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What Defines a Lactivist?

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

One of my readers emailed this morning to point me to a discussion forum that's talking about me and my post about weaning Emmitt.

The majority of them are not at all happy with me. Quite a few have declared you can't be a lactivist unless you practice child-led-weaning.

It's an interesting read. I responded at the forum, so no sense for a big long post here.

Curious to hear your thoughts.

I'm most curious to hear what YOU personally define as a Lactivist. What are the criteria? What disqualifies you?

Here's mine:

"I believe anyone who believes in, supports and promotes breastfeeding and the value it provides to mother and child is a Lactivist."

That's all the qualifiers I have. I don't care if you're a man or a woman, breastfed for a day or eight years. If you're out there doing what you can to do help make sure more women have the means to breastfeed, you're a lactivist in my book.

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  1. Blogger Hootchie Scooter Mama | 12:40 PM |  

    Haven't read the other post yet but I bet its really really weird to read about yourself and your personal choices on another blog and then read the discussion that follows.

    I whole heartedly agree with your statement of what a lactivist is. Even one day of breastfeeding is providing something good for your child.

    I'd also add that fighting the good fight to enable women to MAKE THEIR OWN CHOICE when it comes to breastfeeding (e.g. safely breastfeeding in public, breastfeeding education, access to help, not having formula shoved down your throat at the hospital, etc) makes you a lactivist.

    In other words, it's not just about how far you yourself go, it's also
    about enabling women everywhere.

  2. Anonymous Laurie_R | 12:41 PM |  

    I've been reading for a while, but I've never commented until now. Hi!

    For me, lactivism is about supporting the legal rights of mothers to breastfeed where and when they want, for as long as they want, and it's about making sure people are educated on the subject so that they can make informed choices which are right and healthy for their family.

    I don't think an individual's ability to breastfeed, or the length of time that they do it, has anything to do with whether a person can be a breastfeeding advocate.

    I can't access the DS thread, but I have an idea of what they're probably saying. Your visibility and blog seem to make people see you as "The Voice of Lactivism," rather than as an individual woman making an individual choice for her family. I can totally understand people seeing it that way, but I don't think that choosing to wean before 18 months/two years/whenever makes anyone any less of an activist.

  3. Blogger Amy | 12:45 PM |  

    I think a lactivist is anyone who encourages, promotes, and acts to protect breastfeeding.

  4. Anonymous Jenna | 1:08 PM |  

    Telling you that you're not a "good" lactivist or not one at all is the same as random people telling mothers that it's "wrong" for them to breastfeed in public. Judgment is judgment. And it's sad. :(

  5. Anonymous Noble Savage | 1:09 PM |  

    I absolutely agree with what you said on that thread, Jennifer. Lactivism and child-led weaning are two different concepts and are *not* mutually inclusive. I agree with the definitions that have already been given here.

    My daughter started dropping nursing sessions at about 13 months and I was upset at first. I planned to nurse until she was about 2 so hadn't counted on an early wean. She kept dropping sessions until she was down to one or two a day and then just started refusing it point blank by the time she was 17 months. I feel completely satisfied that I *did* practice child-led weaning but because I gave her cow's milk to drink a couple times a week during the process so that I knew she was getting some much-needed calcium, I was accused of 'sabotaging' our nursing relationship.

    People who judge individual nursing relationships and hold everyone to their own standards are not very sensitive, nor are they doing lactivism a service.

  6. Blogger Lesley | 1:13 PM |  

    I agree with your definition Jenn.

    By putting limits on what a lactivism should be, you eliminate so many who could continue to help our cause and it paints us as crazed zealots who are and should remain on the fringe.

    I read your post, and I have to agree with hootchie scooter mama...must be really weird to have your choices dissected without you as part of the discussion.

  7. Anonymous Abby | 1:41 PM |  

    I agree with you, too, Jenn. I didn't do child-led weaning, but I have very strong feelings about promoting breastfeeding. I consider anyone who wants a better environment for breastfeeding to be a "lactivist." Anyone who supports breastfeeding and shares the wealth of information you share deserves the title of Queen Lactivist. ;-)

  8. Blogger K | 1:51 PM |  


    The CLW crowd needs to get over it. Lactivism is not about who nurses the most, the longest; it isn't a competition and it isn't about Mothers Attacking Mothers.

    Jen -- I agree with your definition 100%.

