22 January 2013
why is breastfeeding even a 'debate'??
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