Breastfeeding: No One Really Cares


I’ve been nursing my son for a year. There is almost no place I have not breastfed. I’ve breast fed in parks (in the dark….)at the mall (on a wall…actually true story, sitting on one of those little half walls), in the car (in a bar…..wait…….actually yes, but it was a restaurant with a bar in it. So make of that what you will), at work (like a jerk…wait, what?.) in restaurants (ok I’m out of rhyming schemes. So long Dr. Seuss!!) , in airports, on planes, and in the furniture department of a department store.  I’ve breastfed on the west coast, east coast, and right in the middle. I’ve mostly done it without a cover or blanket because my son became crafty at an early age and learned that it was not that fun to eat while suffocating between my rather large ta-tas and a piece of fabric. Thus he would remove it and expose me anyway. So I just stopped using it.

The reason why I’m telling you this is: NO ONE CARES. Seriously. My nursing in public stories are rather boring. My son was hungry. He ate. The End. Well, that’s not entirely true. In one restaurant a (male, just for clarification purposes) waiter tried so hard to not see my boob that he literally ran into a wall. My friends who I was eating with and I laughed. A lot. And to that waiter’s credit, he never said a word. Just calmly walked into the wall, calmly backed up, and calmly went about his business. And on one plane trip I was sitting in the aisle seat with two men next to me. Both of them were daddies, and their wives had breastfed their children. The only breastfeeding related comments I got were of this variety: “wow! Look at him go! He was really hungry, weren’t you buddy?” “aaaaaaaaaaahh he’s definitely a man! Loves him some boob!” And so on and so forth.  Beyond that, not one single comment or sideways glance as I fed my son. I have lots of friends who are/have in the past been nursing in public. Guess what? NO ONE CARED. And these friend are scattered across the country, so it’s not that no one cares here in eastern middle of nowhere Washington. No one cares anywhere. The only times I’ve heard other mom’s complain is about their own families. Great-Grandma Agnes thinks it’s disgusting that they’re still breastfeeding. Which is unfortunate, but it’s your great-grandma, not some random woman on the street.

Now you needed to know all that to understand why I’m frustrated. I’ve become a “lactavist” despite myself. I truly believe that there is nothing breastmilk can’t fix. I’ve become like that dad from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. Except that instead of saying “put some windex on it” I’ve caught myself saying “put some breastmilk on it” more times that I can conceivably count. Breastmilk is a miracle of nature. I think everyone who can breastfeed should. I think that it is a travesty at how little medical professionals are taught about lactation. I believe that if we want to see a change in how the USA feeds their babies it needs to start with the doctors that pregnant women and new mothers trust more than God. If those doctors start saying “breasfeed” instead of “breastfeed….until I scare you into thinking you’re not making enough milk and helpfully hand you a free sample of formula”, I think we would see a major change. We need to educate both women and their care providers. (“lactavist” diatribe somewhat over). What we don’t need is other lactavists putting ideas in our heads. The idea that the public in general is evil and out to stop all breastfeeding is simply not true. They argue that there is no breastfeeding on television. True, there is an abundance of bottles. However, I will now list all the shows that I know of FROM HAVING WATCHED THEM that talk about breastfeeding. I’ll fly my geek flag now: Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. ( people had babies on that show. Guess what? It took place in the 1800’s…there were no bottles of formula. So they breastfed.) Fraiser (Roz talks about not being able to drink too much coffee because she’s still nursing). Friends (several occasions. One episode is actually named “the one with the breastmilk”—Ross takes over watching Ben for a weekend and Carol leaves him a butt load of expressed breastmilk. There’s a whole discussion about tasting it. And after Ross and Rachel have a baby, they actually show Rachel trying to breastfeed in the hospital and then make several mentions of her breastfeeding in following episodes.)

The Family Guy. (yes, I know. It’s a cartoon. But they have an episode dedicated to Lois trying to wean Stewie, who’s around 1 year. It’s actually quite funny; breastmilk is portrayed as the ultimate drug for Stewie—he can’t live without it and goes so far as to rip a nursing baby off another woman and then nurse off of her. In the end, Lois decides breastfeeding means too much to her and to Stewie and they continue nursing. How is that not pro-breastfeeding?) The Office (Pam and Jim have a baby. The baby is having trouble breastfeeding in the hospital. In the middle of the night, the baby cries, Jim gets her, brings her to Pam to nurse. Pam gets so excited because she actually latches on…..until they realize it was their roommate’s baby that she was just nursing)

Those are just the ones I personally have seen. I’ll bet there’s more. Here’s what pisses me off: I have a very confrontational personality. I read all these lactavist articles about needed to have a nurse off in public and needing to carry around a copy of your state’s laws regarding breastfeeding in public so when the evil evil evil grocery store owner tells you how illegal it is to nurse your baby while you shop you can whip out the paper (I’m guessing from under your nursing bra) and tell them what a horrible person they are for wanting to deprive your child of life. Because breastmilk is life. IT IS LIFE. And I read these over and over and over again….and I get all riled up and determined to flash my  nipples around my town (sober, even) just to really put it in people’s faces that I AM A NURSING MOTHER AND SCREW YOU. (And for the record, yes, I have nursed in a grocery store. The owners didn’t care)

But they don’t care. Really. They don’t. They care about me nursing in public about as much as they care that I picked out a blue shirt to wear today. And maybe this whole “lactavist” movement needs to focus on educating mothers to be instead of trying to piss off mothers who are. And lets face it, you catch  more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. So here’s what I propose. Let’s give out information. We all have it. Let’s tell new mothers and pregnant women what we know. Quietly. Gently. Show them our fat, happy breastfed babies. Tell them how wonderful those first few weeks are when you lay nursing your brand new baby by the light of the moon while she sleeps. Tell them how amazing it is when you realize your little baby boy can really see you and reaches for your face with his little tiny hand while he’s nursing. Tell them how great it is to be able to have a few quiet moments with our toddlers who normally act like a gnat on crystal meth. Stop yelling at them. We might be surprised at what happens.

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