The Power of Finding Community

breastfeedingcafecarnivalWelcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of the Breastfeeding Cafe’s Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com. For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today’s post is about non-traditional breastfeeding support. Please read the other blogs in today’s carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th-31st!

blog2Becoming a mother has given me a new perspective on the idea of community support. Had you talked with me during college, for example, I would have said that I knew all about support networks – friends, family, school peers, and church community. It wasn’t until I was a flailing new parent, desperately trying to figure it all out for the first time, that I fully comprehended the value of a shared meal or a listening ear.

Like pretty much everything in parenting that one expects to be intuitive, breastfeeding is neither “easy” nor “natural” for many moms. Ever the good student, I took a class about breastfeeding while pregnant with my first child, trying to arm myself with as much information as possible. And maybe it helped – but not nearly as much as learning from other moms and lactation consultants after my child was born. Their support was invaluable and helped me through some rough patches.

blog3After nursing three children and reflecting on the ups and downs, as well as on the power of community support during that time, the seed of an idea began to germinate. I envisioned mothers from all walks of life offering support to each other by sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly about breastfeeding through story-telling. Three years later, I published Have Milk, Will Travel: Adventures in Breastfeeding, a collection of short humor stories by American and Canadian writers who, with brutal honesty, serve up the trials, tribulations, and laugh-out-loud turbulence of life as the one-stop milk shop.

During the past year, I have traveled to a variety of cities to promote Have Milk, Will Travel and I have come to think of it a bit like a politician’s “listening tour.” In each location, I read a few excerpts from the book, but most of the time is spent engaging with the audience, asking them to share their own stories. And anyone who has had any experience with breastfeeding, whether for 3 weeks or 3 years, has a story to tell.

cover FINAL imageListening to women’s breastfeeding stories is powerful stuff. Suddenly, new mothers realize that others have walked the same path and can offer compassion and perhaps even answers. It’s incredibly compelling to witness mothers teaching each other, even when (especially when!) they didn’t know they had anything to teach. And seeing young moms come to events and admit that they have no support in their life for their breastfeeding struggles, then leave with phone numbers and new friends for playdates and support? Well, it’s beyond words.

If you’d like to check out Have Milk, Will Travel: Adventures in Breastfeeding, you can find it at Demeter Press (www.demeterpress.org) and Amazon.com. Or contact me directly [at rachel {at} ddtr {dot} net]: I’m offering $5 off and free shipping (US) in honor of World Breastfeeding Week, through August 7.

Whatever your experience with breastfeeding, I hope that you both seek community and offer community. You never know when your story of solidarity or your listening ear may be just what that new mom needs.

headshot rebuller smallRachel Epp Buller is a feminist-art historian-printmaker-mama of three who embraced the years of pregnancy and breastfeeding for close to a decade. She now integrates her personal and professional lives through art and scholarship about the maternal body. Her books include Reconciling Art and Mothering, Mothering Mennonite, and Have Milk, Will Travel: Adventures in Breastfeeding.

Here are more posts by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival, Breastfeeding Support

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s