|Lots of people think breastfeeding|
is the best thing for baby. They
just don't want to ever catch you
doing it. Isn't there a tarp or tent
somewhere you can use to huddle
To think - those feelings and anxieties, over something real or perceived - can actually keep a woman from wanting to nurse at all. I had one playgroup buddy who refused to nurse even in front of us other moms, women she'd known and worked with for nearly a decade. One day I saw her bottle-feeding and realized it wasn't so much to get her daughter "used to" the idea of getting a bottle; it was because she was embarrassed to be seen doing it in front of us. Other moms propped themselves up while at my house, and even though we weren't the closest of friends, they still found a way; and yet, as I sort of watched them, it made me feel slightly weird to be sitting there as they were feeding their babies. Why? I nursed my own children; I fully supported them and wanted them to feel as comfortable as possible while relaxing in my home. Why did I feel strange about it, then?
I think because even as a nursing mother, I had seen few moms like me - nursing their babies in the open, in private, anywhere, really. How sad. How pathetic. How trained we've become (some of us, anyway) because we don't want to invite criticism, controversy or because we are made to feel like we should give more of a crap than necessary about everyone else when really, it's our babies we should be focusing on.
When people say they "don't want to see you flash your boobs in public," I wonder if they have any idea, really, that women decades before us did just that to feed their babies, often in public. What else could you do - it's not like they had tank tops and two-piece sweatsuits at their disposal in 1946. Women typically wore dresses that buttoned up the top, and that was their idea of "nursing clothing." Some dresses were styled somewhat to accommodate, many images simply show a mother unbuttoning her dress or blouse and simply feeding her baby.
So when someone tells you they don't want to see a breastfeeding mother "showing her boobs," just tell them, "Really? Because that's the way they did it 60 years ago." You know, back when everyone was conservative and puritanical, right?
|'The Cornstalk Madonna,' by Orin Crooker,|
Hoopestown, Ill. c. 1916. One of my
|At the beach. In front of people. c. 1930s.|
Photo credit: Joseph Schwartz/Corbis.
|Most onlookers drool in approval -|
but if this were a nursing mother,
I'm sure there would be an
uprising and police would be
on the scene in minutes.
|This one has always made me laugh - the only one|
who apparently gets a rise out of it is a young boy who
is maybe 8 years old. The rest are like, "eh, whatever."
Source: Jennifer James/mothering.com
Notice how none of the women looks uncomfortable, and the one to the nursing mother's left doesn't seem to be saying, "OH. MY. GOD. I cannot believe she has the nerve to whip that thing out in public while we're all sitting here!"
I've included the above image in a past blog post, but I never realized that another image is also included in the set:
|Caption: "A mother is traveling from Louisville, KY|
to Memphis, TN on a Greyhound bus. Here, she is
waiting in the Chattanooga bus terminal and breast-
feeding in public in September 1943."
Source: Jennifer James, mothering.com
Anyway, I remember not long ago having a discussion with NICU moms that nurses actually wanted to put up a freaking screen while some of the moms nursed. I've also heard some horribly sad stories about NICU nurses being completely unsupportive - to the point of literal sabotage - of moms who wanted to nurse their babies there. Unreal.
There are lots more - if you want to see them, visit my gallery on Facebook here or the Facebook fan page Historic Photos & Prints of Breastfeeding.
|Caption: "Mothers nursing their babies|
while waiting their turn to see the doctor,
a nun standing nearby. Location: Paris, France.
Photographer: David E. Scherman.
Time/Life Magazine, August 1, 1946