It's World Breastfeeding Week on Planet Earth! From August 1st through 7th, families around the world are celebrating what breastfeeding means to them, and San Francisco mamas and papas kicked off our part of the celebration this morning at City Hall.
For the second year in a row Mia and I took part in the Big Latch On, an event created to connect the community of nursing moms, city by city, around the world, during World Breastfeeding Week. Last year we met up in Crissy Field, and this year we were on the steps on the rotunda at San Francisco City Hall. There were tons of people around, many dressed up to attend weddings, and lots of happy, teary-eyed couples. As a bunch of mamas with babies crawling all over the steps, taking time out to nurse and catch up as our kids played and shared toys and snacks, no one paid much attention to us, as it should be. (SF Weekly came by and shared our story and a great photo).
Before I started nursing I never even fathomed that breastfeeding could be controversial. I always planned to nurse when I had children and I'm so proud that since my daughter was born I've been able to give her all the amazing things that come with nursing (in my house breastmilk is baby food, it fixes diaper rash, clears up runny eyes and even helps unstuff noses). But the gifts to me have been just as great. Breastfeeding has become a huge source of joy and growth in my motherhood journey.
Am I lucky that I've only been called out for nursing in public once by a close-minded relative who was easily ignored? Sadly, I guess so based on the stories I've heard from other mothers. Absurd nursing controversies make me sad for the offenders AND for the mother and child experiencing such ridiculous behavior. What type of person bitches to or about a mother feeding a child? Get over it.
So based on my personal experience, when I first read "Mothers for Human Rights" in the headline of the SF Weekly story today, it felt grandiose—are we really doing something as dramatic as fighting for a human right? As the day went on, I grew more comfortable with the phrase. Now I know we absolutely are. The right to nurse in public is protected by law (here are California's if you want to check them out), and more importantly, my need comfort and nurture my child overrides any fleeting discomfort someone may feign at the briefest flash of a breast. Again, I'll suggest getting over it. Or don't. By the time you figure it out we'll probably be done anyway.
As we were finishing up today someone asked, "Is this a nurse-in?," thinking she'd stumbled upon a protest. "Not at all," one of my fellow breastfeeders said. "We're just feeding our babies for World Breastfeeding Week." She was surprised such a thing existed, but walked away saying how great it was. The celebrations are continuing across the Bay Area and around the world this week, and I'll be posting more about breastfeeding this week as well.