Breastfeeding: A Movement

** 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.

The closeness.

The tenderness.

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.

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11 thoughts on “Breastfeeding: A Movement

  1. Great post! I love it and I completely agree. There is NOTHING better than the bond you have with your child from breastfeeding. I love doing it and wish I could do it forever (if THAT wasn’t wierd). It’s probably THE absolute best feeling in the world.

  2. I wonder how the attitudes are different in different places. Is it the same in Europe? I’m not sure if Canada has the same rates as the States, I think it might be slightly higher. I know a lot of babies right now and many are BF. I am pleased that in malls and such I see many women who are BFing. Not every mall has nursing rooms. Or good ones. At Bayshore, when Regan was around two months, I went into the “nursing room” and it was really nothing more than a tiny dark cubicle. That wasn’t happening! I went out and BFed on one of the comfy chairs in the mall. I didn’t get any looks, but I always do it discreetly under a blanket.
    I can’t stand the attitude that “it’s gross”. How do they think we exist as a species!
    Are clinics easily accessible there? Have I asked you that before? Is BFing promoted in hospitals and by health professionals?
    I know for you and I it was came easily, but I say kudos to Julie and women like her for not giving in!
    I love BFing! I love looking at her when she’s so concentrated on it, and knowing how healthy she is just because of my body. It’s also SO cute when she looks up at me and smiles while latched on. Sweetie.

    • It’s definitely more common in Canada, and even more so in Europe.
      The hospitals have lactation consultants that visit with you, but getting a private consultant out of the hospital is usually a bit more supportive – albeit expensive.
      I think they try to support breastfeeding, but I find it funny that even though I told both I was breastfeeding, our pediatricians office and the hospital sent us home with a formula care package.

  3. Wonderful post, Boo. It’s a strange thing watching the world change. When you (and your brother four years earlier) were born, the US was in that “breast feeding is what hippies do” kinda phase. It was quite natural in England and in Canada; at least there was no stigma. Breast feeding is the natural way to feed; it was recognized. That didn’t mean bottles and formula weren’t used and were perfectly acceptable, but breastfeeding is what breasts were made for. The US found it a novelty, a throwback, like wearing earth shoes and not shaving under our arms. I breast fed, I did shave under my arms too.

    The fact is, whether you believe in evolution or divine creation, babies are meant to be nourished at the breast. You can’t argue that fact. It’s not an opinion; it is a fact.

    Whether you choose to breastfeed, or persevere with it when there are severe challenges, the truth is, it is still the way the human baby is designed to be nourished.

    I have no bitterness towards anyone who bottle feeds, uses formula. Go for it; it’s your baby. What bothers me, and causes my back to go up, are those who make thoughtful decisions to formula feed but then bash those that choose to breastfeed, or make negative comments when told that’s going to be your choice. You made your choice, your’re happy with it, so be supportive of others who make different choices. Even more frustrating, although immensely funny, are those that I’ve heard say “breast feeding is so yukky, so unnatural”. That’s just absurd, and to be honest, when someone makes an absurd comment like that, I wonder if they’re mature enough to even have a baby. Harsh.

    It’s my theory that it’s those who question their own decisions, whether it’s breastfeeding/bottle feeding, cloth/disposable diapering, or the cry it out method who bash the loudest. There’s no need for it, we’re all mamas… and there’s certainly enough opinions to go round! As well as enough real challenges.

    Every baby is different, as is every parent, every lifestyle and every thought process. We should support each other and stop bashing the other. What works for one, not so much for another. And that’s just fine. But if you don’t want me to look at you cross-eyed when you’re feeding your baby with a bottle, then don’t give me the stank eye when I’m discreetly feeding mine from the breast.

    Hi, my name is Cindy, and I am opinionated. If I wasn’t, I’d be stuck in a corner, not able to make a decision. How horrid would that be.

    The world needs our opinions, and most definitely, our differing opinions… that is what keeps us striving forward, battling the status quo.

    I love your post…. I love that you feel the closeness to Ariadne that I enjoyed with you and Jordan, the absolute pride from providing you with what you needed, and the overwhelming joy looking into your eyes as you nursed. Along with that little thing in my head (the one that you share), the security of knowing that if we were stranded somehow on a desert island, or now adays, if the Zombie Apocolypse comes and we’re hiding out, at least baby will eat!!!!!

    Congratulations on the movement; make the ribbons, I’ll gladly wear one…..
    Sorry it’s a long post… just something I believe so strongly in….I couldn’t stop myself.

  4. I don’t know how I would deal with fixing a bottle in the middle of the night! BFing is sooo easy.
    Though I know it’s not the only way to bond with your baby, I can’t help but feel FF mums are missing out on something wonderful.

  5. I love this post and I love breastfeeding!! I’m one the most timid women when it comes to NIP, but I’ve come a long way since day one – maybe one day I’ll be as brave as you! 😉

    Bahahahaha –> “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.”

  6. Oh my 10th letter of the alphabet, you’re so groovy!
    I nursed all my babies and never felt a stigma over it. Or maybe that’s just because I was young and single with my first that I got over the side eye glances so quickly that nothing mattered after that.
    Nursing is amazingly special! Nicely done on your post here sister!

  7. Biggest pet peeves in the world: people that say breastfeeding is gross or unnatural. What could possibly be more natural than feeding babies the way that we are biologically programmed to do?!?! The way that all other animals do? Though formula is a fine option for many women, how is a man-made product more natural than breastmilk?

    Also: people that think breastfeeding is gross because it has to do with breasts, therefore making it sexual in nature. OMG – I can’t handle this thought process. As if your breasts are only allowed to have one function. I can’t help but feel that these people have some sort of emotional damage they’re dealing with because it’s so odd to think of it this way. Getting very worked up even thinking about it. Might have to write a blog about this too. ❤

  8. As you probably know, I’m an FF mama, but loved this post. I guess it’s funny how the world and humans work – cuz while you feel so much negativity for BFing, I feel the same thing for FFing. I’m one of the only FFing moms I know, actually. I guess you can’t avoid the judgements, no matter what side you’re on! I love the pride you have for this and hope you change some narrow minds.

  9. Jaye thank you for the beautiful pictures and your thought provoking writing. It gave me a touching reminder of how special that bond is we share with our children. It doesn’t seem to matter how long ago we had our own breast feeding experience it remains one of the most precious memories we have.

    • Carolyn,
      That is so true. Watching Jaye, and I love to watch her breastfeeding, just makes the memories flood back; they are such cherished memories. Even beyond childbirth itself, it was the single most rewarding, empowering and trusting experience I’ve ever had. And I so agree with you on the photos too….. they are just beautiful.

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