22 January 2013

why is breastfeeding even a 'debate'??

 Greetings all,
So why exactly is breastfeeding even a debate??  
Straight up, i agree that if you are breastfeeding in public, you should be discreet.  However, breastfeeding is not a debate, it's natural & wonderful.  End of story!!  I can't recall EVER seeing a mum breastfeed in public, where i've seen 'nipple' or more than the top of her breast, above the baby's head.  I see a sweet baby, then realise it's being breastfeed, i smile, move on.  Ditto all the men in my family.  If i saw a full bosom, i'd think "that was not necessary" & dismiss it as a boob-on-the-loose when babies suddenly pull away & leave you bare naked.  Before i became a mother, my experience with breastfeeding was that my mother couldn't breastfeed any of us, yet my sisters-in-law had breastfed my nieces & nephews.  I just assumed i would breastfeed - it sounded GREAT!!
It was!!  I had a fantastic obstetrician & midwives (same set for each pregnancy, delivery & birth) who delivered my babies onto my chest & asked "want to give breastfeeding a go??" &  that was the beginning of feeding my first born for 18 months.  I worked full time & was able to express easily into a vacuum pump - 1L per day (she was a hungry & active one!!)  I expressed at my office during lunch (i was the only girl & the ladies bathroom was also the Sick Bay, so i had privacy) FYI expressing is VERY different to breastfeeding!!  I would NEVER feed a baby in a toilet - or a parent's room for that matter, they are HORRIBLE!!  I fed my daughter anywhere, anytime, tucked under my top, no shawl.  As my job in the oil industry involved many dinners/ galas/ opera/ events at the finest venues with senior executives, i'd collect my baby from her Nanny & take her to dinner, breastfeeding at the table (my husband was in East Timor when she was 3-10 months) . . . she was so happy, quiet & we were discreet . . . even the CEO would tickle her feet & not realise where her head was attached.  It's possible, it's peaceful & well practised.  These were men of the 1960's & when they realised i was breastfeeding they'd say "magic, better than them crying!!"  My father thought breastfeeding was absolutely incredible = the calmest babies who fell asleep at the breast, no dummies or rocking, they were out cold for hours after a feed.  
Next pregnancy i had twins & fully expected to breastfeed them too.  Twins were fantastic, i used up all the milk i had each feed & finally experienced feeling 'empty'.  I twin fed with their heads together, bodies under my arms.  Here they are a few hours old, they were 6kg combined & arrived naturally at 37 weeks, no need for oxygen; twin 1 was delivered & handed to my husband, twin 2 delivered onto my chest, then i was passed twin 1 & told "they look hungry" so another 18 month journey of breastfeeding commenced.  I never twin fed in public, that required a large foam pillow & coordination + i had a toddler . . . on the occasion i had to feed them while i was out of the house, i'd do one at a time, ye olde fashioned way.  Twin feeding is boobs galore!!
 When i had our son, same routine, only this time i wasn't stopping at 18 months to get pregnant again, so i fed him until he was 2 years old.  Now that goes into the tricky area of breastfeeding ages, he was starting to 'help himself' by lifting up my top.  To me that was enough & my husband wanted my boobs back too, i was turning 31, he hadn't touched them since i was 23!!  Oh boy had they changed.  Now my breastfeeding journey was wonderful, i never even had a red nipple, i had plenty of milk & was able to breastfeed full time beyond the 12 month mark, it was very natural & easy for me.  Financially, we never had to purchase a single tin of formulae for babies or toddlers, our children never ever had a runny nose, cough, cold, infection or conjunctivitis.  Thank goodness as we had 4 children on under $40K, before baby bonuses were available.  I also did cloth nappies to save a fortune & toilet trained them before they were 2.  This is just how it happened for us, i was encouraged to breastfeed, i was supported by my husband/ Nanny/ workplace & never experienced negativity - apart from the twin club saying breastfeeding twins was impossible - i didn't accept that.  The most unhelpful comments come from your peers sometimes!!
 There is something i loathe . . . just because you have had a child, you don't have to be some invincible "i am woman, hear me roar" everything-about-me-is-now-amazing & i'll fight anyone who says otherwise.  You are not the first or last woman to have a baby.  Yes, it's wonderful, but don't jump on every criticism - you'll exhaust yourself . . . many bizarre ideas, comments & assumptions will fly your way as a mother, you have to get over them, especially if they come from a man, don't attack - educate.  If it's in the media - it could well be a stunt & COMPLETELY taken out of context by competing channels.  The MOST important thing you need as a mother is self esteem & confidence, so if someone asks you to move along or cover up while breastfeeding you can handle it - after checking you don't have a stray boob-on-the-loose - say "actually, i'm fine right here thank you, it's perfectly legal & natural" rather than fall to pieces, no matter how confronting.  You are your child's advocate, save your energy, as there are plenty more challenges in your parenting future.  
While i'm here, i never understood mother's meeting in cafes either??!!  Children want fresh air, parks, play equipment, freedom . . . especially if you have a toddler along.  Plenty of room for your prams, easier car parking & many venues have coffee facilities too.  I don't drink coffee or eat morning tea, so maybe i'll never understand the cafe crowd??  I know i felt a lot more comfortable (physically) breastfeeding on a park bench or picnic rug than in a shopping centre.  Love Posie

16 comments:

Queen Of The Armchair aka Dzintra Stitcheries said...

