full of love 🙂

  95. oh so true. I spent about 5 years helping breastfeeding women at local meetings, online and by phone. While I began my breastfeeding career as a newbie just looking for support, later I became a “little bit” militant in my breast is best approach. I was a babywearing, family bed, baby led weaning, never thought it would happen to me tandem nursing, beyond toddlerhood, green mama. As I have matured I began to realize that breastfeeding does NOT equal all of that. At one time I thought that if you did not have the WHOLE package you were not committed fully to breastfeeding. It took me a long time to realize that it is okay to try breastfeeding and not succeed for whatever reason. When I was at my most militant I recall saying some unkind things to mothers who did not or were not breastfeeding. I am horribly sorry for saying those things now. I can not even remember the words I used but I do remember the tone I took and it was a ‘holier than thou” tone. I have since those days adopted the stance that “one day is better than no day”. as far as far as breastfeeding is concerned.

  96. Teakitty says:

    I love this post. I love your writing in general actually. I love you, to tell the truth.

    Why? Because you seem to be made of love and compassion. Because you share so much of yourself, and give so much to the word through your blogs, gently supporting and encouraging, and… and you make me want to be a better human being, by showing me How To Be A Better Human Being.

    Because you make me feel like a better mom. I often feel judged for my choices, and for my failings. Sometimes, in all honesty, my most relentless and cruel critic is… me. When I read you, I often look back at myself, much more kindly, much more gently, and forgive myself for not being perfect. Then I find a little more energy to make a little more peace with myself for not *quite* being the mother I WANTED to be, or the mother my partner EXPECTED, or the “type” of BFing mom that many groups and forums seem to imply I SHOULD be, but simply the best mother I CAN be. Then I resolve to be a little kinder, a little more understanding, to myself, and to other mothers I know or will know in the future.

    Thank you so much. For this post, and for so many other posts. I would like to assure you that you really and truly ARE changing the world, and not only and how the world treats mothers, but how WE treat each other and even ourselves.

  97. I think what makes me sad here is that LLL moms have gotten largely categorized as only one type of breastfeeding mom. When I joined LLL when my son was a two month old it was the neatest group. Most of the moms were simply typical moms for our area, except that they were breastfeeding. Our group over the years had crunchy vegans, or vegetarians, but it also had moms who fed their kids Oreos and McDonalds (like me some of the time). Our current group of moms is really no different. Some of them are pretty green, many of them cloth diaper, some had home births, but others happily had hospital births or still occasionally feed McDonalds. My daughter’s group is “crunchier” but they live in a city with lots of “crunchy” people. To look at her you’d never know that she’s environmentally conscious, because she’s also pretty fashion conscious and wouldn’t step out the door without makeup. She’d no more go somewhere with unshaved legs than she’d go with unbrushed teeth.

    I dressed no differently than my bottle feeding friends, but I did homeschool my kids, and I did basically attachment parent, although my son had a crib and we used a playpen, and I used a stroller more than the baby carrier once the baby hit 14 pounds. I never wore Birkenstocks because I couldn’t afford them (although I did wear knock offs from Zayres).

    I’m a LLL Leader who’s currently sitting here eating Schwan’s frozen pasta shells with jarred sauce and garlic bread from the store because someone else made dinner tonight. I fed my kids sugar, and even hot dogs and I never got drummed out of the organization because of it. I know how to bake bread and make yogurt, but I don’t do it all the time. I’ve offered support and encouragement to moms who only wanted to nurse for 6 weeks as well as to moms who nursed to nearly 6 years.

    Last year a speaker at a conference made it clear that she thought that LLL moms were all upper middle class soccer moms (I suppose with a crunchy bent). In fact, in our group they happen at the current moment to be mostly WIC moms. I certainly know LLL moms who fit the crunchy soccer mom pattern, but I also know LLL moms that you’d never guess ever darkened the door of a LLL meeting. One of the things we tell moms at our meetings is that they should take from the meeting those things that work for them. We’ve offered encouragement to moms who weaned early, who’ve encouraged their children to sleep alone, or who sent their kids to nursery school as well as to moms who weaned late, still had a family bed when their kids were 6 and who homeschooled (and believe it or not mixes and matches of those things too).

    There isn’t a single model for homeschooling parents or family bed parents either. My nephew and his wife have a family bed and except for the first two weeks with their first child have formula fed. I’ve known homeschooling parents who believed in spanking, kids in their own beds, and strict schedules.

    I think the bottom line is that we are all individuals and to attempt to overly categorize people is not all that helpful. I would also remind people that LLL was started by a bunch of suburban moms, some of whom bottle fed their earlier children. The crunchiest thing they probably did was to eat whole wheat bread and yogurt. They looked like every other mom in their neighborhood, they sent their kids to school, at least some of them had hospital births, and they didn’t nurse until kindergarten. LLL philosophy doesn’t demand homeschooling, family bedding, home birthing, or vegetarian lifestyles. Some groups may seem to lean in those directions, but if you really look at what LLL philosophy says it doesn’t require any of those things. LLL is about good mothering through breastfeeding. There is certainly support for things like unmedicated childbirth, and baby led weaning, but there are moms like me who’ve never had an unmedicated birth (due to complications), and moms who had a gentle mother led weaning (as I did with my first). Don’t assume that all LLL groups are composed of homebirthing mothers who cloth diaper, don’t vaccinate, and feed their kids sesame stick candy (my own kids wore disposables at least some of the time, got all their shots and ate Skittles and M&M’s). Some groups may be that homogeneously crunchy, but others are much more eclectic like, well like the group I’m still with where the snack of the day for the meeting is occasionally Dunkin Donuts Munchkins and the crunchiest thing you’ll see is me sitting there knitting away on a sock while participating in the discussion.

  98. Marianne says:

    BRAVO!!! I, too, started out as “just a breastfeeder”. I had a full-time job, and sent my daughter to daycare. We ate out more often than not and, when we ate at home, it was most likely something from a box. It never even entered my mind not to breastfeed my daughter, though. Even when she was started on formula in the NICU, I continued to breastfeed. She was supplemented with formula for the enitre two years that I nursed her and she survived it just fine. Had I known better at the time, I wouldn’t have allowed them to give her formula but, having had her in the hospital (and by unwanted c-section), I felt the need to go along with whatever “they” said I should do. Since she was born, I have gradually become more and more crunchy. In a community where curbside recycling is not even the norm, I make my own compost, bake my own bread, and plan to homeschool my kids. I, too, have been told that I “look like a breastfeeder”…

    Thank you for posting this for all of us who don’t fit into any molds 😀

  99. Thanks for this article.
    I used to think a lot in black in white, I was green, vegetarian, looked like a hippie and so on. I now live on a farm, grow an organic garden… and raise free-range chickens that we eat, along with other locally-raised meat. I don’t think I look so much like a hippie anymore, even if I wear muddy rain boots more often than heels! When I was pregnant, I planned for a home-birth and read about attachment-parenting and instantly bought into co-sleeping. Turns out it was a good idea to get a few carriers because my son hated the stroller…but after 5 months of co-sleeping, we realized that everybody in the family got a better sleep when the baby was in his own room. I thought I wouldn’t let any plastic toy get into my son’s reach, but the reality is that everybody gives us plastic toys and even if I don’t like that, my son has been putting them into his mouth.
    Now, I definitely think in shades of gray rather than black and white. And I don’t think that any parenting-style can work for all children and all parents. The best lesson I have learnt as a new mom was to trust my parenting instinct, to get to know my son and meet his needs the best that I can.
    He is almost 17 months and still breastfeeds because it works for both of us. When my step-sister stopped breastfeeding her 6 months old son, my mom told her that I wouldn’t agree… I was angry at my mom to say such a thing: this is none of my business and I am glad she breastfed for as long as it worked for her. Why would I have anything to say about her breastfeeding relationship? My step-sister is a terrific mom and her decision to stop breastfeeding doesn’t change my opinion. Even if I decided to breastfeed longer doesn’t mean that I think everybody should do the same. Let’s stop being judgmental towards each other. Let’s parent our kids with our instinct and let other parents do the same!

  100. Acrophile says:

    Brilliant post. Thank you for writing this. It’s beautiful and should become LLL Gospel!! I cross labels and feel alone in many ways because no one else is close to the combination that I am as a parent. It’s hard to get close to any other moms because no one wants to reveal their deviations from what they are expected to be. Including me. But here I am. I am a breastfeeding mom, with my third child on the way, successfully nursed one of them to 27 months and the other is still going at 26 months. BUT, weaning was mom-directed, though VERY gradual. I am a co-sleeping mom, BUT transition from our bed and room were parent directed but very gradual (the second is just about to begin that transition now). We eat a lot of good, fresh food, BUT we can’t really afford to go organic. AND we do eat more than our fair share of convenience/box food/fast food. The children get healthy snacks AND junk, but only small amounts of the junk. We DO vaccinate (I was WAY too sickly a child and I DO believe in “herd immunity” and it needs vaxed families for it to work AND I have known children and adults who ran across unvaxed kids and got sick enough to be HOSPITALIZED because of it!), but we do not medicate at the drop of a hat. We do not spank, but we do give consequences, and do (shamefully) occasionally yell. We do recycle just about everything recyclable, but we seldom take our own shopping bags. But we do reuse, reuse, reuse, LOTS of plastic shopping bags! We have quite a few character toys, clothes and many toys are plastic, BUT we do try to have lots of OTHER materials for play as well, and our children play with dolls and trucks and kitchens and workbenches and dressup and train sets. We have no intention of letting our girls dress like “little divas” (to be as clean and polite as possible for something tha reeeeeally burns me up) nor our boys like little gangstas. I wanted to homeschool but I know I can’t handle it, so our children will go to school (especially because our older one does NOT want to learn from me!). I consider myself a “lactivist” because I am very very enthusiastic about breastfeeding and I get reeeeally bent-out-of-shape when BFing moms are criticized for nursing in public, BUT I think we should be gentle in handling relations with non BFing moms. So there i am.

