Rise of the Lactivists

Stacy Matson | Celebrity Health
Rise of the Lactivists

image by: Benjamin Magaña

I see my body as an instrument, rather than an ornament - Alanis Morissette

If you’re a new mom you're probably tired, very tired.  And you’re probably obsessing about all the things your baby does, or doesn’t do.  Is she crying too much?  Is she eating enough?  Is she sleeping enough?  Is she breathing?  Is she healthy?  Does she like me?  I know because I obsessed about all of those things too, plus a few others that are actually ridiculous.  The good thing is that it’s normal.  The other thing is that all these fears and worries work themselves out.  Eventually.  You might have a few freakout moments, you might start to believe that the hospital gave you the wrong baby, or that the hospital had no business letting you, a crazy woman, take a baby, any baby, home with her.

But what if you could do something that might help alleviate some of those fears? For example, you could breastfeed.   I know, it’s a highly personal choice, one that is difficult to make, because it’s filled with so much judgment and fear.  Sometimes it feels like a no-win decision because everyone has an opinion about breastfeeding and you will piss off a few people no matter what you decide to do.  And it’s scary because it kind of hurts. Sorry.

However, because the benefits to your baby are numerous I feel I should add my own non-judgey two cents.  So here goes, breastfeeding is beneficial because it lowers your baby’s risk of developing chronic ear infections, diabetes, asthma, and allergies, lowers their risk of dying of SIDS, it helps your baby form healthy attachments - even if the hospital gave you the wrong baby, and breastfed babies have higher IQ’s.  

While the benefits for your baby are undeniable, breastfeeding also provides benefits for you, the tired mother.  It helps you bond with your baby, boosts your metabolism which will help you lose weight, helps you save money - because formula isn’t cheap, it lowers your risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, it puts off that inevitable visit from your aunt Flo, it’s convenient and ready at a moment's notice.  Plus, your breast milk is uniquely designed by your body, for your baby, and cannot sufficiently be replaced by any formula.  As an extra added bonus you won’t be stuck in the kitchen all day washing and sterilizing thousands of bottles, lids, and nipples.  See?  Breastfeeding is bueno! But, it kind of hurts...

Breastfeeding, while great, does come with a few issues.  you probably think that you’ll be stuck in the house all day because you’re too freaked out to whip it out in public.  What will people say?  Will they freak out?  WIll they feel awkward around me?  Will they stare at me? But don’t you worry your tired little head.  You’ve got a large network of lactivists on your side.  These breastfeeding moms calmly and quietly protest wherever a breastfeeding injustice has occurred.  In fact, they have staged milk-ins in cities all around the world at places like McDonald's, Target, Anthropologie, airports, grocery stores, various hotels, etc..

Oh yes.  If one of these breastfeeding mothers hears that another woman was told she needed to leave an establishment, or that she needed to cover up, or that she can’t feed her child in public this business had better watch out.  They’ll receive petitions signed by thousands of motivated mamas.  The women will organize boycotts.   And, if none of that elicits a public apology or policy change, the offender will have hundreds of women, their breasts, and their babies at the offender’s establishment doing what moms are legally allowed to do, feed their babies.  

If that doesn’t make you feel better, you have another group taking their support of the breastfeeding public, celebrities.  Celebrity moms have become more outspoken and are working for change.  They may have a different way of going about it, for example, they probably won’t show up at the next milk-in, but they can post a brelfie that will go viral faster than you can fall asleep.  

In case you're still in that new mommy fog, a brelfie is where moms take selfies while nursing their babies and post them on social media.  

Blake Lively is the latest nursing mom to post a brelfie while nursing her 6-month-old daughter, James.  She captioned it, “The PERKS of breastfeeding." Then there’s Kristen Bell who posted a picture while at the CMT Awards of her “new backstage beauty routine” which consisted of her breast pump and all its bits and pieces.

But, perhaps the most outspoken proponents of breastfeeding are Gisele Bündchen and Salma Hayek.  Bündchen caused quite a frenzy in 2010 when she said there “should be a worldwide law...that mothers should breastfeed their babies for six months.”   And true to her words she Instagrammed a "multitasking" photo of herself breastfeeding her daughter while having her hair, makeup, and nails done.  Ahh, the life.

Back in 2009, Salma Hayek breastfed a hungry baby boy while in Africa because the baby’s mother could not produce milk.  When asked why she did it, Hayek said she had some, the baby was hungry, so she whipped it out.  In a subsequent interview, she said she hoped that her actions might help diminish the stigma placed on women who choose to breastfeed.  I believe it helped.  As one writer wrote that Hayek’s left breast has done more for humanity in one minute than the writer had done in their whole life.  Probably true.

What do you think? Have I convinced you? Willing to give it a shot?  You never know you might just enjoy those moments with your baby.  Even better, the next time you whip those puppies out, have a little giggle at the uptight person sitting next to you who feels awkward, or uncomfortable, after all it’s their problem, not yours.  Plus, the more often mothers breastfeed in public, the more accepted it will become.  

So nipples out, to all the moms, famous or not, who proudly bare their breasts in public to do what they feel is best for their babies.

Stacy Matson is a health enthusiast from Southern California and regularly blogs on Celebrity Health for A Healthier World, as well as contributing to the Best of Best.

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