Monday, July 9, 2012

to each her own

I've been following this blogger - wolf_mommy - on twitter for a while.  She retweets posts about breastfeeding in public: some positive, most negative.  She has a great blog too, on breastfeeding and nursing in public (If you are a breastfeeding mother make sure you familiarize yourself with your rights.  It is legal for you to breastfeed in public, but you need to know the law so you can state it if anyone confronts you).

Most of the posts break my heart.  People tweet about how disgusting breastfeeding is and how they want to punch nursing mothers in the face.  They tweet about women's weight and breastfeeding, women's looks and breastfeeding, women's attitudes and breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding makes a lot of people in our society very, very uncomfortable.

I want to grab those who tweet hateful things about women who are feeding their children by the shoulders and say this: that woman is feeding her baby.  You have no idea how hard it was for her to get to a place where she is comfortable doing so in public.  You have no idea how many nights and days she cried while trying to get her wailing baby to latch.  You have no idea how painful it was in the beginning, or how badly she wanted to give up at first.  You have no idea how trapped she felt initially.  How tied to the baby and his or her feeding schedule she felt.  You don't know that she felt like she would never leave the house again because she just couldn't master an easy latch.  And now that she has - and even if she hasn't, even if she's merely gained some confidence - you come along with a sneer, or a disdainful look, or even a quiet (or loud) comment and try to break that confidence.  That's not acceptable, or kind or the decent thing to do.

When I breastfeed in public I often cover up because it's what I'm comfortable doing.  I'm a modest person - part of that is personality, some of it is following a Biblical model.  I like my body.  I feel so strong and healthy right now, but I've never been comfortable with low cut shirts or skirts above the knee.  After ten months of breastfeeding I'm just starting to be comfortable with nursing in public without a cover and if there's a lot of men around I won't do it because I feel awkward about it.

I think it's a woman's choice to cover, or not, to feed in public, or not.  It's really not a big deal, she's just feeding her baby.  I wonder if those who are astonished and disgusted by a woman nursing on a train or a bus would rather she let her baby scream until she was able to find a deserted place to nurse?  Is that really a better option?

We have to normalize breastfeeding.  We have to make our children comfortable with this very normal process.  My nephew is five years old.  I used to cover up in front of him, but he would walk over and lift the cover so now I nurse without one.  He asked a couple questions at first and we had a good conversation about how human babies eat, but he doesn't even notice it now.

When I was pregnant with Charlotte I didn't want to breastfeed.  I didn't think I could with the medication I was taking to control my thyroid and I honestly didn't want to.  I didn't know many people who breastfed and I didn't fully understand how important it was for health, growth and development.  I am so glad I chose to breastfeed Bennett.  I think it helped us bond after his NICU stay, and it has been amazing watching him grow and knowing I am an integral part of his growth.

Breastfeeding is the best thing for our babies (I in no way judge mothers and fathers who formula feed.  I don't know the story behind the situation most of the time, often it is difficult and sad.  Formula feeding is not a selfish choice.  Sometimes it is the only choice and I am glad it is available).  Let's encourage and lift up mothers who breastfeed.


  1. There was a program on British TV a while back, and they asked a mum to breastfeed her baby in public (which is what she normally did anyway), so that they could gauge reactions. The program was neutral but it did lean in favor of it a bit. Some of the comments were UNREAL. One guy even said it caused men to have perverted thoughts, not about the boobs but about the baby!!!!!!! SICK. I am pro breastfeeding and that includes in public (if it is what the mother and baby need at the time) and also prolonged breastfeeding. Would it surprise you to know, I did NOT breastfeed my children. I had heart surgery which led to corrective breast surgery (due to the heart surgery scar), which made it almost impossible for me to breast feed, although I did try. I just don't understand this all too common negative reaction to it. I hope it changes one day. The woman in the TV show was very confident and said people very rarely confronted her face to face, but she knew of new younger mum's who had been on the receiving end of verbal abuse, presumably because they looked like an easy target.
    And, I climb down off my soap box for the day lol. I hate discrimination of any kind.

