Wednesday, 5 August 2015
World breast feeding awareness week.
I recently shared this image to a pro breastfeeding facebook page to celebrate world breastfeeding week. You should know that I never normally do things like that regarding subjects that people have such strong opinions on for fear of the keyboard warrior. But for some reason I thought that would be a safe platform to share this joyous little face on a post purely about the mid-nursing-gummy-grin. More fool me! Queue a self proclaimed breastfeeding advocate comparing sharing this image equal to child abuse. After being called a few vicious names from this excuse of a woman I felt gutted I had even bothered when internet trolls are so common. But after calming down and drawing a metaphorical line in the sand I knew I wanted to really address my feelings about this topic. So in my own space here on All about Elin i figured I should do just that. Here we go.
The idea that pictures like this should be kept for my eyes only? For people who believe that, if you have never used an instagram filter of your delicious pancake breakfast, if you've never posted a picture of yourself enjoying a costa coffee, if you have never shared an image of your family enjoying a Christmas dinner then fair enough. If you believe the act of nursing is 'private' then by extension, bottle feeding, weaning and your own mealtime should be kept private also. However if you have indulged in the habit of sharing pictures of your incredibly moreish food (lets face it, food is amazing, share away!) and you or your friend or family happily tucking in, then you have no place whatsoever to find this image in any way inappropriate. Sadly the belief that images like this have no place in the public eye are only a touch away form the belief that nursing should be kept out of the public eye. Baby's eat. Get over it. They look cute doing so. Big deal. Parents get camera happy when their child does something cute. Is that really news? Is it distasteful? No. Its nourishment. And a mother's overwhelming pride. End of. I stongly believe these moments of delight, of calm and of bonding should be celebrated, not silenced.
We shouldn't share pro breastfeeding stories for fear of offending those who choose not to or were unable to breastfeed? You choose to bottle feed your baby and in doing so you have a healthy and happy child who is cared for, nourished and loved. That was a choice you made I am certain, with your child's best interest at heart. Why would you feel guilty about that? You were physically unable to breastfeed your child? I am sorry for you. In the same way I am sorry for the war veteran who lost his leg or the elderly man whose kidneys are failing. Your body has prevented you from doing something you wanted to do. How is that your fault? Should you carry any blame? It isn't and you shouldn't. You tried your best and nothing else matters. Your healthy thriving child is proof that you are doing an excellent job. But should we not discuss breastfeeding because of your choices or choices that your body made for you? In the same way that I didn't have a natural vaginal birth I can still celebrate those who did.Should able bodied athletes not compete for fear of hurting the feelings of a disabled athlete? No. Sharing experiences is how we learn, grow and bond as a human race and there is nothing wrong with that in regards to feeding our babies.
Breastfeeding should be discrete. I'l compare this to- how do you like your eggs? I like mine sunny side up with soft yolks but my partner likes the yolks hard. But my mum only eats eggs scrambled. However best friend Sadie has a fondness for poached but my nan HATES poached eggs. And my nephew will only eat egg and soldiors but his sister likes french toast if she has to have eggs. My point? We're all different, what is discrete for one is not for another. Some might think a cover is appropriate, some think turning away is better. Some think feeding in a seperate room is best. The truth is no one way works and honestly it doesn't matter in the slightest what anyone thinks is 'discrete enough' as long as mother and baby are happy. Who are we to determine how a mother and child should feel most comfortable?
Can you not just pump when feeding in public? Nope. I'm being green.
(Incidently I have a host of comebacks to this one but favoring this right now as its short and sweet)
Generations before us didn't need to shove it down peoples throats. They got on with it. Yes they did! Well done great grandma! However times have changed. Woman are now expected to go back to work for example. Our babies have a place in society that is not limited to the home or nursery. We have to achieve a hell of a lot in our day that includes but is far from limited to feeding our young. We may also want to, shocking as it seems, go out in public! And unfortunately although the woman and mother's role has changed, in some cases the way society views breastfeeding is still backwards. And that is why days and weeks that celebrate breastfeeding do have a place in today's world!
Sadly, breastfeeding is no longer the norm, and for the sake of our babies and the future generations discussion about the topic should and needs to continue. This is why I won't allow internet trolls to discourage me.
So if my daughter 'resents' me for sharing this photo in future years as I was told 'she absolutely will';
My darling, I apologize. I shared your image because I am proud to nurse you. To see the joy in your eyes only makes me fall deeper in love with you and it was a feeling I captured and yes, shared. My intention was only to further the fight to normalize breast feeding for your generation so you do not have to battle the same things we in today's society have to. I also wanted to show the world your beauty. Never be ashamed of your body and your ability to feed your future children. Never find skin to skin bonding with your children as something offensive. Never allow ignorance to shape your life. I hope I raise you to view nursing as normal, I hope you one day see me nursing your future brothers or sisters and consider it as simple as brushing your teeth. I hope with your dollies and teddybears you would pretend to nurse them as you see it as so incredibly normal. And my love, if you ever feel shame in this image I apologise because I feel I have let you down. I have failed to teach you the simplicity, the beauty and the wonder that is breastfeeding. And if that is the case I am deeply sad. But there is still time and we can discuss these things whenever you are ready.