  101. Thank you for such an honest and informative post. I also dislike labels.

    As a La Leche League Leader, I am sad to see the criticism of LLL, but it has given me some ideas about how to better serve moms in my community.

  102. You deserve a Pulitzer for this post! Amen! So true. I feel like I am a middle of the road mom: I am not extreme in anything related to my baby, other than how much I love her. This post is so well written. I wish all moms had the same attitude with regard to each other’s parenting choices.

    • Wow, what a compliment, thank you! Maybe we can help more moms to see this. Often I think we find people are judgmental and pushing their choices and their lifestyle as part of looking for validation and assurance. Other times it’s just that they really want to be right, LOL! Either way, hopefully we can grow more and more supportive as time goes by, undisturbed by our differences.

  103. Hear, hear from a breastfeeding, full time working outside the home, pumping and hating it, babywearing, never once co-slept, not afraid to let my baby fuss, urban mom with a fully vaccinated baby born by emergency C-section.

  104. Perfect!

    I think you’re exactly right.

    (and to me that fact that you look smart, makes you look like a breastfeeding mom to me!)

  105. Nicole Howard says:

    wow…talk about hit the nail on the head. My feelings exactly!! I actually unsubscribed to a “conscious parenting” group on yahoo because I was driving myself insane trying to keep up to all the labels they had. I was feeling so guilty that i wasn’t doing all the things they did. I breastfed, check, but I wasn’t getting the hang of babywearing, uncheck. I co-slept, check but I had a love-hate relationship with it uncheck. I had a home water birth, check. but my two older boys were circumcised, uncheck. I cloth diapered, check but didn’t use only hemp, wool or bamboo, uncheck. And don’t even get me started on all the homeopathic, garden growing, natural food eating stuff that I wasn’t doing…I mean, what the heck is kombucha anyway??? I finally realized that I was doing my best. And yes, it was different than my first two…but I was in my very early 20s with my first two and now, I am 39 and am so much more confident, at ease and knowledgeable…and so my best is good enough. Your post just strengthened that feeling a hundred-fold. Thank you!

    • Not only is your best good enough, it’s actually perfect for your family! No matter what choices you make and what you’re able/not able to do you are the right person to be parenting your kids, flaws and all. That’s true for just about all of us!

  106. Christina says:

    Oh this article makes me love your work even more! I can see myself varying in the ranges of all the items you mentioned… Thank you!

  107. Love it! I agree, I don’t like labels nor fit into one. But I do think I would have said to the comment of looking like a BFing mom, “thanks, I must look smart then.” as women who BF look smart to me.

    Baby #1 BF and co slept until four. #2 BF and slept in crib from day one. Scared to vaccinate and scared not to. So my own schedule. Started at six months, one at a time and not all of them. We eat healthy but eat the junk too! Don’t recycle, but take reusable bags all the time. Don’t know what to do with all the plastic bags. Homeschooling but don’t want to. Just until a better option is available. Pregnant with third baby. Would love a home birth in water but scared to. Would like to use cloth diapers but a little grossed out. Co sleep? Or crib? We’ll see, depends on baby. But one thing for sure I will breastfeed! Love to have the freedom to choose. And I admire other moms who make educated decisions and do things differently or the same. We are all under the label of MOM!

    • When my husband and I talked about that exchange he said I looked like a breastfeeder because I look smart. Personally I couldn’t say that though because I wouldn’t want to imply that smart people breastfeed and, um… stupid people formula feed? Yeah, it just makes me uncomfortable, LOL!

      All the decisions we face in parenting are so difficult. Sometimes it feels like damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Having the freedom to choose is a wonderful thing, learning how to relax and enjoy it can be difficult though!

  108. Oh, Jess, I love your honesty! I love your theory that ALL women with babies should “look like a breastfeeder” because breastfeeding is the biologically normal next step after a baby is born. And I love that you say moms who choose not to breastfeed do so for a multitude of reasons, because I agree that is the truth and it’s our job as breastfeeding support people to help change those aspects of our culture that make breastfeeding seem like NOT the optimal/normal choice for any family (medical issues notwithstanding but even some of those can be overcome with support).

    It saddens me to read that some mothers felt as you described about La Leche League. In my time as a LLL Leader, it’s been very clear to me (and I’ve attempted to express) that LLL does NOT mix causes … La Leche League is about providing mother-to-mother (NOT healthcare professional to mother — that’s for IBCLCs and doctors/nurses) support for breastfeeding.

    What complicates things, perhaps, is that many of the other things you mention sometimes (but clearly, not always) come with breastfeeding — for a lot of mothers, sharing sleep with baby facilitates the best breastfeeding relationship. Wearing her baby might help a busy mother facilitate adequate feeding cues and leave her hands free for her other children. A lot of the nutritional and healthcare decisions that seem lumped in with breastfeeding are just cogent with things breastfeeding represents — normal, instinctual, holistic, pure. Of course breastfeeding doesn’t exclude other choices, but families that make the commitment to breastfeed will often not see “the other stuff” as too big a jump. It might be that, because breastfeeding successfully in this country is seen by many as an act of “extra credit,” those who do breastfeed often hold and project an entire lifestyle philosophy, which motivated them to breastfeed in the first place. But, yes … the choice to breastfeed itself doesn’t automatically require anything other than simply breastfeeding, and it’s wonderful that you’ve blown open that discussion with this post!

    Now that I’m an IBCLC and I’m present in my community as a breastfeeding advocate, I, too, encounter people who just expect that I’m going to hold certain attitudes about certain practices or pass specific judgements on specific behaviors. They’re audibly surprised when they discover that my only intent is to share information and tools so that they can make the decisions that work best for them and their families. Sometimes that means thinking outside of the cultural box so that breastfeeding has a better chance at working out.

    Thank you for sharing such thought-provoking commentary!

    • Diana, you are always so beautifully spoken, well, written, in your thought provoking posts. “It might be that, because breastfeeding successfully in this country is seen by many as an act of “extra credit,” those who do breastfeed often hold and project an entire lifestyle philosophy, which motivated them to breastfeed in the first place.” Love this, I think you’ve addressed a very crucial part of the problem.

      I should say that my subsequent interactions with LLL were varied. While I must admit that I’ve never gone to another meeting, I have quite a few friends that regularly attend their LLL meetings and several that are leaders. One that is so mainstream I almost didn’t believe she was a leader. All of them are wonderful and showed me that LLL was for all women seeking breastfeeding support and community, they are all across the spectrum themselves in terms of parenting styles. Mom-to-mom peer support is crucial and what I’m all about. I recognize that different groups will take on the culture of the people that are drawn to it.

      Babywearing and co-sleeping do often seem to go with breastfeeding simply because of the convenience factor. When a mom sets out to do those (and other) things because of a parenting philosophy then she’s an empowered mom. When a mom sets out to do those things to find balance and make her life easier, she’s an empowered mom too. When a mom feels those things don’t work for her and as a result she doesn’t fit into the breastfeeding support community then even if she is an empowered mom she’s not finding the genuine breastfeeding support and community she needs. It’s when we see that happening that we must realize we’re turning breastfeeding into a parenting style. Hopefully we can continue to discuss this reality, finding ways to authentically support breastfeeding women no matter what other choices they are making. You already have done a lot in that direction and model this in your own life. Something I respect so much. Thank you.

  109. It was so fun reading this, it made my inner ADD kid come to the surface.

    I don’t think I’ve EVER fit any particular label. If we fit a label, we would be the label. But we’re each individuals and for that I am thankful. And frustrated because sometimes I find myself wishing more people would think similarly with me. Then I get mad at them and then I get mad at myself for getting mad at them… It’s so horrible. But that’s me. I guess we’re all a bunch of a-holes. But that’s another label. And not everyone fits that. Democrats, republicans, green party, MY PARTY. Nobody completely agrees with me and no argument is really perfect or else nobody would argue about the issue.

  110. Although, I AM a breastfeeder. Thank you for that term. I’m gonna go boob my child and remind myself that I’m a breastfeeder.

  111. I am sooo glad I read this. I EP and some moms just look at me weird. I go to LLL meetings too. It wasn’t my 1st choice to pump but it happens to be how it worked out. I am so glad I have TLB and so much support and no labels! I may not be breastfeeding the “typical” way but it is still considered breastfeeding.

    • EPing takes an incredible amount of commitment, way to go being able to stick it out so long! I admire you.

    • Hey Jeni, nice name! 🙂 I just wanted to say that I EP’d for my daughter until she was a year old. It was also not my first choice, but we just couldn’t make feeding at the boob work. I completely agree that EP’ing is still breastfeeding. I just wanted to encourage you to stick with it, till you meet whatever goal you have set! It felt so good to make it to a year, which was my goal. And if you haven’t found it already, there is an exclusively pumping support forum on iVillage. http://forums.ivillage.com/t5/Exclusively-Pumping/ct-p/iv-ppexcluspump I found so much helpful info at that site. Good info from other EPing moms. 🙂

  112. I really like what you’ve said in the post.

    I’ve gone from one extreme (hospital and all it entails short of a c-section), vaccination, controlled crying and then my child got sick and then 7 months later she unexpectedly died. With my second child I decided I would do as many things differently as I could. Not because I was following any “style” of parenting, but more because I didn’t want a repeat situation, no matter how illogical it might have been to think that way. So now, my child is still breastfeeding (almost 3 years), co-sleeping, unvaccinated, sees a homeopath on a regular basis and we are planning to homeschool (I didn’t get into baby carrying, I like the pram).