    PS BC? MDC? Curious.

  9. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 1:57 PM |  

    Thanks K! Neither though...some cloth diapering forum I hadn't heard of before.

    Makes me wonder if anyone else is out there talking about me. Honestly, I had to check to make sure I was wearing underwear today. Feel a bit like Britney Spears...

    I guess I need to put a disclaimer up on my site to make it clear I withdrew myself from the "best mom" competition ages ago. I got a gold medal once in high school. I don't need any more. Especially not when I could trade them for the chance at an uninterrupted night's sleep while a grandparent watches my kid.


  10. Blogger Sarahbear | 3:20 PM |  

    Oh for Pete's sake...to be honest, those women just sound like they are jealous. Especially the one who tried to guilt trip you about her kid getting meningitis and telling you it's selfish to want your body back, your husband back and a normal life back.

    Those are actually the very type of women who push women away from breastfeeding, with their militant attitudes. In their minds, it's a competition.

    There's nothing wrong with child led weaning, but there's also nothing wrong with realizing that you can't take it anymore. Too many parents give up their relationships with their spouse in order to cater to everything they think their child needs, only to wind up divorced or in a 'what do we do now?' phase once the kids are grown. I would LOVE to go to London, Greece or France or anywhere like that traveling (for a job or a vacation with hubby).

    I have to wonder, just like you, do they have such a big problem with father's having to travel for jobs? Probably not. What about women who are in the military and get deployed? Are they bad moms because their job forces them to be away from their kids sometimes? In situations where they put their life at risk?

    Not everyone feels the need to be around their kids 24 hours a day. There's nothing wrong with that. There's also nothing wrong with weaning your kid before college. Good luck to you with weaning Emmitt and hope you guys have a blast in London.=)

  11. Blogger Kendra | 4:05 PM |  

    Oh BLECH!! Jen, this is silly. A Lactivist is a person who is an activist for lactation. Isn't that what the freaking NAME means?!

    I nursed my first until he was 4, does that make me a "better" lactivist? 'Cause I totally pushed weaning on him pretty damned hard. Same for my 2nd when he was 3 1/2. Am I more "The Lactivist" than you because my nursing relationships matured differently? /rolling eyes I've never sent a press release to anyone. Never orchestrated a nursing demonstration... Never been contacted by any HUGE national company for something I was doing to promote breastfeeding... Frankly, I feel that gives you MUCH more 'street cred' (LOL) than I.

  12. Blogger Mademoiselle Oulla | 5:24 PM |  

    I am deeply disturbed by most of those comments on the DS forum. I am breastfeeding my 21 month old and DO plan to CLW, but I know I will never go to that forum for any reason. Yikes. They are cruel and judgemental and holier than thou. I have never come across people who were Extended nursing who were NOT nice, and it's a sad realization that there are, indeed, unkind ENers out there. I guess my bubbles been burst. I spend too much time on kellymom where everyone is nice. and here. You are great, Jennifer, a great mom and a great Lactivist. I really admire the way you responded to that thread with such composure. My blood pressure would be through the roof with indignation at the rude and petty comments. Ugh, how sad.

  13. Anonymous jessica lietz | 5:42 PM |  

    I think a "lactivist" is someone who actively works to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding.

    Jennifer, it seemed to me that most of the women on that board were taking issue with you traveling without your children.

    It also seemed to me that they look to you as a mentor regarding lactivism, and whenever anyone is seen as being elevated in status, jealousy and resentment can make others want to bring those leaders down.

    If I were you I'd take it as a compliment: clearly they are paying enough attention to you and have been for quite some time, so as to be discouraged by an incongruence in your behavior from what they had expected and maybe hoped for!

  14. Anonymous Abby | 7:25 PM |  

    Do you ever stop to think that people are butting into your life because theirs are so boring they have nothing better to do? I think the Bible calls that being a busybody.

    You have accomplished so much for the breastfeeding world that it is a sad day when you get scrutinized for making a choice that many breastfeeding moms make. That's what happens when you become a celebrity! In this world, you are probably one of the biggest celebrities, which is a good thing. :-)

  15. Blogger Hot Librarian | 8:26 PM |  

    I find this all very upsetting. Mothers should support other mothers, no matter what, and one mother should NEVER try to make another mother feel guilty. I posted about this on my own blog here. The moms on that forum are just one-upping each other as to who gets less sleep and who leaves their child for less amount of time and who is perfect so they win parenting good for them.

