8.08.2011

obsessssssed with breastfeeding

A few weeks ago on Facebook someone mentioned in passing my “obsession with breastfeeding." My first reaction was to be offended, because it came from someone who does not have children and I took it that they were using it in a negative way. After thinking for a while about the word they chose, I did realize that while any other “lactivist” will understand why I post article after article pertaining to breastfeeding, to anyone else, especially to those who chose to bottle feed or to those without children, it must very well look like I am obsessed with breastfeeding!

Now, I assure you, I do not walk around thinking about boobs and human milk all day, but if obsessed is what you want to call it, then why exactly am I so obsessed?

In our culture, breastfeeding is taboo. You’ll see grown men become embarrassed and skittish when the topic of breastfeeding comes up, or if a woman breastfeeds her child in front of them. You’ll hear about other mothers wanting breastfeeding moms to cover up or leave the room, so their husbands and adolescent boys don’t get a peep show. Yet you’ll never see anyone ashamedly turning their head when a Victoria’s Secret commercial comes on, or asking a young woman to wear a blanket over her shoulders and chest when she is in her bathing suit, or mothers covering the eyes of their children as they stand in line at the grocery store surrounded by a dozen magazines with half-naked women on the covers. In our culture, it’s okay for boobs to strictly be sexual objects. It is okay for tween Disney stars to wear revealing, low-cut blouses, for young women to increase their breast size to increase their confidence, and for women to use their breasts as a way of grabbing the attention of men. And in this same culture, breastfeeding is icky. Breastmilk is gross. Mothers should breastfeed elsewhere, as if it is wrong or something to be ashamed of.

I’m not going to lie, breastfeeding is not always easy. I am very lucky to have had an easy time with it with River, but even then, it was painful for the first couple months and I suffered two bouts of mastitis. Aside from being painful, at first I found it incredibly awkward to breastfeed around people and inconvenient to have to find a private place if I didn’t have the confidence to just feed River where I was. In those early months, I did not like breastfeeding. One day, I remember thinking,
I totally get why some women choose formula!!!


I truly believe I had such an easy time is because of the amazing support I had in my group of breastfeeding friends and family members. If I’d chosen to bottle feed, there probably would have beaen a freak-out from some of the women closest to me. Sadly, for some mamas, it’s quite the opposite; there is a freak-out because they choose to breastfeed. One breastfeeding friend shared with me that before she got pregnant with her daughter and started reading about breastfeeding, she had never before considered it because she came from a family of exclusive formula-feeders. Her mother, aunts, and sister-in-law all fed their babies formula from day one. That’s just how it was done in their family. When she made the decision that she would breastfeed, her friends told her she was crazy. One woman told her she thinks breastfeeding is “disgusting.” If I had been surrounded by this kind of attitude when I was dealing with those common struggles in the first few months, I may have quit, thinking if everyone else thought it was crazy and disgusting, if it was hurting so much and if it was so inconvenient, I might as well switch to formula.

It is heartbreaking to me that this is the kind of attitude our society has toward breastfeeding, and that when women are interested in nourishing their babies the natural way, they are bombarded with negative responses, lies and myths, like, “Your body probably won’t produce enough milk,” and, “If you’re baby gets jaundice, you’ll have to supplement with formula,” and, “If your baby’s so fussy, you should try formula – she’s probably not getting enough milk, or she’s allergic to your milk.” These are all things that have been told to friends of mine, and they are very common. And they aren’t true. When I was pregnant, I was surprised a commonly asked question was, “Are you going to breastfeed?” What surprised me even more is that the response to my yes was, “Oh, I tried for a couple weeks. It was awful. I just couldn’t do it.”

Unfortunately, this is the kind of information available through the media and acquaintances and ill-informed friends.

This is why I’m “obsessed” with breastfeeding. I want people to see the articles I post. I want people to get used to hearing that boobs are for babies, not sex. I want people to be aware of how our society views breastfeeding and know that this is not healthy, and that because of this, it is not always easy to breastfeed in America; in fact, it can be quite discouraging and frustrating. I want people to understand what some women go through to give their babies the best possible nourishment, and to be sensitive to breastfeeding moms they know, especially new mothers. I want people to know that breastmilk and formula are not one in the same – that breastmilk gives life-long protection from diseases like obesity, diabetes and asthma, and that breastfeeding is an amazing bonding experience.

I know that breast is best, and I’m proud to be a sometimes “loud” voice for breastfeeding. Even if it does make me come across as a little obsessed. ;)




3 comments:

  1. I completely understand what you are getting at! It can be very difficult to breastfeed in the US.

    And this is starting to become an issue for me a little bit... I come from a family that breastfed but they also stopped breastfeeding at one or before one.

    Now that I am continuing to breastfeed my daughter passed one my family seems uncomfortable with it and makes little unsupportive remarks occasionally.

    Luckily my husband does not have an issue with it since he was breastfed passed one and is not from the US so he has a very different view of about breastfeeding.

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  2. keep being obsessed and i will add you on fb!

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  3. Brest feeding is way by which a mother fulfills her baby's nutrition needs and demands. Its an easy to digest & pure from of nutrition which helps your child to gain proper strength and energy. According to the report by WHO it is clear that we can reduce 15-20% of child death in first 5 years of their life by proper breastfeeding, so every mother need to understand this fact that breastfeeding is not just helpful for their child it is also helpful for themselves.

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