** Disclaimer – I started writing this post back at the beginning of August when it was Breastfeeding Awareness Month. After weeks and weeks and weeks of second guessing how I was writing things (I didn’t want to offend forumla/bottle feeding mommas) I realized that I have such strong positive feelings about breastfeeding, and I shouldn’t have to censor that.**
We live in a funny time.
A time where it’s more common to formula feed babies than to breastfeed them.
A time where people stare if you are breastfeeding in public.
A time where Momma’s feel the need to hide while nursing, not only from strangers, but from friends and family.
This makes my heart hurt.
For the past few decades, breastfeeding mums have been ushered into hiding. Formula became the norm, and as my Mum tells me (a breastfeeding momma herself) 25 years ago, breastfeeding got the side eye. Nursing your baby, even at home, was considered strange. Luckily, these views are starting to shift again, but there is still so much negativity.
I always wanted to breastfeed. Actually, let me be honest, I never gave much thought to there being any other way. Much like my views on natural childbirth, I never even thought of not breastfeeding. It just was. When I got pregnant, it seemed like how I was going to feed my baby was everyone’s business. And much like the responses I received when I told them that I was planning a med-free birth, my breastfeeding plans were subject to the same negativity.
I was amazed at the negativity. So many people told me I would struggle or give up, and that it just wasn’t worth it – formula was just so easy. My view then, and now, was the complete opposite. The truth is, breastfeeding is just so easy. In comparison to whipping up a bottle, that is.
I blame so much of this negativity on the silence of breastfeeding. Even while breastfeeding is becoming more common, public nursing is definitely given the side eye, I can confirm that. But what is worse than the stares is what they have done to us. The negativity has made breastfeeding mums anxious about public nursing.
I’ve heard so many stories from other mums. Stories of sitting in the bedroom feeding their baby while their entire family is having fun together in the living room. Stories of not leaving the house because the baby might get hungry. Stories of leaving a store to nurse in the car, or dressing room.
Although, I feel every woman should do what makes them comfortable, I do wish more were comfortable enough to not hide. There is nothing to be ashamed of.
Breastfeeding is without a doubt, the best thing I’ve ever done. It is selfless, in a way that only other breastfeeding mums can understand. But at the same time, it’s not so selfless because I get so much gratification out of it.
It is such a wonderful and beautiful thing.
It’s one of the best feelings watching my little girl grow SO big and knowing that it’s coming from me. All from me. These boobs are magical, let me tell you. My heart bursts with pride.
I could stare at those eyes full of milky love for hours. For days. For a lifetime.
I love the boob filled smiles I get. Reserved just for me.
The look of utter satisfaction when she falls off the nipple, asleep and dreaming milky dreams.
Feeding my girl is natural and normal.
I love that these feelings are starting to become more popular. Even though I personally only know a handful of breastfeeding mommas, I am completely aware of the new community building out there. Breastfeeding mums are once again becoming proud. With increasing support through local groups, lactation consultants and the massive online community, we have created a new movement. A Breastfeeding Movement.
Months ago I shed my nursing cover and stopped worrying about how I was going to feed my baby if there wasn’t a nursing room. Instead of feeling ashamed when I have to whip out the boob (discreetly of course, due to my layering tanks, I don’t think anyone has ever seen my boob), I feel proud. Maybe I get some stares, from the few people that realize I’m not just cuddling my baby…but every now and then there will be a secret smile from a stranger, a knowing smile.
I like to think that I’m part of this bigger picture. I like to imagine that one day there will be just as many boobs out at the mall as bottles. And I’m not talking about the skimpy clothes that the teenagers wear these days.
I want to add down here that I know breastfeeding isn’t for everyone. We are lucky to have options like formula for those that don’t wish to go with the breast, or simply couldn’t get it to work for them. There is no shame in feeding your baby. But I guess that’s what my point is…we live in a society where it has become uncommon, unacceptable and maybe even a little bit shameful to breastfeed. And there simply isn’t anything less shameful than feeding a baby. Whether it’s by the bottle or the boob.
I am proud to say, for us, the boob it is.
In a train.
In a plane.
Or while playing a game.