    A lactivist is someone who advocates breastfeeding. End of story. I respect and admire you, Jennifer, especially because the experiences you share are REAL. There are a lot of us working moms out there who have to take a realistic approach to parenting, and I'm glad you are still blogging and sharing your experiences.

  16. Blogger Hot Librarian | 8:31 PM |  

    And P.S., I too will be traveling without my child in July. The Husband and I desperately need time away together, and I think my daughter will be much better off spending ten days with her grandparents than listening to mommy and daddy bicker out of stress for the next 10 years.

  17. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 8:43 PM |  

    Hey Hot Librarian...maybe I should print up shirts for our kidlets that read "mom and dad went on a cool vacation and all I got was this dumb lactivist shirt."


    I guess it's a good thing I didn't mention I'm aiming to take my mom to Europe for two weeks next fall as "thanks" for watching my kids when I need to travel.

    (ducks and runs!)

  18. Blogger Casey | 9:19 PM |  

    Wow. I haven't read the diaperswappers comments yet, but really all I can say is wow. I don't think that lactivism is a contest. It really isn't about being better than someone else. I think it's about supporting breastfeeding. In my opinion, one doesn't need to breastfeed in order to be a lactivist, and one certainly does not need to let the child lead weaning to be a lactivist. I know several moms who gave nudges to CLW, but that doesn't in any way make them less supportive of breastfeeding. Sheesh.

  19. Anonymous LoveMyTwo | 1:39 AM |  

    As far as the definition of a lactivist - I'm more of the mind where it's standing up for and providing education regarding the baby's rights. I'm just the one giving the nutrition.. so my rights as far as giving it is just an extension of what is most important - the baby's right to have that nutrition.

    Did that make any sense?? lol

    I think.. and I cannot be sure because I'm not them - but I think that people see you as having a very wide audience and quite possibly a lot of influence over a lot of mommas who are either thinking of breastfeeding... or currently are. (a lot of responsibility!) ... so when they see what most consider early weaning practices, etc.. I think they felt upset by the example they thought you were setting.

    Again, JMO on where they were coming from.

  20. Anonymous LoveMyTwo | 1:57 AM |  

    Really quick...

    My husband just said:

    "Hey, I'm a lactivist.. and I've obviously never breastfed!"

    That made me LOL.. considering the discussion so I thought I'd share. ;)

  21. Anonymous Megan | 6:24 AM |  

    Hi :) I have read your blog for about a year now, but have never posted. I have 3 kids - all boys - ages 6, 3, and 10 months. I stayed at home with my first one who would not take a bottle, worked full time with my second who took about 3 bottles every day with a baby sitter or my husband while I was at work, and am staying at home with my 3rd one who is still nursing.

    Numbers 1 and 2 self-weaned at ages 11 and 12 months. When I say self wean, I mean it! They loved table food, walked early, were always on the move, and never looked back.

    Number 3 is very different. For one, he is a heck of a lot calmer than the other 2, a heck of a lot smaller (they were both HUGE babies and are still HUGE kids), and he LOVES LOVES LOVES breast milk. Can't get enough of it. He eats morning, noon, and night - meaning 10pm, 3am, 5am - because he is not a big fan of table food or baby food, so a lot of his calories still come from breast milk.

    I am realizing now that nursing him will be a very different story, and I am being forced to look at the very question you brought up in your now "controversial" post. How do I feel about "forced" weaning vs. "child-led" weaning?

    I have never had to deal with that question. I have never before been faced with this issue. I have been reading a lot about it lately, because I really do not know where I stand on it. Your post was both helpful, and eye-opening to me because it showed me where I may be in several months.

    As I read the comments on that forum, I thought that THIS is why people think poorly of the lactivist cause. If there were more reasoned arguments made, such as those I have read on your site, about nursing in public and about why it is important to support nursing mothers for example, I think people would be less disparaging. It is not as though they are making reasoned arguments about child led weaning for the record. They are just basically attacking you.

    I think the definition of a lactivist is someone who supports giving human milk to human babies. Someone could be a lactivist who does not breastfeed, has never breastfed, and will never breastfeed - such as my husband. How are we ever going to educate women AND MEN about the benefits of nursing if we start out by judging them and ridiculing them first? That would be like trying to help someone lose weight by telling fat jokes rather than by showing them the statistics about how losing weight can improve their health and increase their longevity.

