Breastfeeding is Not Taboo

Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe’s Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com. For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today’s post is about nursing in public. Please read the other blogs in today’s carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st!
 


 
To me the subject of taboo topics brings to mind an array of images ranging from the strange to simply misunderstood. Something I do NOT consider taboo is mothers breastfeeding their children public yet all around us, every day, women are fighting against the world we live in to learn about and accept public breastfeeding as “normal”. If you do a quick search online you will see countless stories of women who were denied access to stores, restaurants, airplanes, and other public places because they chose to feed their child out in the open. Women are taking legal action to protect themselves against the bias of others. There is a stereotype behind breastfeeding that it is gross, inappropriate, and should be hidden from the world. This needs to end for the health of our children, at the very least.

The first time I spent a weekend away from my still nursing daughter I saw a woman breastfeeding her small baby in the aisle next to me on our flight home. For me, a mama missing her baby, this was an exquisitely beautiful sight. She sat confidently in the center seat next to a man who was likely her husband and on the other side of her was a man she did not know. The flights was nearly 6 hours long and she kept her little one at her breast almost the entire time allowing the baby to eat and sleep as needed, subsequently resulting in a very quiet and calm flight for the rest of us on board. It’s impossible to know if the man sitting next to her, and any other patrons that might have noticed she was breastfeeding, were at all familiar with breastfeeding mothers and the ideas about breastfeeding in public. I’d like to think that at least one person learned something from her example and the next time they see a woman breastfeeding her child they won’t be surprised, shocked, or offended because they have seen it before.

When friends, family members, or acquaintances speak negatively about women breastfeeding their children openly I try to tell people about my experience as a new mother. I talk about having a hungry baby out of the house and the fear I felt of judgment when all I needed to do was get my sweet daughter to nurse, which was difficult enough for us at that stage. I express my hope and desire that we can all make the choice to support each other, to stand up for another mama so she will have the courage to put her baby’s needs first without feeling that she has to hide in a bathroom stall. Support can mean a change in the widely believed idea that somehow breast milk is the same as other bodily fluids and should be hidden. IT’S NOT!

Every time I saw a woman breastfeeding her child in public it gave me the courage to do the same with my daughter as an infant and toddler now that she is almost 2 years old. These days we’re more often the observers as she needs to breastfeed less and less as she grows into a strong & healthy child. If we notice a woman nursing her baby I will whisper to her that the little baby (or not so little baby!) is having “nursies” (our special term for breastfeeding) just like she does! I want her to know that it isn’t just normal for us it’s normal for other babies and children. As she grows she will always have the knowledge of how healthy and beautiful breastfeeding is and that it does not need to be confined to a bathroom stall. When she is an adult I want the choice to breastfeed her own children, openly and without shame, to be the easy, natural decision to make.

Awareness is the key to making that choice the “normal” one. So I breastfeed in public to show my daughter, my spouse, my family, my friends, strangers, other women, and children, that I am proud to be a breastfeeding mama and that it is a totally “normal” choice for so many of us. I breastfeed without shame so hopefully another woman will find courage because of my choice just as I did at one time not so long ago.

Today’s guest post is from Melissa LaVange. Melissa is a Utah County resident, sweetheart to her best friend, and mama to her delightful 22 month old daughter. She is a La Leche League member and breastfeeding advocate. She loves to share her breastfeeding experience with friends and family and hopes that she might inspire others to make the choice to breastfeed, extended breastfeed, or simply support and accept breastfeeding as the normal, natural choice.
 


 
Here are more post by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

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3 Comments

Filed under Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival

3 responses to “Breastfeeding is Not Taboo

  1. I gained countless bits of courage by watching my breastfeeding friends nurse their little ones – in homes, in restaurants, at parks . . . anywhere we happened to be, they nursed and gave me incredible role models. I hope that I’ve been a model for someone else as well!

  2. Motherhood: Deconstructed

    I enjoyed this post very much! You are so right- awareness is the key and what we do now will make a difference for our children!

  3. I’m right there with ya! I breastfeed in public because I want it to be normal and I dont want people to be afraid of it! It’s such a beautiful natural thing that should not be hidden. Plus when baby is hungry you have to feed, we can’t always plan the location…it’s much nicer to see a happy nursing baby than to hear a screaming hungry one!

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