Well said Jennie...hear hear!

Pippa said...

What a great post, thanks Posie!
Well said!
I BF my son when ever and where ever!
If anyone inadvertently copped an eyeful, well lucky them! :)

Anonymous said...

Love this, absolutely, no victim here, bigger battles to worry about.

sharon said...

I thought it was a big who-haw, to be honest, its been said and done before, and agree with you totally. Just get on with things people. I wish I had been able to breast feed, didn't, have three healthy kids, but support those that can and do. As do about 99% of the population.

mel @ loved handmade said...

I don't get it either, why on earth is it even a debate?! If you can do it, you do it, it's the most natural thing in the world. I can honestly say, I've never seen it being done in any way other than disreet, and that doesn't mean you have to cover your babies head with a blanket, though sometimes I'd find this did help to keep my babies form being distracted..x

Amanda said...

Yes it is all a bit of a storm in a D cup. Great post. I was lucky I could easily breast feed both my kids for 18/14 months, did end up with mastitis early on but got over that and was never without milk in fact probably had enough milk to feed a dozen kids. A friends daughter struggled with breast feeding for 3 months ended up with repeated mastitis, and being hospitalised with a breast abscess before she gave up for her own health much to all of us older mums relief. Either you can or you can't and that is all their is to it.

Mother Down Under said...

I don't really get the big fuss either.

I think one of the best comments I have seen...and one that I totally agree with...said something along the lines of how having to walk past people smoking is way more offensive and actually harmful than seeing someone breastfeeding and nothing is ever publicly said about that.

Nancy said...

Love this post. I breastfed all 3 of mine (combined 40 months). I breastfed where necessary. I remember having one of them in a snuggly facing my chest sound asleep as I perused the new plants at a local nursery. She work up and wanted to eat so I ducked in behind some shrubs for a bit of privacy while I got her set up - umpteen people followed as they thought I had found something special - I didn't care. My first one was my learning curve - so I needed more privacy as I figured things out. Loved watching my girls with dolls holding them to their breasts - no bottles for them either.

Mama of 2 boys said...

Oh Posie, so well said and I couldn't agree more. I have been shaking my head with bewilderment at the raging debate over this topic. Utterly ridiculous really. It IS a beautiful thing, end of story. We do exhaust ourselves with worry much of the time, don't we!?
xoxo

posie blogs Jennie McClelland said...

Lots of experienced ladies making sense of the matter, thank you, love Posie

Bree said...

Love it!!

Dianne W said...

So glad to read this post Jennie! I've been reading such a lot of hoo-hah all over the media and social networks this last week and I have thought but have been almost too scared to agree that women should be discrete when breastfeeding, so I was glad to read your comments and put some perspective back in the issue. I don't see how its just not common manners to be discrete - I breastfed both my kids for 18 months each, I fed them whenever and wherever they were hungry (agreed,never a toilet) and I was conscious of others being embarrassed or uncomfortable and I never had anyone tell me they had a problem. I was in Canberra at a cafe a month or so ago and saw a woman feeding her baby and before, during and after feeding I got lengthy eyefuls of breast and nipple - she seemed quite happy to show them off. I just thought for goodness sake put them away, I couldn't understand why a young woman would happily hang it all out for all of us to see in a cafe. Did I complain or say anything - of course not, I was happy to see her feeding her baby. There is nothing more gorgeous than seeing a baby and mum breastfeeding. Too many people ready to jump on the bandwagon carrying on about rights!

Lois said...

Oh Jennie.....all i can say is 'ditto' to every one of your points. What a great post!

I particularly agree with your comment about mothers meeting in cafes. My kids were always happiest meeting other kids at the park or we'd meet at each others houses so us mummies could have a mag while watching the kids play happily or even playing with them!

Happy kids equals happy mummies :)

Anonymous said...

Great post, I love your comments about choosing your battles and being your child's advocate - in the corporate world they talk of emotional intelligence, the same goes here!

ally said...

I'm a huge advocate for breastfeeding too Jennie and I love your positive spin on this.

I loved breastfeeding and was lucky enough to feed all 3 of mine without ever using formula either.

I agree with mum down under - there are many more offensive things in our streets/shopping malls etc than breastfeeding - hello spitting!!

xx

deux chiens et un garcon said...

Dearest Jennie, doing some blog reading tonight and really enjoyed this post. Unfortunately BF is so debated with such fervor because it is not part of our mainstream culture. I agree it is so tedious hearing these argument so going round and round. In other cultures where BF is the norm, such as our Indigenous country folk in the NT, openly BF is part of every day life. Children, menfolk, Aunties, Uncles all see it, accept it, learn about it. In Tiwi culture it is shameful to show your upper thigh, or your midriff. In my time working as Dr there, not once did I attend to a woman who could not BF her child. Bottle feeding there is actually more of a death sentence, due to infective risk and gastroenteritis can be fatal. No one questions how long to feed, when to feed, no one times feeds. It is just done. We are lucky to have choices, and I advocate all women to make their own informed choices and to be left alone and get on with the most important job in the world. Much love and bloggy friendship to you xxxv Jill