    Isn't it so much easier for people to write off the cause of lactivism by simply saying that these are just a bunch of hypercritical women? Think about it this way, if any of us had a friend that we would like to encourage to nurse, where would we send them - to The Lactivist blog or to a forum such as the one that is currently ganging up on you? Hmmmm...

    One more thing I'd like to add if you'll all be patient with me for a moment (I realized I had a lot to say all of the sudden after having never posted at all), at what point did you say that you are just in favor of taking the EASY way out? I recall reading posts about how nursing your son has been very difficult for a long time. I remember your saying that you have taken him to conferences where he is not even allowed on the premises so that you can make a mad rush during breaks to nurse him at a location away from the conference. You also have mentioned more than once your lack of sleep due to his nursing through the night - believe me, I know how that is. I even remember someone posting on here that nursing should just come easy because it is natural, and your posting about how the important things we do in life are hard. So, let's review...when did you say you wanted the easy way out? I must have missed it! These people are reading what they want to read rather than what you have actually written because they have an ax to grind.

    You just happened to be the scapegoat. Lucky you! Hang in there, and have a great time in London with your husband - you deserve it!

  22. Blogger Alena | 7:34 AM |  

    I agree with your definition of Lactivist. Lactivism and CLW are two completely different things. Just because someone practices CLW, if they do it "in the closet", it doesn't make them a lactivist. And being a lactivist doesn't mean you have to practice CLW.

    I consider myself somewhat of a lactivist, even though I don't express myself in a public forum like you do. And as much pro-breastfeeding as I am, I couldn't do child-led weaning. My son was 2 and a half years old and showed absolutely no signs of wanting to slow down. He would nurse every hour if I let him. If I didn't try to wean, he would probably be nursing until high school.

    So CLW might work for some people, but it's not for everyone. And just because you didn't choose this path, it's your actions, support, education, and encouragement about breastfeeding that makes you a lactivist.

  23. Blogger K | 7:55 AM |  

    Couldn't help myself. Took a peek at that forum and was shocked that to find it meaner than I expected. The horror over leaving for 11 days!!! Seriously.

    Implicit in their shock ("I Could Never Leave My Babies For Even 11 Hours!") is the message "I Am A Better Mother Who Loves Her Child(ren) More."

    That is crap.

    Big old steamy crapola.

    I would jump at an opportunity to take an 11 day trip with just my husband. Would I miss my son terribly? You bet. But would he or I be traumatized by the separation? Nope. He is a well adjusted, happy little boy who knows his parents love him dearly.

    Those snarky broads over at that forum (and their counterparts at various other momma boards) can revel in their superiority while you and the husband enjoy London, each other's company AND while Emmitt and Nora have a blast with their grandparents.


  24. Anonymous sinead@breastfeedingmums | 7:55 AM |  

    Just posted about you! When I hear the words breastfeeding support "Jennifer The Lactivist" is the first thing to pop into my head!!

  25. Blogger Natalie | 8:43 AM |  

    Humm. All very very good thoughts. I too don't think Lactivism and child-led weaning are mutually inclusive.

    It took me three months to wean my toddler when I was pregnant for her sister (I was too chicken to tandum nurse). I was determined to have her weaned by the beginning of my last trimester. First I cut out nursing before naps and then at bed and then in the middle of the night (enter sippy cup with water-didn't work at first - but as a last resort, she eventually gave in). Then, during the day, did the, "don't ask, don't offer" policy. At 18-months, she got the hint - with a little tiny bit of pushing from me. Mostly child-led - but sometimes they just need a little encouragement!

    I've been part of a LLL group and a different support group run by a IBCLC. In both groups, we discussed lactivists a lot. Everyone felt that Lactivist was a very strong word.

    In both groups, the leaders and members decided that a lactivist would be more than just a supporter of breastfeeding, more than someone who breastfed for a very short amount of time (unless a serious medical problem prevented her to do so).

    A lactivist would be someone who stands up for the laws of breastfeeding, encourages pregnant mothers to breastfeed and does not accept a simple "that's gross, or not interested" for an answer.

    A true lactivist may not say anything to a mom-to-be who says that, but, in her mind, she would think that mother is putting herself above her baby.

