Sunday, January 3, 2010

breastfeeding, whenever and wherever

I stumbled across this article today

http://www.mothering.com/bashful-brazen-indiscreet-breastfeeders-manifesto

Whilst I don't agree with her 100%, it does pretty much sum up how I feel, including being close to tears when asked to cover up, though the one time that happened to me, there wasn't even anything on display! The other bad experience that I had implied that the act of breastfeeding was disgusting and that me covering up wouldn't have made a difference, no tears there, just anger.

I quite like to wear dresses, so the idea of not wearing dresses, particularly in summer, has been a slight frustration for me. Maybe button up dresses were "in" back when this article was written, in 2001, I had a button up maternity dress bought on clearance in 2002, so that would make sense.

However, whilst a button up dress never occured to me as appropriate attire for breastfeeding, I did quickly find that a shirt of blouse was much easier to lift than to unbutton whilst juggling a baby, regardless of your desire for discreetness!

I have a picture of me and Sausage Boy 3 days after his birth, where I am wearing a shirt unbuttoned from the top, he's not even latched on, I'm not sure whether he was pre or post feed, but I'm holding him with one hand and a glass of champagne in the other!

I don't know whether it was my dad or mum who took the picture, but I was definitely in male company beyond my husband! (Events since then have revealed that I have a smaller comfort zone than my dad when it comes to my breasts)! I don't care that that moment got caught on camera, but nor would I breastfeed like that other than in my own home amongst fairly restricted company. These days I wouldn't even do that in my own living room, if my neigbours can wave to me in there, it's not exactly a private place!

I have pulled down a swimsuit when I've felt there is no other option, but any negative feelings are still more about my comfort than anyone elses, there are plenty of bikinis out there that reveal more and you won't find me wearing one of them!

So my breastfeeding manifesto wouldn't be quite as brazen as the author's - I'll breastfeed in whatever I'm wearing, because if I'm with my baby I'll be wearing something convenient to feed in and given I usually have trouble doing up a nursing bra one handed it isn't going to involve undoing buttons.

The second statement is something I aspire to, but inside myself, I'm not there right now.

It's her final statement that really sums up why I feel this way, because though I prefer to breastfeed discreetly, reality doesn't always allow this, early on it can be due to the duo learning what to do and many other reasons.

Until recently, I hadn't given much consideration to the "desexualise the breast" aspect though I think it subconciously influenced my thoughts, I've thought about this quite a lot recently and would now consider it part of my reasoning behind how I choose to breastfeed.

You may notice I use the word breastfeed, not nurse - primarily it's a language issue, we use the word breastfeeding in the UK. Living in the US for 3 years has made me slip into many american linguistic twists, including at times referring to breastfeeding as nursing, I'll probably still slip into that at times, but I'm now making a concious choice to call it breastfeeding, because that is what it is, you can nurse a baby using a bottle because nursing describes the emotional relationship, even if a modern american dictionary would give one of the definitions as breastfeeding.

2 comments:

betsy said...

I followed the link. When I got to the tea towel part, I realized that I had read it before.

While I don't use a nursing cover, I do always add a shirt, sling or towel when nursing at the pool. The city pool where I live is known for asking moms to cover up a bit when nursing.

I like the term nursing because it includes more than just nutrition.

I've nursed through a number of pregnancies. My milk supply goes way down by the time I'm 6 weeks along. During my pregnancies, nursing gives comfort, but not much in the way of feeding.

mumprime said...

I do like the element of the phrase nursing to indicate it isn't only a feeding method, I just feel at the moment one of the things I want to communicate by my choices of words and actions is that breastfeeding is not sexual.

I've never nursed through a pregnancy, the only opportunity would have been nursing #1 through pregnancy #2, but didn't as whilst by that stage I did want to nurse longer than 1 year, I think I unknowingly applied gradual weaning techniques, got to one nursing session a day, though at an hour long it was a pretty important nursing session, got pregnant and bye bye milk and it turned into a snuggle session with no complaints, I never refused him and continued to offer but he was done, I think if we'd be nursing more, or only nursing that amount but he was older (he was 16mths) then it might have continued, he was before the stage where toddlers seem to get very attached to the breast again.

My rare swimming pool exposures have been unplanned, help, baby screaming, do what you gotta do kind of moments, a couple of times in baby swim class in a private pool and once when I was with a toddler and a friend at a public pool when I was having a really hard time physically after DD was born, I couldn't carry DD on the wet poolside, so it seemed to be a choice of nurse right there, half in the pool, half out, or end the swimming session for everyone, which I was unwilling to do as it was such a rare treat. We live in a condo with a pool at the moment, so this summer quite a bit of breastfeeding by the pool occurred and given we get ready at home, walk about 30secs to the pool, it's much easier to have just nursed her if I'm actually going in than it is when you have to drive across town.