Monday, August 4, 2014

Breastfeeding = Banishment?

 WARNING: This post contains images that you may not like, images of nursing....

I've been breastfeeding Ocho, and I'm happy to do it.  I enjoyed a complicated relationship with breastfeeding and EG, but in the end I nursed her for 14 months, she stopped on her own, and I pumped milk 5 times a day at work to send to daycare.

With Ocho, things actually started out much easier.  She seemed to latch easier, she was nursing within an hour of delivery.  Even though it's been a bit painful, it's happening.  We went to her first post-hospital appointment and she had gained weight (she's now 9lbs 8oz) so all signs point to breastfeeding going well.

However, the realities of breastfeeding are once again starting to settle in.  That it's a personal, and intimate thing between me and my daughter.  That it makes other people uncomfortable.  That it means you have to expose yourself in public, in ways you may not want to.

I'm a fairly open person. Anyone who knows me also knows that if you open my door unannounced, it's likely that I'm wandering around my house naked (TMI, I know, but that's the truth).

So for me, breastfeeding isn't something I have a great challenge with due to exposing myself.  It's not an issue for me to feed my daughter anywhere (case in point, Target this morning) but at the same time I am woefully aware of the personal issues it can sometimes create for others.

I had a friend who ended up giving her child formula not because breastfeeding wasn't working, but because she was too embarrassed and challenged by breastfeeding in public.  And I think that's wrong.  I think it's heartbreaking that there are still so many stories about women being harassed in public for nursing their kiddos.

This weekend we really made an effort to get out of the house and enjoy life.  We had friends over, and at least three times I ended up in a room or a space all by myself so I could nurse Ocho.  Not that there's necessarily something wrong with that, but at the end of the day it can feel a bit isolating.

I realize that part of the problem is that we've only been doing this for a few weeks (okay, few is even to many, since she turns two weeks old today) and that means that I need to see her mouth and her face, and that it's hard to get things going properly.  Which means I need to expose myself a lot more than I will when she's 6-months or 1-year old.  But at the same time, it's sort of sad to be sitting by yourself while everyone else has conversation without you.

I remember at our Meet EG party I retreated to my bedroom to nurse her.  Some friends came in and one of my older guests commented that it was inappropriate for them to be with me while I nursed.  Because in a house full of people here to meet our daughter and celebrate her safe delivery into the world she and I should be alone while I keep her alive?

I hope that as I nurse Ocho I am reminded of all the amazing that happens when you nurse your child.  That I see through the spilling milk, the special underwear, and the fact that I can't wear a t-shirt to the good I do for her to nurse her at all, and the joy at being able to connect with her in this way.

Did you enjoy nursing?  Did you cover up in public, or just go for it?  What do you think about nursing in public?

Additional comments and resources about what to say here.

PS- breastmilk is considered parve.  Isn't that nice :-)

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