RSS Feed

Why the World Has a Screwed Up View on Breastfeeding (And Some Things We Can Do to Help)

photo-17

Every time I call my grandmother, she asks me the same question, “Are you still breastfeeding… maybe it’s time you stop.” Now, I love my grandmother. She raised four kids of her own and she was/is an awesome mother. But, breastfeeding is not something that she did. It’s not that she COULDN’T breastfeed her babies. It’s that she was told that she SHOULDN’T breastfeed her babies. Women of my grandmother’s era were told that ‘breastfeeding was not a scientific way to feed a baby‘. They were given ‘dry up‘ medicine in the hospital (after a completely drugged and unconscious forceps birth). It’s what you were told to do back then in America. You listened to your doctor, because the doctor knew best… Sigh…

Well, luckily, in today’s world, we know that breastfeeding IS the best way to nourish a baby. But, women need a strong ring of support and a healthy breastfeeding-friendly society to make it happen easily. I understand that there are obstacles that can pop up for women who are breastfeeding and we are lucky to have bottles and formula available. But, breastfeeding rates today are unacceptably low around the world and there are a few major reasons I think why.

Lack of Support and Lack of Role Models

I had NO CLUE how to breastfeed my first daughter when she was born. Sure, I had read all the books, but I hadn’t witnessed a baby being breastfed since I had last seen my own mother breastfeed my brothers, some eighteen or twenty years before. My husband has this hilarious video of us on our first breastfeeding attempt as I fumbled along (hilarious now because I can say that I was successfully able to breastfeed).

Not so hilarious, was my friend’s experience. Her nipples were so severely damaged during that ‘first feed‘ because she didn’t receive the right help when her baby first went to latch on. She ended up injuring her poor nipples enough that only through perseverance of pumping for three months afterwards was she finally able to feed her baby directly from the breast.

And, have you heard of the captive gorilla who did not know how to breastfeed her baby until she was shown how to do it by the mothers of La Leche League (read someone’s take on the story here)? Mothers need to see other mothers breastfeeding to know how it all works.

We Have Lost Our Village

Women need to be with other women. Way back, when life was simple… breastfeeding was also simpler! We didn’t have to do a million and one things on our own. We had sisters and cousins and aunties and grandmas to help cook, clean, tend to other children, etc. We could take naps while a family member played with the baby. Now a days, we live in relative isolation from our help. We’re expected to hold our heads high and ‘do it all‘. Often, we feel that we have nobody to talk to and nobody who can relate to what we’re going through. In the beginning, with a new baby, breastfeeding can seem exhausting, stressful and frustrating at times. With little or no support, breastfeeding is often is the first thing to go for mothers trying to do their best to hold their heads above water.

Baby Books

Some baby books out there are good. Some are terrible. And, many are flat out confusing to new mothers. Any book that puts you and your baby on a strict feeding schedule is bound to cause a headache (for you and your baby). Any book that tells you your baby is trying to manipulate you, needs to be thrown in the gutter. Any book that makes you think that you don’t know what is best for your baby, is garbage. My favorite baby book, very comprehensive and scientifically backed is Sarah Buckly’s ‘Gentle Birth Gentle Mothering’.

Queens, Princesses and Rich Aristocrates

For thousands of years, if you were royalty or very wealthy, you would not have acted like a ‘cow’ and breastfed your baby. You would have left the job to a hired wet nurse (another lactating mother), she also did all the ‘dirty’ baby work. (Not all wet nurses fed wealthy babies, some wet nurses were sisters, cousins and aunties who were feeding babies because the mother was unable to). Sometime around the turn of the 20th century, formula became readily available. Women who were in the middle class wanted to be cool like the rich aristocrats and so they started feeding their babies formula. In its early days of its availability in stores, buying formula was a bit of a status symbol. (Check out this interesting research article, A History of Infant Feeding)

The Medical Community

After the birth of my daughter, I was waiting around for my milk to come in (as you do). I experienced all different kinds of midwives who helped me getting started with breastfeeding. Some were awesome! Others were treating my breastfeeding like it was a medical emergency. I kid you not, one midwife was so frantic that my daughter was not getting enough milk, that she started hand expressing colostrum from MY NIPPLE and feeding my newborn with a syringe!

But, my baby was fine! She was loosing the ordinary weight that a newborn does. My baby was alert and having bowel movements… Yet, this nurse felt the need to freak me out and make me feel like something was wrong! My later understanding of the situation was that this midwife, was very uncomfortable and unknowledgable about breastfeeding in the first place. Many doctors are also not knowledgeable about breastfeeding. They often give advice which confuses and upsets new mothers.

