It’s been a week since I have started posting daily photos of myself nursing my baby in honor of National Breastfeeding Month. Here are my thoughts so far.
I started with lots of questions: Is it weird for me to post pictures of myself nursing on the internet, sometimes with my breast flesh exposed? Is it strange for me to be potentially making a political statement about breastfeeding using my own body, and my own child? Surely most of my friends, family, and colleagues don’t care, but what about those who might, and what about strangers?
I could answer all these questions with the responses I know so well, and that I think are right on, like the fact that breastfeeding is normal, and it is just our culture that sexualizes breasts and makes people feel uncomfortable about seeing babies nursing. Or that breastfeeding is beautiful and why not share my personal moments with the world to celebrate it?
But I have wanted to be honest with myself here. After all, it is my body here, and my privacy. If I am completely honest, I will say that I have had moments of doubt, especially as I know there are strangers coming to my blog (most of them fellow parents, but who knows).
Here’s the thing, though. Here’s what I keep coming back to on my mind. Every day I talk to moms, either on the phone, emails, at meetings, visits to their homes, at the park, etc. Moms who want to nurse. Moms who are having trouble. Moms with doubts. Doubts that their body can do it. Doubts that their baby can. Moms whose bodies are having trouble. Moms whose babies are. Moms who want to give up. Moms who are told to give up. Moms who are nursing well but don’t want to leave the house because they are concerned about nursing in public. Moms who nurse in public under a nursing cover. Moms who nurse without a cover and are told to get one.
And here’s who I KEEP coming back to — I keep thinking of the moms I talk to who never saw a baby nurse before they had their own babies. These moms might hold their babies upright, away from their bodies, in the crooks of their arms, the way you bottle feed a baby, and then end up with nipple pain, or non-latching babies. They may not know just how very often newborns nurse, what’s normal for bigger babies, just because they have never hung around these babies. Moms who call me crying because they are being told they are setting up a bad habit by nursing their baby to sleep, for comfort. They have only learned about nursing from a book, and maybe not the most accurate one. They have only learned about nursing from their pediatrician, who may or may not been around very much nursing him/herself.
So. I am not doing this to make a political statement. I am doing it for a very practical reason. Pictures are powerful in a way that words are not. So maybe if my photo of nursing the baby to sleep reaches one mom on a night where she is wondering if she had set up a bad habit, she will find solace in this picture. Maybe a mom will see me nursing the baby an hour after he fell asleep and realize, yes, it’s normal for bigger babies to wake up very frequently still. Or maybe someone will see me nursing at the museum and find her nursing cover pointless next time she goes out. Or she will see me nursing at a pizza place and realize she doesn’t have to pump bottles if she wants to go out to eat with her family.
I am just one mom. My blog doesn’t reach that many others on a daily basis. But I care about the moms, the moms to be, and of course the babies, and so I’m sharing these little slices of my lives as a nursing mom to show what it really looks like to nurse your baby. Normal nursing. Real life.
And of course it has been interesting and moving on a very personal level to record these moments with my baby. But that is for a different post. Later, soon.