Feeding Babies

I'm no lactivist. However, I do breastfeed my child pretty much anywhere, anytime that she needs to eat. I try to be as discrete as possible, but I do it without a nursing cover. I don't make a big deal about it, and frankly, nobody else does either.

I was blessed to be surrounded and nurtured by a fantastic group of mamas during my early days of motherhood. We bonded on Friday afternoons during the cold winter months, nursing our newborns and sipping tea. When spring finally came, we moved to the park and happily nursed babies while sitting on logs next to the stream. Three of those mamas trekked halfway across the North Hills with me a few weeks ago. We stopped on the side of the trail, laid down some blankets and nursed our babies there. My favorite quote from that day was from one of the hikers who passed us and was talking to M at the finish line. M asked him if he had seen a group of moms and babies on the trail and he said, "Yeah! They were having a picnic!".

So it surprises me when I encounter other mamas who have less positive experiences and report feeling awkward or ashamed. But I know that it happens. And even more than that, I hate the Breast vs. Bottle war. Just because I am breastfeeding my kid, doesn't mean I think you suck because you use a bottle. Really. And you don't owe me an explanation or an apology. You are doing the right thing for you and your kid. You know how I know this? Because that's what mamas do.

I recently came across this post on the subject, and found it relevant and well-written. I especially liked the following suggestions:

1. When you see a mother with a baby, say, "Wow--your baby looks so healthy and happy! You must be doing a great job!"

2. If you're a breastfeeding mom, and you have a choice about where to feed, sit down next to a mom feeding a baby from a bottle, and start a conversation about something not related to feeding.

3. Don't hide your breasts when you feed your kid, whether you're nursing or using a bottle. Be as discreet as you personally want to be, but don't cover up just because someone told you you should.

4. If you're out in public and you see a woman feeding a baby, give her a smile. And a piece of chocolate, if you have one.

5. Defend and protect. If you see a feeding mom being harassed in any way, step in the way you would if you saw big kids picking on little kids at the playground.

6. Talk about feeding babies with your kids, so they grow up knowing that babies need to be fed and that you fed your children and they'll feed their own kids. The circle of life.

Ok, so maybe I am a little bit of a lactivist. Or maybe I just want to promote a society where a woman has access to good information and then is supported and respected for her parenting decisions.


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Trisha R. Butler said...

I completely agree with you. However, I did feel slightly awkward when the two-year-old girl that my son was playing with (and talking to) at a festival later happily breastfed from her mother. I didn't disapprove; I just felt awkward. Any thoughts?

k said...

Yes. I have also always found something a bit odd to breastfeed a kid who can ask for it by name.
I don't plan on breastfeeding that long, but I do have a particularly needy baby, so who knows.

I guess my answer to that question is how do you handle other situations when your kids encounter parenting decisions that differ from yours? (Schooling, daycare, Tooth Fairy, Santa, sex, church, etc.)

So is the question that you felt awkward or was it awkward to explain to your son (if he noticed and asked)?