America’s Strange Hang Up on the Body

I live in Australia and frequently breastfeed in public without thinking twice about it. I let my kids run around on the beach naked. I’m pretty sure if I ever went home to visit America, I would be in big trouble for indecent exposure or something. After traveling the world, I now fully understand that Americans have a surprisingly conservative view on the body. I’m not sure I understand it, as (excuse my language) but tits and ass are plastered all over the American media… As easy as this, With tubev sex you can find reliable info about big tits porn. Yet somehow, breastfeeding is considered ‘gross‘. Of course, other cultures in the world certainly have their own strange body hang ups, but, unfortunately, America has Hollywood. The TV, movie and advertising industry influences creep its way into every corner of the globe. So, whatever goes on in American culture, in some capacity, gets absorbed by the rest of the world.

The Feminist Movement that Backfired on Women

Equal pay. Equal rights in the workforce and more. I am all for it. But what did the feminist movement do for breastfeeding and for woman who have just had a baby? Depending on where you live in the world, you may not be getting screwed over by the feminist movement. If you’re ‘fortunate’ (or unfortunate depending how you look at it) enough to live in the USA, you’re looking at SIX WEEKS OF PAID MATERNITY LEAVE and twelve weeks if you’re damn lucky. SIX. WEEKS. SIX WEEKS?!?!

At six weeks post partum, if I do recall correctly, I was completely incompetent to do anything other than gaze lovingly into the eyes of my baby. I rarely made it out of my pajamas and I could barely hold a conversation with anyone. The thought of having to get dressed, leave my baby without a boob in sight, and muster up enough strength to go to work, was seriously enough to make me cry. Believe me, I thought about my friends in America who had to do it, and it MADE ME CRY. How can a six week post partum women even be good for business productivity?! Most American women don’t have a choice. If they don’t go to work, they will have absolutely no income, will loose their health insurance and will not have a job to go back to when the time comes. Maternity laws in some countries are pretty good.. while in others, they really need to change!

Collective Consciousness Fail

A bit on the spiritual side. Collective consciousness, as in how the world moves… or like, how the whole world thinks… can make a big impact. The ripple effect, if you want to call it that. We’re all made up of energy and we’re all connected. It’s not a big secret that the attitude of the world impacts us in a huge way. So, if the attitude of everyone around you is saying that you should be second guessing your intuition and your primal instincts to respond to your child by breastfeeding… well guess what starts to happen??? Women start second guessing their ability to trust their gut. They start questioning their ability to breastfeed and they start finding flaws with what they’re doing.

Things We Can Do to Help!

  • Support your friends and family who are about to have a baby! Even if you didn’t breastfeed, let them know that you understand their choice and accept their decision to breastfeed wherever and for however many days, weeks, months, years they want to!
  • Listen and offer advice to all new mothers to be, but do so with care. Many new mothers don’t know where to turn to for help and might be feeling intimidated. Let your friends with new babies know that you are there for them. Let them know that you breastfed for X amount of time and if there is anything that they can learn from your experience, that you are there to openly talk about it.
  • Breastfeed in public places if it’s legal! People need to see it for it to be normal. You just never know who will see it and how it will later form their views on breastfeeding. What gets me most excited is when I see teenagers and I’m breastfeeding in public. They are our future mothers and fathers. The more they see it, the greater chances it will seem normal to them when the time comes, even if they think it might be weird to see at first.
  • Talk to your MALE friends about breastfeeding! Yes, I know it sounds weird… BUT, the biggest support person that a woman has is her partner. If he will support her in breastfeeding, then she has a winning card in her hand.
  • Take what the doctor and medical professionals say with a grain of salt, if it doesn’t sit well with you. If in doubt… get a second opinion, ask other mothers, whom you trust. Use social media to your advantage.
  • Be proud of your decision to breastfeed and say it out loud. For some of you, being a proud breastfeeder that means shouting to the whole world what you’re doing. For others… being loud about your personal life is not what you’re into. What I like to do most is to say something funny to mention it like, ‘Uh oh, I just ate a whole bunch of cabbage, hope the baby doesn’t stay up all night farting!‘. Be creative and natural to yourself, but get the word out!
  • Find other mothers in your area who are breastfeeding and HANG OUT WITH THEM. Facebook is your ultimate tool here. Just about every part of the world has an ‘attachment parenting’ facebook page or even check out your local breastfeeding association. Here in Australia, we have Australia Breastfeeding Association. In the USA, it’s La Leche League, In the UK it’s Association of Breastfeeding Mothers,
  • For more support check out the International Lactation Consultant Association

Above All…

Above all, remember that you are the most important person in your baby’s life. If you don’t respond to their needs, nobody else will. Of course, you might want to live within the realms of what is acceptable in society, but don’t let years of social stigmata dampen down what you feel is the right thing to do for your baby. Connect with other like-minded mothers and form your own village! Be strong and stand up for what you feel is right.

