Wow! It's hard to know where to start. Celebrities, ice buckets and the U.S. Surgeon General. What do they all have in common? Breastfeeding.
Celebrities who breastfeed are not new. Pink, Gwen Stefani and now Olivia Wilde have all done it. Perhaps these celebrity moms help make breastfeeding a bit more cool? And perhaps these moms exploit their babies just a bit while doing it? But they also show that breastfeeding is breastfeeding. Babies love it and moms do it.
Ice buckets and breastmilk ARE something new...
Celebrity Olivia Wilde took the ice bucket challenge for ALS a step further when she appeared to be dumping a bucket of breast milk over her head. While mothers almost fainted (that would have been me with my first baby and my very low milk supply), I personally love it that Olivia made breastfeeding part of a popular movement to help a worthy cause and caused (most of) us to laugh at the same time.
Breastfeeding and mountain climbing? US Surgeon General Boris Luchniak, a fit, handsome, mountain climber, long distance biker and military guy spoke about breastfeeding at the recent United States Breastfeeding Committee conference as if it were his college dissertation. He was comfortable, excited and knew every small detail about why American moms find it easy, and hard, to breastfeed. He doesn’t expect everyone to climb mountains, but when it comes to the health of our country, he has an basic recipe. We need to move more, eat real food and breastfeed our babies.
Kaye Lidolph and I had the pleasure of presenting break-out sessions for MilkWorks at the USBC conference. It was a wonderful, diverse conference. We listened to a Native American woman talk about mothers losing the art of breastfeeding when their newborns were taken away from them and sent to boarding schools. We heard from an eloquent young African American man who found his way to nursing school, became a lactation consultant and has led the campaign for breastfeeding friendly hospitals on native reservations. We watched as Linda Smith, a pioneer breastfeeding advocate, shed tears as she thanked the Surgeon Genera for his support; Lushniak walked off the stage and gave her a huge hug.
The overriding message that I took away from the USBC conference is that breastfeeding has passed the tipping point. It is no longer a grass roots movement led by a small group of women women - that would be the founding mothers of La Leche League over 58 years ago in Chicago. Human milk and breastfeeding are recognized and touted by medical experts, public health visionaries, diversity proponents, financial consultants and just about everyone as a good thing for our babies, our mothers, our country, our health care system, and our employers. Even Olivia Wilde has helped us to take it one step further with her bucket of iced milk. Breastfeeding has truly arrived!