Mothering and Life in General
Breastfeeding Week, Day 1: How To React To A Breastfeeding Dyad
This piece has been written for inclusion in the World
Breastfeeding Week Celebration hosted by Pocket.Buddha. By
celebrating World Breastfeeding Week we show support for breastfeeding
mothers and their families, and promote the act of breastfeeding as
the natural and normal way to feed a human infant. During World
Breastfeeding Week, August 1st to 7th, Pocket.Buddha will be
featuring articles written by and about breastfeeding mothers, and the
people who support them.
When I wrote this it was in the middle of Carnival of Nursing in Public. So yes I wrote this in July, but this carnival was thought-provoking enough for me to think about Breastfeeding Week. Most of these lovely articles are based on every mother and every baby’s right to breastfeed anytime, anywhere.
I look back to a time (long ago) when K2 was not yet born, but thought of, and too when I was carrying her in my womb. I was the person who thought that nursing should be covered, it’s an intimate act and no one wants to see breasts while they eat, shop or play!
During my pregnancy I looked at beautiful nursing covers made from different types of silks and light weight cloth. I could not believe how wonderful these covers were and why mothers don’t use them. I would, all the time. There was no reason to see a breast in public.
Fast forward to when K2 was born, I closed the curtains by her incubator while I nursed and felt uncomfortable with those who visited. It just felt odd to have people around, while my breast was exposed and I was still a clumsy nurser. So K2’s night nurse gave me a receiving blanket to use as a cover.
It did not go as planned, K2 lounged her head off my breast and screamed and wailed. She stripped her latch from breast down to the nipple, leaving shocking pain. She did not want that cover and my thoughts of wearing or using those beautiful covers ended.
I thought, how was I going to nurse my child if I can’t cover-up? How long will I be able to nurse? What are people going to say or think? How will I go out or have people come over? I am going to have to stay home for at least 6 months! Why could I not have been a Platypus?
Really in my despair, it was a plea for others to be comfortable with a mother nursing their children, just like they are with a bottlefed child. My fears and discomfort with a mother nursing in my past inflicted feelings that everyone felt the same way. I did not know this to be untrue.
I wish when I saw my very first nursing dyad that I was not smacked by my Uncle and told that I was a disgusting child for watching. I wish that someone had told me I don’t have to look away and I wish someone had told me that I did not have to feel uncomfortable. This would have helped a lot in my later years as a mother.
So for those who feel uncomfortable I, as a nursing mother, will guide you through a few ideas.
- You can still continue a conversation, you may look at my child nursing I understand it’s a curious sight. I will not think you’re intent is in any way sexual, I will think this to be an educational experience that I wish I had.
- You need to feel that you don’t have to leave the room, evacuating an area is just the same as asking me to leave myself. Carry on with what you are doing, and feel free to ask questions in a non-judgmental tone if you don’t understand something. A breastfeeding mother will usually be delighted to tell another about latch and what should be seen, I am no different.
- Tell me you are trying to get over your uncomfortably, because I either am or was in the same boat, I will understand. You may ask what you can do to help ease both discomforts and talk, communicate with the feelings or why you think you have these rooted feelings.
- You can offer water, juice or a light snack. A pillow or a more comfortable chair to rest in. Notice how my baby is getting big and is calm while at the breast. Most of all, in the beginning it’s a very emotional and stressful time, so calmly smile and tell me I am doing the best I can.
- Be open for your children to experience this sight, a child will not think about sex, but want to know what the nursing child is doing. As an adult with choices of either feeding techniques, we both want to be excepted. This starts as a child, if you degrade either way of feeding a child than you, yourself are connected to the problem.
- Before the need to state a claim on your right not to see a nursing child and mother, replace the word ‘breast’ with ‘bottle’ (which will work in most comments towards breastfeeding) and see if you would feel offended. If you would, then it’s something you should not say.
- When asking questions in a mature fashion, be open to corrections towards myths. It’s not a personal attack, it’s not like you are the one that made it up, it’s what you have heard to be true. Together we might be able to talk about what happens to disable a mother’s right to breastfeed her own child and lessen mommy guilt or pain.
- We are both in this together. Please know that I don’t mean you any harm nor am I breastfeeding to make you uncomfortable or shame you. Together we can get through this and we will both learn from each others experiences. We are both people who are doing what they can with the information we have.
Finally, if the above does not help relieve you in some sense, then the only clearer picture I can state is that, it’s against Human Rights to discriminate against another. This law allows you the freedom and empowerment to walk, shop and feel safe. This very same law allows me to do the same. It’s the law, and there should be no opinion on it. If you discredit the Human Rights then you also lose your rights too.