    A lactivist would check in on new moms, offer advice and support, give out contact info for local LLL and lactation consultants if they needed help.

    She would stay abreast of the new health information/studies/public awareness and issues on breastfeeding (whether still nursing or not) and help educate women about the challenges of breastfeeding in itself and the challenges she may face with doctors, friends and in the public. She will help a mom to be prepared and equipped to fight the breastfeeding "battle" that often presents itself.

    Lactivists are women determined to breastfeed come hell or high water. They work past sore nipples, engorgement, low milk-supply, biting, nursing strikes, infections, etc., reach out for help when they need it and dare to nurse past the AAP's recommended six months.

    A lactivist would report pediatric doctors and nurses who do not follow the international code of breastfeeding. They would ask doctors to use the breastfed baby growth chart. They would educate their doctors on the latest breastfeeding information if need be.

    A lactivist would immediately find a new doctor if her doctor shook his head and sighed in disbelief when he found out his patient was STILL nursing her 10-month-old.

    Sometimes, in America (I now live in Europe where people tend to say what they mean/want more often than not-Americans call it rude, here they call it normal) we are afraid of hurting people's feelings. We're all about being politically correct. We don't want to offend anyone. A lactivist, while tactful, is someone who's a little less concerned about saying the right thing, and more concerned about encouraging a mother to do the right thing - whether it offends her or not. Human milk for human babies, right?!

    Can a father/man be a lactivist. Yes. Is my husband? You bet. While he keeps his humble opinions to himself better than I do, he thinks that a women who does not try like hell to nurse (he knows, first hand, how hard it can be. Heck, he's helped me latch and relatch a baby more times than he can probably count and he's rubbed my back as I cried for weeks on end during the early months of troubled-nursing) is a lazy mother. He's a marathon runner, an Army Ranger. He knows that good things can be exhausting, painful and hard to attain. So, to him, a mother who puts less than six weeks into the effort of nursing is a mother who didn't try hard enough. I've even overheard him give a mother advice regarding a low-milk supply! Lactivist, I think so!

  26. Blogger Bethany | 9:08 AM |  

    I honestly don't think Lactivism has anything to do with how long you personally breastfed, or even if you breastfed at all. It's about standing up for the rights of breastfeeding moms, and spreading the word that nursing is a very positive thing. Both of which you've done flawlessly in my opinion.

    What else will these CLW fanatics crucify other nursing moms for? Not nursing in public? Working outside the home? Giving babies *gasp* store-bought baby food? We don't all fit into a perfect little box of what a good mom is supposed to be, including lactivists.

    If we choose to judge others we choose to alienate them-and isn't part of the goal of lactivism to make it okay to be open about nursing? I know the goal is definitely not to make others feel guilty or ashamed of their mothering techniques.

    I read the posts on this forum, and these people should be ashamed of themselves.

  27. Blogger Eilat | 9:11 AM |  

    Didn't Andi Silverman, author of "Mama Knows Breast" (and blogger), wean her boys at around a year? I suppose the angry women on that forum would never buy her book. Whatever.

    It's true, Jennifer. These people put you on a pedestal that is not of your own making. That is too much pressure for anyone, and is simply not fair.

    How weird to have people discuss you like that!?!

    My husband is a total lactivist, and has also never breast fed. He noticed a pregnant woman at work and went to the HR department and got them to set up a lactation room. He did this without asking the woman if she was going to breastfeed. Regardless, he thought, the option should be there. He even got one of those international breastfeeding symbols to put on the door of the room.

    (turns out the woman does want to breastfeed and was very happy to see the new room).

    THAT is lactivism -- what is so hard to grasp?

    I would also like to point out that LLL's recommendation for breastfeeding mirrors the AAP's: 12 months and thereafter as long as is MUTUALLY desired.

  28. Anonymous Jackie | 10:22 AM |  

    Wow. I just wanted to smack the poster who called your attitude "cavalier." Nice work defending yourself against the women on that forum who clearly have no sense that mothering is not a competition.

  29. Anonymous Anonymous | 11:08 AM |  

    I'm not a huge follower of your blog, but I do read it from time to time and comment occasionally. I read your post asking whether you should continue your blog now (or in a few months) and I felt like saying to call it quits. I enjoy reading your blog for the breastfeeding info not so much for your stories about Elnora and Emmitt. Then I looked at the message board that you had linked and now I see why you posed the question. I think you should ignore your critics and continue with what you want to do, writing your blog when and if you have time. You are "The Lactivist" and you've done milk banks and women a great service. I do not see you as an example of perfection (and recognize you've never made such a claim), but you have been very successful in promoting breastfeeding/breastmilk and have been and will be a wonderful example of a lactivist (and you should not be self-conscience of having the title).

