Sunday, 24 January 2016

Sunday bookmark challenge #3: Boob feeding

Finding and writing about an old bookmark on Sunday evening! Mel over at Stirrup Queens started it and you can read more here.  Mel is currently covered in snow and I don't know if she is going to write about bookmarks today. However, I will still give her credit for coming up with the first blogging exercise in months that I can manage to do regularly. (I think the secret is 1) it's on a Sunday and 2) the prompts already exist! i.e. no pressure to come up with new content.)

Today's bookmark is called 25 Historical Images that normalize breastfeeding. I found this on the blog of a fellow IFFer who also went on to become a mom. I read a lot about breastfeeding in the last trimester of pregnancy and in early motherhood. I always knew I wanted to breastfeed and breastfeed exclusively, if possible. The consistent message from my doctors, prenatal classes, and doula was that breastfeeding is the most healthy option for mom and baby. (I also received information about formula feeding.) In addition to that, breastfeeding appeals to my practical nature: it sounded like the most efficient way to feed a baby. The link of course is not giving information; it is showing that historically moms breastfed in all sorts of situations. I planned to do this as well. The pictures have snarky captions that might appeal to anyone who has been shamed or embarrassed for breastfeeding. But you do not have to read the captions to appreciate the pictures.

Breastfeeding is a topic that brings up a lot of strong emotions. I suppose this is inevitable: feeding a child is necessary to ensuring his/her survival, and every parent has strong feelings about the health and survival of their child. Few parental fears are more gutting or guilt-inducing than the fear your child is not eating properly or enough.  And there is good reason why that fear is there, when you think about it. It really is not surprising that we can all be a bit crazy, individually and collectively, about what and how we feed our children. In addition breasts are associated with sexuality in our culture, and blah blah blah - I don't think I need to spell it out for any readers.

The way I see it: Humans are mammals (biological fact) and mammals lactate to feed their young. So there is no logical reason humans shouldn't breastfeed.  However, natural systems have flaws and don't necessarily work the way they are supposed to (doubt that's news to any blog readers). Lucky for humans, unlike other species, we are not necessarily limited by nature: we have ways of feeding our babies, i.e. ensuring their survival, that are not natural. And that is a very good thing. So: no need to apologize if you breastfeed, and no need to apologize if you don't. 

I am lucky to have had positive experiences with breastfeeding. AJ still boob feeds (what we always call it) before bedtime. She could do without at this point, but we both like the cuddles. Breastfeeding is a connection we have had since she was born. I guess I am not quite ready to give that up, although as she grows and develops we find many more ways of connecting, and inevitably, she will leave it behind with her outgrown clothes and toys and other aspects of babyhood.

I like the photos in the link because they don't look posed, they show moms being moms and taking care of their babies every day. In the same spirit, here are four of my favourite boob feeding photos. Clockwise from left:

-First breast feed, within an hour of birth. The photo was taken by our doula, who had the magic touch for getting AJ to latch.
-Several months later, out in nature!
-AJ's first Christmas, picture taken in my parents' living room. I cropped the photo to protect the privacy of other family members, but what it shows is me breastfeeding in the living room while carrying on a conversation with other people in the room.
-Snuggled up on my lap





Wishing good health to everyone and their families, current and future!

9 comments:

  1. I love that you posted these photos! It shows a beautiful feeding relationship you have with AJ. I agree with you about the emotions surrounding feeding your child. There's a strong biological drive to do so (for good reason). I firmly support which ever method parents use to feed their babies. And I'm also glad to see photos that show the beauty that exists with this process. Because it is truly magical.

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    1. Thank you! It is an amazing part o an amazing experience.

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  2. I think breastfeeding is a beautiful thing, and I am always in shock when it's banned in public. I think it's hugely emotional (for some) for the same reason that infertility is hugely emotional (for some): if you are a woman and women are supposed to be able to do X and you cannot do X... does that make you a lesser woman? The answer is clearly no, but what the brain knows and what the heart suspects are two different things.

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    1. It definitely isn't easy to accept that one's body (or mind for that matter) can't do what one exoects. To rationally understand is one thing: to be fully ok with things as they are rather than the way we want them to be: I haven't managed it!

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  3. Beautiful photos! I don't understand all the hoo-ha about breastfeeding in public. I love the various things that come up about how it's okay to totally display boobs for the sake of aesthetics in low-cut tops or whatnot, but use them for what they were originally meant for and GASP! Horrible! Scandalous! So dumb. I wanted to breastfeed, and while I could attempt induced lactation I'm not going to. It makes me sad, and adds to loss, but formula feeding will be just fine for me (although man people are rabid about making sure I know that I could try breast-feeding and then judging me about it, which doesn't go well for them because I love entering into debate well-versed...heh heh heh). Besides, I'm pretty sure I would have been someone who embarrassed the heck out of my husband because I would have totally done it in public and stared down anyone who might say something to me. And angry breastfeeding probably isn't so great, like crying while making a cake. Supposedly that makes it taste bitter. :) I love your beautiful pictures, and this bookmark that captures such a great moment in your life.

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    1. Thank you! I don't think you need fear any arguments about parenting as you think things out so well and have good reasons for everything you do. I think it's great that the option to induce lactation exists for those who want to try it, but it certainly isn't for everyone. And yes sometimes it's better just to avoid all the fuss of people's opinions, especially the badly thought out ones.

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  4. Before having a baby, I was incredibly modest. I was always that person who went into the bathroom stall to change in public locker rooms, etc. Anyway, after giving birth and breastfeeding, I am now the completed opposite (about my boobs at least). Who cares? It is so easy and so good for little ones and such a sweet experience (when it works well for both mama and baby). I wish it weren't such a hot button issue with some people!

    Anyway, love the post!

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    1. Thanks! I am glad you feel so comfortable in your own skin. Motherhood inevitably changes your body and how you feel about it. But many of the changes can be beautiful and liberating, if we let them.

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