Probably a Controversial post.

Breastfeeding in Lost World Caverns, July 2010, 23 months old

Warning:  This post contains mention of breasts, breastfeeding, and other such natural, but  often, supposedly offensive, material.  Read at your own risk.

This week is World Breastfeeding Week!  As a subject that’s very near and dear to my heart, it deserves its own post.

Breastfeeding was never up for discussion in my mind.  I knew I was going to do it, even before I thought about thinking about discussing the thought of thinking about having a child one day.  I grew up watching several close friends of the family breastfeed, and I don’t think I even knew of the existence of formula until I was a teenager.  So, by that time, I had a pretty set notion of what feeding a baby meant.  I never said, “I’ll try it.”  or “I’ll only do it for six months, or a year.”  I just knew I was going to do it, no matter how hard(and it was!), how tired I was got(and I did get very tired!), or how painful(and, oh geez, it hurt, A LOT, at first).  It’s been exhausting, time-consuming, and the best gift I could ever give my son.  (Although, life was a pretty rad gift.)

When I became a nanny for triplets, I watched in awe as their mother breastfed and pumped for all three babies.  It took up about 95% of her day, but she never once complained, and I watched as those itty-bitty newborns plumped up into perfect, healthy toddlers.  That solidified my decision to breastfeed my kid,  no matter what the obstacles.

Rowan was born, the cord was cut, and as soon as I was able to compose myself, and stop swooning over the kid, he latched on and started sucking.  He stayed by my side the whole time we were in the hospital, and I was able to bond with him instantly.  He was a champion nurser from the start, and would just lie there, those huge, blue, saucer-eyes staring at me, peaceful and content.

When I brought him home, I discovered the joy of nursing while lying in bed.  Rowan would start to cry, and I would just roll over, pop my boob into his mouth, and he’d nurse back to sleep.  Sure, I was acting as a human pacifier, but isn’t that the mother’s job?  To soothe the baby?  I haven’t been a baby for almost 31 years, but as well as I can figure, a baby would rather have a warm, loving person hold and comfort him, that a cold, rubber nipple.  Just saying…

I’ve never been a shy nurser, and neither has Rowan.  We’ve stopped to have a snack in some odd places; under a hot air balloon, at a political rally, on several airplanes, at zoos and aquariums and lots of stores.  Most recently we took a break from exploring a cave to fuel up.  While bats napped above our heads, we sat on a rock, and giggled about the water dripping on our heads. 

I’ve received a comment or two, but it doesn’t bother me.  There is a group on Facebook that I’m a member of, called, “If breastfeeding offends you, put a blanket over YOUR head!”  I’m from the family of thought that if you don’t like what you’re seeing, don’t look.  Breastfeeding is natural, and while I’m not going to walk around with my boob hanging out, I will do what is necessary to feed and comfort my son, wherever we are.  Besides, breasts weren’t created as a sexual organ.  There were created specifically for feeding infants.  In some cultures even, a breastfeeding woman will express some milk into a bowl and leave it as a treat for a family member!  It’s not something to hide, or be ashamed of. 

It is a shame that breastfeeding has gotten such a bad rep.  I recently heard on television, a teenage mother commented, “I”m not going to breastfeed.  That’s gross.  It makes your boobs all big and saggy.”  Hate to break it to you, kiddo, but PREGNANCY makes your boobs all big and saggy.  NOT just breastfeeding.  It was the gross part that really made me sad though.  What experience or media input led her to believe that?  What, in our society has made breastfeeding out to be gross?

It may have something to do with celebrities like Kim Kardashian(who is she anyway?  Why are they famous?) saying that breastfeeding in public is gross.  Or anti-breastfeeding websites, like http://notspigots.blogspot.com/  Not only do I think the people who say and write these things are extremely close-minded, I think they are ignorant.  I’ve looked around a bit, and from what I can tell, people think it’s gross, because it should be a private moment between you and your baby. 

Okay, here’s what I think.  Eating is not a private activity.  I can see more boob through the shirt of the lady walking past me in the grocery store, than you can see when I breastfeed.  It’s not fair to make my kid scream while you and I eat our dinners in a restaurant, and make him wait, just because YOU have a problem.  And yes, it is your problem.  I will not feed my child formula, because YOU have a problem.  I will comfort and feed my child wherever and whenever I need to.   I will make a scene if you ask me to leave because I am breastfeeding my child.  I will stand up to you if you tell me that breastfeeding my almost two-year old is not appropriate anymore.  This is one of the few issues, that I simply don’t care what your opinion is regarding it. 

I won’t go into all the studies, and all the facts that prove that BREAST really is THE BEST.  (Though there are many, and I can easily point you in the direction of articles and professionals that will confirm this.)  There are so many physical and psychological reasons to breastfeed, not only for the baby, but for the woman too!  Seriously, go Google “The benefits of breastfeeding.”   You’ll see.

My son is almost two, and we continue to breastfeed, though not as often.  I look forward to these times of bonding and cuddling, and he still asks for, “milkies” if he’s feeling tired or stressed.  I don’t see him quitting any time soon, and that’s fine with me.  He’s not going to go to college breastfeeding!  He’ll be done when he’s ready.

I just want to end with this.  I’m not judging the women that simply CAN’T breastfeed, for lack of milk production, or working full time without a place or time to pump.  For the women that gave up because it was “too hard” or took “too much time”  or because “it hurt too much,” that’s a shame.  It’s not only your loss, but your kid’s loss too.  And it’s not me saying that.  It’s the millions of doctors, articles, and studies.