    Go Blue! ;-)

  30. Anonymous Mommy's Getaway (TamP) | 11:15 AM |  

    Wow. I can't believe the posts in that discussion forum.

    For me...lactivism is simply supporting breastfeeding in any way possible. It can range from the 'quiet, behind the lines, just being an example to someone else' all the way to 'on the front lines, making speeches and changing laws'. Either way (and any gray in between), you are supporting breastfeeding. That is what makes a lactivist in my mind.

  31. Blogger Amanda | 11:25 AM |  

    Thank you for being "The" Lactivist. I think the people on that forum need something to make them feel better, and putting down your mothering is it. This is exactly the thing we don't need when trying to promote an accepting breastfeeding culture.

  32. Anonymous Abby | 11:59 AM |  

    I think this is my third comment in this thread, but I'm thrilled that so many women here are in support of you and your decisions.

    I kept reading the "forced" weaning thing, and I'm thinking, isn't child led weaning just as forced, especially if the mom isn't ready to let go? Maybe we should enforce the use of the term "mother led weaning" because it sounds more like what it is, a gentle, slow approach to weaning, because the mom is ready to give it up. Forced sounds like something a doctor makes you do when you start on a medication that you can't take while breastfeeding. That to me is forced.

    And I have to say that I'm a little jealous of the positive support, because I definitely don't much of that. My family is a lot like the women on that forum, except they think I'm nuts for being an advocate for breastfeeding.

  33. Blogger Mademoiselle Oulla | 4:51 PM |  

    This is my second comment on this post. I've been thinking about the comments on that DS forum today, and on reflection I can kindasorta see why they are so judgemental. It's hard being a nursing mom when you feel like society is against you. It sucks feeling like I have little real life support now that I am "still" nursing a 21 month old. I hate that awkward feeling I have to face whenever someone asks "so how long did you breastfeed?" a question I've been getting for about a year now and which assumes that I stopped a long time ago. When I was a new mom, I faced breastfeeding challenges but it was easier to find some support, but now that I am nursing a 21 month old, I feel like people who know I nurse think I am really weird. I don't usually dwell on it, but it's not fun feeling like even people who support breastfeeding are no longer supportive after a year (or whatever time at which people get freaked out by it).

    Anyway, I am not saying you deserved their scorn. I was just trying to understand why they had the scorn.

    A previous commenter talked about moms who don't breastfeed being lazy. There's some more scorn we can do without. Why do people have to be so judgemental?

  34. Anonymous Anonymous | 6:16 PM |  

    I was a bit bothered by the post they are talking abou too. I left after reading kinda scratching my head.

    I think one of the cornerstone beliefs that alot of dedicated breastfeeding moms have...right or wrong...is that the child directs weaning ...not mom. Mom sacrafices and deals with pain and no social life, and weird stares because she is doing what is BEST for her child. Part of being a lactivist means acknowledging and telling others about the fact that breast really IS best and the longer the better...so of course lactivist mom (in our minds) would NEVER direct her child to wean so she can go on vacation. That goes against what we know is best for the child. When I read your post the thing that stuck with me is....she is making her child wean so she can go to Europe. That makes your decision to stop breastfeeding all about you...and isn't it supposed to be about the child?

    Technically your definition of a lactivist is correct but I think MANY moms that came to here to read think breastfeeding activism is also about making a firm decision and commitment to the child and then honoring it until they (the child) are ready to call quits and not the other way around. Usually an activist is a hard core, dedicated, there are on the front lines, leading by example.....you get the idea.

    I don't think you should be judged for your decision but I think many readers feel a little betrayed. That was NOT something we ever thought we would read on a pro breastfeeding blog.

    On the DS forum you said it was like saying someone was not an environmentalist for not living in a tree getting bulldozed. But please understand that the post in question for many seemed to be like an environmentalist on an environmetal activist blog saying after 14 months...yeah ya know I got tired of washing dishes so I am going to go back to using disposable dinnerware from now on.It just leaves some of us going WTH?

