Sometimes we do our best thinking under pressure. We were in the process of creating a foam core for our corporate sponsors to proudly display at the ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas, and we were under the gun to articulate clearly and succinctly exactly what we are all about.
The “Mission Statement” part was easy, and we even managed to make it tighter:
To Give Breastfeeding a Makeover,
and to Beat the Booby Traps™–
the Barriers to Breastfeeding Success.
But wait, what about our values, and how we feel about expecting and new mothers? We are two moms who struggled with breastfeeding (unnecessarily, because of the booby traps), and one of us used formula. In forming Best for Babes, we spoke to hundreds of women, and listened to their stories. Because of what you told us, one of our primary objectives with Best for Babes is to act as a catalyst in the breastfeeding and mainstream media community, and shift the focus OFF moms and on to the barriers that are keeping them from making educated decisions. Moms don’t need to be harassed or made to feel bad! We know moms who were made to feel bad for breastfeeding (or for breastfeeding in public), and we know moms who were made to feel bad for feeding formula. We know moms who were made to feel bad for going back to work, for not going back to work, or for using pumps and bottles. (That last one is rather silly, isn’t it? As our beloved Dr. Ruth Lawrence likes to say, “what are moms who can’t breastfeed or have to pump supposed to use to feed their babies, their shoe?) The bottom line is that women are more prone to feeling guilty than men, and they don’t need help piling it on. So we were really eager to find a way to make mothers feel GOOD—feel inspired, prepared and empowered—and express our support for all moms, because motherhood is not easy! We wanted a really strong statement of our beliefs, that would influence and carry us through all our decisions with Best for Babes, and let everyone know where we stand. So here it is:
ALL moms deserve to make a truly informed feeding decision and to be cheered on, coached and celebrated without pressure, judgment or guilt.
ALL breastfeeding moms deserve to achieve their personal breastfeeding goals without being undermined by cultural & institutional “Booby Traps “.
In even plainer english, that means that if you have done evidence-based research, weighed your options, and hopefully understand how you are being influenced by marketing and cultural norms, and you decide not to breastfeed, we support you whole-heartedly. We will defend your decision and will point you in the direction of resources to support you.
It also means that if you do decide to breastfeed, and you have set a goal based on doing the same evidence-based research, as well as understanding how your decision is influenced by marketing and cultural norms, we will support you to achieve that goal, no matter if it is to breastfeed for two days, two weeks, two months, two years or beyond. We will defend your decision and help to fight the cultural barriers (disapproval, etc.) and the institutional barriers (hospitals, physicians, employers, insurers, stores, restaurants and companies that give lip service to supporting breastfeeding but are undermining or discriminating against breastfeeding mothers).
If you haven’t done your research, or looked into how your decision is being influenced by our culture and institutions, we may give you a gentle nudge, like any good girlfriend or even a coach would do. Women who make a truly informed decision tend to feel positive and not guilty, and we want to empower all moms to step into motherhood feeling confident and good about their decisions! We respect YOU!
Truthfully, we are excited about our mission, and our Credo, because it is quite unique in the breastfeeding community. We may get some flack for saying this, but we hope that more breastfeeding organizations and activists will do a little less “promoting, protecting and supporting” of breastfeeding and a lot more “promoting, protecting and supporting” of moms. Perhaps the “promote, protect, support breastfeeding” slogan was necessary in the past, but with evidence in favor of breastfeeding constantly pouring in, it is time to shift gear and change the message! Most moms—77%—already want to breastfeed. When we lead by example, give expecting and new moms the love, acceptance, compassion they need to be empowered, and break down the cultural and institutional barriers, we are confident that more moms will make healthy decisions and be better equipped to the best parents they can be. None of us is perfect, we are all on this motherhood/parenthood journey together, and we need each other more than ever!
Finally, thank you for telling us what you wanted in a breastfeeding non-profit. We hope we’ve shown you that we listened. You have trusted us to lead the way, and we hope you are happy with our credo, and will make it your credo, too!
(I can’t figure out how to slap a pdf file into this post, but once I do, you’ll be able to see the beautiful foam core that our corporate sponsors displayed. Special thanks to Earth Mama Angel Baby for donating the graphics and printing, and lugging the signs to the Expo in their suitcases!)