Breastfeeding in the Everglades:
a natural thing in nature itself.
Breasts were created to nourish our children. At some point in time they have become sexualized in our society. New moms, let's get back to the heart of the matter. Boobs are around to feed your baby. What an amazing gift we have been given! In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, I am blogging about boobies, and how breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the entire world, because breasts were made to sustain our babies' lives. WOW! Please join me in blogging and sharing your breastfeeding stories with the support of Mothering's Blog and Breastfeeding event this week. Check out the link.
I used to be like them. I used to gawk when a woman had her chest exposed in public. I used to think in my head, how can she not be ashamed to do that in public? She should cover herself, she should go into a bathroom. I was horribly uneducated until the moment I became a mom and breastfed my bundle of sweetness. I had to wait sometime before meeting my Audrey. The horrible hospital she was born at kept me from her for hours after my c-section. I kept asking for her, and they told me to rest. Finally, thanks to some crazy, passionate family members, I got to hold my boo-bear. I instantly tore open my gown and nursed her. It was perfect. I didn't care at that moment who saw my boobs. I didn't care about anything but giving her what she needed most. It was a perfect moment. My whole mind-set switched in that moment.
I have always had larger breasts, therefore, always have gotten sexual attention for my boobs. I knew I could accentuate that physical aspect about my body. Sadly, that is all boobs were to me until that moment in time. This is mindset is being reinforced to our young ladies constantly. It is so sad. I want to be a part of changing that. Boobies are for babies!
I breastfed my children for 4 years (two years each, back to back). I have had a lot of comical, uneducated, and even sad responses to the fact that I exclusively breastfed my two children. Here our some of my many stories, enjoy, relate, and learn form other people's mistakes:
- As I left the hospital with my first born, Audrey, I was still unsure about breastfeeding in public. I mean, I had only been doing it for three days, and the hospital was no help at all in that department. I am pretty sure they even snuck her a bottle when they took her to the nursery. Audrey started screaming as I was being wheeled out to the car, and I knew she wanted to eat. I pulled out my boob and she instantly latched, and than I fumbled to get the blanket to cover me. Part of my shoulder was exposed and you could see my nursing bra. The nurse stopped pushing me and made a fuss of covering me up. I felt embarrassed about it. I couldn't believe she made me feel that way. I mean, being a new mom is hard enough without the hospital employees making us feel guilty. Fast forward to 2 years later, I am leaving a different hospital with my newborn son, Luke. This time, I didn't even get a blanket. He cried as I was being wheeled out. I lifted my shirt, not missing a beat and stuck my boob in his mouth. I continued my conversation with my surrounding family members. A nurse came running up and gave me a blanket to cover. I rolled my eyes in to the video camera. She said something like, "There are small children around." I didn't say anything, but I was thinking in my head, "Hello, why don't small children know babies eat from their mom's breasts!?" Give me a break.
- A friend tells me that she will never breastfeed in public. The baby will have to wait until she is in private to nurse. My husband tells her, "Well, then your baby is going to starve." She is saying this to me because I am breastfeeding my baby in public. Hmmm, a couple years later when she has a baby, low and behold, she breastfeeds in public. Ha! I was nice, I didn't bring that up again.
- Multiple doctors of mine told me at various times that it was time for me to wean my baby. It is not appropriate to nurse your baby for more than a few months, they told me. I told them that the Academy of Pediatrics recommends to nurse until a year, at least. The World Health Organization recommends two years. The doctors shut their mouths after that. See what a little education can do? Even our medical professionals are not all informed about the topic.
- Most of the time people couldn't even tell I was nursing in public, but when they did they would always do a double-take. Some would shake their heads, some would start whispering, some would actually come up to me and try to sneak a peek. What the heck? I am just feeding a child. Get over it.
