- My first child was born and I became a breastfeeding mother
- I joined the Nursing Mothers' Association of Australia
While it is to be expected that motherhood is life-changing, I had no idea the path I was taking by joining the local group of this breastfeeding support network - probably best I didn't!
27 years later, I consider myself to be a 'lactavist", which Wikipedia describes as:
Not sure about some of that description, but gives you the general idea! The last paragraph best describes my focus.
Lactivism (portmanteau of "lactation" and "activism") is a term used to describe the advocacy of breastfeeding. Supporters, referred to as "lactivists", seek to promote the health benefits of breastfeeding over formula-feeding and to ensure that nursing mothers are not discriminated against.One form that lactivism can take is the staging of a "nurse-in" (a play on "sit-in"), which involves women gathering in public to breastfeed their children, usually to protest incidents in which a nursing mother was asked to cover up or leave a location because she was breastfeeding.Often during nurse-ins, breastfeeding mothers will sometimes wear clothing with the International Breastfeeding Symbol on it, to show their solidarity.Another form of lactivism is simply acting as support for mothers that wish to breastfeed. Some mothers may not have the information necessary to succeed, and some have been provided incomplete or misleading information by healthcare professionals, friends, family members, and others that have no experience with breastfeeding. This support often also includes help for mothers who initially had a hospital lactation consultant that opted for formula at the first sign of difficulties with feeding.
Currently, I continue my volunteer work with what is now called the Australian Breastfeeding Association. I qualified as a Breastfeeding Counsellor in May 1992 and my qualifications are now formalised as Certficates IV in Breastfeeding Education - Counselling and Community - my sole tertiary qualifications!
In June 2006, I took on part-time employment as office administrator with the Victorian Branch of ABA and this has evolved to my current paid work as Office Manager at the office which now operates from the Breastfeeding Centre in Dandenong, where I work in both admin and breastfeeding support roles. Two key areas of my admin work are coordinating our breast pump hire service and Breastfeeding Education Classes (BECs) across our State. I facilitate our breastfeeding drop-in days each week, where I combine my counselling skills with the resources we have available at the Centre to support women as they work through breastfeeding challenges.
My volunteer work is now primarily beyond the local level of the Association, with the management of the Photo Library in the capacity of Visual Images Working Group coordinator being my primary job, however I am involved in many aspects of the organisation and continue to do two four-hour shifts on our Breastfeeding Helpline each month. I run BECs for twin parents as well as general ones. I am also on the team currently managing the 50th Anniversary History Project, which involves working with our Founder Mary Paton and other "movers and shakers" from the past 47 years of the Association, which began six months after I was born!
- I am passionate about women making informed decisions about every aspect of infant feeding, including the risks of artificial feeding.
- I am passionate that women do not fail to breastfeed, rather society fails to give them the support they need to do so.
- I believe it takes a community to allow the full-term breastfeeding our bodies were intended to provide and that breasts have not suddenly ceased to function in western countries since the industrial revolution and that society needs to recognise its role in reversing the barriers it has put in place.
- I believe that formula companies do not put the best interests of mothers and babies ahead of their profits and that they effectively market against breastfeeding through their product promotions.
- Babes in Arms - a Rod for your Own Back?
- My submission to the parliamentary enquiry into breastfeeding
- Artificial Feeding - nothing to do with breastfeeding
- Article in Daily Telegraph which refers to above piece
- Starting Solids - when is my baby ready?
- Myself with Shelia Kitzenger on her website