Find Katesurfs on Facebook

112 Responses »

  1. ‘If you’re ‘fortunate’ (or unfortunate depending how you look at it) enough to live in the USA, you’re looking at SIX WEEKS OF PAID MATERNITY LEAVE and twelve weeks if you’re damn lucky.’ – We in the US are only eligible for up to 12 weeks of UNPAID maternity leave under the FMLA. People who receive any paid leave would have to have that benefit through the organization for which they are employed or have a short term disability benefit that they pay for through being an employee (if their company offers that benefit that is).

    Reply
    • Although true that the company would pay, some states do pay for that maternity leave. California will pay 6 weeks for vaginal and 8 weeks for C-section – not the company a mother works for. There are a few other states that will pay as well, so the author is correct.

      Reply
      • Actually that is not correct for California. Of those 6 or 8 weeks the first is an unpaid waiting period and the next 5 or 7 are only paid at 55% if regular wages and there us a cap

      • Thanks for sharing… I’m so sad that the situation is actually worse than I thought
        For paid maternity leave!

      • I have to admit, since I don’t live in the US anymore, I don’t know exactly what the maternity laws state, thanks for clearing some of it up!

      • And in all fairness to feminists in the US, that is one of the things we are working towards – paid family leave for men and women, and more than just the 12 weeks FMLA will cover, but as you can see from the Affordable Care Act fiasco, that’s a slow going, uphill battle. 🙁

      • I should have clarified that the feminist movement of the 60’s is what I was referring to. Women fought so hard to get into the equal rights in the working force and now we’re having to fight to get time back to simply be with our babies… Before the women’s right movement, most woman with a 6 week old baby would have been expected to be show up at work.

    • Thanks for clearing that up! I admit, I’m not an expert on the paid maternity laws in America as I haven’t lived there in a while!

      Reply
  2. Love this article! But, I have to add that American mothers have it even worse than this piece states. Employers are not required by Federal law to pay for any maternity leave (except in a few states that require it). In fact, they don’t have to give you time off at all unless you qualify for FMLA which means they have 50+ employees and you have been employed there for at least 1 year. If those requirements are met, they must allow you 12 weeks, but they don’t have to pay you. It’s truly sad.

    Reply
  3. There are no federal laws in the US guaranteeing paid maternity leave. FMLA leave (12 weeks unpaid) is available only if you work for a big enough company for over a year. I work at a small law firm and was extremely lucky to be offered 12 paid weeks (paid entirely by my employer). They could have legally given me NOTHING for maternity leave.

    Reply
  4. I’m still breastfeeding my 13 month old. I like to say he’s having his cafe au lait when I feed him in the morning after my coffee!

    Reply
  5. It is disgusting to me that you would assume that a woman, 6 weeks post partum, is essentially useless in the workplace, it’s such an ignorant thought. When you have a law degree and pride yourself in your work and have an amazing mother in law to care for your child when you’re at work, I can assure you you won’t be useless, 6 weeks or not, you want to set an example for your child on how to be a professional and hold their own and not act like a big baby yourself like going to work is the worse thing in the world.

    Reply
    • I’m glad that you were able to focus on your work at six weeks post partum and that you had family to support you. Many woman are not so lucky to be in your shoes. I also have two higher education degrees and work in a professional environment. But, for me, at 6 weeks post partum, there was nowhere else that I wanted to be other than with my baby. If I had wanted to return to work at that point, I would have had to leave my child in daycare.

      Reply
    • Wow, bit touchy aren’t we?
      Well, not all women want to go chasing down new career heights and leave their newborn in the care of grandma, the neighbour next door, or the nanny. This is about givin a mom a chance to bond with her offspring, not about how productive you are for the company and when is your next promotion.
      I actually regret getting back to work after 8weeks, and I was forced to do it since I am on H1B. Yes I was not useless at work (I think she put that as an euphemism), I did my job diligently but my only wish was to be by my child.

      Reply
    • You could also have set an example for your child on how to be a professional and simply held THEM. I don’t know any newborns that judge their mother’s worth by how fast she gets back to the office. Its a shame that in the US we don’t stress how important just being with your child is. The concepts of silence, patience, and just being with others are lost on our workaholic society.