And for the women that go that extra mile and pump at work, or go to their child during their lunch break to nurse, to the women that keep nursing through all the criticism, the comments, the stares, and the sleepless nights, you are my heros. 

And to the women I grew up around, that breastfed your children, thank you for your wonderful example.  You taught me about making sacrifices for your children, that I have been able to apply to many areas of my life as a mom.

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15 thoughts on “Probably a Controversial post.

  1. The only part of this that I have a problem with (wait for it) is that it needs saying. But then my mother not only had five kids but also taught child development. I not only know that it’s how humans are supposed to work but am also not surprised when they keep finding reasons why alternatives are bad in the short and long term. But they aren’t bad for the companies that sell the artificial feed. Follow the cash to see who is financing the damage. Scumbags. They have no honor.

  2. You’re welcome!:-)

    I think it’s kind of funny that you and Kristi usually ran the other direction when you saw that I was breastfeeding back in “the day”. Now you’re saying thanks!! That’s wonderful!!! Great post, Tiff!

  3. Amen!! I agree with you wholeheartedly. What a great gift you were given, getting to see women nursing as a normal part of life. I never really witnessed that, at least when I had memory. My mom had all my siblings by the time I was 9, and she claims to have nursed 4 of us, but I don’t remember it. I sincerely feel compassion for the women whose bodies do not allow them to breastfeed and hope we can find language that will respect their experience and not make them feel “lesser” than the heroic breastfeeders 🙂 Yet I don’t think this means that women who take joy in nourishing their babies through nursing should be silent. I think it’s an important reality. Being a mom now, it kind of bewilders me that anyone still gets squeamish about nursing lol Especially since women’s boobs are hangin’ out all over the place! It’s a pretty interesting commentary on society’s deeply ingrained ideas about what women are for…

  4. I absolutely agree with everything you said here. Jocelyn nursed exclusively for 6 months, then continued to nurse several times a day until she was a year, and then another once or twice a day for another 6 months after that. She quit on her own, and I was pretty surprised that she was only interested for a year and a half. I had no intention of making her stop any time soon, but that’s the way it should be. When he’s done, he’ll stop on his own.

    I never really had anyone make any comments to me, but I don’t think Jocelyn and I moved around and were as active as you two are, so there weren’t as many opportunities. I did get some stares, but I just stared right back.

    As for the people that think that breastfeeding isn’t right at all, not just in public, they clearly need their heads examined. If it wasn’t ‘right’ then we wouldn’t produce milk in the first place. If it wasn’t right, breastmilk wouldn’t be so much healthier than formula.

    The only time I ever pumped was so that my husband or family would have the chance to feed her, because that seemed to be something grandparents (and parents) want to do. Otherwise, it was really nice to not have to deal with bottles and measurements and all that jazz.

  5. Kudos to you!

    And for a little shout out to cows (you know how I hold cows near and dear to my heart)… For those who perceive breastfeeding as “gross”, think about where that milk you had on your cereal this morning comes from. Cows produce milk for the same reason that human mothers produce milk – to nourish their children. Yet we exploit cows, forcing pregnancy to maintain the flow of their milk for our consumption and rip their babies away from them soon after birth – again, for our consumption. And yet mothers are chastised for feeding their children the most natural nutrient that sustains their life?

    Rowan is an amazing, healthy and incredibly cute little boy. Breastfeeding has contributed to him being healthy, attached, and secure. You are a hero as well, to all of those women who see you breastfeeding your beautiful boy and realize that breastfeeding is natural and a beautiful thing.

  6. Tiffany, I enjoy reading you blog. Thanks for this post – it didn’t offend me, that’s for sure! I did get funny looks and comments when my second child was born, and I continued breastfeeding my 13 month old. But it was worth the extra effort. My kids are 6, 5 and 4 now, but there were several years when I was breastfeeding at least one of them.

  7. Wonderful post Tiffany, I love it. I breastfed Izzie until she was almost 2 and she self-weaned. I think I had a harder time giving it up than she did! She and I still talk about it and she finds breasts to be a big source of comfort still. I love that she talks about remembering nursing and how it made her feel, I love that I was able to feed my child breastmilk exclusively, even when I was terribly sick after her birth. It’s a gift to your children, and yourself, I can’t imagine doing anything else.
    And yes it hurts in the beginning.
    So does childbirth.

  8. oooh I so remember those babies… I think I still have pictures of the time I came to visit when they were about 3 months old and the little girl was about 2 I think (was her name caroline??). I was always awed at the fact that their mom breastfed three babies at one time…

    Remembering that week brought a smile to my face… good ole’ CT.

    Love ya Tiff

      • Wow 12? man now I feel old!! I remember taking the little girl and the babies to the museum or something… I found those pictures the other day.. maid my heart smile – that’s when we were REALLY into American Eagle Clothes… uh which never fit cuz I was chunky… 🙂

  9. Pingback: 2010 in review « A Sweet Potato and a Superhero

  10. I am a ‘man’ and I chanced upon your post when I was looking for images of “Caverns of my heart”. However I am glad that I chanced upon your blog! I am one who believes that anything natural is the best and I subtly advocate breast-feeding to young mothers because it is considered a very sensitive topic in my culture, more so because I am a man.
    Do take a look at my blog too…
    http://rantingsofapilgrim.blogspot.com/

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