What is Lactivism? The meaning of Breastfeeding Activism

mamas s milkproject

A lactivist is a lactation activist and is someone who has chosen to promote and support breastfeeding. A woman does not currently have to be breastfeeding to be considered a lactivist.

breastfeeding support nj
Breastfeeding Support – image by gentleheartmidwifery.com

She may be someone who breastfed in the past or who regrets her decision to not breastfeed and currently supports other women who do. Some grandmothers are outspoken lactivists, though it has been years since they have breastfed their children.

If you are a strong supporter of breastfeeding, there are some simple ways to become a lactivist without having to be overtly political.

grandmother baby alamy
Some grandmothers are outspoken lactivists – image by huffingtonpost.co.uk

Supporting other women, especially young mothers, is an important part of being a lactivist. There are many ways to quietly or vocally support breastfeeding in society.

Provide Breastfeeding Advice

If you have ever breastfed, you know how difficult it can be for a new mother and infant to establish a breastfeeding relationship. Even if the infant is nursing successfully, there are countless messages questioning the mother’s abilities. Is she making enough milk? How does she know the baby is getting enough? Does her baby need to be supplemented with formula? Her doubts are easily fed into by family, the medical profession and even formula commercials on television.

woman holding baby
It’s difficult to establish a breastfeeding relationship – image by upstate.edu

A lactivist with breastfeeding experience can reach out to a new mother. Even if the young mother doesn’t ask for help, a lactivist can ask how things are going. Ask if the young mother has any questions and provide support. Sometimes all it takes is a kind, supportive word or two to strengthen a young mother’s resolve to continue breastfeeding.

Speak Out Against Formula Advertising

Formula advertising has become insidious. Children grow up in our society seeing images of perfectly happy and healthy formula fed babies on television.

toddler drinking from a bottle
Formula fed babies advertising on TV – image by choi.com.au

Voice your displeasure over these commercials and point out the falsehoods. Your children may be the only ones that hear your complaints, but they will grow up knowing the truth about formula and be more likely to avoid it with their own children.

Likewise, boycott magazines that advertise formula. Choose a parenting magazine, like Mothering Magazine, that does not support formula companies. Write to the magazines that you have boycotted expressing your displeasure over their choice of advertising.

Breastfeed in Public

Breastfeed in Public – image by babygaga.com

Breasts have been sexualized in our society. Many people are uncomfortable seeing breasts used for what they were made for – providing nourishment to infants. This is why people need to see breastfeeding. If breastfeeding is always hidden away behind closed doors or under blankets, it will never be normalized. Being a lactivist can be as simple as breastfeeding in public.

Over  women started breastfeeding in public at a Romanian Museum daf
Breastfeeding in public should be normalized – image by boredpanda.com

Of course, there are lactivists who are more vocal and political. But, every positive breastfeeding message that is sent, no matter how small, normalizes breastfeeding and makes it more likely that someone else will choose to breastfeed.


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