    Best to you...really. I just wanted to pop in and see if I could explain where some of our heads might be on the issue...but I probably did poor job of it.

  35. Blogger Heather | 8:48 PM |  

    Mom sacrafices and deals with pain and no social life, and weird stares because she is doing what is BEST for her child. Part of being a lactivist means acknowledging and telling others about the fact that breast really IS best and the longer the better...so of course lactivist mom (in our minds) would NEVER direct her child to wean so she can go on vacation. That goes against what we know is best for the child. When I read your post the thing that stuck with me is....she is making her child wean so she can go to Europe.

    That's not why she is weaning Emmitt. She's made that quite clear. That is a factor, yes; but it is ABSOLUTELY NOT the reason. Should we completely rearrange our lives, change our opinions, and deny ourselves all attempts at any sort of pleasure just because we have a child now?

    To suggest that is only, or even the primary, reason behind her decision to wean Emmitt is to completely ignore everything else she has said. That trip has given her a timeline by which it will be a good idea to be done, otherwise she WILL traumatize her child... but I think that regardless of this trips existence, her choice will be the same.

    It is what is BEST for HER and HER CHILD. No one else can make that decision but her. Would you want complete strangers telling you what is best for your child? I certainly wouldn't.

    I stand by Jennifer, and will continue to do so. I think that she has gone above and beyond the call of duty. Cal her selfish, a bad mother, or whatever... but don't you dare impinge on her right to make the decision on what is best or HER family.

    Do explain; what sort of trauma or damage is going to occur because of this? IS her child now going to suffer some horrendous disease, or contract an allergy, or something else, because she's weaned?

    Or could it be that maybe, just maybe... nothing bad will happen at all, and everyone concerned will be happy?

  36. Blogger Rebekah | 7:14 AM |  

    I've been reading for a while but have never commented. I'm a big believer in making decisions that are best for the family as a whole and your decision to wean seems to fit that to a T. I don't think that in any way compromises your position as a "lactivist" or warrents the negative comments some have directed your way.

    I struggled to nurse my son until he was about 14 months - largely because I was pregnant and it was extremely uncomfortable and, well, draining. I pushed through until we completed a move to Denmark and then started weaning him. It took about a month and I felt a little like a quitter despite making my original goal of exclusive nursing for six months and continued nursing through 12 months. But I did what I thought was best for my son in nursing him until after our move, and then did what I thought was best for all three of us by gently weaning him when I did.

    I don't know exactly why I'm telling this story other than to say I identify with your descriptions of why nursing was getting increasingly hard - the "bite-latch" etc. - and think you're doing the right thing for yourself, Emmett and the rest of your family. Not that you need my approval. :)

  37. Blogger pumpkinhead | 2:40 PM |  

    I have never commented here before, but I 100% agree with your definition of lactivist. I think that you have done a remarkable job to make it to 14 months still nursing, especially in a world where many babies don't get as much as 6 weeks of breastmilk. That is something to be proud of!

  38. Blogger Ethel | 9:11 AM |  

    My own definition of lactivism: "Empowering people to make educated decisions about breastfeeding and supporting breastfeeding." Note I didn't even say "women" - male doctors can be great targets of lactivism, and fathers.

    And I definitely think Jennifer fits my definition of lactivism , and helps us break away from an overly narrow definition of Lactivism that relies on women fitting a mold or having options that simply aren't realistic for some women. The sort of lactivism that relies on litmus tests like "child led weaning, yes or no?" is what I call "radical lactivism". It's a philosophy that takes a good thing to an extreme.

    I also personally don't believe in child-led weaning anymore. I believe in family-led weaning, where every person in the family gets a voice and their needs are measured against the needs of the others. Sometimes this will look just like child-led weaning, and sometimes it will look like mother-led weaning.

    As for 11 days away from a one-year-old - I personally wouldn't do it, but I don't work as an activist or in a job requiring travel. I think it is definitely a personal decision. The important thing to me is that you are making an educated decision and you are considering the welfare of your child in the decision. And you are clearly doing both of these things.

  39. Anonymous Angela | 8:15 PM |  

    Hi all...

    I popped over to see what was going on over at DS thread... and it seems just ridiculous.

    Jennifer, they are simply trying to tear you down (you already know this lol). They feel that as they are staying 100% true to THEIR 'law's of lactivism', and resent that you can be well known and respected lthough you don't live up to their standards.