    I’m angry that there weren’t more Mums speaking out about their alternate ways of parenting when I was pregnant with my first child. There are already sufficient voices for the “mainstream” way of doing things – doctors, government agencies, and nowhere near enough people sharing their experiences with treading a different path. Maybe if I had heard about these other ways, I wouldn’t have just “fallen” into what I now perceive to be the “unthinking” way of proceeding with childbirth and parenting.

    So while I appreciate the concept of separating breastfeeding from a particular style of parenting not to scare women off from giving breastfeeding a good go, I do really believe it’s important for mothers (and fathers) to share their alternate experiences, otherwise we are equally doing a dis-service to new parents by not exposing them to alternatives that could actually be more beneficial to the mental and physical health and well-being of their child.

  113. I’m sharing this on Facebook! I could have written this post word for word…we’re a lot alike…and I hate labels too!! While I do most of those things that fit into the “crunchy” category I also think that “all or nothing” mentality could be scaring new Mom’s from breastfeeding. Bravo on the well thought out, excellently written post!

  114. I love it. I know I’ve had many judgements that I kept to myself and than god too. Now a mom of three, I have realized how almost all of them were wrong in some way. I think when something works for you it’s hard to understand why it won’t for others so you want to push your opinion in them.
    We should just support, share your own story, and be listen to others.

  115. Two words.

    Thank You.

  116. Just wanted to say that I LOVE this article!!!! Thanks 🙂

  117. This is the most wonderful post ever! Thank You! Will share with my colleagues.

  118. Best article in support of breastfeeding, hands down. Thank you for writing this!

  119. Almost Mommy says:

    Thank you for this post. Truly. I am pregnant and getting advice from absolutley every angle on what to eat, what not to eat, vitamins, no vitamins, birth plans, co-sleeping, breastfeeding and all that jazz. This article truly calmed my spirits. I love this little bean beyond words already and I can’t wait to discover our OWN journey. Not to say I can’t learn from those that have gone before, but there’s something magical about learning and defining ones own parenting style. So much more fun! Thank you for being so honest and respectful at the same time! kudos!

  120. I love this! I live somewhere in the middle… a little crunchy, a little bit trendy, a little bit conservative even (gasp) on certain subjects. However, my mommy friends are all over that spectrum. It makes me crazy when one of them makes another feel like less of a mother because they make different choices. I am sure that on a few occasions I unfortunately may have even come off this way to someone. We all have to do what works for our family…. which is different for everyone. I am sharing this post with everyone I know!

  121. Yes, yes, and YES! Passionately written for a place of both head and heart. Thanks for this.

  122. Mary Stevermer says:

    Great photo and great article.

  123. I’ve never commented on your blog before, although I am a somewhat frequent reader. However, this post really resonated with me. I am just crunchy enough that most of my friends are natural parenting advocates, and sometimes… eh, a LOT of times, I feel left out.

    I really struggled to breastfeed my daughter. So much so that nearly a decade later, I feel guilty about it, as though my inability to breastfeed somehow makes me less of a mother. Maybe not a bad one, but LESS of one, somehow.

    And now, with my second child due to arrive any day, I find myself filled with a sense of panic. I think I have better support now, and better information, and definitely a better understanding. But I still worry about failing, because in its own way, breastfeeding has become such a high pressure choice that it seems like failure is not an option. Otherwise, I might just lose my crunchy mom card.

    I think it’s sad that we’ve come so far past the place where breastfeeding is just the norm. Now, now matter what else you do, it IS a label. And it shouldn’t be. Excellent, excellent post. Thank you.

    • I, too, struggled and failed to breastfeed both my kids, and I feel like less of a mother for it. I have heard of women who were unsuccessful with one and completely successful with others, so best of luck to you! I definitely looked for more support with the second and might have been successful if he hadn’t been lactose intolerant.

  124. I have such mixed feelings about this post.

    My first was relief. Relief that someone who is a “lactivist” is saying this.

    And then I read the comments and realize that so many others don’t get it. So many lactivist think that if they “gently” push their agenda or if they use big words to push their agenda, that it’s still fundamentally ok to push one way of parenting as the “RIGHT” way.

    But I think that’s the next part of this conversation….until we can each accept that other ways of parenting are ok and most other parents are just doing the best they know how…..we are hurting other women.

    I evolved in my parenting from uber-crunchy know-it-all to fairly-soggy don’t-know-nothin’ and you know what? You can’t look at any of my three kids and tell anything about my parenting choices. You can’t pick out the one who was breastfed, the one who was homebirthed, the one who was cloth diapered, the one who I never ingested caffeine with while pregnant, the one who delayed solids till 8 months, the one who slept with me till age 2.

    12 years into my parenting journey and I see the next generation of enthusiastic first time crunchy mamas having the same eye opening experiences I did and realizing how great breast feeding is. It’s so cyclical……….and with the internet making it so easy to be mean, I wonder if it’s going to get better.

    I’m a jaded failed breast feeder, though. After being turned away by LLL, my midwife, and failing BFing for the second time with my 3rd child, I was told by lactivists that I should have my child taken away from me because I was such a sub standard mother. And I know if those women read this, they would just pick it apart and spout all the reasons why you are wrong. They are out there. And they are LOUD. The women who NEED to read this won’t. And that makes me sad about the whole issue.

  125. Christin says:

    Amen and Amen and Amen and Amen and Amen.

    I’m a LLL Leader and I’m often afraid I’m going to be FOUND OUT because I pretty much agree with everything you say here. I want to give mothers some information and support so they can breastfeed if they want. Period. I don’t really care who you are or how you parent or if you work or don’t work. I just hate it when mothers don’t breastfeed due to lack of information and/or support, so I figure that’s something I can help with.

    Really great post, and really crazy that coming out and saying things that (I think) should be so obvious and “normal” is such a revelation to read!

  126. I avidly follow your blog, but have never commented, and I just wanted to send you some love. I live in a community where the labels=attachment parenting, and I’m often afraid that I’ll get called out/shunned for some of the choices I make for my family. It shouldn’t be like that. AP at it’s finest, is NOT about labels. It’s about a connection, understanding, and respect- however you get there, is fine with me.

  127. Bravo!

  128. L-O-V-E this!! Baby #1 and I’m still a BFer at 9 mos. But since I’m one of those 2% of women who actually don’t produce enough milk, we supp. with formula and my child is perfectly happy and healthy and spastic as a 9 month old should be. I used cloth diapers until we moved and lost the support of a diaper service – and I’m sorry, but who has time to work 2 jobs and wash cloth diapers at home. We don’t buy branded character toys or clothing but we watch disney movies all the time. I make her food at home or buy organic but every now and then she shares my klondike bar.

    I think its all about balance… and not just what someone else says is balance… but the balance that’s right for you.

    You go girl!

  129. Catherine says:

    Thank you for this wonderful perspective! Mothers can be so critical of each other, and it’s true — we’re all just doing our best!

    For the record, I am a Christian, conservative, pearl-wearing study in contradictions that shouldn’t be. I had a medically necessary classical c-section, but my midwife was by my side the whole time. I used cloth diapers, but I vaccinated. I say no to television, but pop music plays in the car. My daughter slept in her own room as soon as she came home from the hospital (after six weeks in the NICU.) And I was never able to breastfeed my baby, due to surgeries, feeding tubes, etc — but because it was important to me, I pumped non-stop and gave her breastmilk for 15 months, until my breast started bleeding and my midwife said it was probably a sign to stop. And like all of you, I’m just trying to do the best I can.

    Your article should be given to every new mother. 🙂

  130. Well said!!! Bravo.

    Thanks for putting it out there like you did. I hate molds. We all need to be free to be ourselves, free to continue to grow in knowledge regarding our families and free to make the choices that works for each one. You said it SO VERY WELL! Thank you.

  131. Love this.

    I had *all* sorts of ideas about how I would birth and parent, etc until I actually had my first child. He was born all naturally, but in a hospital (cuz I just wasn’t ready for a homebirth), after a marathon labor and I felt like a superstar for proving all the nay-sayers wrong. I was going to keep him in bed with us until he was 9mos but co-sleeping nearly drove me insane. As soon as I moved him down the hall I started sleeping again and we were a much happier family.

    I thought I would nurse him for at least a year. Then we had a miscarriage when he was 7 mos; when we were pregnant 2 mos later I weaned him – just to be safe. I *almost* felt like a failure for that. When my BP went wacky in the last few weeks of pregnancy the doctors (abroad) told me we had to do a C-section right then. There goes my natural birth! But you know what? She was healthy and so was I. I was sure I would nurse her for at least a year. But that grand plan was brought to a screeching halt when my son was diagnosed with T1D and I had to spend a week with him in a hospital away from her.

    I gave up cloth diapers just after he was diagnosed because I couldn’t deal with one.more.thing. But you know what else? we all survived that too.

    I was sure my children would never drink soda – or at least it would be a rare treat. But Coke Zero has zero carbs so when my little T1D needs a snack that I don’t want to administer insulin for – it’s pretty likely he’ll get CZ.

    We are all just doing the best we can and the truth is we don’t have any idea what the mom on the receiving end of our judgments is dealing with or trying to handle. It’s all very humbling really. So rock on sister! Keep up the good work.

