The 2014 #ISupportYou Project: ISY Week of Service, Nov 1-7th


transitive verb \sə-ˈpȯrt\

: to agree with or approve of (someone or something)

: to show that you approve of (someone or something) by doing something

: to give help or assistance to (someone or something)

Full Definition of SUPPORT

1: to endure bravely or quietly :  bear

2 a (1) :  to promote the interests or cause of (2) :  to uphold or defend as valid or right :  advocate <supports fair play> (3) :  to argue or vote for 

b (1) :  assist, help <bombers supported the ground troops>(2) :  to act with (a star actor) (3) :  to bid in bridge so as to show support for

c :  to provide with substantiation :  corroborate <support an alibi>

3 a :  to pay the costs of :  maintain <support a family> b :  to provide a basis for the existence or subsistence of 

4 a :  to hold up or serve as a foundation or prop for; b :  to maintain (a price) at a desired level by purchases or loans; also :  to maintain the price of by purchases or loans

5: to keep from fainting, yielding, or losing courage :  comfort

6:  to keep (something) going


There are many definitions for the word support. And many arguments within the parenting community about what that word should mean, could mean, does mean.

Does it mean that you agree with someone’s choices, 100%?

Does it mean holding up signs and getting media attention for “stopping the mommy wars”?

Does it mean demanding equal representation, equal respect?

Does it mean something global, local, or personal?

You’d think that because we included “support” in our organization’s name, we’d have a clear definition in mind, a way to clearly explain what the word means to us. But the truth is, we don’t. When we started #ISupportYou, it was just a hashtag; a vague idea that we wanted to make all moms feel included, and worthy of support and community. We knew we wanted to show the world that the way we feed our babies doesn’t define us; that we are not “breastfeeding moms” or “formula feeding moms” but moms, and women, and individuals, and employees, and sisters, and spouses, and girlfriends, and daughters, and friends. We wanted to help other moms reach out to each other and recognize that at our cores, we all want the same thing: to be seen. To be heard. To matter.

This year, ISY is taking this vague idea of support to the next level. We want to put actions to words, to go beyond some glossy media idea of what support looks like, and get down and dirty with what it feels like. That’s why we’re hoping you’ll join us for our inaugural #ISupportYou Week, Nov. 1-7th, 2014. 

During ISY Week, we’re encouraging everyone to take all the energy we waste on silly online arguments to the streets of our own communities, and beyond. Find a way to bring one of the many definitions of “support” to life. Better yet, decide what support means to you, and do something about it. It can be something small, or something big. We’ve put together a list of our own ideas, but we’re excited to hear your ideas, too.

Between Nov. 1-7th, do one thing to bring the ISY message from virtual to flesh-and-blood life.  It can be one of ours, or one of yours. Then tell us about it. Tweet or post about it, using the hashtags #isupportyou and/or #ISYweek. Write a blog post about it, or shoot us an email so that we can share your stories on our blogs, and inspire others to drink the kool-aid. (It’s delicious. We promise.)

Ideas for #ISupportYou Week:

1.  Be a Coupon Fairy. Leave coupons for formula, bottles, diapers, or breastfeeding supplies in the baby aisles of your local stores, attached to post-it notes with the #ISupportYou hashtag and a short, encouraging message to whatever random parent finds it.

2.  Pay it forward. Pay for a mom or dad’s coffee, etc when s/he’s behind you in line with a screaming baby, or just looks exhausted or overwhelmed.

3.  Volunteer at your local women’s shelter. Lead a breastfeeding support group, a formula feeding group, or an #ISupportYou group (details to come).

4.  Bring a care basket to a new mom. Include items that support her feeding choice, but more importantly, items just for HER…m&m’s, lip balm, sitz bath, magazines, pretty water bottle, cozy socks, notepad/pen, note of encouragement, hair ties, etc.

5.  Donate generic new mom care baskets to local domestic violence or homeless shelters, with wipes, diapers, food and other useful items.

6.  Bring breakfast pastries/bagels to your next new mom’s support group

7.  Mail 3 real letters to moms that you know, with message of encouragement

8.  Leave post-it notes with the #ISupportYou hashtag and encouraging messages everywhere. Attach them to extra packs of wipes in a public changing area, or stick them on bulletin boards at the play place down the street.

9.  Commit to setting up an #ISupportYou (ISY) group in your community in 2015. We are currently developing materials to help interested people start these groups, and hope to see some popping up in early 2015. Email for more information.

10.  Do a teach-in with a group of pregnant mom friends on feeding 101. Ask a friend who feeds differently than you do to co-host it.

11.  Write a blog post with “10 Ways To Support A BF/FF mom”.

12.  Donate your feeding items to a local homeless/domestic violence shelter.

13.  Share ISY with your care providers – OB, pediatrician, therapist, daycare provider, etc.- so that they know where to guide new parents for support.

14.  Find a way to support a mom who feeds in a different way than you do.  Wash bottles at her house, buy her a can of formula, buy her a care package of lanolin and fancy breast pads, etc.

15.  FEED HER!  Find a new mom (or even better, a not so new mom, who needs it more!) and make/send dinner.  Or breakfast that is easy to reheat (egg sandwiches, casserole, etc).  Fresh fruit, surprise morning coffee, all with a note of encouragement.

16.  Set up a time each day that you will text a mom friend who needs encouragement (every day at 10:30 I will text her a “love note”).

17.  Call your local breastfeeding center and ask if they have any needs (scholarship fund for classes, etc.)

18.  Lead a “safe use of formula” workshop for daycare providers

19.  Ask to have a chat with facilitators of New Parent Support Groups, and encourage them to be inclusive to all feeding methods in their sessions.

