Friday, August 07, 2009

World Breastfeeding Week: Closing Thoughts

Tonight at my mother's house for dinner, as Snapdragon began to fuss and move his head rapidly from side to side, searching for the breast he knew had to be close by on account of the fact that he'd decided he was hungry, a conversation my mother relayed to me earlier this week came back to me.
She'd been out with friends, both of whom are now in their sixties, and if you're in your sixties and think that my pointing out their age is ageist, you might be right, but nonetheless they are, and the subject of breastfeeding came up.
Now, as you may remember, my mother isn't exactly the type who thinks breastfeeding is particularily nifty, so when she told me that they'd been surprisingly turned off by the idea, I was all (defensive) ears.
It's probably the standard story. The squicked out body language. The gestures one uses when talking about underdone chicken. The grimace intended to look like sophisticated disdain.
"What do you mean she doesn't give it a bottle?"
"What does she do if they're out in public?"
"Or what if she's at your house, does she just expose herself in front of her dad?"
"But what does he think about that?"
"But what does she do if she's in a resturant?"
"Well, it's a good thing she didn't come tonight, she might have had to feed the baby!"
If I'd been there...
No. No bottles. We haven't had a need to, although I have tried pumping and have had milk sit unused in one. Pouring it out always breaks my heart.

In public? Feed him.
I'd have been tempted to say that I first do my ceremonial milk-dance, which involves stripping topless, spinning in a circle and ululating, but of course, they would have only half believed that.
That said, this week alone I've nursed him in public at the library, at the outside eating area of the local icecream parlor, at a coffee house, and in a Barnes & Noble. And I don't get out much.

Yes, I've fed my son in front of my father. Which is what brought this conversation to mind, as I was preparing to do so as I'd done before, sans cover and everything.
He hasn't told me what he thinks. I haven't asked, but they're free to.

Yes, if he'd been hungry, I'd have fed him. Regardless of the fact that I was in an EATING establishment. Doesn't scoffing at feeding a child in a place intended for being fed seem a little, well, like something out of Alice in Wonderland?

Good thing? Yes, it was, because I was at a Breastfeeding Cafe sponsored by the La Leche League, getting to know other breastfeeding moms and women who intended to breastfeed. I got to ask and answer questions, converse and bond with women who were both supportive and in need of support.
Good thing? No, it wasn't, because if there was a woman or girl at the next table idly listening, then she needed to hear that although women of a certain generation generally did not breastfeed because they were *wrongly* taught that formula was healthier, better, safer for their children and therefore have no real experience with it, that it is indeed the healthiest, best, and indeed most natural and therefore normal way to feed an infant.
So if you're a little bit of a lactivist, please, the next time you're out and someone starts in, make sure that anyone listening in gets to hear the supportive side of the story too.
Happy Breastfeeding Week.

Love and Light.

9 reflections:

Faeli @ Faelih said...

I really just don't get what people are expecting.. for women to starve their children? My friend had an earful in an airplane for feeding her baby. An airplane! I guess she was supposed to step outside on the wing??? Or perhaps the baby should have screamed his head off for the whole flight... So confusing...

Jessie Kaitlin said...

I agree! Just because it's not WBW anymore, doesn't mean we have to stop showing our support.
I tweeted yesterday that I'd not seen anyone nursing when I'd been out. But, if I do, I intend to congratulate them on a job well done. It's sad that so many people view breastfeeding as second best to formula.
The more people that nurse, and NIP, the better our country will be!

Upstatemomof3 said...

The ceremonial milk dance has me cracking up (and I need a good laugh right now). In all seriousness this is a great post and the perfect thing to think about. For awhile BIg Sister absolutely refused to nurse if anything was touching her face. So, the only thing I could do was actually take my shirt off. So, nursing in public was not an option and I admit I felt realy uity everytime I gave her a bottle. Not for her - whatever. She was fine, she was still getting breast milk. But for all the women who saw me feed her and did not get the benefit of seeing us nurse. I always felt I was doing society a disservice. OF course, seeing her scream and pull at my shirt and push away probably would not have actually encouraged breastfeeding. Still, I love the topless milk dance. :)

Hippie Witch said...

Mo has had bottles of expressed milk while I am at work 2 days a week and I freeze it in the little bags so it will not go bad before it gets used. other then a bottle of sample formula during a desperate colic moment (which she did not drink anyway but wanted to make sure she was not hungry) she is all boob all the time. I go out a lot and feed her whereever. we live in a small town and I kind of expect comments or dirty looks, but not so far, everyone thinks it's great I breastfeed...lucky I guess

Jennifer said...

My baby girl is 4.5 months and has never had so much as a drop of formula (or anything other than my milk for that matter). I still get a little nervous nursing in public, even though she's my second BF'd baby. I normally wear nursing tops or something I can pop out the top of. I try to cover the top of my breast with a burpy cloth, but miss kung fu grip usually ends up pulling it off several times, and my son used to do the same. So if you're staring at me, you're going to see stuff. You know what I say? Oh well. I'm not going to starve my baby. I'm not going to fiddle with stupid bottles and horrid pumps. I only pump to have a small supply in the freezer for when I need a babysitter so my husband and I can enjoy a very occasional night out. (Although having a cool bottle of my milk on a really hot outing to the zoo was way nice for both of us!) I think everyone who BF's should go out and nurse everywhere possible so people can get used to it and stop being ridiculous. And then maybe lots of new moms would see that it isn't that hard, it can be done, and would find some support and stick with it. It always breaks my heart to hear "wow, you BF? I tried but I couldn't" or "I didn't make enough milk". Arrrrgh. I challenge myself and all you other BFing moms, go nurse in public as much as you can!!! Let's make a change for the good of the babies (and the poor moms who feel trapped in bathrooms and at home). :)

Calley said...

My dad gets embarrassed when I nurse around's hard for men (yes even our dads) not to stare at boobs! LOL! With that said...he usually just goes into another room and plays with my son! It doesn't bother me a bit! you go girl!

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Pamela said...

The weirdest thing has been happening lately when I do the Breastfeeding Pole Dance (I apologize for the traffic that the googles are going to send your way with that phrase)...

Anyway, I've had dirty old men sticking dollars in my pants. Freaking old men must really want me to buy formula. Jerks.

Jaime said...

Hearing from people like you has really given me the courage to NIP and continue to nurse in public. The only person I get embarrassed to nurse in front of is my father-in-law, and I don't see him often. Actually, I think my husband feels more awkward then me. But I'm going to work on it.