  132. This is so true!! I think breastfeeding can be a gateway to attachment parenting (it was for me), and more natural parenting (which is not attachment parenting …. People mix these together too)…. But it doesn’t have to be so! I am definitely in the middle: I breastfeed forever, still co sleep with my almost 4 year old DD and my 7 month old son, I wear my baby, did not circumcise him, and we practice positive parenting. I also just returned to my teaching job, where I pump for baby. My husband’s work is freelance so he is usually able to be at home with the kids. If we could do something about benefits, I would stay home in a heartbeat. Except for work and a yoga class once a week, I don’t leave them. If they aren’t invited, I’m not coming, lol. But, I don’t cloth diaper ( have a stash, tried it with DD, couldn’t get hubby on board), I make some baby food, but give him a lot of organic Gerbers, we eat meat, and French fries, and gasp… Cows milk. My daughter haas Ellios pizza for lunch probably twice a week… And we all have a serious Chick Fil A addiction too! (for some reason I cN justify that and it seems way better than McDonalds, which we never do). We have our local pizza place on speed dial. My DD goes to Montessori preschool now, but truthfully we won’t be able to afford it for kindergarten or beyond, so unless I find a way to stay home, she’s public school bound. We recycle, but it is a pain. Oh, and we vaccinate…on schedule. Except for chicken pox… Not sure about that one. And we all skipped the flu shot this year. We also have more plastic bells and whistles toys than I can count. And we have a baby swing. And I sometimes actually put my son in it, for shame. But only when he is sleeping, so I can maybe put a dish or 2 away or read with DD.

    I think we all do what we are led to in parenting. Breastfeeding should be the norm, not the fringe thing, even though it may take you there 🙂

  133. I *LOVE* this post. I am a little of this, a little of that too. I think most people are. This is just the best thing I’ve read on parenting in a long time. Thank you for this!

  134. You almost lost me at the beginning with: “Green as in… crunchy. As in environmentally aware and “natural.” As in we use cloth napkins and cloth diapers, have home births and don’t vaccinate.”

    I really don’t like it when “not vaccinating” is lumped in with the other “green” things. It’s something which almost drives me out of natural parenting sites.

    Then I thought about it, and realised that this is what you’re talking about (just with breastfeeding not vaccination choices). I shouldn’t feel excluded from natural parenting choices because upon doing the research and understanding the science it’s my belief that vaccination is a modern miracle. I would never consider not vaccinating my children. But we cloth diaper, try to be environmentally friendly, eat naturally, co-sleep, own several baby carriers etc. etc.

    So why do they all get lumped together… ?

    • You’re exactly right, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. And really, it can apply to SO many different choices we have to make, it’s really not just about breastfeeding. Why do we lump anyone? We should just find people we connect with share what we have in common, respectfully discuss what we don’t have in common and support each other any way we can. You absolutely shouldn’t feel excluded from green parenting, natural parenting, or anything else just because you don’t fit something people assume when that label is thrown around. It’s true, as Diana said, that some of these things tend to lead to the others because of common philosophies but it doesn’t make them requirements. And philosophies are great but nobody ever agrees completely on how to apply them to real life.

      I don’t really feel out of place anywhere. When I’m in a setting where most people would vaccinate (which is, honestly, most of the time) IF the subject comes up I either move on to a topic I am more comfortable discussing or I state my choice in a personal and respectful way and let it go. I won’t engage in conversations that I can tell would just be about trying to convince me I’m wrong, I don’t do that to people and I don’t want them to do that to me. If there is curiosity expressed and they just want to know and are genuinely curious then I will share. I don’t want to let having a different opinion and making different choices that are truly personal choices end relationships. There is usually so much more in common than not!

      Good luck to you, I hope you find the support and community you need whatever choices you make.

      • Thanks.

        But I think there is a difference with the vaccination choice. As far as I know no-one (any more at least) chooses not to breastfeed because they erroneously think formula is better for their baby. The science is clear – breastfeeding is better, and formula provides an invaluable safety net for babies who don’t have access to breast milk.

        For me, science also motivates a lot of my other parenting choices. Babies clearly need their parents (especially Mum), so co-sleeping, baby wearing etc. are obvious. And the choice to minimize our impact on the planet, for me is also motivated by the clear science of climate change, and lack of substainability.

        But it is hard to understand why people choose not to vaccinate once you understand the science and realise how much of a life saving innovation vaccination is. There’s so much misinformation and incorrect science out there around this issue that I do honestly feel the need to try re-educate. Perhaps that’s not appropriate in a social setting, and OK I am assuming I understand the science better than others which might be a bit egotistical too….. but I’m trying to explain why you get that reaction.

        I had avoided asking, but I am curious – since you seem so reasonable and well considered in your parenting choices. Why did you choice to not vaccinate? If it will help you respond rather than walk away I will promise that I won’t use your response to start a debate here – I will walk away just having learned something about what you chose and why.

        • Not to get into a huge debate… but these are a few of the reasons I don’t vaccinate. Reason 1… I worked in a pharmacy. Both my bosses at the time were highly educated, moderately healthy individuals. Neither of them took prescription ANYTHING for starters. One even had VERY high cholesterol but refused to take meds for it. He instead chose diet and exercise… and resolved the problem on his own. So that just goes to show, even a pharmacist wouldn’t use pharmaceuticals. Neither of them believe in vaccinating, either. They didn’t vaccinate their children or themselves. That is what led me to the whole idea in the first place.
          2nd reason: (which ultimately led to research) Why does the FDA and CDC limit a pregnant woman’s intake of fish containing mercury, posing it as a potential health risk to the baby but they recommend her and baby get vaccinated even though the vaccine has mercury? What I found, was pretty odd. According to the FDA one 6 oz can of tuna has 17 micrograms of mercury. Yet during the first 6 months of life a baby will receive well over 200 micrograms of mercury just from all the vaccines they receive. Thimerosal (the mercury ingredient in vaccines) is metabolized in humans to ethylmercury, but guidelines for safe mercury intake relate only to methylmercury. In fact, the FDA admits that they didn’t know for sure if ethylmercury was more or less toxic than methylmercury, so they assumed it would be equal. However, any pharmacist can tell you there is a HUGE difference between the two chemical make ups and breakdowns. Reason number 3: Every year the FDA and CDC grant “conflict of interest” waivers to chairmen of immunization decision making boards (the general “rule” deciding groups) due to how many of it’s members that vote on vaccine regulations are on the company boards or hold major company stock of immunization producing companies like Merck… the same people who vote the guidelines into place that say what children get immunized with and when. To vote against these vaccines, these people would loose huge financial stakes in these companies. It would mean a monetary loss for them. And when ANYONE is making decisions based on money instead of health, I tend to turn the other way.
          Reason number 4: Vaers. As a pharmacy technician that worked in a popular “get your flu shot today” type retail pharmacy… I know that just in our pharmacy alone, we reported at least once, if not twice daily. Some sort of adverse event happened daily. To adults. We didn’t vaccinate children, and the pharmacists were always grateful they didn’t because then we probably would have reported much more than we already did.
          Vaccines are bad. The studies that show the good that they do, are usually funded by the vaccine companies themselves, and everything is propelled forward by the FDA and CDC because they all hold major stock in the companies and want to make money. It’s ALL about money. And they don’t care if they injure or kill us or our children in the process.

  135. Hear hear! As moms, there are plenty of things to feel guilty about without having to add the stress of fitting in to a specific label perfectly. Like you, I’m a little bit of this and that but mostly, my choices have to work for my daughter, my family and ultimately, myself. I don’t really care what the prevalent style or thought is out there – if it works for my little girl, it works for me. I breastfed her until she weaned herself off at 13 mons and I plan to do this again with my next baby, due in 2 months.

    Getting into the breastfeeding groove in the first month was the hardest thing I’ve had to do as it didn’t come easy to me, but I’m glad I was persistent because it’s also one of the most rewarding experiences.

    I can’t even imagine why anyone would frown upon it or think that it’s anything but the most natural thing in the world to do between moms and babies. ANY moms and babies, not just specific types, like you said. I worked full time and pumped three times a day. And I will do it again in a heartbeat.

    Great piece!

  136. It’s funny to look down at all the pictures posted to the left of all the comments left and think see all these people look very different and yet they’ve all been touched by this blog because we all feel the same way!!! Thank you for saying it so elequently

  137. Love this story. I am a working full-time breastfeeding mom with my second child, going on 10 months. I tried with my first child but had to stop at 6 weeks due to medical issues…still feeling guilt with that sometimes although I know I did all I could. I didn’t realize how many people, women in particular, have such strong opinions about breastfeeding. For me, there was no question that I would at least try. But I feel like I am in the minority there. I feel like I’ve become an advocate for breastfeeding…and also homemade baby food. It’s amazing how many people don’t even think of that as an option….they just go straight for the baby food in the jar. Highly effective marketing by Gerber! I don’t judge…to each his own. As you said, whatever works best for you and your family. Just interesting talking to people about things a little outside the box.

    Thank you for this story! I truly enjoyed reading it and found myself nodding in agreement several times.

  138. I would like to assure you that the revolution has begun! I have worked in a nursing wear boutique for a couple of years now. We sell nursing tops and dresses, as well as nursing bras, pumps and baby carriers, along with some other bits and bobs. There is such a huge variety in the mums that come through our door. Yes- some are the obvious crunchy types but others are the more (I shudder to say it) ‘normal’ looking mums and mums to be!

    I have loved this post and thoroughly enjoyed reading. Thanks!

  139. THANK YOU! I feel like I have found a soul sister. I too have a soft spot for fast food and candy on occasion I feed it to my kids I guess I live by an everything in moderation. It’s just nice to know that someone else falls short some days too and doesn’t feel bad about it because we are all human.

