Sunday, April 17, 2011

I talk about Breastfeeding. A lot. Here's Why:

You may have noticed I talk about breastfeeding a lot. I post pictures of me nursing, I ask questions about breastfeeding on twitter, and I blog about breastfeeding, too. Hell. I've even written a poem about breastfeeding.

There are more than a few reasons why it's always on my tongue, and I think sharing those reasons is important.

I talk about Breastfeeding a lot because I do it all the time. Right now I nurse Baby D about 12-14 times in a 24 hour period. If it sounds like a lot, that is because it is. I am his only source of food right now, and both his body and his brain are growing exponentially. So we nurse. And of course I'm going to talk about it; I think you would talk about it, too, if it took up many hours in your day.

Nursling Smiles
I talk about Breastfeeding a lot because I'm curious about it. I like to be a smart-ass, it's true. I like to know a lot about the things I know a lot about. Meaning, when I set out to be good at something I want to be all the way good. I want to know the secret things, the tiny bits of information, the loud things, the things everyone knows. Breastfeeding is intricate, a delicate relationship between a mother and a little one, there are a lot of details to know about supply, physiology, mistakes to avoid, and inevitable struggles. I want to know all of those things.

I talk about breastfeeding a lot because I want it to be normal. I want people to think nothing of my breastfeeding baby at the restaurant. I want to nurse in the middle of the mall without a cover and not get any glares or stares. I want to educate women before they are mothers on those small intimate secrets about breastfeeding so that they aren't secrets anymore. I want people to know that breastfeeding can be a positive experience and have it be a natural first choice for every mother.

But I don't talk about breastfeeding to make anybody feel badly. I don't talk about breastfeeding to make anyone feel guilty, or judged, or like less of a loving mom. I don't talk about breastfeeding to make mothers who do otherwise have any negative feelings, ever.

I support all women, and I support the informed and educated choices that they make. I support mothers who feed babies, mothers who have a different story, mothers who are doing their best; I support all mothers.

So yes, I talk about breastfeeding a lot, but it doesn't dictate who I am as a mother.  And it certainly doesn't have any effect on my respect for all women and mothers.


  1. That's a difficult balance, not wanting to make others feel bad. When I was nursing my BFF was livid I'd do such a thing in front of her because she "couldn't". When people bottle feed or use disposable diapers they don't worry about offending me (or the environment)'s tough.
    Smile and keep on working to make breastfeeding normal--as in, unfazingly simple and everywhere.

  2. "Unfazingly simply and everywhere" --> Exactly!!

    My BFF also didn't breastfeed, she literally couldn't because of her baby's physiology. I feel lucky that she is curious and open about my nursing.

    Part of the reason I wrote this post is because I recently learned that bottle feeding mothers DO feel discrimination about their choice, and not just online. There are times they receive glares for publicly pulling out a bottle, they feel shame for having to make that choice. I don't think shame or guilt is right either way!

  3. This is so great, Farren. I feel so much just like this -- "So yes, I talk about breastfeeding a lot, but it doesn't dictate who I am as a mother. And it certainly doesn't have any effect on my respect for all women and mothers."

    There are a lot of parenting choices I make that I'm passionate about, but those choices aren't the most important or defining things about me, as a mom. I love and protect and revere my babies, and that's all I require from other moms, too.

    You're an awesome girl.

  4. Loved this post! And I miss breastfeeding my wee ones who are now 5 and 8. I was fortunate enough to have a circle of friends with both breastfed and bottle fed babies, and none of us felt like we had to apologize for anything, or hide what we were doing. So it was with them that I spent most of my time. My family, on both sides, however was a different story. They somehow managed to turn it into a shameful, unnecessary thing. It was a very good thing I had those friends, or I would have been a very confused young Mother.

  5. Also, about your comment to lindsey... I ALWAYS feel embarrassed about feeding Louise in public, because I don't breastfeed. I think that really... everybody feels pressure from the other side. When you're breastfeeding, you feel like the world is anti-breastfeeding and when you don't BF, you feel like the world is judging you because you're bottle feeding. I feel even a little bit nervous about admitting here, in your journal, that I don't breastfeed, because I know how much the people who read this are going to judge me. Women always want to be braver about breastfeeding... and I completely feel like I'd like to be braver about my choice to bottle feed, but I'm too afraid that I'll be castrated if I bring it up.

    I was talking to a mom who had never seen me feed my baby and she said, "I try not to judge people who bottle feed, but I have to admit that I do." You better believe I felt like a total failure whipping out a bottle a few minutes later. But, I mean. This phase passes, and everybody eats food eventually, and I'm totally secure about our food choices as a family... so I just keep my head up and trudge forward through the bottle years.

  6. Amanda - You are an incredible and loving mother and I sincerely hope that no one is judging you, and if they are they can keep that negativity inside themselves, where it belongs.
    The more I talk to mothers who breastfeed and mothers who don't, the more I learn about their stories and ultimately their struggles. I meet so many women who wanted to breastfeed so badly but were met with so many obstacles. And unfortunately it seems that hospitals, doctors, and nurses need more education to be able to support women in breastfeeding - particularly after a difficult birth whether vaginal or cesarean. Even barring that, I do believe that there was a reason for wetnurses - some mothers need to supplement for one reason or another, and it is never my place to judge another's journey.

    I invite anyone who is curious about this topic to check my blog again on Monday, I'm posting a courageous account of one woman's experience with breastfeeding and bottlefeeding.

  7. Great post Farren. I agree with you completely. When my nephew was a teen he stayed at our house a lot and often would bring his friends over with them. For a lot of those teen boys the first time they had ever seen a nursing mother was at my house. At first they would act shocked and sort of embarrassed but the less of a big deal I made of it the more they became comfortable around nursing and eventually it was just something mom's did. Not all of them have had children yet but those that have, including my nephew, have been the biggest support and advocates for their wives to breastfeed that I have ever seen. It is important for breastfeeding to be seen as normal, as you said.
    Great job Farren. : )

  8. Amanda, in no way do I mean to diminish the experience of bottle feeding moms, I in fact wold love to validate ALL mothers multiple experiences. I would love to abolish the bottle/breast binary. We feed our children to grow them big and strong. We all do what is best for us and our family specifically and I support all mothers. I do think that we have a very long way to go promoting breastfeeding as normal. the first we need to come together as mothers instead of dividing on trivial issues. I'm so sorry that you have felt embarrased to bottle feed. You are no doubt an excellent mother and I don't doubt you make the best desicions possible. We all do.

  9. There is such intense pressure for mothers to be, what I can only describe as the "uber-mommy", that no matter what decision we make, we feel judged. It seems like there is this culture of judgement, perhaps even a lack of empathy, for other moms who do not do things the way we do. It is sad and leaves so many moms feeling alone and like they are failures, when nothing could be further from the truth. A great mommy is the one that makes an informed decision that she feels is best for her and her baby . . . to hell with the naysers. At least, the is my opinion but I support your right to disagree with me if you feel that it is in your best interest.