breastfeeding is community
“There’s a whole lot of boob talk on that bus.”
There sure is, and I’m very proud of it. We hear many things from those seeing Barb, our RV nursing and pumping suite for the first time. Sometimes it’s: “I wish I had a place like this when I nursed,” or “What is this?” Sometimes it’s “Can I nurse or pump or live here?” (Yes, yes please, and we actually do!), or “Wow.” Other times there aren’t words but rather emotions, and many times, it’s simply: “Thank you”.
What matters is that people are talking. They are talking about breastfeeding.
To one another, to their partners and husbands, to lactation consultants, to friends, to employers. They are talking on the bus and off. Striking up stories about nursing and pumping in the RV parks and in the Advanced Auto Parts parking lot. In hospitals and inner city centers and downtown squares. People are asking questions. People are offering advice. People are learning something they didn’t before, making new connections, and most importantly, hearing the one thing they need to most: you’ve got this, mama.
There is boob talk afoot, and whether it’s by the older gentleman passing by who uttered that opening phrase or former nursing moms, business men or moms-to-be, grandmothers or pumping women, we are making noise and elevating the breastfeeding conversation.
It’s about time, and it’s a beautiful thing.
With ten weeks of the breast express tour behind us and four more to go in the first leg, I find myself both reflecting on the experience to date and thinking about what’s next.
I’m sitting on our RV bed, with my favorite boob pillow behind me, the 6 a.m. sunlight streaming over my computer, and the boob art wall before me. We’re parked in Lisa’s driveway, in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, a few hours from our next event. Just 24 hours behind where I was on Lake Michigan, soaking in last moments with my sun kissed children and family, restored after a break and readying myself for the next leg.
I’m looking at all the wall covered with various drawings of boobs and feeling the collective weight of what we’ve done so far. Each piece of boob art is a different shape and size, just like the people who drew them, and like the women who’ve sat on this bus. There are various colors and various levels of doodles and droop.
Some stand as testament to strength: There’s power in the boobs! Some in gratitude: Thank you boobies, for nourishing my son. Some cheer others on: With all the love from my boobs to yours, while others simply cheer: 20 months and still breastfeeding my once preemie! Some speak to culture: Mexican boobies or I am Indian and I breastfeed. Some come from men: Dads for breastfeeding! Many make me laugh: Nursed 4 kids for six years boobs.
All of them bear witness to both the beautiful—and sometimes hard—breastfeeding journeys taking place and the journey of this bus to unite us all.
This wall is just one piece of the whole RV and just one representation of what we’re seeing come to life on the road, but it is a reminder of what I think we’re learning most: breastfeeding is a communal act.
And by embracing it as so, we can truly help breastfeeding women succeed.
We ask every person we interview on the road to fill in the blank: breastfeeding is ___________.
What Kiddada Green, Executive Director of the Black Mothers' Breastfeeding Association, said in Detroit said it all for me: “Breastfeeding is community.”
It’s a community of nourishment, and one we’re so proud to be part of, so proud to be building at every turn. Especially at this moment.
We look forward to more boob talk, with you, and with the world. I can’t wait to show up in more cities and to sit among more of you on the bus.
Keep talking, keep nursing and pumping, and keep showing up and we will too.