Don't Let Anybody Mess with your Swing

January 8th, 2010 by Diane Sam

A few days ago I tweeted the following: ""Don't let anybody mess with your swing.". It's a quotation from Ted Williams, a famous baseball player, and it got a few curious comments back. So, here's a little bit more about what I meant!

The quote was later used as a basis for popular poem:

The Ted Williams Villanelle

"Don't let anybody mess with your swing."
Ted Williams, baseball player

Watch the ball and do your thing.
This is the moment. Here's your chance.
Don't let anybody mess with your swing.

Its time to shine. You're in the ring.
Step forward, adopt a winning stance,
Watch the ball and do your thing,

And while the ball is taking wing,
Run without a backward glance.
Don't let anybody mess with your swing.

Don't let envious bastards bring
You down. Ignore the sneers, the can'ts.
watch the ball and do your thing.

Sing out, if you want to sing.
Jump up, when you long to dance.
Don't let anybody mess with your swing.

Enjoy your talents. Have your fling.
The seasons change. The years advance.
Watch the ball and do your thing,
And don't let anybody mess with your swing.

(C)Wendy Cope (1945-)

It occured to me that it might be helpful for some new moms to contemplate this poem for a bit. It's about focusing on what you want to do (hit a home run, breastfeed your baby, etc..) and doing it. Not letting anyone mess with what you know you can do. This is a guy who knows he's a talented hitter and walks up to the plate, focuses, and takes his swing. What he doesn't allow in his mind is the people who try to 'mess' with it, i.e. give him un-solicited advance, make a subtle comment that undermines his confidence, etc.  He's a competitor and he knows that the other player's will do that out of jealousy, ignorance or lack of understanding. If you let people play with you, they will.
Like hitting one out of the park, breastfeeding, especially at the beginning, requires the right combination of mental/physical effort. The body has to be responsive, relaxed, producing milk, the mom has to trust her instincts, and keep focused on what she wants to do. "Step forward, adopt a winning stance" - she's got to assume that her body will produce milk and function as it was designed to do. A mom's body after childbirth has been designed to produce milk,and produce enough milk. Adopt that mindset right from the beginning. When new or expectant moms have expressed a concern about not producing enough milk, I say to them: "Think about it. All your life your body has produced pee, snot, blood, etc.. all in the appropriate amounts or you wouldn't be alive today. Sometime in early adolescent, your body started menstruating, didn't it? You produced vaginal fluid, you got pregnant, you produced enough amniotic fluid, etc.. or you never would been able to have this baby in the first place. Why on earth would you worry or think that for some unknown reason it suddenly is going to not produce enough breastmilk? Are you worried that you are not going to be able to pee tomorrow? No. Trust your body - it's got you this far."
A new mom is vulnerable. She's just been through a hormone flood, a life-changing, difficult birthing process, and is now faced with an awesome responsibility of nurturing and raising a child. She's easy to mess with. What do I mean? Well, let's say that you really want to breastfeed, but are having a few difficulties. So, your mom or your friend or someone says to you "why not try a bit of formula?" or "it's no big deal if you quit", etc.. In my opinion, they are messing with your swing. You know what you want to do, and are focused on it. You need someone to champion you, encourage you and protect you. Not try to get you to do what they think is best for you.
Now, if you interpret this phrase wrong, there's going to be a problem. What he's saying is "don't let anybody mess with your swing", not "I'm firing my coach, and doing it all on my own, my own way, because I'm always right." Think that way, and you're adapting a losing stance. That's when your life becomes a closed system. Nothing gets in, nothing gets out.
The real challenge as you try to sing out, dance, breastfeed and generally live your life exactly as you want to, and with all your talents and passions going full steam ahead is exactly that: to sort all this out.
Believe me, there are many organizations and people out there, whether consciously (i.e. formula companies) or unconsciously (friends, family, etc) who will try to mess with your swing and undermine your natural passion and energy and ideas. But, there are also a lot of good counsellors, lactation consultants, doulas, educators, etc.. who passionately believe in breastfeeding and have a lot of great information and can help you.
I remember a great lactation nurse at the NICU, who would literally grab my nipple and shove it in my baby's mouth. It was exactly what I needed because I was being way too dainty with said nipple, and it needed a good shove! Was she messing with my swing? No, she was helping me adopt a winning stance, and giving me the permission, power and energy to do what needed to be done.
Then there was the nurse who poured out a bottle of formula, put it on the table beside me and told me to feed it to my 1 day old baby who was nursing just fine or I couldn't go home the next day. She was messing with my swing.
Don't let anybody do that.
Do you have any stories about people "messing with your swing"? Share them here ...

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Wendy Armbruster Bell said:

I can't tell you how many women at pregnancy at baby shows who, upon my asking if they were planning to breastfeed replied, "Well I hope so." The stat is that less than 3% of women are physically unable to breastfeed. That is our culture "messing with their swing".

January 8th, 2010 10:24pm

Diane Sam said:

Thanks for the comments Wendy! You're exactly right, it's like there's now a built-in insecurity among pregnant or new moms, a sort of expectation that they won't be able to. While I believe in education around breastfeeding, let's not scare them into thinking their body isn't going to work, or it's an insurmountable task to overcome any initial problems.

January 12th, 2010 9:42am

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