  140. Denise Prosnick says:

    This is a very well written narrative on parenting. Parenting is hard enough as it is, and yet all of us at some point or another say something, purposefully or not, that makes another parent feel like they are a failure or that they are doing it wrong. Thank you for making us all a little more compassionate and at the same time making us all feel more supported. Most importantly thank you for being the voice in my dark that told me I was doing a good job, even if that wasn’t your intent.

  141. I could have written your entire post word for word except I’m a former homeschooling mom who now has her kids in public school and I don’t mind the AP label. But yeah….I BFed from the get go 8 years ago when my first was born and “crunchy” was not even on my radar and I was rebelling from my upbringing. Now as I progressed into mothering, things changed and I’ve become green at heart, had a homebirth with my last baby and all that jazz. I’ve never loved BFing but I’ve never hated it either…it’s always just been part of mothering for me and not really a produce of my parenting style. I’ve never thought formula was poison even though none of my three kids have even had a drop. I don’t look down on moms who formula feed and never have. And…what can I say, I love chick-fil-a and so do my kids!

  142. Karen – I can’t speak for anyone else but I’m not satisfied by the “science” on vaccinations. There are large gaps between evidence on efficacy, poorly controlled data. More concerning is inadequate research on the safety of vaccines and no, I’m not talking about mercury or autism. My main concern is the fundamental change in the immune system and a shift in the balance of th1 and th2.

  143. I don’t vaccinate, for many reasons, autism not being the primary reason. I have struggled to feel like I can even mention this to close friends and family. I have done a lot of research, and feel that I am making the best choice for us. I don’t feel even the tiniest bit like getting into a debate to try to prove another parent wrong.

    Though, when the topic does come up, it’s clear that there seems to be some serious efforts to try to prove that I am wrong. I think this being the main reason I don’t feel like I can discuss it, unless I know the person is open to learning about me, and not judging me. That being said, I can understand your hesitant to open up on this choice. Though I’m hopeful you might consider a post on why you have chosen not to vaccinate, with the premise that there isn’t going to be backlashing.

  144. Fabulous fabulous post! Love. I’m a breastfeeder. I bed share, babywear, did NOT circumcize and don’t CIO. but I also use disposable diapers, have my kids vaccinated, had a hospital birth w an epidural. Breastfeeders are moms. Just women. We made the choice. We don’t “look” like anything but a mom doing something great for our kids. None of us make the same choices and that’s ok! 🙂 thank you for this post.

  145. I love this – it resonates so much with how I feel about so much of the social pressure to do xyz that gets heaped on new Mums from all sides. I don’t really fit any bracket, I’ve breast fed exclusively direct from the boob but I have to go back to work full time when she’s 8 months she’ll be having expressed milk from a sippy cup. Girls in my NCT class have had real struggles to feed and have felt the disapproving glances when they pull out a bottle when we’re out and about. I’ve felt similar reactions when I tell people I had an epidural – they don’t know that I didn’t plan to have one, but after 36 hours of an induced labour I needed the break it gave me to have the energy to push her out and there’s that unsaid presumption that I didn’t care enough about my baby to go without, or that I just didn’t try hard enough.

    Our parenting style is definitely ‘wing it’ – we do what we instinctually feel would be best and if it doesn’t work we change it – it’s evolving as we go.

  146. For what it’s worth, where I am breastfeeding is what informed, educated parents do. It’s what moms who want to do the best for their babies do. In my lifetime, I’ve seen popular opinion swing wildly for and against it, but I think right now, at least where I am, breastfeeding is recognized as the best option for mom and baby, barring any other serious health-related issues.

    Thank you for your post.

  147. Morghan says:

    Love, love, loved this!!! 🙂

  148. Christi says:

    Thank you so much I needed to know I wasn’t alone. I cloth diaper my son, breastfeed and wear my babe when it works for both of us. But I don’t really fit in with the all natural area or the “convenient area”. We use our curb side recycling when we think about it. We buy some processed foods but opp for a banana instead of fruit snacks. My food is not organic but it is healthy.I think I just needed to be reminded that it is all okay as long as we are happy it doesn’t have to be one of those all or nothing things!

  149. THANK YOU!!!!
    I recently did a post on http://www.mybreastthoughts.blogspot.com about not labeling me, after a recent thread made me feel shunned by AP parents and I know many of my choices are shunned by mainstream parents. The only labels I EVER want to have are those of Mother, Wife and Breastfeeder. I feel so much better knowing I am not the only person who feels this way!

  150. Just wanted to say that I LOVE this article! I’m not crunchy or green, but I know breastfeeding is best! I may not be the same as every other breastfeeding mama, but I love that we all have that the same! Thanks so much!

  151. I attend a hospital-based breastfeeding support group that added an evening meeting to accommodate working moms. There’s a core group of regulars at the evening group and basically the only thing we all have in common is breastfeeding and that nearly all of us work outside the home. Some of the moms have a husband who’s a SAHD, others have relatives caring for their kids, and some have kids in daycare centers. Some feed only organic, homemade baby food and some are all about the Gerber jars and puffs. Some use cloth diapers, some disposables, and some a combination. Some co-sleep, some have baby in a crib, some do both. There’s such a wide spectrum of parenting and family living decisions and we run the gamut – and I bet that if we were all walking through a mall or other public place with our kids, most of us wouldn’t “look” like breastfeeders until we sat down to nurse!

    For the record, I’m a working mom of an 8 month old who was exclusively breastfed to 6 months and continues to nurse/have EBM while getting complementary solids. My husband and I have found that most of our other parenting and lifestyle choices are somewhere in the middle; we don’t tend toward the extremes either way except on a few key items (disciplinary methods, medical care, etc.). For example, we babywear and use a stroller. We use disposable diapers at daycare and for travel, and cloth at home. Some of our daughter’s baby food is homemade and some is from a jar or pouch (it is all organic). We prefer natural/educational toys and she doesn’t watch TV, but at daycare she plays with plenty of plastic stuff and she always listens to whatever music we’re listening to. Politically we’re unaffiliated moderates, socioeconomically we’re college-educated professionals in the middle class, and religiously we’re mainline Protestants. Our personalities may not tend to push us towards the extremes of the spectrum, but I think most parents are like us; a few things are absolutes and the rest of the time you just make the best choices you can.

  152. I love that you opened up about your BF experiances. I bf my frist child for 2 years, and I am currently BF my 16mth old. I have a fellow BF mother who continuously looks down on me because I co-sleep and still BF on demand. This is just who I am, I am not overly green, I was raised in a spanking house hold, and I love my children to pieces, and we all eat what we love!! I love fresh fruits and vegs, and that is a must in the house, but we like our junk as well:) And well my girls love Disney, so there are trade marks every where!! 🙂 I think we are all different but yet the same in the fact that we are mothers, and we want our children to be happy!! 🙂

  153. Desiree Spence says:

    I agree totally with you. I BF but I half cloth diaper depending on the day. I love my stroller but love my sling and Mia tia, we try to advoide over buying characters but won’t not buy something just because it is on there, we vaccinate and circumcise! I feel we are green aware! We recycle but mostly because it is soooo easy here you throw anything recyclable into a blue bag at the curb and the city deals with it! We usually don’t co sleep but if I fall asleep nursing or need extra cuddles it happens! I don’t judge anyone who parents differently or anything I tell my friends flat out if you have any questions I can tell you what works for me but we aren’t all sheep so it maynit work for you! Also with both my first two we had to introduce formula for lack of growth reasons and they are perfect so I would never diss someone for using formula. I only recommend to my friends to try BF for a week of you can fir the health bennifits I wish more people were open to all kinda of ideas! Paint your own picture! Use all kinds if colours and make it right for you!

  154. Phenomenal post Jessica. It reminds me of a post that I’ve been writing in my head for more than a year now. One that I’m afraid to post for fear I will come across as a hypocrite. One in which I confess that I used formula with both of my girls, yell at my kids, used the CIO method and didn’t wear my children.

    Having said that, my girls and husband are vegetarian, we eat very little processed food, we try to buy organic, my girls rarely get candy (and rarely request it), we’re huge recyclers (and used to be composters too until we started to have a bear problem) and we love them to death as best as we can.

    I often tell my husband that I’d like to have another baby “so I could do it all differently”, because there are definitely some things I would change. I think we all evolve as parents (as proven by your story and mine) and thus have no right to judge another mom that is at a different point in her journey.

    xo
    Wendy

  155. Ha yes I know this feeling! I remember meeting my Dr for the first time (we’d talked by email…I run the breastfeeding group here) and he said “you don’t look like a hippy earth mother”. I get pissed, go to gigs, I’m broke (perhaps those are related) and I swear too much.
    I also have this issue with the group I run, I don’t agree with most of the ideas for events, branding and advertising. Because it’s perpetuating a myth, it comes across as fluffy, perfect and smug which I feel is off putting for the people we need to reach out to. You don’t have to be a hippy or middle class to breastfeed. Normal people do this normal thing every day. You don’t have to be perfect, it probably helps if you’re not.

  156. Thank you so much for that – you have inspired me to write a little bit on breastfeeding from a male perspective! Really good to read your article.

  157. Crystal says:

    What could I say that hasn’t already been said. I just had to comment to at least say “Thank you”! It is so refreshing to know I am not the only mom with different ideas than my friends on what is best for my kids. And that is ok! I agree with almost everything that you say/do. But here’s the thing. I am trying my best at everything with my kids, because I love them more than anything. Again very simply put, thank you. This blog is awesome!

  158. This post was like a breath of fresh air for me. I am so tired of the application of “labels” affixed to every choice we make in regard to parenting, cooking, discipline, etc. In many cases, different things are going to work for different families because we’re all different people with different circumstances!
    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

  159. i love love LOVE this post. i feel that even if you are the crunchy type the whole point of the hippie movement was peace and love right? it goes against that to be judgemental and unkind. this article sums up exactly how i feel. thanks!

