Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Speech to the Board

Me nursing Bellybean at the November board meeting

Last night we spoke to the school board.  There were six speakers, and a few more supporters in the audience.  Later we'll post video of the speeches.  For now, I'll just post the text of my speech.  I gave it while breastfeeding.  As we waited our turn, Bellybean was so tired in Adam's arms that he'd start to nod off, but then every two minutes another speech would end and the applause would wake him.  Adam handed him to me and I nursed him to sleep, and he was still nursing when my turn came.  It wasn't a stunt or a statement - just a necessity.

On behalf of about two thousand people who signed this petition, thank you for rescinding the administrative regulation that isolated breastfeeding mothers.  We're halfway there!

Now mothers need reassurance that they can feed their babies without fear of being confronted for doing so. 

Doctors have been telling us for years that breastmilk is the best nutrition to feed our babies.  But breastfeeding is not the intuitive, easy-peasy thing one might expect.  While tongue-tie, mastitis and thrush may be medical challenges that a new mom might expect the possibility of facing, being confronted for nursing her baby in a public place should not be a barrier to breastfeeding. 

These past five months I have been steeped in news about nursing in public.  I can tell you, unequivocally, there is a shift that is happening across the country.  Women are demanding that this discrimination come to an end.  Eighty percent of women want to breastfeed.  With all of the things that threaten to complicate a breastfeeding relationship, most of us are done allowing this issue to stand in our way. 

Yes, there are some who feel it is in conflict with social mores.  But mores refers either to manners, or morals.  Morals trump manners.  And it is nothing short of immoral to know the health benefits of breastfeeding to both mother and baby, and to nonetheless erect a barrier to breastfeeding.  To paraphrase  a comment made by a SHAC member last month, "It's time for people to catch up." 

There will be parents who are uncomfortable if their children witness a baby being held close and lovingly fed at a mother's breast.  But if we - if they - are to insure the best possible health for all of our grandchildren and great grandchildren, they must bear that discomfort.  Because as the American Academy of Pediatrics has asserted, breastfeeding is not just about a lifestyle choice, it is a public health issue. 

It is far from inappropriate to expose our children to the reality that some babies are breastfed.  It is in fact crucial to optimal public health. 

We urge you, trustees, to adopt a board policy that conforms to the law, and supports breastfeeding mothers. 

Thank you. 

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