      Reply
      • I couldn’t agree more. I have a very loving mother who bought into the workaholic workforce mentality (she loves to tell how she ‘delivered on friday and was back at work on tuesday’) and one of my earliest memories is watching her walk away after dropping me off at grandmas and feeling intense sadness and pain. I would give anything to avoid causing my new daughter to feel the same. I am now being told by my mother how important it is to ‘get back to work’ and I can’t say that I agree (I am being encouraged to move home, return to grad school and get a ‘real’ job as a teacher). My daughter is now 7 weeks, and like Kate, I would be useless in the traditional work force. To add, something that is also not considered in the U.S. is working mothers who are self-employed. As a massage therapist and an independent contractor, I have no benefits, no leave, and was paid a low enough salary (15,000/yr average) that I had no savings. My parents have supplemented my rent and I have sold everything I possibly could in order to make ends meet. That will take me until she is two and a half months, and I feel so fortunate to be able to have that time with my daughter, after which I am looking at returning to 10 hour shifts and an hour commute and praying to make ends meet in a profession that affords me the flexibility to work my own schedule and avoid putting her in daycare (her father is also a massage therapist, so we can tag-team), or leaving my chosen profession for a ‘real’ job that will recreate for my daughter my own lonely childhood. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to raise our children in a society that truly honored this important job and supported it physically, culturally and spiritually?

      • Thanks for sharing this! You know, you are certainly not alone out there. I once went to a Dr. Sears talk and he was saying how the best investment any grandparent can make is to encourage and support their daughters or daughter in-laws to stay home for as long as she can with a new baby. It’s going to be tough doing the tag team thing, but it won’t be forever and you’ll feel so much better than she won’t have to be in daycare when she is so little. There are lots of dads who stay at home with their babies. We’ve done so many things to help me stay at home. We drive one car, rarely eat out, buy cheap or salvation army clothes, and I know that I’m very fortunate. I did go back to work part time, but my daughter was a little older, 14 months. I can’t believe you remember the feeling of being left by your mother when you were so young… It’s no mothers fault that they have to return to work when their child is so little.. it’s just the unfortunate ways of some societies.

    • Really? A big baby? Judgemental much?

      Reply
    • I have a doctorate degree and was lucky enough to get 12 weeks off. Now I have to go back to work and I STILL feel “useless”. All I’m able to concentrate on at this point is the most important thing in the world, and no, it’s not my job! Although I, too, have great family support. Somehow, I think that what my baby needs at 6 weeks or even at 12 weeks is not necessarily an example of how “strong” his mother is because she left him to go to work, but the assurance that my boob (read – his security) is readily available to him 24/7. Feminism really did backfired. So sad!

      Reply
      • It must be so hard… Especially when people might be saying, ‘Well, I went back to work that early, and I was fine’… when you might be feeling otherwise. Haha, it is a bit like that for babies… Boob=security. If it’s what you have to do, you can just make the best of the time you have together. Co-sleeping and babywearing while you’re with your baby can make up for the lost cuddles.

    • That’s funny. All that education and not a spot of punctuation in this reply.

      Reply
  6. Get over yourself

    Yeah that’s right keep on screaming about how you are the better mother for breastfeeding your children and make the women like my wife who could not physically breastfeed continue to feel like bad mothers. If you breastfeed, good for you, quit throwing it in people’s faces in order to make them feel like bad parents if the cannot or choose not to.

    Reply
    • Sorry you feel that I was on a rant. I clearly state in the article that woman certainly have problems breastfeeding that that it’s great that we have bottles and formula to help in those situations.

      Reply
      • Love this article. There should be more rants when it comes to the lack of understanding and knowledge of breastfeeding. Society has made a muck of their ideas on breastfeeding. It’s the most natural way to feed a babe. And women should have a right to do it anywhere anytime.
        I’m Canadian, and am extremely lucky that our maternity/parental leave is a combined 54 weeks paid(if you have enough insurable earnings). But of course I still face obstacles when it comes to breastfeeding, because I breastfeed my toddler and my infant it’s often frowned upon. Thankfully my spouse and family are very support, that’s not the case for all women.
        The benefits for baby and mom are nothing short of amazing. But also the healthcare system would benefit if there were higher numbers of breastfeeding rates.
        Instiation numbers are high here at above 80% but that falls by one month to less than 40%.
        Why are more dominant, developed countries so behind in the well being of infancy and family?