  160. This is something that has, since becoming a mother, interested me. I too don’t fit into any stereotype of “mother”. Although the mother I have become, at times, surprises me – I certainly don’t fit to any one mode of parenting. Yes, I breastfeed, I was a milk donor, I am obsessed with baby-led weaning and I practice Elimination Communication but I only recently, when BiP turned 9months old decided to give cloth diapers a go. I never co-slept and babywearning was a sporadic fad for when needs must. I do however, team birkenstocks with lashings of mascara, bling and lip gloss – what does that make me? Who knows! I don’t care how others raise their kids my only concern is how I raise mine!

  161. Amen to this message on no one cornering anything in the world of breastfeeding and feeding! It resonates with me as on the one hand I design clothes for breastfeeding mothers, yet would never condemn anyone for using formula. The best thing we can do is support other mothers (and fathers) and help educate our friends so they can make their own informed decisions.

    Warmly,
    Holli Harris

  162. I look like a breastfeeder. I believe in breastfeeding. I’m a vegetarian. I never considered giving any of my babies formula. After my first baby I breastfed for a week. I cried every time he latched on. I thought i was doing it wrong. He cried. He wasnt getting enough milk. I spent hundreds of dollars on hospital grade pumps, lactation nurses, etc. I pumped for a hour and got less than an ounce. I did that finger feeding thing. I felt so much pressure that I thought I had no choice. I dreaded hearing my baby cry. The first time I gave him formula I felt so guilty. Now I’m on my third formula fed baby, and I am so happy! It’s not for everyone. But my kids are awesome and I couldn’t possibly love them anymore.

  163. I’m totally giving you a virtual high five right now! I breastfed both my children exclusively for a year and I had a friend tell me that she didn’t think I was “the type of person who would breastfeed.” It was probably one of the most offensive things anyone has ever said to me. This was a fabulous post!

  164. I’ve had Two babies that I started breastfeeding but it hurt like hell and I had no idea where to look for help. And I was embarassed to ask for help! I went to the lactation consultant they have near the hospital and I just felt as though they looked down on me for not being able to do it (this was with my second child, and Im sure they probably weren’t really looking down on me, but my imagination led me to believe that) Now Im thinking of having a third and REALLY want to be able to do it. When I actually got the other two to latch on correctly with the lactation consultant at my side, it was AMAZING! and I absolutely LOVED it!

  165. Oh my gosh I love everything you just said! I feel the same on every issue you presented-I don’t fit into any one niche I take pieces of all of them! Thanks! I feel encouraged 🙂 ha ha

  166. Hahaha, I think more people need to write articles like this! We parents are SOOO judgemental of one another! And, I understand why–we’re talking about values and beliefs and things that are very personal. The way we parent comes from the core of our being, whether we consciously realize it or not. And ‘birds of a feather. . ‘ Those of us who are ‘informed’ are usually the most critical!!! I used to do home visits as part of my teaching job, and trust me, I have seen BAD parenting. (There I go being judgemental!) But, I realized it wasn’t helpful to anyone to point that out to those parents; they needed support just like WE ALL NEED SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT.
    I personally have breastfed my babes for over a year each (am 6 mos. into #3), ended up sharing a room/bed with all 3 unintentionally, carried the first one in a sling, put the second one in a swing, and let the third one be mostly on the floor. I said I would never spank, but I do. Said I would never yell, but I do. (I used to manage a classroom full of children w/o raising my voice, after all!) I love educational toys, but allow other stuff, too. My kids have more than a library of books, and more than an art store full of craft supplies (that I meter out the use of b/c the mess drives me nuts!) I circumcised my son so he would look like my husband, pierced my 3rd baby’s ears b/c we live in a culture where it is expected, am a teacher but REALLY hope I never have to homeschool, and am an advocate of vaccines. I tried cloth diapers for a day, I let my kids eat something sweet almost every day, and they watch TV. My son had a paci til he was 3, I sneak veggies and whole grains into recipes my family will eat, and make sure my kids are read to every day.
    But guess what???? Each of my kids is unique! We do things differently with each one, and our parenting has changed (I suspect it will continue to) over time. Most of the things I swore I’d never do came back to bite me and I’ve learned to hold my parenting a bit more loosely. Do I still have strong opinions? Sure. But I hope I’ve become more balanced. And I hope that if I disagree with you, we can talk about it and still be friends. We moms need each other!!

    So anyway, I really appreciated your blogpost 🙂

  167. I use formula. I wanted to comment here because this has been something that has effected my parenting for 4 years now. I feel as if I have to preface that statement with “excuses.” “My husband was in Iraq” usually shuts people up, but not always. “My son won’t latch” is not as regularly accepted, but sometimes it is. “I hated it” it usually meet with rolled eyes and the assumptions that I am a horrible mom. But I love my kids. When I “failed” we went to the expense of organic formula and I try to keep at least the first year as organic as possible (with trying to be realistic as well) But I often use disposable diapers over my cloths, buy Elmo and Dinosaur Train anything, give candy for going pee pee on the potty and am prepared to send my kids to school as well as being fully vaccinated. HOWEVER I use homeopathic as much as I can, refuse to spank, refuse to let them cry it out, and I am getting my teaching degree so that I can be more then involved with their education. Even though I could have pushed through to breastfeed more (son got 2 weeks and daughter got 3 months) I hate the label of formula mom and I try to never give my daughter a bottle in public because of the ridicule, lectures and looks I get. I am a good mom because I love my kids.

  168. I love this! I was smiling the entire time I was reading this because I was thinking YES, YES this is how I feel. I have been feeling so frustrated with how there is so many labels and how if you do this one thing, then you must be a parent who supports this. I appreciate your honesty.

  169. I commented this morning, i came back to see if anyone had responded to it and I couldn’t find my comment?

  170. Thank You!!! You articulated exactly how I have felt for a very long time! I am so glad you have a voice in this amazingly diverse community of breastfeeding women. Looking forward to reading more of what you write. Jenny

  171. So well said. Wish I was that well spoken. I LOVED this post and reading through the many comments. I’ve come back over several days to look for new comments.

    Even though when I first heard of TLB from a mom in my son’s ECFE who is admin for NNIPL I wasn’t sure I’d be a fan of TLB cause I’m not always so fond of the posts there (I don’t care for your name) it turns out I really am, thanks in large part to posts, and attitudes like these, I don’t get the feeling here that I’m a not good enough breastfeeding mom. And for that reason I strongly recommend the site to any moms I think might be interested because I know here you don’t have to be a lactivist to fit it. It’s OK to just be lactating, going though (or having been though) the process of breastfeeding your L.O. is OK too.

  172. Wow, such a wonderful post. Thank you, I needed it.

  173. Thank you for this. You have really articulated so well exactly how I feel about breastfeeding. I have a VERY similar story to you, so thank you for this!

  174. I love, love, LOVE this post.
    In high school… I hung out mostly with the goth kids. But, I did not wear black like they did. I also had “trendy” friends but was way to weird to hang out with them at parties. I did things that most bad kids do in high school… experimented with dating, kissing, sex, alcohol and drugs. But, then I also experimented with church, religion and faith. I went to a Methodist church’s “kid’s group” on Wednesday nights with one of my best friends… the most “goth” and freaky one of all my goth friends… he went all the time, and was very devoted to his faith. I also went with my grandpa to Catholic Sunday mass. I spent most of the other nights chanting incantations and brewing up herbal mixtures to make spells. I was good at math, art and science. I was hugely into computers and all things internet. I played Magic: the gathering, D&D and went to Larp. I was in Drama and played basketball. I was never very good at “labels”. Even as a kid.
    In fact, I feel the same way… about labels. And about breastfeeding. I didn’t breastfeed my 1st child. I do breastfeed my 2nd now. I feel like some formula is poison… at least, the kind with dha in it. I recently read that they get it out of pond algae using hexane (which is jet fuel… and also poison). However, I don’t think the other stuff is so bad. In fact, at six weeks I had cracked, bleeding nipples, a marathon nurser (he could and can nurse up to 6 hours straight with no breaks) and dark circles under my crying eyes… standing in the formula aisle and the number 1 reason I didn’t switch was because we are short on funds, and couldn’t afford formula. I sat in the aisle looking at the formula… longing for it. Wishing I could maybe just use it at night time… Reason number 2 came at the 6 week doctor appointment just a few days later, when I noticed I’d lost almost 30 pounds since giving birth. I now have powered through the unpleasantness and will continue until he’s at least 1.
    I did vaccinate my 1st child. I don’t vaccinate my 2nd now. I used disposable diapers for my 1st child and I cloth diaper my 2nd… for the most part. We have everything to make it easy… snap on covers, super absorbant inserts, prefolds and flatfolds and snappi’s… but today my the boy took a poo that blew out the legs of the last cover (everything else is in the washer) So, now he’s in a disposable. I slept with baby 1 and I loved it. I sleep with baby 2 but don’t love it as much. In fact, I like it better when he falls asleep during a car ride and I can get a few hours in sleeping on my stomach before he wakes up. I think I like it less with because he’s much more clingy than baby 1… plus he tends to marathon nurse at night and now I just need some space. Ultimately, we are buying him a crib in just a few short weeks, and I can’t wait! I would never let him “cry it out” to fall asleep though, in a crib or anywhere else. However, I’ve let him “cry it out” driving him around in the car, and realized recently there really isn’t a huge difference. I’m still not sure how I feel about that, but I also haven’t taken him on car ride to get him to fall asleep since then, either. I didn’t wear baby 1. I wanted to wear baby 2, but he doesn’t like it.
    I grow tomatoes, green peppers, spinach and fresh herbs in containers on my apartment patio because I’m afraid of what gets put into our commercially grown food, but I don’t buy organic because I can’t afford to. I want to be as healthy as possible, and I limit the amount of junk my kids have… but I can’t stop drinking pop… it just tastes SO good. I let my 1st child have a glass on occasion also. I will let my kids eat junk sometimes also, because it’s fun. I let my 1st child play video games… but worry if the baby is watching.
    I pumped for a whole entire week leading up to my 6 week postpartum visit… so that my partner and I could have an official “date” night on our own. At dinner, we made the executive decision to skip the movie because we got a call from grandma saying that baby was upset, super hungry, and going through all the pumped milk at an unprecedented rate… a weeks worth of pumping gone in less than 2 hours. We paid our tab and went straight home to have sex. I’ve already began to pump for a concert that won’t happen until July… but this time I plan to be ready with a boatload of pumped milk supply. I want a WHOLE night to myself. And I don’t feel bad.
    I’m not sure exactly how we decide to do the things we will do in life… breastfeed vs formula feed… etc, etc. I just know that as I go in life… I find out a tidbit of info on a certain thing… like the dha and hexane thing… and I make a decision. I think that is how everyone else does it, they just have this whole other life, with other priorities and understandings… not to mention faith. I think faith helps make some decisions in your life also. I think the same thing goes for labels. I say screw them… (the labels).

