January 30, 2010

The question, "Brestfeeding moms, why can't you cover up?" brought up lots of commentstweets, and blogposts this week.  For this, I suppose I should thank the original authors even though none of the interesting ideas really came from their post, which isn't much more than the title question followed by some scolding. It brought up relevant issues, however, like personal modesty, public propriety, legal rights, and even whether it's okay for women to get angry at one another. 

I think it's pretty clear from the rest of my site what side I'm on in this issue and how I feel about frenemy-moms (I call them frenemoms) who soothingly, condescendingly dose out platitudes about judgement-free parenting and then turn around and oh-so-gently remind those who "want to breastfeed" to both respect and help perpetuate the uneducated view (or should I say food-industry educated view) that nursing a baby is a rather offensive thing to do.   

But the photo comparison really got me thinking about the whole issue in a new way.  The frenemoms ask "Why do this?" next to this picture of a mother and her baby.  To me, this scene looks a lot more like a classic madonna and child painting (any of the madonna lactans) than the "fashion don't" they're being portrayed as.  The mom here also seems appealingly worldly, strong and a tad rebellious, like a nursing Che Guevara:

breastfeeding mother

The "fashion do"-type photo (below) finishes the question with "When you could do this." 

This woman looks scary to me.  She's half-buried under a giant pastel swath of fabric, despite the fact that she seems to be sitting in her own home.  What's under there, anyway? Is she the Modern Ghost of Christmas Present, hiding Ignorance and Want under her giant cloak? Don't get me wrong, I've nursed in a sling or with a scarf or blanket, but I don't get the big tents. 

Even the very shy and modest breastfeeding moms among us would surely still prefer the Madonna mom to the draped menace, right?  What could the menace have over the Madonna?

Then I realized...

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January 28, 2010

The amount of milk you make and how much fat and calories it contains will vary a lot from person to person (and from day-to-day and hour-to-hour in the same person). This article from the journal Pediatrics provides an interesting overview of what 71 "normal" moms produced ...

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January 26, 2010

Pumping sucks. The machine itself appears in direct violation of the Geneva Convention. Once you actually shove your boobs into the crazy holders and it starts yanking away on your nipples, you will have the urge to flee and/or weep. Why are you even in the situation of strapping yourself into this thing? Usually something stressful, like being separated from your baby or having major supply issue related to one or more breastfeeding problems. This can make the pump look and sound even more like Darth Vader.

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January 25, 2010

Breastmilk consumed in a crowded mall won't improve your baby's health or IQ any more than usual. There will come a time, however, that you will actually leave your house again. When you do, however modest you may be, you won't want to trudge to your car in the cold or to some foodcourt bathroom to nurse ...

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January 24, 2010

Vitamin D deficiency can be a negative health consequence of breastfeeding when either you or your infant are not properly supplemented. Don't ignore this common problem that can be solved safely and easily! Some feel that any discussion of Vitamin D deficiency (or anything else that nursing moms should be warned about) is somehow insulting to breastmilk. Others bristle at the word "supplement," but remember that you can take Vitamin D yourself if you feel uncomfortable giving it to your infant directly.

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January 23, 2010

"I'm sorry, you can't do that here." Amid all of the things you have to worry about - namely taking care of your hungry, upset baby - you do not want to hear this loaded and accusing phrase designed to fill you with shame and send you away from the "decent" people. Many women don't realize that, unless this is your mother-in-law talking in her own, private residence (a situation deserving of it's own, separate post), this person is likely 100% wrong!

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January 23, 2010

Again and again, breastfeeding moms are harassed directly or insulted later by people like Barbara Walters, who make many women feel nervous and even ashamed about nursing their children in public. Some moms are even ordered by employees of public establishments to stop nursing or to go to the bathroom(!) or a "nursing appropriate" area. It's enraging that people who are doing the right thing for their family and for overall public health are treated like harlots or smokers.

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January 20, 2010

Your baby may not regain his birth weight on time, your nipples may become damaged from the high-powered sucking of a newborn who could suck the paint off a car. They may even bleed and hurt far more than childbirth did, and a breast infection may rear it’s ugly head. Whatever hurdles you encounter, you can begin to feel very, very alone and start to believe that you are uniquely unsuited to breastfeeding or cursed with an inadequate supply. Not true!

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January 18, 2010

There may have been a nurse who helped you with breastfeeding in the hospital, or your midwife or doula may have helped you get started, but you should still schedule a visit with a certified lactation consultant for 3-5 after your deliver, when your milk supply is beginning to depend on proper nursing. With everything that is going on it's hard to make this a priority, but even if you and your baby have the milk flowing perfectly, this person will still able to provide valuable information. She can observe your technique, find out how much milk you baby is getting, check your breasts, check your baby, show you how to use your pump, and provide other valuable advice.

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January 18, 2010

Of course, you will hear from women who never had any trouble breastfeeding at all. In fact, it was "the most natural" thing these women have ever done. I am not exactly sure what the word "natural" means in this context and I'm sure most of them don't either. These women have sometimes forgotten how hard it can be to establish and continue breastfeeding or they are frenemies who want to demonstrate they are stronger, better, and more dedicated to their babies than you are.

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