Can you imagine the sanctimommies of the world uniting to support all mothers regardless of the choices those mothers make?
No, I can’t either.
But here’s what such a pledge might look like:
- I PLEDGE to use my energy to help defuse dogmatic battles about what route of delivery, pain relief and interventions a woman chooses for childbirth. I further pledge to refrain from dogmatic battles about feeding method (breast or bottle), transport method (sling or stroller) and sleeping place (family bed or crib). I affirm that my time is best spent directing my positive, encouraging support toward helping mamas successfully parent their newborns.
- I PLEDGE to keep my ego in check, while treating other mothers respectfully, knowing that we’re all working toward the common goal of happy, healthy babies. I also welcome respectful disagreement with my own opinions and accept that disruptive disagreement is counter to the goal of helping mothers raise their babies.
- I PLEDGE to agree that there are many right ways to give birth to, feed and raise a baby. A mother should not feel pressure or judgment to perform a specific way. There isn’t a “wrong way” as long as the baby is happy and healthy.
- I agree to hold help mothers get what they need to make child rearing work for them, no matter how they choose to do it. If a mother and baby are making it work, I’ll stand and cheer them on from the sidelines.
I got the idea for this pledge from another group that has just created a pledge, Support with Integrity, which is supposed to facilitate “judgment-free breastfeeding.”
According to the creators for the Support with Integrity pledge:
… there are many right ways to breastfeed a baby. A breastfeeding mother should not feel pressure or judgment to perform a specific way. There isn’t a “wrong way” as long as the breast milk is flowin’ and the baby is growin’.
The Feminist Breeder is lending her support, after she was chastised by another lactivist for allowing her baby to use a pacifier:
If I – a vocal and stubborn breastfeeder – could feel shamed and ousted by the Lactivist preaching the “right” way of being a breastfeeder, then what about the mothers who aren’t quite as tenacious as me? How does this make them feel? Does shaming, insulting, and humiliating them really help them achieve their breastfeeding goals? Will more babies be breastfed because this Lactivist decided to make a public spectacle about unfollowing me over my pacifier usage? I seriously doubt that a single mother saw that post and thought, “Wow, I hadn’t planned to breastfeed before, but knowing that there’s only ONE “right” way definitely makes me to try it now!”
How ironic then that the same people who proclaim that there is not one right way to breastfeed a baby and it only matters if the baby is eating enough and growing appear to believe that there is only ONE right way to feed a baby, and that is breastfeeding. And many of them have made it clear over the years that there is only ONE best way to give birth to a baby and that is vaginally without pain medication. Some even believe that there is only one place for a baby to sleep, in a family bed, and one way to transport a baby, in a sling.
I wonder if these women see the irony. Having discovered that chastising women about the WAY that they are breastfeeding is not helpful to women or babies, it does not seem to occur to them that chastising women about WHETHER they are breastfeeding is equally unhelpful.
I’m not expecting any breakthroughs on the childbirth front, either. I doubt we’ll be seeing these women advocate for patient choice elective C-sections; I doubt we’ll see them acknowledging that pain relief in childbirth is both safe and appropriate for those who choose it.
In fact, their pledge is not about supporting mothers; it’s about supporting themselves. Evidently it’s still okay to criticize everyone else.
I challenge the creators and supporters of the Support with Integrity Pledge to make their pledge look much more like my pledge. Instead of pledging:
to keep my ego in check, while treating other breastfeeding boosters, lactation facilitators, breastfeeding organizations, and mothers respectfully, knowing that we’re all working toward the common goal of providing breast milk for babies.
how about pledging this?
“I pledge to keep my ego in check, while treating other mothers respectfully, knowing that we’re ALL working toward the common goal of happy, healthy babies.”