One thing that drives me nuts is when I see stuff like this:
“I support breastfeeding, but not past a certain age.”
“I support breastfeeding, but women need to cover up in public.”
“I support breastfeeding, but it has to be exclusive. No formula here!”
“I support breastfeeding, but ONLY IF IT FITS WITH MY PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS ABOUT WHAT IS RIGHT.”
Call me crazy, but I feel that if you truly support something or someone, there is no need to qualify it. I support my husband. I may not agree with everything he chooses to do, but I still support him. Likewise with breastfeeding. I may not choose to nurse to age 7 or supplement with formula or use a cover in public, but I still support women who do make those choices. Because it’s not about what I think is right. The only thing that I am right about, are the choices I make for my family.
If you feel the need to throw in a ‘but’ after the statement “I support breastfeeding,” then I say you don’t really support breastfeeding. Instead, you support your own beliefs. Which is great, but it’s kind of not necessary, since the general assumption would be that if you had an idea, you’d support it.
I’m not saying you have to love every aspect about breastfeeding to support it. I was ready to wean my son a few months after he turned two. Some people would say I should have let him go longer, let him decide when he was done. Welp, I wasn’t comfortable going longer. Not sure I’ll go much past two years with the next baby; we’ll just have to see. But I know there are mothers who nurse until 3, 4, 5 years and older. You know what? I support them. Period. I respect their ability to make the best decisions for their families. Nursing for that long may not be my cup of tea, but I can still support the moms who do it.
Do you see what I’m getting at? Another example. Maybe you don’t like how moms feed uncovered in public. That’s fine. You can still support those mothers by realizing it’s not about you. Those moms are not trying to make you uncomfortable; they’re simply feeding their baby in the easiest way they know. Maybe they wanted to use a cover, but a thrashing baby said no. Maybe they wanted to use a private room, but one wasn’t available. Maybe they are just as uncomfortable as you are, especially when they feel your disapproving stare. And maybe, they want people to see them feeding because they want to help normalize breastfeeding in our culture. Whatever. The reasons don’t matter. What matters is being able to support those moms even if you wouldn’t personally make the same choice.
It comes down to support. If you want to see breastfeeding moms succeed, give them your full, unconditional support. Don’t try to hold them to your own standards, because that’s not fair. We’re all in different situations, with different babies, just trying to make it work. We need support, not buts.