Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Booby Traps

I'm little, but I'm spunky. So during my pregnancy when other women said discouraging things about breastfeeding, I gave that smile that Southern women do and fortified my resolve to succeed at breastfeeding. Maybe it's not exactly inspiring to say so, but my desire to prove those women wrong got me through some of the tough titty times.

Where I'm from, there are three big cultural deterrents to breastfeeding:

1. The belief that it's weird and gross
2. Scandal at seeing breastfeeding in public
3. The belief that breastfeeding an older baby or toddler is somehow perverse

Number one never really bothered me so much. I mean, that's what boobs are for. No matter how vigorously the Victoria's Secret models writhe around in their underwear, the fact remains that breasts are baby-feeding equipment.

Number two was a little harder for me to get over. I don't like making others uncomfortable unless they really, really deserve it. But as time went on and breastfeeding become more of the status quo to me, I worried less and less about others being offended by the very normal act of a mother feeding her child. I do, however, make sure to cover up.

As we approach the one year mark, I find number three cropping up in my thoughts from time to time. People educated in the benefits of breastfeeding understand that those benefits extend into toddlerhood. But the problem is that so many people AREN'T aware of the benefits of breastfeeding. Will it deter me from continuing what has thus far been a fantastic experience with obvious positive results? Absolutely not. Because I'm spunky. But I do think a lot about others who have no support.

Once upon a shopping trip at Target, the babies and I were meandering about the baby section. In the next aisle, I heard a pregnant woman telling her friend that she might be interested in breastfeeding. The friend laughed and said, "You're not going to breastfeed!" in that I-know-you-better-than-you-know-yourself sort of way. The pregnant lady sighed and said, "I know."


In ten years, I hope that breastfeeding will be the cultural norm in this country (as it is in so much of the rest of the world), but in the meantime, there are lots of "boobytraps". Here's an article that meant a lot to me when I was struggling with my anger at situations like being told the only place available to feed my children was the bathroom.

Here's to being a spunky mommy!
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  1. I wish it was more accepted too. Kylie is almost six months and I'm constantly asked when I will wean her. I tell them around a year probably and get some odd looks. Totally frustrating but I like you have enough spunk to blow them off =) Good for you!

  2. Really? Not accepted in the US? Didn't know that. It is widely accepted in NZ; lots of malls have 'parent's rooms' which has a sitting area with a microwave for warming up bottles and a counter for changing. Every now and then a woman does get a bit of flack for feeding in public, but usually their's quite a outcry to support it. Yeah, overall it's fine here and I think most mothers do it.

  3. Parents' Rooms would be fantastic. I do think acceptance is on the rise, but I know that a lot of women don't opt to breastfeed because they know they would receive zero support from their family and friends (like the woman in Target).

  4. Isabella BFed until 19 months; she self-weaned. I was sad when it happened. Yes, I was asked by many people when we would stop. I always said We would stop when she was ready.

    As a working (outside the home) mama, I felt like it was a fantastic way for us to bond. I drove to nurse at lunch and I pumped. I was the only mama at the school who was still nursing in the toddler room. I never felt pressured to stop. The teachers were very encouraging and appreciated how very healthy my child was. Isabella has been so healthy and so bonded to me. I wouldn't change a thing. There is one downside: She always has to touch me while she's eating. It's very sweet, bu incredibly messy.

  5. I am in the South as well, and let me tell you!! At a family event, my grandmother and I were getting reacquainted with one of my dad's cousins, who had a 12 year old son. I was holding Elise, who was 7 months old at the time. My dad's cousin said, "How old is she?" I answered, "7 months." My grandmother (who is actually from PA) added, "And she still nurses," while shooting my dad's cousin a glance as if to say, "Ewww, gross."

    My dad's cousin looked at her and said, "Naturally. I nursed my son until he was two." Yaaaaay!!

  6. Erin, I officially love your dad's cousin.


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