Breastfeeding post on feministing community

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.
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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.

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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.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Breastfeeding post on feministing community

  1. Ashamed of BF in public? I really am a freak I guess, because I tandem nurse toddlers without a flicker of shame. This is not a discreet endeavor, by the way.

    Of course, I’m making a BF picture book in my rampant free time so I am kind of a zealot, I guess.

  2. Thank you! I recently shared a bit about my experience breastfeeding my toddler, never said a word about anyone else’s choice to or not to, and was told by one mother I was making her feel guilty because she did not breastfeed hers. And it’s not the only example. I really do feel sorry for the mothers who want to and can’t, and I don’t hold any ill will to the mothers who choose not to. But I hate when my sharing is twisted into some guilt trip, often just a different variation of the “you should be hiding” line. I’m not ashamed and I will not hide.

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