Sunday, May 27, 2012

Breastfeeding is not {DISGUSTING}

A couple weeks ago, I wrote this letter (those that know me IRL know whom it was sent to), I've received zilch in the form of a response... I'll admit (even though the hubs said to not expect anything), I'm a little disappointed. 

Within the last month, there have two instances where one of your radio hosts shared negative commentary regarding breastfeeding. I am paraphrasing, but the general feeling was that it was “icky”, “gross”, “vulgar”, and “offensive”.

As a mother to two young boys (both of whom were, and one of which is, breastfed), instances such as this absolutely make me cringe.

It is hard enough to breastfeed without being labeled “vulgar” (when breastfeeding is anything
but vulgar – it is nurturing, it is bonding, it is nourishing... it is not vulgar).

While breastfeeding is the biological norm for feeding human babies, that does not mean it is without difficulty. Women do not often see other women nursing their child, and so when it comes time to nurse their own they have no point of reference for what is “right” or “normal”. They hear horror stories about how it takes
x number of days to toughen up your nipples (untrue, a good latch does not mean latching on the nipple but latching on the breast, hence the term breastfeeding). They are told that they are nursing too often, not often enough; having no point of reference for what is too much or too little they assume that they have failed their child.

When women are bombarded with statements regarding the vulgarity and offensive nature of nursing, it makes
most women not want to do it in public. This is a great disservice to other mother's (and their children). The less mother's nurse in public, the less mother's will want to nurse in public.

When popular media makes negative remarks regarding breastfeeding, young women subconsciously tuck that away. If it is continually drilled into their heads that breastfeeding is wrong, perverse, etc... they may not attempt to nurse their future children.

World health governing bodies (such as WHO, Unicef and The Canadian Paediatric Society) recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life (for healthy, term infants) continuing on to two years
and beyond (emphasis mine); according to Health Canada only 23.1% of Canadian mother's actually reach the 6 months exclusive breastfeeding mark.

Breastfeeding has been statistically shown to reduce childhood obesity (since there is no
easy way to measure what babe is getting in a feed, mom is less focused on the
ounces that their child is consuming and more focused on their state of being [happy, healthy, etc]).

Contrary to popular belief, breastfeeding continues to be nutritionally beneficial well into toddlerdom (“Breastfeeding toddlers between the ages of one and three have been found to have fewer illnesses, illnesses of shorter duration, and lower mortality rates (Mølbak 1994, van den Bogaard 1991, Gulick 1986)”).

Breastfeeding is the biological norm for humans, why is it not the cultural norm? Why do people find it vulgar; and why do they feel it is their right to impose their personal comfort zone on others (by telling everyone who will listen that they feel a natural act of nourishing and comforting ones child is offensive)? It is such instances that actually
reduce breastfeeding rates.

What woman actively chooses to be treated with disdain; asks for a public flogging for merely doing the most
natural thing in the world, nursing her child?

I strongly urge you to educate your staff on the importance of breastfeeding (or at the very least the importance of choosing your words carefully because every action has a repercussion; and your words could have a wide-reaching
negative repercussion).

A Muddled Mama



Canadian Paediatric Society

Health Canada


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