If you are friends with me on Facebook you’ve probably seen me post a few things about the I Support You movement. Check out the inspiring posts about it over on the Fearless Formula Feeder, Mama By the Bay, and I am Not the Babysitter as well as this quick overview from HuffPo.
Here’s what the I Support You Movement is all about:
The I Support You movement is a respectful, empathetic, compassionate exchange between parents. We all feed our children differently, but we are all feeding with love, and in ways that work for our individual circumstances and family dynamics. I Support You is the first step in helping formula-feeding, breast-feeding, and combo-feeding parents to come together and lift each other up with kindness and understanding. We have chosen to announce this movement during World Breastfeeding Week, to honor the commitment of those who fight for better support for breastfeeding moms; we are inspired by this, but believe that by changing the focus to supporting all parents, we can truly provoke positive change without putting the needs of some mothers above the needs of others. The “I Support You” movement aims:
1) To bridge the gap between formula-feeding and breastfeeding parents by fostering friendships and interactions.
2) To dispel common myths and misperceptions about formula feeding and breastfeeding, by asking parents to share their stories, and really listening to the truth of their experiences.
3) To provide information and support to parents as they make decisions about how to feed their children.
4) To connect parents with local resources, mentors, and friends who are feeding their children in similar ways.
This movement is near and dear to my heart. If you know me or have read my story here on my blog you know my breastfeeding experience was a struggle and ultimately we combo fed for three months and then exclusively formula fed for the remainder of Gretchen’s first year.
I’m joining the movement and raising awareness by interviewing my friend Brie, who has some great insight to share regarding infant feeding and how we can all support each other.
Describe your infant feeding experience in a few sentences: (breastfeeding, pumping, any supplementing, etc)
Charlie was exclusively breastfed from birth to 6.5 months and we were lucky enough to have a pretty easy time of it from the start. I returned to work when he was 3 months old and pumped for him at work, and nursed at home. At about 6.5 months, his demand outstripped my supply so we supplemented with a few formula bottles a week. He is now 10 months old and I plan to continue nursing indefinitely, but I will quit pumping at a year.
What has been the hardest part of your breastfeeding experience this last year?
I didn’t anticipate how hard it would be lose my personal space and freedom. Since Charlie nurses a lot and I pump 2-3 times a day, I get “touched out” very easily these days and don’t like to cuddle or snuggle as much as I used to! And I really would love to be able to take an occasional day trip alone without worrying about pumping or nursing.
Tell me about a time you didn’t feel supported in your feeding choices.
Now that Charlie is getting older, people are starting to ask when I’m weaning him. People are really supportive of breastfeeding until your kid starts walking and talking and sprouting teeth, and then it becomes weird to a lot of people. Recently, when I asked an eye doctor about a medication he had prescribed and whether it was safe for nursing, he asked how old my baby was and “when do you plan on cutting THAT off?” I told him that nursing was cheap and easy and I had no plans to and he definitely raised an eyebrow.
Tell me about a time you felt supported.
I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve pretty much always felt supported, except by random strangers whose opinion I don’t care about! My husband, family, and friends have all been behind me 100% from the start.
What has been your proudest moment thus far related to feeding your son?
Honestly, I don’t know that I’ve felt much pride along the way. I feed my baby, and that was always a given. I was fortunate enough that breastfeeding came pretty easily to us, and we didn’t really struggle much. I’m just doing what needs to get done in the easiest way I know how, like any other mom out there. Breastfeeding, for me, isn’t really an accomplishment since so much of our success has just been dumb luck. I’m proud that I have a totally awesome, healthy, adorable 10 month old, but how he got there is just kind of a fact of life.
How do you show your support for other moms struggling with feeding issues? What words of wisdom can you share?
As far as supporting other moms, I think it’s so important to never judge or make assumptions. Be open about your own experiences but understand that everyone is different.
When it comes to wisdom, just remember that nobody gets a medal for how they feed their baby. Formula has actually improved my breastfeeding relationship with my son–I’m no longer stressing over “just one more ounce” when I can easily top off a bottle of breastmilk with an ounce or two of formula. The first time I gave my son a bottle of formula, I cried because I felt so much relief and it was such a non-event!
Brie holding Charlie and Gretchen earlier this year. I love how Charlie has his hand on her boob all BACK OFF GRETCHEN! THESE BE MINE!! And Gretchen’s like “I dunno if we can be friends since you are a Mizzou fan.” Fortunately they seem to have put the rivalry behind them and are buddies now.