    I really feel that their resentment is directed at themselves. May not be the case (I don't know anyone of them personally) but could they actually resent what they have gone through? They think that their are doing the best by their child(ren) by not setting a single boundary in regards to brestfeeding. This is their choice, and I will fight for people's rights to choose. However, judging someone else who is taking a very publicised role in promoting breastfeeding (as opposed to pulling down others on a private board) is not the way to further the cause.

    Could these women feel an overwhelming sense of guilt? If they don't breastfeed for as long as the sky is blue, do they feel that they are disadvantging their child? So they choose to overcompensate by over-extending themselves with breastfeeding. Probably not the case, but worth thinking about, I am just trying to see why they would be so vehemently opposed.

    I did EVERYTHING I could do to breastfeed my son when he was born. Consults with the Child Health Nurse every two days, pumping after feeds, motillium to help my supply, fennel and cammomile to the hilt... protein with every meal.... what ever I needed to do, I did. I struggled to do "the best thing" by my son to give him the best for life by breatfeeding him. He didn't gain his birthweight back until he was almost two months old. Why?? He couldn't suck. He had undiagnosed conditions that effected his tone. I put him on formula and he thrived.

    I spent months struggling to breastfeed and felt so worthless as a mother, because of all those 'breastfeeding nazi's'... I had a lactation consultant chase me down the hallway yelling questions about nipple attachment and feeding in the hospital. Breastfeeding IS best, for as long as possible! But we couldn't do it, even with the best help, I mean my son couldn't even suck for long enough to finish a feed on a fast flowing teat.

    It is people like some we see on the DS board that can cause damage to a mother's self-esteem.

    Please keep focused on what you are acheiving, because you are giving a valid, wholesome and stable point to the world about breastfeeding. Neither apathetic or fanatical, you are 'walking the middle road' and helping women everywhere.

    I will be staying tuned to your site for a long time to come.

    God bless,


    P.S. don't mean to offend anyone, just telling it as I see it.

  40. Anonymous lyndaBV | 8:33 AM |  

    IMHO, Lactivists are people who support families who breastfeed, who encourage women to breastfeed, who tell men they don't have to fear it. Lactivists promote the health advantages for our children and moms and the healthy nurturing bonds created by it, which honestly, in the USA we could use a good deal more of. Granted, the experience of actually breastfeeding often gives a little more weight to this encouragement and support, but even when I do stop breastfeeding, I will still be a lactivist. I will still smile at a woman nursing in the middle of the mall (and of course, tell her I did it all the time and everywhere!)

    As for "child-led" weaning, how is that defined exactly? Does the child suddenly stop and say "All done!" or does there have to be a part played by the mom who watches and studies her child's habits and behaviors and realize that her child is beginning to move on and perhaps she has to help them get to the next stage as well as get herself to that stage of acceptance?

    At 2 years, 9 months, my first daughter gave me the impression that she would wean soon, she was distracted, short-lived and snacking most times she actually popped on and was enjoying food more and more. So I figured we would celebrate her closer with her 3rd birthday, making it an event.

    What happens? My father has a fall and dies within the month. Suddenly, my world was upended and my daughter was snacking and rather uninterested just doing it out of habit. We ended more abruptly than either of us wanted and had to cope with many things that year, but I think we both made the right decision. She was "put out" for awhile, but she just wanted the snuggling, not necessarily the breast, so we implemented "Snuggle like we're nursing time" which went on for another year at least (now at age 7 its a running joke with us when she watches her 2 yr old sis nurse.) Was I a "child-led" weaner or selfish?

    "Child-Led" nursing involves watching and learning from your child, but a mom has to make choices that do benefit both parties in the nursing bond. Nursing is not a "sacrifice" when given with love and time, energy and heart, but when life overwhelms us, I believe there are times when we are led to do the best thing for the child by stopping. If a mom gets pregnant and her blood pressure drops so low when nursing she has to stop, is that not "child-led" so as to not endanger the health of the mom or the child within (or event he nurser who would be traumatized by the loss of either of the other two.) I think sometimes people make too much of definition and should look at love and how it is expressed. Refusing to nurse because it is "inconvenient" is a disservice. Not being able to nurse long for health reasons, well thank goodness nursing happens. All in all we want nursing to happen, as much as possible, with as much love as possible for the sake of all our future children.

    God Bless.

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