Friday, March 30, 2007

Boobs, glorious boobs

I think that there are very few things in this world more lovely and wonderful to look at than a baby who's happily nursing. I just think it's a really nice thing to see. Of course not everyone feels that way.

Before I had Elle I really didn't know there was such a big mommy war going on between women who nurse and women who don't. I just figured everyone fed their babies the best they could and didn't really care all that much what everyone else did. And then I became a breastfeeder and a mommyblogger and I saw, holy crap, this is serious stuff here. And then I picked a side.

I won't be dainty about this. After struggling with nursing for the first few months (and many, many, many times of nearly giving up) and then slowly growing to love it I know what I feel is right. I don't think there is any really valid reason for not nursing if you are able to. Except in cases where a) the mother physicaly unable to b) the baby is unable to c) there is no mother in the picture I just think that babies should be nursed. It's better for the mother, it's better for the baby, it's better for the enviroment, it's better for countless reasons.

I have heard (or read) many mothers who formula feed say that they've been given a hard time by hard-core breastfeeding advocates. That's unfortunate. While I think that breastfeeding is best I would never come down a woman for choosing to bottle feed. That doesn't help anyone. In fact, the point of this post is to celebrate the beauty and joy of nursing, not to insult anyone who is unable to (or chooses not to) nurse.

Here's a funny thing about that though. Because Joseph was adopted he was 100% bottle fed. When he was a baby I fed him countless bottles in public places. I never once got a dirty look or a snide remark. Now I'm not saying that no woman ever, anywhere has ever been berated for bottle feeding but do you know when it was that I got looks and remarks? That's right, when I was nursing.

When Elle was very young I was pretty uptight about nursing in public. I sometimes didn't want toleave the house because I was worried that when we got to where we were going I wouldn't be able to find a spot to nurse. If I had to nurse Elle when we were out somewhere I would try to do it as covered up and as hidden as possbile. Thankfully Disney World changed all that. Nothing gets a person used to nursing in public like trying to quiet a fussy baby on while on a ride at Disney World. By the time Elle was getting ready to wean I didn't care who was around when I nursed. If wanted to nurse I popped out a boob right then and there. I didn't care where I was or who saw.

The more free I became about public nursing though the more I noticed that other people seemed to be uncomfortable with it. And I was discreet! It's not like I just sat there with my boob hanging out or anything. I would leave myself mostly covered by my shirt and then Elle would pretty much cover up the rest. But I got a lot of open mouthed stares, several dirty looks and a couple of not so nice comments.

Why is that do you suppose? I think I know partof the reason. We're a forumla feeding culture. I was looking at baby shower invitations recently and almost all of them had pictures of bottles on them. We see images of babies with bottles all over the place. Think hard though. When was the last time you saw an image of a nursing baby? You never see that. The last time I remember seeing that was on the cover of a parenting magazie and there was a huge outcry over that. People wrote in to the magazine saying they didn't want their husbands or children to see the image of a nursing mother so they tore off the cover of the magazine and threw it away. Think I'm kidding? I wish I was. Some stores refused to carry the issue and others carried it but covered the magazines up so that no one could see the picture. All that fuss over a little boob.

And that brings me to the point of this long and rambling entry. We don't get to see enough women nursing their babies. We need to see this more often so that as a society we can become more comfotable with the idea of breasts being more than just something to grace the pages of Playboy. Breasts are beautiful on their own but they're even more beautiful when they've got a content baby attached to them. I want to applaud the women who have recognized that!


Judy said...

Wonderful, absolutely wonderful!! That was so beautiful.....what a judgmental society we are, with a perfectly natural thing, feeding our young. You expressed that so well!! Way to go!!! Judype

Undercover Angel said...

Awesome post! I agree with you whole heartedly. I nursed all four of my children, and I endured the nasty looks and comments, but I didn't care because I knew I was doing the best possible thing for my babies.

Beany said...

You need to find this show I watched last night on some channel I can't remember. It was a documentary that may or may not have been called "Busting Out". I looked for it on Netflix, but oddly could not find it. Give me a break, I've been sick and going on about 12 hours of sleep in the last two weeks. I'm not kidding people. ANYHOOO if it had not been 4:00 in the morning I would have called you to watch it. The talked about many things, one of which was nursing and I thought it was something you would really enjoy seeing. More than anything else you ever have. Good luck finding it.

Earthmama said...

Wonderful post!! I recently did a post on my blog about still nursing my toddler at 2 and other people's opinions. It is a breathe of fresh air to read a post like this!

homemom3 said...

I think I went through each of those stages as well and do wish it were more accepted.

Cyndi said...

Great post! That was totally me nursing my first too. I was so uptight about doing it in public to begin with. The older she got tho, the easier it was to just nurse her in the sling while I shopped in Sams Club or wherever. LOL

Anonymous said...

I think you make an incredibly valid point. Personally, I don't choose to judge what is best for babies other than mine, but I couldn't agree more that our society needs to become way more comfortable with breastfeeding. Those are babies eating. It is a truly f'd up world which oogles women for feeding their babies. No child left behind - whatever! They can't even eat in public half the time.

I do have to add that I wasn't able to breastfeed my first baby (long story - really, I probably was able to, but I was too scared; let's just say it was a crisis birth involving hospitalization) and I did feel very judged by the breastfeeding community for it...even with pumping for her first two months of life. I also felt absolutely racked with guilt over not nursing my daughter and that is not cool.

I did breastfeed my son, but unfortunately, his was another crisis birth which limited how much I could nurse him. I was also completely uncomfortable at the idea of nursing in public and did everything I could do to avoid it. My own hang up - yes. A result of society's greater hangup - definitely.

After I returned to work and had to pump in a bathroom stall, it wasn't long before the milk stopped flowing. At 6 months he fully weaned himself when it was too painstaking for him to try to get enough to eat. Let's just say that sucked too. Pumping in a bathroom stall at work is just another example of how unsupportive our society is...notcool.

So...from someone who has watched her baby from atop a breast and a bottle - we, as a society, haver a long, long way to go. I think the breastfeeding community should be sticking true to another feminist mantra - my body, my choice, and not judging women who don't nurse their children. There is something to be said for those women who feel like the little independence they have after having a baby is stolen from them when they are soley responsible for feeding the baby. And those that would oogle nursing mothers and make them feel uncomfortable about nourishing their babies need to shut it. Shut it and stay home.

I too applaud all of those naked boobies.

'Bout time.