I keep a running list of all the especially cool places my son and I have nursed, including on top of a mountain, inside a cave, the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol Building, and RCA Studio B. It recently occurred to me that this is probably one of those breastfeeding moments only millennial moms have. Aside from the fact that the list is on my phone, nothing about breastfeeding a young child (or as they knew it, feeding a young child) would seem remarkable to moms throughout most of human history. By contrast, more recent previous generations of moms in the U.S. either wouldn't have been as likely to breastfeed at all, or may not have had a) the nerve to breastfeed in most public places, or b) recognized that even though they have the right to do so, that breastfeeding in public is still considered taboo for the act to be subversive enough to be worth documenting.
Sure, mothers have been nursing their children for millennia, but none have done it quite like millennials. We benefit from a ton of advancements in research and technology to support us in making and maintaining our feeding choices, plus the advocacy of previous generations that worked to re-normalize breastfeeding after decades of stigma and lost cultural knowledge. And of course, we bring our own norms, attitudes, and ideas to breastfeeding, as we do to everything else about parenting.
Plus we keep track of everything on our phones and posted on social media. (Future historians and sociologists, on behalf of millennial moms everywhere, I say you're welcome for the massive trove of primary sources we're leaving you regarding our infant feeding practices, decision-making processes, and cultural norms around breastfeeding and everything else.) You know you're a breastfeeding millennial mom if you recognize most or all of the following moments.
When You Join An Online Breastfeeding Support Group Before Finding A Local One
It's just easier to find, you know? It's not like you're looking in the phone book or something, so resources found via Google and Facebook are closer at hand (literally) than the support group who may meet at your local community center every month, but have little or no online presence.
(It is super useful to have in-person support, though, so it's good to have "Breast Friends" both on and offline.)
Anytime You Take A #Brelfie
Even if you don't plan to share it publicly, you have to take a photo. Your body is literally making food. It made a person, and now it's making food to feed that person. That's incredible.
I mean, you photograph the meals you cook and eat, so why wouldn't you take pics of the food you're making with your body?
When You Get In A Heated Facebook Debate About A Celebrity Sharing A Brelfie…
Celebrities: they're just like us! When they get up the nerve to post their #brelfies online, people are bound to talk, which means you kinda have to say something (or at least screenshot and gripe to your private mom group) if one of your online acquaintances posts something ignorant about it.
They're on your team now, after all. If they're trash-talking Gisele, Alyssa, or Alanis for nursing their babies, they're basically trash-talking you.
...Or Help Swarm A Major Company Or Brand On Social Media For Messing With Breastfeeding Moms
Hell hath no fury like a nursing mom group scorned. Companies might have gotten away with telling a nursing mom to go to the bathroom or leave in the past, but now? Mess with the wrong member of an online breastfeeding support group and within a couple of hours (or less), they're in for a nurse-in, a flood of breastfeeding photos on all their social media properties, and an all-out assault on their Yelp and Google reviews. Plus negative mass media coverage, after those protests go viral. #TheyTriedIt
When You Binge Watch Netflix To Survive Cluster-Feeding And Growth Spurts
How did moms deal with those every-other-hour 30 minute newborn feedings before Netflix and Hulu? I don't have any data or anything, but I'd be willing to bet that the increasing numbers of moms who successfully breastfeed to at least three months has to do with the number of women who stick it out through those harsh early days because they can watch entire seasons of their favorite shows while they do it.
When You Find Nursing Gear Hacks Online
There have never been more cute nursing tops or clever hands-free pumping gear than there are now. But they also tend to be pretty expensive. Enter Pinterest and the rest of the internet, putting free and cheap alternatives at every mom's fingertips. Now, a hands-free pumping setup is just a few strategically arranged hair ties away. How lucky we are to be alive right now?
When You Use An App To Track Feedings And Diapers
Did people used to do this by hand, or are we just way more Type-A about tracking this stuff than moms of times past? Either way, I'm super grateful for the App Store (and even more grateful for the moms who actually take the time to write reviews! Y'all are the real MVPs).
When You Google Every Weird Thing You Experience As A Beginner…
Are my nipples supposed to feel like this? Is it normal for my baby's poop to look like that? How often should they be pooping, anyway?
...And Then Your Online Breast Friends Reassure You That You're Normal
If they're worth sticking with, they'll probably also warn you to stay off Google as much as possible, and come to them first or see a lactation consultant when you're worried. 'Cause nothing can scare the crap out of a new mom quite like Dr. Google.
When You Spend More Time Researching How To Introduce Solid Foods Than Past Generations Spent Researching Their First Home
How will introducing solids affect my breastfeeding goals? Baby-led weaning or purées? At four months or six months? How long do I wait in between introducing new foods? Am I supposed to start with rice cereal or oatmeal like my mother and aunts are saying, or will that basically ruin my baby gut flora and metabolism for life, like all the ladies in my mom group are saying? Is 'virgin gut' really a thing?
When You Expertly School Anybody Who Tries To Shame You For How You Feed Your Child
...or you're low-key disappointed that nobody's actually said anything to you about nursing, 'cause you've got the perfect response prepared if they do.
Whether you exclusively breastfeed, combination feed, wean in infancy or nurse well through toddlerhood, you've done your research, you've made your choices for your own damn good reasons, and you've been observing legendary breastfeeding clapbacks via your Breast Friends for months. You wish a *%&^@#! would try to say something to you about your latest superpower; you know your rights and your research, and you're not afraid let 'em rip with some snark on the side. #Respect.