  175. This is a great article… You know, looking @ the author’s photo, I might conclude she looks like a breastfeeder too… and that is NOT an insult… I’m a breastfeeder and I’m proud to look like 1… (I dont know if I do or not)… Through my eyes, I also see a woman who has a good sense of self, who has confidence and a funky artistic style and who might have some green and earthy values. I have never worried about what people say about breastfeeding… I breastfeed because I want to and it’s good for my baby and it’s what are bodies are designed to do… But I do the best I can and will do it until i need to stop. I feel for woman who can’t and try not to pass judgement on women who dont want to. Everybody has an opinion about childrearing and the different choices we all make in that department… but I am confident in the choices my partner and I are making for our son.. and I am ALWAYS open to new information that may improve my parenting. : )

  176. Well written! I continued to breastfeed even when I was having issues with it, because it’s what I really wanted for my child. Our local LL group was a bit judgmental, IMO, so I didn’t partake in their meetings. I wish I’d had The Leaky B@@b back then! 🙂

  177. Just wanted to share that my mom went to a LLL meeting when I was a baby and was freaked out by the moms nursing 5 year olds. she laughs now, since that was what she became lol 🙂

  178. Alexandra Gilmer says:

    I breastfed for maybe three days and it was because of exactly what you said! Everyone made it seem like it was all or nothing and since I was already sixteen and had a baby it was WAY TOO MUCH! I mean talk about pressure. Sometimes I wanted to go knuckles to knuckles with people. This has actually made me want to breastfeed my second. I’m pretty “crunchy” already. But theres soooo much that goes into breastfeeding that at the time i just wasnt prepared. Thank you, you’ve made me feel sane again!

  179. Very cute article. Love it! I am a mom of 3 who stopped trying to label myself and just say I do things to keep MY family happy and healthy…whatever that may be. I knew i wanted to breastfeed my first born before he was born but I didn’t know it would go on for 26 months and we wouldnt want him to leave our bed. Then took me 3 babies to finally love cloth diapering. I got more “crunchy ” as time went on. I homebirth, co sleep, non vax’d, homeschool and do not allow my kids the candy you speak of. 🙂 I just may let them have a few junky snacks every once in awhile after reading this. I don’t want them to HATE this too. I could just see them in college (If I don’t homeschool college that is…lol.)..hoarding processed GMO filled foods (My kids thank you!!)
    I don’t have many friends on the crunchy side like me but most of them proudly breastfed for a year or so. They call me a hippie….thats fine, I am a hippie I guess but I have NEVER owned a pair of Birks 🙂

  180. I loved this article, I’m from the UK so there are slightly different perceptions of the type that breastfeeds here but nonetheless there are certain stereotypes and the typical breastfeeding mum here is perceived to be a woman who is married, an older ‘mom’ (over 35), very financially well off, quite ‘twee’ (listens to Belle and Sebastian et al), eats only organic and wears only fairtrade clothing, babywears and also has an expensive parent-facing stroller etc etc. I am married but don’t fit any of those other stereotypes; although my dad had a well paid job growing up there were also long periods where he was unemployed and same with Dh’s and my situation now, my dh works in a very working-class blue collar profession as well. I’m just not twee at all. I had my eldest at the age of 22 and people assumed due to my age that I’d just be formula feeding; midwives in the hospital started to write ‘exclusively formula feeding’ on my notes before I could even get a word in. We buy in bulk and whatever is cheapest; occasionally thats Organic but not very often. We try to avoid additives but we don’t go overboard. When I bake I use the fake vanilla flavouring because the real deal is too pricey. I cook from scratch but we do get McDonalds and other junk fairly often when out and about. I don’t wear fairtrade or ethical clothing because the makers don’t seem to think plus sized/large footed women are ethical consumers; so the largest stuff available in 3 sizes too small. I’ve tried some of the big ethical/organic/fair trade brands for kids here as well and the quality is so poor (fastening snaps tearing through fabric etc) that its better for the environment to buy something non-ethical but longer lasting so mainly I buy clothing from supermarkets. My son hates being worn no matter what I try so I decided not to subject him to that anymore; and we cannot afford a parent-facing stroller nor do I think non-parent facing strollers do any harm unless you’re putting your child in them in the morning and keep them in there all day without interracting with them at all. We do homeschool but only because the schools here are awful and there is a lot of bullying; if we found a decent school we’d get in there ASAP; also our homeschool approach is quite boring, dry and written work based compared to a lot of more crunchy types I know, its what my kids like and with 4 kids and one particularly insane 4 year old its not practical to do art-based curriculum stuff very often. I do vaccinate though I have delayed some due to my others having a terrible reaction to those particular ones. My sons are all circ’d as well. Unfortunately BF rates here are some of the lowest in the developed world and I believe part of it is this perception of what a breastfeeding mum is; and what she isn’t. I do feel certain lactavist types who here do tend to fulfil the above stereotype; like to perpetuate it themselves to make themselves feel superior. I have seen discussions on lactavist forums basically about how the ‘prole’ FF mums feel the need to have the latest stroller or type of bottles yet they being so into natural parenting and BF are not in need of any of those stupid, worldly things

  181. Hello fellow blogger! I’m rather new to blogs but I just wanted to say that I enjoyed your blog here about lonely homeschooler; It kept me engrossed all the way to the end! Keep up the fine work… I’m always hoping to learn more about Home Schooling.

  182. What a terrific post on lonely homeschooler! I honesty enjoyed reading it, and my own site is about Home Schooling so I’m not just saying so lightly. Keep up the excellent work!

  183. christie says:

    hahaha yet again, you could have taken it from my mouth. i am currently breastfeeding my 14 month old son and plan to do so till hes ready to stop although the number 18 months is in my head im certainly not going to say well thats it. we have also decided its time to try for a second child, i plan to breastfeed through my pregnancy if it comes to that and if we are still going when bub is born then so be it. saying this to other people puts a great big “hippy” sign over my head people are surprised but luckily where i live breastfeeding is well supported so no one makes a big deal. what different for me is i chose to have a c section, sure i didnt go into pregnancy planning that but when at 38 week my little boy decided to literally put his foot down we decided it was far safer to get him out before labour started than risked his precious life. i use disposable nappies, i do have a beautiful stash of mcn’s but more often than not i havent washed them or am to lazy to hunt down the insert or i would rather not wash poo out of them so wait till hes done his business before putting it on. right now he is eating his dinner, frozen vegetables cheap hamburger patty (that i will NEVER buy again) and because most of that is on the floor he has a few slices of tinned peach, but once hes done he’ll have a bath with an organic baby bedtime wash and nurse till hes ready to hop into bed possibly even to sleep. if that fact alone makes me a greeny/hippy in peoples eyes then i will accept that and step in line under the “stereotyped” banner. love you leaky b@@b

  184. This is an AMAZING post! Thank you so much for you brave honesty and open mindedness. So rare. Makes me feel a little less helpless as I make small steps in the direction of what is natural and healthy for our family. I will definitely be visiting your blog again!

  185. you totally just described me! and i have had people say, “you look like a breastfeeder”. I don’t think I do either. I think of myself as more than just a “breastfeeder” i love crafting, blogging, i worked in the cometic industry for 7 years. i really fought the “crunchy” because i didnt want to lose myself. but i know my kids should be at home, and cloth diapers were softer on their bums, we ditched plastic because of bpa exposure. i just wish it didn’t mean you are a “breastfeeder”

  186. So great! This is just fabulously written! I am fascinated with labels and people’s perceptions. I see myself as a little of this and a little of that. Cloth diapers, breastfed both babies past 18 months, still going with one. Baby wearer. My kids rarely have packaged food, but they certainly have candy. And I happen to love hot dogs and Oscar Meyer bologna and so do my kids. We do organic when we can, but most of the time it is just too expensive. My kids go to daycare almost full time and have done so since they were 3 months old. I think they are far better children for it and I am probably a much better mother too. They have never had formula and I pumped like crazy. They never had a jar of baby food, I made it all myself. I knit, a lot. We co-slept for awhile with each of them. My son LOVES the movie Cars and everything that goes along with it, he has a lot of Cars toys, but I can’t go as far to get him Cars apparel. I don’t like plastic toys, but we certainly have them. So yeah, we probably do fall into the crunchy parenting category for the most part, but certainly not all. My inlaws think we are this super hippie family, but compared with some of our friends, we are not at all. We can be so many different things to different people. I guess it just matters who you are to you, but I agree. All it takes to be a breastfeeding mom is a baby and some boobs. Hoping some day it’s as simple as that.

