When Hector Cruz’s daughter Sophia came into the world, the last thing he thought he’d become was an avid breastfeeding advocate — yet that’s exactly what happened. While sharing his story with I am Not the Babysitter, Cruz notes that his journey into the world of breastfeeding advocacy started the day after Sophia was born, explaining that his new daughter had latch issues and jaundice. Instead of helping support their nursing endeavor, their doctor urged Cruz and his wife to supplement with formula. Cruz states, “On top of all of these struggles, all of the Lactation Consultants at the hospital had been furloughed. I was immediately immersed in a world that I knew nothing about and as a new father I felt hopeless, lost, confused, and my natural instinct was to fix the problem.” Cruz, unsure of what to do, turned to a Facebook group for advice and additionally “hired an amazing lactation consultant” to help his wife and baby daughter. In the process, Cruz learned about how breastfeeding moms often receive negative reactions and experience a total lack of public support for breastfeeding.
Packed with his new knowledge, Cruz set off to create a national campaign, Project: Breastfeeding, meant to destigmatize breastfeeding in public, educate men, and empower women to feel comfortable with feeding their baby. Cruz’s photographs depict topless men cradling their baby to their naked chest, alongside the words, “If I could, I would.” A bold statement of support from fathers who are staunch advocates of breastfeeding, even offering to nurse their babies if they were equipped to do so.
Project: Breastfeeding is Cruz’s game plan to help destigmatize public breastfeeding, because as Cruz notes, “Education is where it all starts. New fathers need education about the benefits of breastfeeding and how much of a significant role they actually play in establishing a great breastfeeding relationship between the mother and child. I want women to feel empowered and determined to do what is the most natural thing for themselves and for their child and have their husbands as their biggest supporters.” Cruz is determined to get society to accept breastfeeding as 100% normal, an uphill battle for sure. A skilled photographer, Cruz is using his talent to show off families in support of breastfeeding and hopes to achieve billboards at a national level that can serve as a visual reminder to everyone about the importance of and normalcy of breastfeeding.
Most importantly, Cruz has been busy highlighting the importance of dad support for breastfeeding moms stating that had he known more about breastfeeding before his daughter was born, he could have helped his wife and daughter establish the special bond created by breastfeeding from the beginning. Cruz points out that after learning about breastfeeding, his “Wife’s breasts went from being a sexual object to something far more beautiful; her breasts became a natural extension of herself to give my daughter the life-sustaining nutrients that she needed. My eyes were opened and I could now see breasts as what they were really meant for and not the over-sexualized objects that we as a society have created when it comes to women’s breasts.” Good advice for all new dads and everyone else too.
If you’d like to get involved with breastfeeding advocacy, like Project: Breastfeeding on Facebook, help them fund national efforts to take the project to other cities and set up billboards during World BreastFeeding Week via GoFundMe. If you need breastfeeding support, read the following:
- 6 Ways Dads Can Help Promote Breastfeeding Success
- The Medical Community Is Failing Breastfeeding Moms – How To Find The Support You Need
- For Moms: How to Get Over Breastfeeding Resentment