Saturday, May 1, 2010
Telling the good stories
It can be easy to get overwhelmed if you even just dip your toe into the breastfeeding debate. People can feel very strongly about anything related to breast-feeding and passionately express their opinions. Personally, I like passionate people, even people that passionately disagree with me. Living life with passion makes it exciting and hearing about others passionate opinions on any given subject gives me the opportunity to learn and grow. Even if it is to learn and grow more deeply in what I believe.
That said, the clamor of passionate voices can get to be a bit much for a new mom and her family. Even before baby comes everyone is an expert with the right way to care for the new little person. After the little one is taking up residence in the family's home, all those experts, and then some, come out and start grading. It's nerve wracking to say the least. When it comes to breast-feeding, it is down right intimidating and can be really scary.
Particularly when baby needs to eat and you're out and about. Nursing in public, or NIP as it is often referred to, can spark a heated discussion just about anywhere. From the internet, where blogs, forums, facebook groups, and websites fan the flames of in-your-face debate, to mom groups, where not-so-subtle expressions burn branded looks of almost partisan level judgment from all sides. Not to mention everywhere in between: churches, restaurants, media, playgrounds, offices, and pretty much anywhere people talk. The issues? Not as cut and dry as they appear, actually. Is it about modesty? Covering up? Not covering up? Offending someone? What somebody may see? What somebody may not see? Efforts to normalize breastfeeding? A mother meeting her baby's needs? Indecency? Who gets to define decency? Eating on the toilet? Being discreet? Being rude? And what is rude? Family friendly? And on and on and on. It is enough for a woman to never leave home if she chooses to breastfeed. Or at least, to never leave home without a bottle for the baby because should she need to feed that baby with her breast she could very well experience humiliation at the hands of everyone around her. And seriously, who needs that? Not a new mother, that's for sure. Because the journey of motherhood doesn't already redefine a woman to such an extent that her insecurities are sky high. Now let's add this into the mix. Let's tell her that breast is best, give her the support and education she needs to succeed at it and then scare the shit out of her so she never leaves the house and ends up depressed. If we know that breast really is best then our behavior towards a breast-feeding mother and her child should not shame or punish her.
If you listen to all the voices out there it would be easy to think that every time a woman puts her child to her breast in response to that child's hunger TV cameras and nay-sayers immediately appear. Even those that greatly support public breastfeeding end up talking more about the negative experiences than the positive ones in an effort to help educate and defend the rights of moms and babies. Those experiences do need to be talked about, and loudly. We need to shine the light of investigation and outrage, holding companies and individuals accountable when a mother and her child are treated poorly for NIP. The only ones that should be shamed are those that attempt to imply that a NIP mother is some how doing something bad. Education is needed for breast-feeding including NIP. So I don't want that to stop. But I do want something to start.
Let's tell the positive stories too. The funny ones, the heart-warming, encouraging tales that let moms and families everywhere know that lifting your shirt to feed your baby shouldn't be a nerve inducing experience. There are people that show support for breastfeeding women in public and do so in really wonderful and encouraging ways.
The Leak Boob wants to help tell these positive stories, to start a collection of the good times had NIP. Please share your positive NIP tales with us. We'd love to hear from anyone, moms, dads, family members, and the people supportive of breastfeeding. Share either in the comments below or e-mail us your story to post here. Let's give moms some encouragement through personal experiences that no matter where they are, if they cover or not, there are people that won't be freaked out by them doing the best for their baby. We got started here, thanks to our Facebook "leakies."