20.  Call a local teen mother’s group and volunteer to be a breastfeeding or formula feeding mentor/peer counselor.

21.  Do something kind for YOURSELF. Write a letter to your 9 months pregnant self, or your 3 months postpartum self, telling her how proud you are, tips you’ve learned, etc.

22. Donate to organizations which support struggling postpartum moms. For example, Postpartum Progress, the Postpartum Stress Center, or the Seleni Institute.

We really hope you’ll join us in cutting through the bullshit and getting new parents the help they need to feed – and parent – with love, respect, and yes, support.  Put Nov 1-7 on your calendar, and chat with us during the week on Twitter and Facebook to let us know how things are going. Share your ideas, your experiences, and your reactions. Let’s get this party started, shall we?

It’s time. For real.

– The #ISupportYou Team


Suzanne Barston is a blogger and author of BOTTLED UP. Fearless Formula Feeder is a blog – and community – dedicated to infant feeding choice, and committed to providing non-judgmental support for all new parents. It exists to protect women from misleading or misrepresented “facts”; essentialist ideals about what mothers should think, feel, or do; government and health authorities who form policy statements based on ambivalent research; and the insidious beast known as Internetus Trolliamus, Mommy Blog Varietal.

Suzanne Barston – who has written posts on Fearless Formula Feeder.

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11 thoughts on “The 2014 #ISupportYou Project: ISY Week of Service, Nov 1-7th

  1. I don’t think I will be able to do anything that week, but since my neighborhood list has been scare-mongering formula today, I did my bit now and sent out a message about how formula is perfectly safe when handled correctly and provided a link to Bottle Babies for detailed advice.

    I hate to get involved with the crunchy/homeopath/lactivist types on that list and my general policy is to ignore them so I don’t become a target.

  2. There is an idea about bottle-feeding class that’s been nagging me for the last few weeks. You see, there are a lot of breastfeeding class: they are provided for free at the hospitals or for a fee by LCs or Lamaze classes. There is no class where a woman could come (well, not in my area, anyway) and learn how to make a bottle using powdered formula: what goes in first, powder or water? (You know how many women do it wrong?) what temperature the water should be? what bottle to use? which formula to, at least, start with? how much to make? which nipple to use?.. shall I continue?
    It’s just that, at this point, this is only an idea, and I don’t know how to go about it. But, man, would I love to have a class like that…

      • Rrriiight, get it off the ground… I’ve no idea how. Tried to ask one friend who couldn’t breastfeed because of PCOS, and her response was to the extent of “no one will come, they know how to read the instructions on the can.” I can read, too, but I did mix it wrong first 2-3 times (and so did my husband, and he can read)…
        Frustrating. There’s a dream… and that’s it 🙂

    • I think this is a great idea since the only classes currently offered are breastfeeding classes. But we should aim in the future to have simply Infant FEEDING classes – because so many of us end up not feeding the way we imagined we would, so we should be informed about all possibilities (or all the ones that we’ll be expected to do ourselves – I imagine hospitals give OG and NG tube feeding instructions before discharge when those are used).

      • Feeding class would be the next great step. The reason I talked about bottle-feeding in particular is that thse breastfeeding classes – they are everywhere.
        If, say (I’m dreaming here) we have a bottle-feeding class for some time, and people know about it, and they attend (and I’m not talking just about women, men may want to learn that, too), and it’s all underway… and then – boom! – we combine the two: the breastfeeding and bottle-feeding. Here’s how you go about breastfeeding, blah-blah-blah. A-a-a-and… if it just doesn’t effing work, no matter what you do, here is how you can use the bottle and baby formula, in case you formula-feed. Best of both world.

        That can of Enfamil in the breastfeeding class I took? It wasn’t even mentioned, even though it was on the table in front of a nurse. It’s about time they notice the friggin’ can.

  3. This blog is amazing – thank you Suzanne! I actually had a great NP teaching my prenatal class who said that if breast is not working for you – for WHATEVER reason – that it was more important for mom to be sane and happy, and that would be the best way to nourish and bond with your baby. Wish that message got across to people more often!

    I also think that a formula feeding class would be a great idea, and am putting this out there in the spirit of #ISupportYou (although being an older mom I am not on the Twitter). I could envision putting something basic on YouTube (turning off comments of course, because….sigh….) about types of formula (powder, rtf, concentrate), basic bottle feeding (angle, making sure the nipple is full, etc.), nipple sizes, types of bottles and cleaning them correctly, and addressing some common myths about formula feeding. That’s probably 2-5 videos, but just brainstorming here. Is there a specific roadblock you’re running into?

    • Mary- YouTube videos are a great idea! I will definitely talk to the ISY team and see if we can get something together. I actually do have a series of videos up on (link on the righthand side of this page) that covers some basic logistics. I’d love to see real life peer groups in the spirit of ISY as well, though – and that is something we are working on as we speak!

  4. I don’t know how that would fit into the ISY spirit, but I’m writing a college paper, which is a proposal for a college course on bottle-feeding. Okay, I get it, no one on the committee will even hear about it, but it may get me a good grade 🙂
    In the process of writing, I posted a survey on parenting community in LiveJournal (by the way, we need a FFF community there, there is none) and got quite a response.
    the interesting thing was that those who answered “yes” to the question of “would you be interested in a class on bottle-feeding using commercial baby formula?” are sitting there quietly, just clicking the anonymous poll. those who said “no,” however, are increasingly vocal…
    anyway, the survey and discussion are here in the open:
    it’s amazing how ladies tend to forget that it’s just a college paper.

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