Monday, December 17, 2007

Breastfeeding Culture

I am glad i have prepared my toddler for all the breastfeeding that happens with a newborn. I do a fair amount of breastfeeding promotion and education in my job, and was able to provide the toddler with pictures, art, books and breastfeeding friends to prepare her for what to expect. Every time the baby cries, the toddler pronounces, "MOM: The baby needs to breastfeed!" She told the baby yesterday to not bite me and she insists that her nipples need to be moisturized by lanolin as well (yesterday she needed lanolin on her nipples AND belly button).

When the toddler came to visit me at the hospital, i was feeding the baby. She insisted she feed her "baby" as well. There is a very cute picture of both of us breastfeeding our babies. It will not be posted here.

Speaking of public acts of breastfeeding, now that i am feeling a little more comfortable getting the baby latched i have been reminded of how uncommon it is to see breastfeeding women in public. Because i was immersed in breastfeeding education and promotion prior to having the toddler, i was aware of this issue in our culture when it came time to breastfeed my own child. I always felt it important to not hide in the bathroom or the corner of the room to feed my baby. I also felt like it was my duty as a breastfeeding mother to show people that it is ok to breastfeed in public and there should be no shame. I almost snapped at the man sitting next to me on a flight when i was feeding my first. She was kicking him as she was nursing and i apologized, but he couldn't even look in my direction less acknowledge my apology.

It is strange how our culture can be so tolerant of all-but-nipple-breastage everywhere--on TV, movies, tween idols--but to see a woman breastfeeding her child is somehow crude and perverted.


Mama Nabi said...

I remember PN was freaking out because I was having a conversation with this woman who was nursing her baby - later, he wanted to know if I 'noticed' that she was breastfeeding while I was talking to her... and I snapped at him and said, "She's not the freak of nature - I am. It's wrong that I feel I should go somewhere else to nurse [LN]... so SHE's doing the right thing and I am not." His response? "Well I'm glad that you don't." I think we should educate the fathers as well! PN freaked out when his manager (a woman) told me to go ahead and nurse in the restaurant and got me a towel in case I wanted a cover.
ANYHOO - glad you guys seem to be doing VERY WELL!

Anonymous said...

And the whole taboo against breastfeeding in public while still glorifying the boob in pop culture is ridiculous to me, seeing as how breastfeeding is the primary function of the breast in the first place. Sheesh.

Puka said...

I always get angry when I read stories about businesses or airlines that tell a mom she can not breastfeed, or worse yet, ask the mom to leave. I don't know what is wrong with people. I don't notice too many nursing in public moms here and don't expect to since this is the Bible belt. However, the other day at Target, I saw a mom sit down at the cafe and breastfeed. It was encouraging. I will NIP, but only after I am comfortable. At first, I can not be modest to save my life. It takes me a couple of months. Now, I don't think about it when I'm out and B-chan is hungry. I'm just waiting for someone to tell me I can't or to please leave so I can go Korean on them, as I like to call it. hehe