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Personal Musings : Breastfeeding - A Taboo

Okay, so breastfeeding isn't a taboo per se, but yes talking about it or worse doing it in public sure is... but why? The benefits of breastfeeding are known wide and far - then how come anything to do with it be a taboo?

Recently, Facebook had been doing rounds of one Ms. Ashley Kaidel from Australia, who's proven to be one badass momma, feeding her baby in public and giving a bad stare off to someone who was contemptuously watching her feed.

If you ask for my opinion (actually it's my blog, and I'm here to give my opinion whether you want one or not) - she is an awesome momma and I would totally do it myself faced with a situation where my son is refusing the bottle feed and needs to breastfeed to calm down and/or satiate his hunger.

Actually let me share my version of the Ashley incident...
I had gone with my husband to attend a farewell party. My son, aged 5 months, took his first feed there with a bottle. After that he refused to take the bottle for his second feed. When I asked the management to put a chair in the washroom so that I could feed my son, they very kindly offered me the manager's room to feed. But it was hot in there and my son was pretty uncomfortable and thus refused to take the feed.
So I took him outside in fresh air for a stroll - he was hungry and thus inconsolable. I saw a spot where I would be hidden from direct view but it was next to the road and I wanted to feed him there but the husband got jittery - it's too public is what he said. I said, I don't care, I sat down and fed my son - he was, is and will always be a priority!


Now having read this, what are you gonna do, shun me / boycott me or shame me for doing so? Whatever you choose to do, doesn't reflect anything on my behavior, but on your mentality. I am from India, and of course, even though, I hate saying it out loud, I am going to say it, India is one country with huge number of incidents of rape and sexual harassment - even then, I chose to breastfeed my son in public - because for me, my son is of utmost importance.

Let me share something else with you...
If you have read my other 'personal musings' post, you would know about my birthing experience and the conditions in which my son was born. I saw him fight everyday in the NICU and knowing the benefits of breastfeeding and knowing too that I can't feed him just yet, filled me with such dread. Every time I would go sit next to him, I would hold his tiny hand in mine and will him to get better, get better enough to start accepting the feed, even if through a tube in his nasal passage or through a spoon - telling him, dude you are letting a lot of liquid gold go to waste! And then the day he got better enough to accept feed, he was offered 5 ml through his nasal passage. But, that's not the whole story, the real part comes now - within 24 hours of first feed, he was ready to accept 20ml of my feed, 10 through nasal passage and 10 with a spoon - that's the power of a mother's feed! And I am not that sort of momma, who would deny my son this magic potion because in the public eye its wrong to do so in public! He needs it, he is gonna have it!

Since that day on, and since the day I was able to breastfeed him directly, I haven't stopped looking at his face when he is feeding. It was very difficult for me to decide to let him have the bottle even if for a couple of feeds during the day before he turned 6 months but I only agreed to it, because I felt he was not fully satisfied and was left a bit hungry. But then again, I didn't introduce the bottle for first 8 weeks (2 months).

I am sure, every breastfeeding mum would agree with me that the look of pure contentment and relaxation on their baby's face, when (s)he feeds is enough to forget about where you are and who is around you. Its that special moment where you are closest to your baby and life apart from them ceases to exist - what matters is just your baby suckling on you and getting all his nutrition from you and getting stronger by the day. Each suckle is so satisfying because I know, my baby is satisfied. All the raw and tender nipples are every bit worth it because I know, my baby is getting his immunity from me and getting stronger - yes, there have been many a nights, when I have fed my son with tears flowing down my cheeks because the pain from raw nipples was unbearable - but I couldn't take away from my son, what he needed most.
I am sharing pics of my baby's face when he is feeding, for everyone to see - what I am talking about when I talk about that look on their faces of pure contentment and relaxation. I am sharing this pic because I know from where you look at, at a breastfeeding mum and shame her, you can't see what she can and I WANT YOU TO SEE IT. I would be happy if even a small percentage of people change their attitude towards a breastfeeding mum, I would feel my post has served its purpose...

  

99% of the times, my baby falls asleep while taking a feed and only 1% of the times by other ways (rocking, walking, swinging etc.)

Another anecdote maybe...
we were booking flight tickets today for a friend's wedding and I warned my husband that if needed, I will have to feed him on flight; don't start complaining and he was like - all I am saying is cover yourself up! And I was like, *I was out of words* - I mean my own husband is thinking down that line??? And as I am typing this, my husband comes and tells me to buy a pacifier and get the baby used to it as well as formula milk for the trip and I was lost for words again. He made it sound like I am dying to bare my chest in public every chance I get - though breastfeeding is never the first choice when I am in a public spot - but of course I am not going to let my baby cry himself to sleep on an empty stomach!

I am not saying, or asking anyone to start flashing all the time, every time in the name of breastfeeding. All I am saying is don't shy away from it, if your child needs it and people who are watching, shame on you, for its your mentality (which is down in the dumps) that you are showing, when you try to shame a breastfeeding mum. Leave her alone, for its all a very natural thing to do - its not like the sky has fallen down that you have to look at a breastfeeding mum. Let her feed the baby in peace and let the baby feed in peace...

Comments

  1. Hi!

    So I finally had time to re-write my comment (you know how it is when a little one dictates your schedule).

    Great post! It's wonderful that you feel confident enough to breastfeed in public - especially at that party. Admittedly I don't feel ready to do that as yet. It is such a shame that there is such a stigma around public breastfeeding in India - it is quite similar in Australia. I think this is largely to do with the perception of breasts being foremost sexual objects. Unfortunately with advertising, society and the media being the way it is I don't think that perception will change any-time soon :(

    My daughter will also only fall asleep during a feed about 80% of the time, so I understand what you are saying. It is also quite difficult when you are full and sore in a place where you feel like you can't feed.

    I tend to pump and use that milk when I am with friends or out. I only really feel comfortable feeding in front of my mum and husband at this stage. That will probably change as my daughter gets older and I get better at it. Sorry if this reply seems a little disjointed, I'm trying to settle the baby :/

    All the best,
    Sam

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Sam,
    Thanks for the lovely comment and that too with a baby, I know rewriting it would have been a huge task for you and I truly do appreciate it :)

    Like I said, when in public, breastfeeding is definitely not my first choice, I always carry a bottle for my son - but my son isn't too fond of bottle feeds as well as closed spaces. So what do I do, if he is refusing to take his bottle or refusing to breastfeed in a closed space - I can't let him cry himself hoarse or sleep hungry - that just breaks my heart beyond salvation!

    Earlier I wasn't confident with breastfeeding in public as well, I ever did it in front of my mom or my husband. But then we had a function for the baby at our place, the house was full of family and friends - everybody barged in the room where I was feeding him. Then my kid brother brought and fed me food with his hands while I fed my son - what was I supposed to tell them well wishers - who only wanted to bless my son or my brother who was thinking about his hungry sister?

    Even after saying all this, I go looking for a secluded open spot if I have to breastfeed and when I can't find any, only then I sit out in the open and even then try and cover myself up as well as I can - it seems my son is claustrophobic and thus hates closed spaces and doesn't even like his face and my breast covered when he is feeding.

    Some people might call this making excuses but I know, I am not making excuses - I am just saying it as it is! :)

    ReplyDelete

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