When Krystal Swift was told by her provider that once her daughter turned 13 months old, she would not be allowed to receive breast milk while at daycare, an amazing story of determination ensued.
Krystal told me:
"Of course, I asked why and expressed to them that we (my daughter, our pediatrician, our lactation consultant and myself) were not ready to stop. Breast milk provides too many positive benefits...So I started making calls to other local Military Child Development Centers in the area and found one other facility that was allowing a child to receive breast milk after 13 months. That center's Director guided me in the right direction to get the answers I was looking for. After countless emails and phone calls with the USDA and the Food and Health Administration contacts for the Military CDCs, I got a copy of the documents with the facts and they stated, "A parent IS allowed to continue supplying breast milk for their child, for as long as they want."
So why the utter disconnect between the facts and the (mis)interpretation of the policies in play?
To me, Krystal's story is the perfect embodiment of our society's lack of understanding about lactation. The fact that we live in a culture that assumes the milk of another species is somehow healthier for our children than our own, truly boggles my brain. The fact that as a society, we have a seemingly endless thirst for the milk of a cow, yet a distaste for the very thought of a baby drinking the milk of its mother...well, it tells me there is still work to be done in normalizing the normal.
Because human milk is normal.
Human babies drinking human milk is normal.
And I'm not the only one who thinks so. Every single medical organization in the world supports breastfeeding...with no caveat. Because, quite simply, the facts support human lactation...if only opinions were formed around facts.
Nurse Wendy Colson, an IBCLC and founder of Boobie Bar, told me:
"Krystal's story reinforces the fact that one person can bring about change. Although the policy was always present, it was being interpreted by the center's staff, in what I believe is another one of society's fallacies that there is no benefit to human milk past the age of one. The USDA pushes for cow’s milk at the age of one, but a cow, an almond, or soybean cannot come close to human milk despite the age of the baby. I am assured that upon reading this story, more moms will feel empowered to promote change at their workplace or daycare if faced with any obstacles, because the power of one is mighty powerful!"
Powerful, indeed. Because this is a story about following a policy that already should have been in place. This is a story about knowing our rights and not being afraid to fight for them. And in this way, this story isn't Krystal's alone...it is all of ours.
Nurse Wendy continues:
"I think Krystal's story is a good reminder that a mom who returns to the workforce is not synonymous with weaning, no matter the length of her maternity leave."
Precisely...Krystal's return to the workplace didn't halt her breastfeeding journey, and the support for moms juggling breastfeeding and work is clear, with data from Lansinoh's most recent global breastfeeding survey confirming that 86% of participants believe that all companies should be required to provide breastfeeding moms with a time and a place to pump. Indeed, it is recommended (by the World Health Organisation, no less) that breastfeeding continues well past this daycare's 13 month breast milk 'cut off point'.
Isn't it time that we, as a society, became informed, familiar and comfortable with the notion of feeding human babies human milk?
"Just because my daughter is turning one doesn't mean I am ready to stop breastfeeding and pumping, so I am glad I went a step further to fight for my daughter's rights to continue getting breast milk at daycare...I really hope my story helps other moms to fight for their rights!"
Perfectly said, mama.
Thank you to mama Krystal for allowing me to feature her story in this piece. For more glimpses into real life breastfeeding, join the Mama Bean village on Facebook!
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