I’ve breastfed both of my children — my oldest for just shy of 18 months until she self-weaned, and I’m currently breastfeeding my youngest daughter. For me, it’s the most natural thing in the world, but for everyone else, it seems to be something offensive, even shameful. Even my husband, bless his heart, was uncomfortable when I breastfed my our first child without a cover. My daughter’s dislike of covers was the catalyst. As soon as I put a cloth over her head, she’d unlatch and start crying. There was no way for me to feed her with a blanket on her head, so I had to find a way to normalize breastfeeding with my family. Here’s what I found along the way.
Don’t Argue, Just Do
You’re going to run into a lot of people who have a problem with you breastfeeding your child. You’ll get people who say you’re being provocative, tell you to cover up because breasts are sexual organs — and on and on and on.
I’ve got two words for you: Eff. Them.
There’s nothing wrong with breastfeeding your child. You’re not being offensive or obscene when you’re feeding an infant. Contrary to what popular media would have you believe, breasts are not sexual organs. Their purpose is to feed babies. It’s not your fault men have corrupted this by being obsessed with them.
Don’t argue with people who complain about breastfeeding. Just do it. Look them dead in the eyes while you do. It’s not like you’re flashing your boobs in public, you’re only trying to feed your infant. Sit at the park with your infant while your older children play, and don’t be afraid to feed your little one if they’re hungry. If people complain about you “exposing yourself” to their children, tell them it’s a learning opportunity and that you’re letting your children take advantage of all the benefits play has to offer.
Insist on Support From Loved Ones
My husband was once one of those men who thought breastfeeding was something women should only do in closed rooms or in private. I can’t tell you how much it hurt when I tried to feed our crying daughter during dinner, and he told me to take her elsewhere.
Maybe I can blame it on postpartum hormones, but I lost it on him. And I started crying. In the middle of the restaurant. Yes, I made a scene and ruined dinner, but you know what? I felt insulted.
Once I calmed down and we got home, we talked it over. I insisted he needed to get over this notion and support my decision to breastfeed. Sometimes, what’s what you have to do — request or even demand that your loved ones support you.
Teach Your Older Children
Adults should know better when it comes to breastfeeding, but you’ll need to be careful about teaching older kids to prevent them from growing into adults who have a problem with breastfeeding. When I started feeding my youngest daughter, my 5-year-old was confused. She didn’t remember having fed the same way when she was a baby, so she didn’t know what to make of a baby on the breast.
I found some fantastic books to help me teach my oldest daughter why her little sister was attached to my chest for most of the day. Mama’s Milk explained the idea of breastfeeding by showing a bunch of adorable animals and their children. That one was my favorite, but there are plenty of other options for you to choose from.
Don’t Give Up
You will always run into people who don’t approve of breastfeeding in public — or breastfeeding at all. All I can say is screw them. Don’t let them discourage you from doing what you feel is best for your child, whether that’s breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, formula feeding or some combination of the three. I’ll say it as many times as necessary — there’s nothing wrong with breastfeeding. It is quite literally the most natural thing in the world. Every milk-bearing mammal feeds its offspring with their version of breast milk, so why should humans be any different?
Stick to your guns, demand the support of your loved ones and take time to teach your older children, so they don’t grow up to be adults who have a problem with the natural act of breastfeeding.
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