I wrote a reply on a post on the Feministing community site about breastfeeding in public. Since it is also a follow up to a post from here, and includes an
frustrating interesting anecdote, I figured I should post it here, too.
I wrote a post on here recently about feminism and breastfeeding. I go to medical school. In our health professions dept., the nursing students were giving presentations on research projects. One group had a poster on breastfeeding. I walked up to chat them up; it’s one of my favorite topics. One of the women who DID the presentation was saying how women were ashamed to breastfeed in public or in front of relatives, and that she would never do it.
And she was one of the nursing students who worked on the poster about the overwhelming health benefits of breastfeeding and how it should be encouraged.
I told them about the same article I wrote about, which echoed one of my frequent arguments. This is a health decision, not a social decision. The article argued it in a different way – formula companies (and other people, like this nurse) focus much more on emotional issues than on medical and health issues. Shame about doing what is the best medical decision shouldn’t be as important as it is. Other social considerations, too, like the whole backlash issue (don’t talk about breastfeeding benefits, which are real, significant medical benefits, because the small percent of women who truly try and cannot breastfeed may have their feelings hurt) also dominates the conversation.
Again, my disclaimer, I have all the sympathy in the world for these women. They are obviously NOT who breastfeeding activism is aimed at. The mommy wars do not need to erupt every time this topic is brought up. We need to make this a medical discussion. Health problems with breastfeeding are nothing to be ashamed of.