Monday, June 28, 2010

Breastfeeding Stigma

There are so many challenges to breastfeeding: engorgement, leaking, worry about milk supply and of course, cracked and bleeding nipples, to name a few.

There is no wonder that most women choose to formula feed. Those that do breastfeed usually only make it a short period of time before switching.

I believe however, that one of the main reasons that women don't try breastfeeding or don't continue to once they start: is a lack of social support.

People in our society do not see breastfeeding as natural and healthy. They see a woman with her boob out in public. Period.

I have not breastfed before. I am presently pregnant with my first child. But I do plan on breastfeeding for one whole year. That is my goal. People may think I'm crazy but then again they think that anyway for me wanting to cloth diaper.

The depressing thing is that I am more worried about the negative stigma attached to breastfeeding then I am of the pain and time-consumption of it.

Since I have voiced my desire to breastfeed I have had no positive or reinforcing feedback.

All I have heard is:

"PLEASE don't breastfeed in public."

"Don't ever feed your child in a restaurant. It's disrespectful."

"That woman really should have covered herself better, no one wants to see that."

"I hope you plan to go sit in the car to breastfeed, if we're in a restaurant."

"Just go home if the baby needs to eat."

These are actual comments made by people in my own family!

I haven't even had my baby yet and already I am dealing with people's aversion to it.
So as I said, there is a huge lack of social support for breastfeeding mothers. I am really worried about what my life will be like for the next year.

Will I be secluded into another room, car, or bathroom stall while my family and friends continue to enjoy themselves until I am finished with the nasty habit of feeding my child? If so, will I really be able to stick with it? Do I really have enough backbone to stand up for myself and the needs of my baby to my own friends and family, most of whom have never had a child, let alone breastfed?

Only time will tell, but in the mean time I guess I'd better stock up on a bunch of comebacks for the people determined to make breastfeeding harder than it already is...

1 comment:

  1. Think of the intimate and intense emotions that breast-feeding provokes in people and you can understand their reservations. To many it is disturbing and stirs up all kinds of feelings - maybe sexual, maybe intrusive - so they don't want to see it. I say do what you feel is right for you and the baby, but that maybe feeding the baby in a place where your appreciation and intimacy of such a choice is not ruined by the disapproval of others.....if you get what I am saying.