public breastfeeding day and a response to the gender inequality breastfeeding article

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Today is public breastfeeding day! This is super exciting to me which I recognize is SUCH a mom statement and also super dorky. The truth is, breastfeeding in public is not accepted, normal and encouraged in our society. As a new mom I was terrified to participate in the natural need to sooth and feed my fussy child while out on errands or visiting friends in a public place for quite some time which caused numerous months of stress and crying (for both baby and I!) when trying to plan any sort of activity out of the house. I am now at a place in my breastfeeding journey that I frankly just do not care if it makes someone uncomfortable that I am feeding my child. Its necessary for my child’s health and I will not feed him in a bathroom or continue to leave every conversation to be alone because someone can not stop starring. Of course, I am not completely heartless and I do take others feelings into consideration and try my best to be discrete when it is possible. But sometimes a baby needs to eat! I know I get cranky when Im hungry too 🙂

On a related note, a recent article was posted and caught my attention about a woman who is choosing to NOT breastfeed her next child at all due to her belief that it creates an unequal gender role in her home.

This is the link to the article: http://www.press-citizen.com/article/20130812/OPINION02/308120003/Explaining-why-next-time-won-t-breastfeed?nclick_check=1

This article made me a little more than annoyed. On one hand I can understand some of her points. She claims that “The burdens of breastfeeding are real and considerable including the restraints to women’s spatial mobility and time”, which is an absolutely true statement. As i mentioned earlier, breastfeeding is NOT normalized in our country and therefore it can be stressful as a new mom to always feel that you are forced to leave a room and be alone when your child needs your closeness, to fall asleep, is teething and/or needs to be nourished… which is CONSTANT. This is of course why many women chose to not continue their breastfeeding relationship after some time. It can be very exhausting and difficult to keep up with if you have to work outside of your home, have a difficult latch/supply problems and do not have an adequate support system.  She also claims that “Breastfeeding is a burden, but it’s also a power trip. Breastfeeding sets up the breastfeeder as the expert, the authority and the primary parent in the life of the breastfed baby.”… which made me want to scream. As i read this aloud to my husband we both laughed out of disbelief. Lets face it ladies, the first couple years, especially the first year, the momma is often the only one that the baby wants. This is not to say that babies do not love their dads, that is definitely not what I am saying. But as most of us moms know, we have a certain special bond with our children because of the fact that they know our smell, our voice and our touch from the nine months of stretching our wombs to fit their growing bodies. The breastfeeding relationship is a natural extension from this time period, and yes it is time consuming but it is most certainly NOT a power trip. There have been countless times that Xander and I have both been sobbing because nothing I was doing was what he needed, and Patricks voice would be the calmness that we needed. I could not have survived the past eleven months as a mom without the support of my partner to help make important decisions and to share in the joy, sleep deprivation and uncertainty that parenting brings.

She also comments on the bond between her son and herself because of their breastfeeding relationship as if it is a unfair and unnatural thing that occurs and leaves her husband out of the picture. In order to not repeat myself from earlier, Ill just say that there are SO many other ways to create a bond with a child aside from nursing. Mothers that are not able to breastfeed  and also those who adopt children are just as able to have incredible attachments with their children. Co-sleeping, baby wearing, reading stories, and general day to day nurturing creates a bond with your child. The possibilities are endless for proper attachment with your child regardless of how they are nourished. And if the child is in fact breastfed it does not create a disadvantage or unequal gender role in the home because as I’ve stated before most kids are wired to be attached to their mothers as an instinct.

The disturbing part of this article is that the author seems to think that by not breastfeeding she will be creating a more gender equalized home and that the parental roles will be more equal. The truth is that the so called “inequality” of women begins way before any breastfeeding relationship could ever take place. It begins at the point of menstruation and is especially obvious through pregnancy and child birth (um hello natural birth that I’m pretty sure my husband may not have been able to do… just saying). The fact that breastfeeding or not breastfeeding will break this chain of “inequality” is completely absurd. I believe that breastfeeding actually helps to create more of an equality between men and women because it helps a woman’s body to not be objectified to simply a sex object. Boobs were designed for babies, get over it people. When a woman chooses to do so (if she is able) she is going against the societal untruth that breasts are purely sexual and therefore breastfeeding is weird and unnatural and/or should be severely limited to a specific time frame.

So, I digress. This article made me angry and also very sad. I truly hope that this rant may find itself to someone who is uncertain about whether or not they agree with this article and was turned off by breastfeeding after reading her points.

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