Saturday, November 17, 2012

On breastfeeding

Unless you live totally under a rock (or don't check Facebook), you're likely aware of the social media frenzy happening right now concerning women posting photos of themselves nursing their little ones and while there seems to be an article weekly somewhere about breastfeeding in public, this one left me thinking a bit longer. Perhaps it's because I'm just starting to come out of the weeds of having a little one and I can finally start processing and thinking about what Si and I have been through the last eight months.

Chances are, unless you're a fellow new mom, a veteran mom, or someone I'm close to who was at our house in those early days back in March, I've never talked about breast feeding with you.  There's a good chance you probably haven't seen me nurse Silas, even though I've nursed in public from New Hampshire to Colorado, in bars, restaurants, malls and everywhere in between. I think there may be one photo somewhere of Si nursing and it's only because he was so teeny that Aaron and I thought it was hilarious. This isn't because I'm ashamed of it or feel it's something that should be hidden away, it's just not something I've ever felt the personal need to talk openly about or display.

Nursing was not something that was easy for Si and I and from what I understand, my Mom had a lot of the same issues. Those first few weeks were incredibly difficult for all of us. Silas wasn't quite sure what to do when first born and so we needed a lot of help. If it wasn't for Aaron, his Mom, my Aunt Deb, our ability to pay for a lactation consultant, amazingly supportive friends (both in person and via email) and my own shear stubbornness, I'm not sure we would have made it work. I still think the Guinness Jamie and I shared on St. Patrick's Day was really what got things going for me! Now, when we pause whatever we're doing for a quick nurse and I don't even think about it, trying to remember those early days that were so frustrating feels like a foggy, distant lifetime ago.

I wouldn't trade my quiet moments with Silas and the bond we have for the world and I can't believe just how judgmental Americans choose to be when it comes to things like this. People seriously take the time to complain about a woman nursing in public? And think it's inappropriate? Every week there's an article somewhere about a woman being publicly humiliated because she's chosen to feed her infant in a public place. Based on all I've read, I've been pretty lucky to have people do quite the opposite and have the most unlikely people say "Good oh ya, Mama!" when I've nursed Si in a restaurant. Do people not have anything better to do with their time than chastise a woman for doing something completely natural? I can only imagine how that must feel to a person who may be struggling with nursing as it is, is quite likely very sleep deprived and holy cow, may be feeling like she doesn't know what the hell she is doing with this small little creature at all! Shame on those who judge.

I should also note that I am well aware that women are not able to or choose not to breast feed. Many of my close mama friends have struggled and not had the same success Silas and I did, and it wasn't for lack of a LOT of trying.  I think they need to be supported and cheered on just as much as women who are able to exclusively breast feed. Being a mom is hard work no matter what route you choose and taking sides on this issue only further divides us when we really need to be all in it together.

And on that, I will hop back off of my soapbox.


  1. Ironic that in a country where women are objectified and the public are bombarded with half-naked women at almost every turn people would object to seeing a breast in this capacity - or maybe that's the problem (?)

    Anyway, I did not breastfeed my girls, but have absolutely no problem whatsoever with women who breastfeed in public. Breastfeeding is a beautiful, natural act - the reason we have breasts. Women must stick together to protect a child's right to eat in public - just like the rest of us!

    Stay on your soap box girl!

  2. most people think, unless you are exposing your breast, that you are just holding the baby anyway. i really don't get the issue.