- My children have fond memories of breastfeeding and they often talk about "boo-boos" (that is the term they made up for them) in public. Too many people are uncomfortable with my children talking about breastfeeding. When they see someone feeding their baby a bottle, my kids even say, "Don't you give them milk from your boos-boos?" My little breastfeeding advocates. They nurse their dolls and stuffed animals when they play. The other day, my children were playing together and my four year old daughter says to my two year old son, "Come here, I need to breastfeed you. Come lay down in bed with me." My two year old screams, "I don't want to go to sleep!" I could always get him to conk out in seconds with some booby feeding, and he remembers that. I love that bedtime is what was offensive to him, not breastfeeding. Why is this not more of a normal thing? Why do little girls get a bottle with their baby doll? Why aren't they naturally pretending to nurse their baby dolls? I will tell you, my kids mostly know what a bottle is because they have seen it on television. Lord knows they wouldn't put their mouths near a bottle of even breast milk. (Although, I do understand there are some times moms need to express breast milk to feed their baby. I always felt bad for my poor husband when I had to leave him with a supply of pumped breast milk.) So, strangers who are offended, the lesson to be learned is this: Stop freaking out when my children talk about boobs for breastfeeding. Stop shaking your head when my son cuddles up to my bosom and squeezes them and hugs them. It is not sexual. He was nourished and comforted by those things for two years. Of course he is attached to them. If I don't mind, why should you?
- Audrey used to go around rubbing every girls breasts she came into contact with. It was like she was feeling them out to see if they were a good meal. You know we scan the menu, our mouths water, than we get to eat. Audrey was doing the same thing. You should've seen the looks I would get for laughing at her instead of scolding her.
- One of my friends told me that her teenage daughter thought that women nurse their babies out of their belly-buttons, and she wanted to keep her innocent, so she didn't correct her. What the heck?! You're keeping her dumb and ignorant my friend, not innocent. Breastfeeding is one of the most innocently sweet things in the entire world.
- I did take a stand at my job for breastfeeding rights. I am a full-time teacher. I would pump during my meetings (luckily it was all females, so I got less resistance). We weren't allowed to have fridges in our classrooms, but I told them it was my right to refrigerate my breast milk and I kept one under my desk. They wanted me to put my milk in the faculty lounge fridge. Gross!!! I nursed my baby when she came and visited me at work and even on field trips. I was discreet about it, but I knew it was my right as a mother, and yes, I teach my students, that mammals have nipples to feed their babies. That is an important mammal trait that gets washed right over. You should see my parents eyes widen when my students tell them that bit of information.
Like I said, I am a discreet breast feeder, but I didn't use a cover after
the first few weeks unless the sun was in my baby's eyes. Audrey would
just rip the cover off anyway. I didn't even try with Luke. No one ever tried to kick me out of a store or told me to leave. I am glad no one ever did because I don't know what I would have said. I probably would have gone ballistic and gotten arrested because it makes me so angry to even think about. I heard so many news stories about this happening while I was breastfeeding. Ignorant people firing women from their jobs for promoting breastfeeding, or telling moms to go in to the bathroom to nurse, or telling them to leave a place for simply feeding their child, or asking them to cover up their breasts, and even being called a terrorist. The list goes on. Same story, someone doesn't get what breastfeeding is and acts out in ridiculous ways about it. I couldn't believe how horrible people were. In the hidden camera television show What Would you Do? they had a breastfeeding segment. Most people were disgusted by the breastfeeding mom. People are so mean. Watch the clip here!
If you are one of those people that get wierded out by breastfeeding, I encourage you to educate yourself on breastfeeding, whether you yourself are breastfeeding or not. We need to eradicate the stigma on breastfeeding in this nation. Boobs does not need to be related to sex. Like I said before, boobies are for babies!
Remember, I used to be that person too. I used to judge these women for feeding their babies. And now I can't even fathom feeling that way. The more I learn, the more I see the benefits, the more I educate myself the more passionate I become. Breastfeeding is so important. Don't discourage the brave women who go against the "norm" and do what is right for their children. I encourage all breastfeeding moms, I encourage all husbands or partners with breastfeeding women in their life, I encourage all family members of breastfeeding moms, heck, I encourage everyone to stand united in protecting our children from people who are ignorant and uneducated in this area. Let's change this world together one story at a time. Hope my stories helped you see that in some small way.