Tell us a little about yourself. When and why did you start The Badass Breastfeeder?
Ok, well, I can be a bit chatty so I might tell you more than you ever really wanted to know about me! I was born in Cincinnati, OH. I have lived in Columbus, OH; Racine, WI; Abcoude and Amsterdam, Holland; Brooklyn and Queens, NY; and Chicago, IL. I am 36 years old. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Criminology/Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in NYC in 2001 (yes, I was there during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. That sucked). My now husband and I moved from NYC to Chicago, IL in 2003. I received my Master’s Degree in Social Work from Jane Addams College of Social Work in 2009. I spent 14 years working with adolescents and their families involved in the criminal justice system and the child welfare system.
It all came to a sudden stop when my son, Jack, was born on July 30, 2011. I suddenly knew nothing about children. Everything that I had believed and thought was thrown into question when I met my son. There was not one aspect of parenting that I planned for that fit with how I felt about my new life. I started completely over and basically read so much that I got another Master’s degree, but this time in gentle parenting. I didn’t really get another degree, but I immersed myself in information about breastfeeding, babywearing, cosleeping, etc. I struggled big time with getting started with breastfeeding. I felt totally alone and afraid. I felt like a failure every time it was time to nurse Jack. He seemed to hate it. He cried, struggled and popped on and off. We supplemented with formula and my breastfeeding relationship with my son was close to ending every day. I was devastated. Then we decided to kick the formula. The more I read the more empowered I felt. I fought really hard to get him exclusively breastfeeding. I stayed up all day and all night reading everything under the sun. By 2 month we were exclusively breastfeeding. I felt so powerful! I started to feel like my old self again, but better. I had learned so much about myself and we were now on an exciting journey to gentle parenting and Jack would be in charge of weaning. I was so excited. I had so much to say and share. Then one day I was harassed by some moms in a private Facebook group for posting a photo of me breastfeeding in a park. The next day in March 2012 I started a Facebook page to share these pictures publicly because I wanted moms to have a place to celebrate breastfeeding where they would be free from harassment. I started a blog for my friends where I shared the details of my parenting journey. And then I have no idea what happened! It just got really big really fast. I started channeling my passion for advocacy from my social career into sharing information with other moms and challenging what we were hearing from the mainstream and providing support where it was majorly lacking. It grew and grew and grew! I have tried to let moms guide me and show me what they need.
What inspired you to create the email course: Becoming a Badass Breastfeeder?
It became clear from running the Facebook page that our culture sees breasts as sexual and nothing else. Women are afraid of being harassed when they breastfeed in public. Women are being devalued as mothers and nurturers. Women choose not to breastfeed at all sometimes because of discomfort with their bodies or having never been around it. Women get the message that their bodies are to be hidden away for the sexual use by the partners. We have become so disconnected from our natural purpose and power. Some women become mothers and never see breastfeeding at all until they are breastfeeding their own babies. I got so much feedback from women who said that they were afraid to breastfeed in public. This motivated me to take all of my thoughts about breastfeeding in public, all of the support and advice I had given on the Facebook page and my blog, and put it into one place. In November 2012 I created the e-mail course “Become a Badass Public Breastfeeder in 7 Days.” The e-course is a great method because people can get small bits of information allowing them to think about it and digest it before moving onto another topic. I worked harder on it than I thought I would and through writing it I became even more passionate about the topic. I feel like it solidified for me my niche as The Badass Breastfeeder.
What resources does a mother receive when she signs up for the course and where can she sign up?
In the e-course, a mother will receive tips for exuding confidence while nursing in public, tips for dealing with staring (which is the number 1 fear I heard from women), ideas about clothing and finding comfy spots in public, tutorials on how to breastfeed while babywearing, detailed advice on engaging unsupportive family and friends in a conversation about nursing in public, comebacks for negative comments from the public, and a summary of the laws that protect breastfeeding in public. I focus on empowerment through rethinking about our bodies and providing information. You can sign up at www.badasspublicbreastfeeding.com. I have also created a workbook version that goes into much greater detail and engages the mother in a journey of self-reflection designed to empower her on all levels of motherhood. I created this doe to the demand from many women who wanted to do the course with their friends and for professionals interested in running groups on the topic. More information on this can be found at http://www.gentleparentinfo.com/UltimateNIPGuide.html.
Have you received any feedback about this course?
It has gotten great reviews! I get e-mails from women, on a daily basis, who say that they no longer feel afraid, that they nurse in public regularly and feel empowered as a mother. I am quite happy! It’s more than I ever expected. I feel if breastfeeding in public can be normalized then more babies will be breastfed. And that is the entire point.
What are your top five tips for Becoming a Badass Breastfeeder?
1. Change your thinking about your body. We can become so focused on our insecurities, but when we reframe our thinking it actually changes the way we feel about ourselves and the way we act.
2. Engage fully with your baby. This will help take the focus off of others so you won’t be as concerned about what they are thinking or where they are looking.
3. Get into babywearing! It makes it so much easier when you are out and about. I know breastfeeding while babywearing can be difficult to figure out, but the course can help.
4. Learn how the breastfeeding laws in your state protect you. You can print them out and carry them around. You might be surprised by how much more confidence this gives you.
5. Create a support network of family and friends. It’s almost impossible to be successful at anything when the people in our lives are unsupportive. The largest section of the course is about engaging family and friends to be more supportive and finding like-minded moms to meet face to face. Moms are so good at supporting moms!