(In case you’re wondering who the man with me in the photo is, we met in Finland. When I found out he was a new dad I asked him if he minded that his wife was breastfeeding. He looked at me as if I had two heads. Then I explained that in the US some men believe that their wife’s breast belong to them. “No” he said proudly, “Here in Finland we share! I get one breast and the baby gets the other.”)
Ever since I went to my first international breastfeeding conference back when my daughter was just two years old, I have been excited by how much there is to learn about breastfeeding. The subject can be examined from so many different levels from the biological, to the cultural, to the political. Why is our society repulsed by the sight of a mother feeding her baby? How does milk transfer immunity to an infant? Why do Scandinavian countries have higher breastfeeding rates than the US? How does breastfeeding protect the mother from certain breast cancers?
The more I learned the more questions I had. Over the last ten years I have attended five international breastfeeding conferences, read scores of books and articles, visited “Baby Friendly” hospitals in Scandinavia, questioned dozens of experts all in an effort to learn more. Happily there seems to be no limit to how much one can learn about breastfeeding. The mystery of mother’s milk is only just beginning to be unravelled.
My journey began with the decision to breastfeed my daughter Anna. When I was footloose and single I had traveled the world looking for adventure. Pregnant at the age of 38 I remembered the way women in Africa wore their babies constantly. In the context of other cultures breastfeeding made sense while here at home I felt like a radical for even trying. Anna weaned when she was three and by then I had learned so much I decided to share my knowledge with others and so I became a La Leche League Leader. Ever the activist I joined the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition and soon found myself testifying in front of a huge audience at the State House.
Eventually I sat for the IBCLC exam and became a professional Lactation Consultant. These days I do both prenatal and postnatal home visits in the Boston area. I prefer to see women before the baby comes so she can avoid difficulties rather than have to fix problems later. I also lecture whenever possible to venues large and small, so if you’re looking for a speaker let me know.
A few years ago I started forwarding news articles about breastfeeding to like minded friends. Today I maintain the group “Breastfeeding in the News” on Facebook as well my private email list. I created “The Curious Lactivist” blog as a way to share my thoughts with a larger community. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts as well!