  187. I appreciate this post. Because I did not breastfeed my children. I tried. And when it didn’t work, I pumped. Not for long… but I do truthfully feel like I gave it my best effort. I put it all in both times. And for reason that are extremely personal I eventually stopped pumping.
    The worst thing anyone did was make me feel like I terrible mom when they found out that I formula fed. No one could understand the struggle I went through to make that decision, or the things that led up to that decision. No one walked in my shoes. And no one knows the guilt I felt and still feel about it.
    But I did what was right for me and my family. I know that for sure.
    I don’t feed my kids high fructose corn syrup. We are mostly egg and dairy and soy free here. I recycle. I use whole wheat flour and flax when I bake. I struggle over immunizations. And unfortunately, I did not breastfeed. That’s me. Thank you for not judging.

  188. I’m a cover-while-breastfeeding, disposable diapering, baby food making, plastic toy buying, hater of processed food (but buys it anyway), former hospital/current homebirthing mom of one girl, two circumsised boys (one of which was supplemented with formula), who can understand both views on vaccinations and did so with two, but not with the third. Thanks for helping form a new label, “Mom Who’s Doing Her Best”.

  189. Mommy, So Far Apart says:

    Thank you SO much for this article! I hate feeling as if I have to hide parts of who I am to try to fit in with other breastfeeding moms. The ones I know (online and in RL) are all so sanctimonious about their super-crunchy-ness, and so convinced of everyone else’s horribleness.

    I had my sons circumcised, I delay vaccination but don’t avoid it entirely, my baby sleeps in his own crib in my room, I can’t afford a decent pump (the medela hand-pump I got in the hospital is useless) or an IBCLC to help with the problems I’ve had with BF my last two babies so I only made it four months with the last one, and mostly breastfeed and supplement with formula twice a day with this one, I am a stay-at-home-mom who homeschools, I do most of my cooking from scratch but default to box mac’n’cheese and hotdogs about once a week…

    The list goes on and on, but as you can see, I’m quite middle-of-the-road. I do what works best for my family, but according to them, SHAME on me for doing XYZ, where XYZ = anything different from them. :/

  190. I’m a nursing mom. I’ve nursed both my kids, one until a touch before 2 and I am still nursing my littlest (who is 16 months).

    Do I look like a breastfeeder? No. Act like one? No.

    I actually chose to return to work early (and pumped) when my second was 6 months. I work in IT, play hockey and spend a stupid amount of time fiddling with my 14 year old Jeep. I enjoy having things to do, getting out of the house — but always find time to snuggle with my babies. My kids are vaccinated, they eat candy, chocolate, prepared meals & mcdonalds. I drink now and again (and still breastfeed). I’m no saint, but if I can do it — anyone can.

  191. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post!
    I normally try not to comment on TLB fb group because I dont agree with a lot of the comments on the site & I hear it enough on my day to day life that Im wrong, or I should do this different, or thats bad for my kid, or whatever. Since I am a 1st time mom & I dont have my mother (or any1 else for that matter) close by to give me guidance, everybody assumes that I am incapable of taking care of my own son (which btw, I have been doing 4 over 2 years already w/o any help, despite the many “helpful comments & suggestions” I get from everybody). My reasons for breastfeeding go from my mom did it, its healthier for my child to i hate the smell of regurgitated formula & cant handle projectile vomit (lame, i know, & not all babies come with the projectile formula vomit feature, but it seems 2 b a common thing in my hubby’s family so I didnt want 2 risk it, specially after my niece puked on me from across the dinning table a coup times, lol.). I am most definitely not crunchy or green, I dont eat all healthy foods or all junk food, I dont do cloth diapers, I absolutely refused 2 cover up when I bfd my son (dont like it? dont watch…besides why wouldnt u wanna see a beautiful baby latched on 2 a beautiful pair of jugs?); I have made many mistakes in his 2 and a half years of life & I have tried my best to fix them; I dont think cow’s milk is the devil, but I did make sure my boy wasnt exposed to it till he was a year and a half old; I didnt self wean, we bf till he was 27 months & stopped coz I couldnt take it anymore, anyway…
    I knew I was gonna breastfeed my kid from the time I saw my mother breastfeed my sister for 3 years (my sis is 10 years my junior, so I remember all of it clearly) & I knew out of all the issues in child rearing this was the ABSOLUTE one I would NEVER be able to compromise on, everything else would b adjust as needed.
    I always thought my mom was right when she told me “every parent has their own set of rules & beliefs that they choose to follow, so who r u 2 judge them when it comes to their decisions about their children?” which is why I listened to others, but never gave my opinion unless directly asked to do so & even then I always tried to make sure that my comments arent criticism. The way I see it, ur kids r urs 2 screw up whichever way u want & hopefully once they become parents they will strive to not commit the same mistakes u did.
    This post has made me feel more normal, that I dont have to feel bad for my parenting style just because I dont agree with other people’s views. SO Thank U! & keep up the good work! & idk what that lady was talking about “U look like u breastfeed”… for some reason it made me think of how different the bf moms I know are, myself included, & i couldnt help but remember when my friend came over with her 3 kids & we sat on my couch & she had her 4 month old on her boob & I had my 2 yo on mine. We have some things in common, but we are most definitely not the same (not even close). So what do u have to look like to breastfeed? I mean other than when u obviously have a baby hanging from ur breast? Should’ve asked the lady to elaborate on her observation, Ive met “dirty hippy” mom’s who formula fed their kids & used disposable diapers & Im a gamer chick who likes ramen & lots of soda & I breastfeed (granted I had 2 make sure I ate healthier when bfing, but doesnt mean I didnt make me a cup or 2 of ramen & sat playing WoW with my son on my lap & had supper together while mommy raided or wtf pwnd some noobs…) So im curious 2 know what the bf profile is according to the rest of the world, seeing as us leakies know there is no real stereotype for bf moms.

  192. I’m a breastfeeder… I use sposies and cloth, I drink coffee and coka cola, I use a crib and co-sleep, I use a stroller and a baby carrier, I used pumped breastmilk and formula, I use a pacifier, I send my kids to school, I had an epidural, I vaccinate and I take anti-depressants. I’m a breastfeeder.

  193. Farimah Daftary says:

    I love TLB and find this all very cool except that (in my opinion and as far as I know scientifically backed) not vaccinating is not just a personal lifestyle choice but a dangerous decision not just for your family but for all the people you come into contact with. Soooo not “crunchy”.

    • I assure you, I have spent much time researching my choice and it was made after careful consideration of a significant body of scientific evidence. Thanks for your concern. ~Jessica

  194. I absolutely live this because I have felt chastised so many times for not being the earthy green mom but more of the I do what I can and I do what works mom…. Thank you for writing this. I actually cried. Sometimes when soliciting advice, I have thought twice about asking for fear that my question may make me less of a person in the eyes of different moms… So once again from the bottom of my heart, thanks for letting me know it’s OK to be who I am

  195. As a first time mom recently inaugurated into the online communities of MOMS, I’ve been surprised by so many extremes in parenting choices, and at times I’ve been shocked at the judgement passed from one “type” to another. Personally, I’ve always been pretty middle of the road, but being pregnant brought out my inner granola… I wanted a natural birth attended by a midwife but ended up with a section in the hospital; I put my boy in sposies for daycare and in cloth when he’s with me; he’s on a delayed vaccination schedule; he’s intact; he’s breastfed, and while he prefers it straight from the tap, he’ll take mama’s milk from a bottle; we co-sleep (but we don’t bed-share); he takes a paci; I’m still trying to find the best carrier for wearing him… until then, I’ve got ever-growing biceps. I’m a breastfeeder!

  196. Cannot thank you ENOUGH for writing this. I didn’t know what crunchy anything was before my son was born and I started liking parenting pages on facebook and reading blogs. Especially after finding The Leaky Boob, I started encountering people who associate crunchy parenting practices, like “lactivist intactivists” and those who breastfeed must co-sleep and would NEVER circ and have never owned a stroller. I fit NOWHERE in there- *GASP* we circ’d our son and he is fully vaccinated. He sleeps in a pack n play and likes to jump in his jumperoo. I love my stroller for long walks and my Moby for short walks. I will be breastfeeding him until he is in preschool 🙂 and I just never fit in anywhere.

    That’s why this is so refreshing! I don’t fit in anywhere, yet we all fit together because of our love for our LO’s, whether they’re in a carrier and/or circ’d and/or breastfed and/or co-sleeping. Wonderful post. Can’t say it enough.

  197. Revisiting this blog because three times in the last week I’ve read or been told to my face that parents who circumcise are sick child abusers and cannot claim to be ‘natural’ parents because they ‘mutilate’ their children and that’s the most unnatural thing you can do. These mothers are usually pretty flexible on mothers who vax, or not, use disposables or not etc and still consider them natural parents but if you circ the door is closed. Living in the UK you’re already looked down upon for circ’ing because its comparatively rare here. Then today I open my twitter and a breastfeeding blog has published a horrible photo and a story making parents who circ and the medical staff performing the circs look like evil monsters and the braying comments are like an Internet witch hunt. I searched for this blog post again and read all the lovely comments from mothers from such a broad spectrum and realised once again we are ALL mothers who love their children.

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  4. […] you surprised to learn that I am the mother? I look like a breastfeeder. I did breastfeed my first child for nearly two years and I am always on the side of ‘Breast […]