What’s so good about the ABA?

Before you ask, no, I’m not on their payroll.  They don’t pay anyone. Really.

And before you ask, no, I’m not talking about the American Bow Hunters Association. Although I do wonder of course, how their breastfeeding rates are travelling…

Formerly known as the Nursing Mothers Association of Australia. People loved that name. They still do. It lacks… the word “breast”.

Say it loud I reckon. Even if it makes people squirm. Especially if it makes people squirm …what’s that game people play? Saying “breast’ in public as loudly as they dare…oh no that’s vagina.

The name change came at the turn of this century. Apparently they would have liked something similar back in 1964 when they started, except it was considered legally “obscene” to put the word “breast” in the phone book back then. [breast!] Well, it took 40 years, but we nailed that at least.

My sister-in-law joined me up when I was pregnant with number 1 baby. I was going to join anyway, right, but thanks Sue.

My membership got me a social circle in country South Australia, where I knew No One, and I had a three month old baby (what were we thinking?).

The second meeting I attended (the first was a 60 km drive) the discussion topic was postnatal depression. The woman hosting the meeting had been diagnosed  with PND after her second baby. She talked openly about her struggles. I felt honoured to be part of a group where people could share this stuff and not feel judged, but supported.

Later on, back in the big smoke, I discovered more about the joys of ABA involvement … meeting locals, training to be a counsellor, participating in breastfeeding education classes, learning a lot more about women’s experiences of breastfeeding and transitioning to motherhood, being a phone counsellor on helpline…and taking my kids along to everything if I wanted to.

Thing is, when I joined ABA I was VERY enthusiastic about breastfeeding: why would you do anything but breastfeed? Maybe women weren’t trying hard enough when they “couldn’t” do it… a breastfeeding nazi, some would say.

Despite what you might think, ABA actually moderated my attitude.

During counsellor training the phrase mentioned frequently was: “breast-feeding is for the baby, the baby is not for breastfeeding”.  We don’t have a baby just so that we can breastfeed. Being a mother is not JUST about breastfeeding.  And when breast-feeding gets in between the relationship of a mother and her baby, it’s not healthy for either of them.

So please don’t blame the ABA for breastfeeding crazies like me. They tried to moderate me, and in some ways that worked.

They’re just trying to help more women breastfeed, for longer, one (or two) babies at a time.

2 thoughts on “What’s so good about the ABA?

  1. Hi Jen,
    Great post about the work that the ABA do. Just to let you know, however, there are people who ‘work’ for ABA and get paid for it – no me personally – but they do exist 🙂


    1. Thanks Andrea
      Yes, I know that there’s a few people who get paid. As far as I know none of them are paid to do advocacy work – more the day-to-day running of the organisation. My point was that all the support of breastfeeding women is done by volunteers. Which people should know – it is an amazing feat. But somehow they tend to be criticised for being “obsessive” (shrugs).


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