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I don’t care if my breastfeeding offends you. I don’t care if your child sees my nipple while I’m trying to get the baby latched on. I don’t care if you think I should use a cover. I don’t care if you think it’s “gross” or “nasty” or “immodest”. I don’t care if you complain. I don’t care if you glare at me. Simply put, your objections sound like a personal problem to me. We can talk about it if you want, but don’t expect me to stop nursing the baby while I school you.
With all the pro-breastfeeding talk and ad campaigns and information out there, you’d think breastfeeding was something people actually supported. It turns out it’s not breastfeeding. It’s just breastmilk. Sure babies should drink human milk – it’s just such a shame it comes from those dirty, disgusting boobs. The worst part is it’s often women, even other mothers, whose delicate sensibilities are so offended by the sight of nursing. Women who themselves have been driven to bottles, either intentionally or subversively, by the sexualization of the word “breast” or the formula industry. (A whole other topic – from shady marketing techniques all the way to influencing government agencies to tone down support for breastfeeding.) Women who are so ashamed of their own bodies that they can’t stand even a glimpse of a breast doing what breasts are supposed to do. You know who was breastfed? JESUS. And I bet Mary didn’t use a Hooter Hider.
“Well then, go ahead. Of course you can nurse in public,” most people will say, “Just be discrete. There’s no need to go flashing your boobs around everywhere.” HAVE YOU EVER ACTUALLY SEEN THAT HAPPEN? EVER? Before I had a baby, the only person I had ever seen breastfeed, anywhere, at any time in my life, was my own mother feeding my baby brother. And you know what? I DON’T EVEN REMEMBER IT. I was seven when he was born and her nursing affected me SO LITTLE that it doesn’t even exist as a memory in my brain. Now I attend a breastfeeding support group, where 8 to 12 women all nurse their babies at once and not a single one of them uses a cover…and I can still count the number of nipples I’ve seen on one hand. Next time you see someone feeding her baby in public, try looking at her face instead of her chest. It’s not that hard, and might keep you from seeing those nipples you’re so worried about.
Part of the stigma of breastfeeding is the straight-to-the-baby delivery system. Our culture is obsessed with food preparation. It’s just how eating is done. You buy food at the store, you bring it home, you mix it and you heat it. Formula is prepared the way we’re used to, the way we’re comfortable with, the way we’ve been raised to understand. Food preparation is so ingrained in our society we think things like unpasteurized milk and the raw foods diet are crazy. But why force a mother to add or subtract or mix or heat something when the perfect food at the perfect consistency and the perfect temperature is available on demand? IF SHE WANTS TO BREASTFEED, let her do it. (And you know what, if she wants to bottle-feed, just keep those opinions to yourself as well. I’m sick of that debate too.)
Believe it or not, my right to feed my child is an actual right. Your right to be offended is not. (Link to breastfeeding laws by state here.) EVEN IF the baby looks “too old” to be doing that. EVEN IF he’s old enough to ask for it. EVEN IF it makes you uncomfortable. EVEN IF you hate babies and never want to have any. EVEN IF ANYTHING.
The next time you see a mom nursing in public – and I challenge you to find one – tell her you admire that she’s doing the best she can for her baby and you support her. I guarantee you will make her day.
My thrush seems to be improving, but since my milk letdown (the squirting across the room part) is still kind of painful I decided to take everyone’s advice and fight the yeast from every angle. I called my doctor for the Diflucan and a prescription for All-Purpose Nipple Ointment. APNO is like the Holy Grail of breastfeeding problems, the one magical thing that will solve all your issues and make you nurse forever. Unfortunately, the pharmacist has to order two of the ingredients so I have to wait two days.
In the meantime, I tracked down some gentian violet ($4.97 at CVS, ask at the pharmacy counter). It’s amazing, said the breastfeeding experts, but watch out it stains. It really works, said my lovely commenters, but it turns everything purple. You definitely need some, says the internet, but about the color… It was a lifesaver for me, said my pharmacist, but my baby’s face was stained for months. So I got a little bottle and started using it last night.
I’m scared to take Baby Evan out in public, since the bluish tint on his lips combined with his fair skin makes him look sort of…dead. The good news is he could star in ATTACK OF THE ZOMBIE BABIES no problem. Hollywood, we’re awaiting your call.
I realized over the past three months I’ve had almost NOTHING positive to say about breastfeeding. Which is easy to understand considering I’ve gone through latch problems, bruised nipples, huge swollen porn star boobs, nipple shields, refusing a bottle, endless night feedings, plugged ducts and now thrush. I’ve made breastfeeding sound about as much fun as a drug-free root canal. But I am determined to do this. I am steadfast in my decision that breast is best for me and no matter how difficult my body and my baby make it, this is something I CAN DO.
I can’t give up. I won’t. I am convinced it will only take me one more week (just one more…) and then all this pain and frustration will pay off. I’ve seen little glimpses of what my breastfeeding relationship with the baby can be like. Days when things are going well and he’s the happy, smiley baby who loves to cuddle and is growing like a champ. And I feel like the milk he’s gotten so far has done all the magical things breastmilk is supposed to do. He hasn’t been sick, despite spending the first few weeks of his life in hospital waiting rooms. He’s never had an ear infection. You could almost set your watch by his poop. He wasn’t colicky. He’s hitting all his developmental milestones like clockwork. I couldn’t ask for a healthier baby.
Of course, those things could have nothing at all to do with the breastfeeding. I can’t prove anything. Scientists (and mommy bloggers) can argue themselves red in the face about the health benefits versus exaggerations versus the boob Nazis versus exhausted, frustrated mothers versus pushy, overbearing formula companies. I don’t want to be part of the debate. I have no comments and no contempt for anyone who uses formula. I don’t care what you feed your children. I care what I feed MY child, and my child is breastfed. Painfully, exhaustively, happily, exclusively, proudly, hourly, lovingly breastfed. And it is, actually, awesome.
I think I have thrush. It’s a yeast infection you can get on your nipples and in the baby’s mouth from, well, lots of things, but I think I got it from damp nursing pads or wearing my Lilypadz at night. My nipples are burning like crazy and look very pink and shiny and even though Baby Evan’s latch is finally right it still hurts every time he eats. GAH. I’m doing everything the internet suggests to try and get rid of it on my own (seriously, you don’t want to know) but tomorrow I’m going to ask my LC to look at my nipples. Wow. I can’t believe I am eagerly awaiting my chance to have a 65 year old woman look at my nipples. Having a baby really does change things.