  2. People and their immaturity never cease to amaze me.

    Grow up people. It's all part of the circle of life, for Pete's sake. And it's beautiful.

    ANd yes, SOOOO hard to finally get to that place!!

  3. Beautiful post! Just beautiful!

  4. I'm still SO sad that breastfeeding didn't work this time around :( hopefully with my next little one it will!! Lovely post - and thank you for not judging those who have to formula feed ! <3

  5. As a middle aged grandma I do think nursing a small baby is the best choice if one can do it. Nursing is very hard and some mom's can't produce enough milk. I do not agree with the 4-5 year old who can stand next to mom and undo her 'top' so they can nurse. There is a line that is crossed in my opinion between nutrition for the baby/infant and the 'emotional' part of it for the mom.
    My personal opinion is cover oneself when nursing, just for modesty issues and for privacy. (when in public) When in mixed groups I prefer it if a mom get's up and leaves the room then returns when baby is fed. My cut off for nursing is about age 2 or even sooner. If they can hold a tippy cup they can drink on their own and don't need mom (she could pump if she chooses). I was at someones home one time years ago and her 3-4 year old came over to her, climbed on her lap unbuttoned her blouse and began to demand milk and it made me very uncomfortable. There is a fine line. (my opinion only)

  6. I love that your pationate about this. It is sad that people forget that we have choices and options and freedom! We can feed our babies how and where we like! It's too bad that giving our children sustinabce is in any way controversial.

  7. I don't much post about my living babies, as the blog is really Hope's space but I have a similar post brewing. So very well said, Angela. Couldn't agree more. Though I do think our country isn't as bad as yours when it comes to the judgement, sneers and dirty looks in public. I have fed two babies in public from day one, without a cover, and never had a dirty look. Then again if I have had one, I never noticed. And if I had noticed, I would have just sneered back anyway!
    You are doing a fantastic job. You're right, it is not easy!

  8. What I don't understand is... how do they think babies ate before formula was created? How do they think babies are fed in countries where formula isn't available? It is a baby's natural way of eating, surviving and being nourished outside of mom! It amazes me how people are okay with women walking around with half their boob hanging out of a bikini or low cut top but not okay with a woman feeding her child?!?!?!

    Sadly, I didn't have a good breastfeeding experience. We weren't told at the hospital that my son was tongue tied. I was a first time mom and felt like such a failure because he would scream and scream and I couldn't get him latched on. I couldn't figure out what I was doing so wrong. I mean here I was, a mom... yet I couldn't do the simplest, most natural thing: feed him. By the time I got home, 4 days after delivery, my nipples were cracked, sore and bleeding. I would literally cry at the thoughts of having to nurse him because I knew how bad it was going to hurt.

    By the time we got all the information about his tongue and our options, most of my milk had begun to dry up. I was so emotionally drained... it became easy to talk myself into throwing in the towel. I truly regret it and wish that I'd had a better experience and more support.

    With Nathan, my milk came in and it was horrible trying to purposefully dry it up because there was no baby to nurse. I felt horrible, once again, for my experience with my first son. I felt like I had passed up (and quit too soon) such a precious experience.

    It is amazing all the things a woman's body can do! We can create life and nourish it! How awesome is that?!?!

  9. I've only had two "uncomfortable" b/f moments in the 1 year, 1 month and 13 days I've been b/f. And sadly, no offense, they were both in the States. Here at home I have b/f everywhere, anytime, covered or uncovered. No one has said anything and there are days when I wish they had because I always have a funny comeback in my mind! I am a huge b/f advocate. I can't not be with all of the research I've done on it. And since I've had C there's been three formula recalls for bacteria and "odd odours." My boobie has never been recalled and I haven't received any complaints about the smell either!

  10. Love this post and couldn't agree more!

  11. I've been so far behind on reading, but I am glad to see this post as I struggle with the early weeks of breast feeding. Can't wait to get to the place where it feels easy...


thank you!


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