Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I Approve of "Indiscreet" Breastfeeding

I really, really loved this article: "From Bashful to Brazen: The Indiscreet Breastfeeder's Manifesto." After a stressful experience where she was chastised by an older woman for feeding her screaming infant in the grocery store, the author becomes- well, a lactivist, I'd say. Someone who promotes breastfeeding by doing it in public. (And thereby normalizing it.)

I felt very proud of this woman for standing up for herself and her baby. A nursing mother should not have to hide away. It's so silly that some people are freaked out about breastfeeding. If an adult can't glance at another adult who's FEEDING A BABY AND PROPAGATING THE HUMAN RACE- well, that person can take a leap off a cliff as far as I'm concerned.

Here's author Sundae Horn's manifesto:
Indiscreet Breastfeeding Manifesto

I will nurse my child anytime, anywhere, no matter who is present or what I am wearing.
I will bare my breast with pride and confidence.
I will not apologize for nourishing and nurturing my child.
I will not smother my child with a napkin or blanket.
I will smile at everyone around me and ignore rude stares.
I will know that I am giving my child the perfect infant food from the most efficient, ecological, and economical delivery system.
I will know that I am giving my child the healthy start that is his or her birthright.
I will set an example for women and girls, educate the public, dispel breastfeeding myths, desexualize the breast, and make the world a better place, all through the simple act of feeding my child.

I love it. I pretty much do this too.

I would not say I "bare my breast" on purpose- I do try to latch the kid on quickly. But I'm not going to act like I'm SMUGGLING HEROIN INTO THAILAND when I'm just nursing, so I'm not going to try desperately to hide myself. My husband is not as bonkers as me about public breastfeeding, but he and I have very different aesthetics in general, so I try not to get upset that he's not as lactivist as I am. He doesn't love it when I breastfeed in restaurants, and he's entitled to his opinion. But when I'm out without him, I'm sure to breastfeed at will. Sorry, honey.

But yeah, I pretty quickly became a lactivist once I started breastfeeding- not that I'm going to tell other moms how to feed their babies- but in the same way, I don't want anyone telling me where and how to feed my kid.

It's handy that most of the moms I'm friends with, I met in my hospital's new moms group, which is run by a lactation consultant. All of us breastfed for at least the first few months. We went out for lunch after moms' group and broke out the nursing covers, learning how to breastfeed in public together. It was so cool. Most of them went back to work when their babies were three months old and most did not choose the rigors of pumping- I totally understand that. Pumping is exhausting and annoying. It's a true luxury to get to stay home with your kid and breastfeed at your leisure. Anyone who criticizes a working mom for not pumping deserves a brick to the head. (Oh shoot did I just say that? I watch too much true crime TV. What I mean is, it's hard to make breastfeeding work when you go back to work, especially if that job is not flexible.) Just as I am protective of nursing moms, I'm also protective of moms who decide to use formula.

Here's a segment from Sundae's article:

Since that day, I have nursed openly in some pretty amusing situations, including during an eye exam and while taking the written test for my driver's license. Neither the optometrist nor the DMV examiner asked me to stop. In fact, both were encouraging, if a little embarrassed, saying that it was a first for them, but that I should just go ahead and do what was best for my baby.
I have nursed while getting my hair cut and my oil changed. I have nursed in libraries, museums, and malls, at weddings and parties, in stores and waiting rooms, in line at the grocery store, and while waiting on customers in the bookstore where I work. Not to mention in restaurants, airports, parks, zoos, and the Morehead City Seafood Festival beer garden (I had juice, of course). Once I made myself at home on the patio furniture display at K-Mart. Another time I sat on the edge of the dairy case at the grocery store; a passing manager assured me I could sit there as long as I needed.

I think that's pretty friggin' cool.

Where have I nursed? On airplanes, in line at the airline ticket counter when baby was freaking and I was NOT about to let someone else get the seat I wanted, and at the emergency room while they were putting an IV in the baby when he was dehydrated from vomiting. He was screaming bloody murder, and one of the nurses shoved a pacifier at him. "He won't take that," I snapped, super frazzled, then I got the idea to give him the boob (the original pacifier). I leaned over the bed and tried to nurse him while 4 nurses stepped over and around me trying different things to get a vein. It was quite a scene, but the breast stopped the baby's screaming for a few seconds at least. Poor thing. Later on, one of the nurses goes, "That was really cool what you did." I got a lot of positive support from the nurses that day, including one who held the baby so I could pump, since he wasn't wanting to eat. That was in California, where I think they're pretty into breastfeeding. Here's a pic of him and me at the ER the SECOND time.

I dunno. I just don't think breastfeeding is something that should make other people upset or angry to see. I don't think kids are freaked out by it. Adolescent boys, maybe, but we certainly can't run the world based on the likes and dislikes of teen boys.

What kind of people are freaked out about breastfeeding? Just people I wouldn't like anyway, right?

I know I talk about breastfeeding, but I do it a million times a day, so it's on my mind.


AmyBow said...

Woo-hoo! I totally agree. The ladies were meant for providing nourishment and should be used as such. We don't do it to draw atetntion - we do it to DETRACT attention from our screaming child. And, I have to say, while nursing is not a boobie at its sexiest it is a woman looking pretty darn beautiful and womanly.

Melodie said...

This is exactly how I feel too. So glad someone put it into an affirmation. Thanks for posting it! And hi! It's always nice to find another breastfeeding and "natural parenting" mom!