Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Breastfeeding in public

Sifting through recent Christmas Photo’s, I found one that my Mum took. She captured a beautiful shot of me breastfeeding my 1yr old daughter in the pool. Loving it, I wanted to share it with my online friends. Without a second thought I uploaded the picture to my facebook account. Setting it to friends and family I thought nothing more of the action. 
A few hours later I saw that a male friend had commented on it.  Only three words in his comment and I knew that he meant no offence by it, but his little joke got me thinking. After doing a bit of research I discovered that photos of babies being breastfed were being taken off facebook because they were deemed inappropriate or the pictures were ‘flagged’ if a nipple was showing. Feeling like a “Breastfeeding in Public” advocate I decided to make a stand. I joined every group that existed stating that Breastfeeding in public is natural and a very normal event. After making sure that an invitation to every group was emailed to this certain friend, I gave myself a pat on the back for a job well done. That day I had done my part for all the Breastfeeding Women out there.

Then the more I thought about it, I started to get a bit paranoid and embarrassed. Had I pushed the boundaries by sharing this photo with my friends? To me it was no different to my daughter having a drink of juice while sitting in the pool. I started questioning my views on feeding in public. Were they a bit ‘out there’ because I have been breastfeeding for at least 8yrs out of the last 14. I demand feed and I feed whenever the baby wants too. I’m the woman walking around the Supermarket doing the groceries while breastfeeding. If I stopped what I was doing every time one of my children had wanted a feed and I had to find a secluded place to sit for hours on end I think I would’ve gone a bit battier then I already am.

Whenever I’m in doubt about a parenting dilemma I take it to  another group of online friends. My morning coffee with my girlfriends. After reading their replies I felt very normal that my picture was fine and some of them even went over and made their own comments. Afterwards I felt a bit mean, this poor man had made in his view one little simple comment. With no hidden message and I’d taken it to the next level. He had been inundated with invitations from breastfeeding groups, a gang of Mothers started posting their own ‘comments’ with lots of hidden meanings. Was I being a bully? ‘Follow me ladies and lets teach this guy a lesson!!”

 The bully feeling passed quickly, after realising why the picture was important to me. For me it represents many years of breastfeeding and how far I had come in those years. With my first son, I would go to a separate room to feed him. I didn’t trust my instincts on feeding and I gave up after only four or five months. With my other children I stopped trying to keep everybody else happy and focused on keeping the baby and myself happy.  Once I did that I’ve been able to successfully feed the other five babies until they were around 18mths old. My daughter is 15mths now and still going strong.  As she is my last baby I’m going to allow her to self wean.

My friend and I never discussed the ‘event’ but he has never been brave enough to comment on another photo of mine since. 

Update: The above article was written in April 2009. It is now January 2011 and I am proud to say my daughter who is now 3yrs old still breastfeed's. :) And doesn't look like she'll be stopping anytime soon. lol 

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