I just opened my email a few minutes ago — about three hours after my post this morning on not hearing from Breastfeeding USA regarding becoming a breastfeeding counselor. This is the response I received:
Thank you for sharing your story, and linking us to your blog. What a fantastic resource! It is wonderful to hear that you are interested in supporting mothers, and are in fact, doing so. Best wishes on your current path to becoming an IBCLC. Mothers need more women like you on their side. Thank you for your input about our Breastfeeding Counselor program. We appreciate that there are many ways to help mothers breastfeed, and the more people who are educated about breastfeeding management and are actively serving mothers, the better. This we know is especially true in populations that are currently under served. Breastfeeding USA Breastfeeding Counselors, peer counselors, and other mother to mother volunteers have a unique role in breastfeeding support. Research has shown that “mother to mother” is an especially effective way of providing information and support to breastfeeding mothers. Seeing or simply talking to other breastfeeding mothers increases self esteem and self reliance, assisting mothers in reaching their breastfeeding goals. While we understand the importance of more people having the skills to offer general breastfeeding support, our current focus is providing evidence-based information and support, mother to mother.
Breastfeeding USA offers a wide variety of ways to volunteer, and new opportunities continue to emerge as we expand our programs. While you would not currently qualify to become a Breastfeeding Counselor, we certainly would
welcome your experience and expertise if you wished to volunteer in another capacity. Please respond to this email if you are interested in learning more.
Thank you again for writing us and I hope to hear from you soon.
Jolie Black Bear
for Breastfeeding USA
So in a nutshell this is what I hear. The only reason you cannot qualify as a breastfeeding counselor is because you don’t have children. Period. We’re gonna ignore your a passion and commitment to help ending a long list of health disparities that can be thwarted through no other way than breastfeeding, and we will also be ignoring the fact that a large population has unfair marketing tactics thrown their way and an actual physical person who can be a great representative is beneficial and necessary. And even though research has shown that people are not breastfeeding their children in any substantial amount and are dying, we don’t really care because if we did then we would work at getting more people to pitch in regardless of their child status.
One of the reasons I love the field of anthropology is that it has given me an complete and utter understanding that we are not as different as we have made ourselves out to be (not that this is exclusive of anthropology, but it’s something we highly emphasize)! This can be said in most areas of humankind and in our various cultural practices and cultural traditions. And even within the differences that do exist, they should be used as a way to examine and recognize that we can all come together, learn from and understand each other and work towards the common good, and rituals such as breastfeeding can be shared among different members of various cultures. Our society constantly want to place distinctions to organize and categorize each other so we are more comfortable at labeling those who are different and place them where we feel they do not belong — I remind you of the way racial difference was categorized so long ago, and how it continues to be categorized today. This is also seen in the way we have categorized sexuality and various other characteristics and groups. We love segregation. In this case, we receive the message that only nursing mothers need concern themselves with nursing mothers, without recognizing more people can and should help out — especially since the circumstances are dire.
I still stand by my initial argument — It is through the implementation of these types of discriminatory and divisive tactics where organizations like Breastfeeding USA claim to want to help end social and health disparities, yet instead show how they are directly compliant with their perpetuation.
I have not responded to the email.