Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Milk Matters in McMurray - Supporting Local Moms

“You don’t SEEM like a crunchy granola mommy,” he said.

I was bemused by this response when I once told a man that I was an ardent supporter of breastfeeding. Somehow in his head he had linked breastfeeding with the earthy, Birkenstock wearing mommy crowd – and absolutely no offense to them as they do exist, but I am not one of them.
“You seem pretty normal,” he continued.

Normal indeed, much like the crunchy granola mommies are normal, too, and much like breastfeeding is normal, and the way nature intended for us to feed our young. I should make clear I am also not one of those moms who levels judgement on other moms for choosing formula for their babies, but I do believe in the benefits of breastfeeding – and even more than that I believe in ensuring the moms who choose it receive the support they need to succeed, because while it is normal and natural often new moms need that support.
It’s why I was pleased to attend the recent anniversary celebration for the Fort McMurray Breastfeeding Support Group. Held in the concourse of the Suncor Community Leisure Centre it was wall to wall mommies and babies, taking me back to a time when the Intrepid Junior Blogger was much, much smaller.

The IJB was born in a small community in northwestern Ontario. I fully intended to breastfeed, and thanks to the support of the local La Leche League I had strong support getting started. When she was three months old, though, I developed the chronic eye disease with which I still contend even today, and my ophthalmologist tried to convince me to give up breastfeeding to use oral medications that he was worried could prove harmful to my new baby.
I was terribly torn as I was committed to breastfeeding my daughter and I was devastated at the thought of quitting when we had just gotten the hang of it. I went online to search for information, and that was how I found Dr. Jack Newman, the Canadian physician who has proven the saviour of breastfeeding women everywhere.

I fired off an email to Newman, never expecting a response – but not only did he respond to me he contacted my ophthalmologist and between the two of them they devised a treatment plan which would not require me to give up breastfeeding my daughter. There were people who thought the lengths I went to were absurd, but I knew I wanted to breastfeed and I was going to do it, come hell or high water – and I did, weaning my daughter when she and I were ready and having been satisfied that both her needs and my medical needs had been met.
Being surrounded by breastfeeding moms, pregnant women and those who support these important initiatives for women took me right back to those early days. I was grateful for the initial support of my local La Leche League, but even they were in a bit over their heads when it came to the medical crisis I faced. What I would have appreciated back then was an even larger core of groups dedicated to supporting women who choose to breastfeed and who could provide the resources I needed when things got tough – which is why I am so grateful to see this kind of support network in our community.

I have written in this blog about our need for a birthing centre as our community grows with each new family member added. I have written about the need for doulas and midwives, the support systems many pregnant women seek, and I have written about breastfeeding. And this isn`t about saying breastfeeding is the only choice, or that doulas or midwives are better, or that birthing centres trump hospitals – it`s about providing women with the options and support they need as they bring our most important asset into this world: our next generation of citizens.
Every member of a community is important, of course, and we all have our respective roles. To me, though, there can be no more important role than raising children as the continuation of our species, community and society relies on that very act and I am not only an advocate of breastfeeding but an advocate of parenting as it is so very vital. As a community and society we have a responsibility to provide the support and encouragement and fundamental services parents need so they can focus on what matters most: the children.

You see it takes a village to raise a child, and in our village we need to come together to support those raising the children, making sure their parents have the best possible support, resources and options they can to succeed in their incredible role in building our community.
 to support local moms and babies!

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