      • I actually Think your blog was beautifully written, I hugely appreciated your tone and will be sharing the article. I was a mum unable to properly bf my eldest and down to people just like you I am four months in to exclusively breast feeding my second daughter, better that this (if anything could be) I have been lucky enough to help some other new mums struggling too. Thank you

    • Errrr, who is “screaming” here? Haha, you have to laugh really. It seems it’s impossible to write anything supporting breastfeeding without someone coming along and jumping up and down as though the writer is personally attacking them (or in this case their wife) for not being able to breastfeed! I have looked and looked and cannot see any evidence of that in this post!! Is there really any need to be so aggressive?

      Reply
    • Maybe get over yourself. katesurfs was not saying anything against mothers who could not or chose not to breastfeed. Just because your wife had problems with breastfeeding does not change the fact that breastfeeding is best for the baby and that breastfeeding mothers need help. I say this as a person who tried to breastfeed three children and ultimately was unable to. Yes, it hurts when you desperately want to breastfeed your babies, but can’t. I felt like I failed as a woman and as a mother, but that was all stuff I put on myself. No other woman ever purposely tried to make me feel that way. Being a jerk to someone for encouraging and trying to help others do what your wife couldn’t, isn’t going to make you or her any happier. Let go of the bitterness and stop looking for insults where none are intended.

      Reply
      • Thanks for your thoughtful response. What I think matters more than anything is that a child is raised in a loving home with parents who are at peace inside. If you’ve done your best, what more can you do?! Like you said, I certainly was not intending to put anyone down for not breastfeeding, just giving encouraging words.

      • It’s funny, I have breastfed my children, but I feel as if I’ve failed as a woman…the exact same feelings you describe…for not being able to push my babies out. I’ve had my last chance now, and any other babies will have to be elective caesareans. Us women really do beat ourselves up when it comes to our children, huh? 🙂

      • Kirsty, I had a c-section with my first and that is exactly how I felt about it. When they told me that I was going to have to go with a c-section … well … I kind of lost it for a few minutes. I mean, at one point, I literally begged my husband to just take me home … I blame it on the lack of sleep, lack of food, and 20+ hours of contractions with no pain meds.

    • She definitely DID NOT put down women who could not breastfeed! In general women who CAN breast feed feel terrible for Mothers who want to and are not able. As for women who choose not to, most don’t understand how beneficial it is or in some cases like a friend of mine had such a TERRIBLE experience the first time she won’t even try again 🙁 I myself kept telling people that I was going to “try” when I was asked. My husband took that as I wasn’t going to do it. I told him that meant exactly that, some women can’t breastfeed. I am going to try, if I can that will be great and if not then we would have been buying formula.

      Reply
      • Thanks for you comment. It’s so true what you said about woman who do breastfeed and how we feel so much for those who can’t… well, at least, I do!

    • Maybe you should take your own advice and “get over yourself”. It’s ok for the general public to shame nursing mothers for years but its a no no to stand up and show that you are proud to nurse and do the best you can for your child? She clearly states that formulas and bottles are great for Moms that can’t Bf. She is also CLEARLY talking about Women who choose not to nurse simply because they don’t have all the facts. Suck it up buttercup, the world doesn’t revolve around you.

      Reply
    • So much this!

      Reply
    • I couldn’t breast feed my children but I don’t feel they are trying to make mothers who were unable to feel bad. But I did read the whole post.

      Reply
  7. It’s womEN. Woman is singular women is plural. FYI.

    Reply
  8. Absolutely fantastic post, thank you! I will be sharing <3

    Reply
  9. I love this article. You and i are on the same wavelength.

    Reply
  10. Great article – thank you! just want to clarify that the 6 weeks in the states is not paid, unless you are lucky!

    Reply
  11. I think you’re confused about feminism. You might want to read up a little bit on what feminism actually works toward, as a movement, before you start throwing the term around. Here are a couple good starting resources:

    http://everydayfeminism.com/2012/07/feminism-is-for-everyone/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_hooks

    Reply
    • Thank you for your resources. Maybe my point on feminism was a little confusing, but it was only to state that before the feminist ‘movement’ woman with small babies were not required to be at work.

      Reply
  12. How did your friend manage to get the baby back to the breast, after 3 months of pumping? I’m in the same boat, he never latched correctly…and now it seems too late to get him interested in the boob, so I exclusively pump :(…and I wanna move to Australia as well (visited Gold Coast, loved it!!!) but I’m from Romania and it’s much harder for us to get there…
    BUT we do get 1 year (or 2 with little money) from the state after birth here 🙂

    Reply
    • We’re on the Gold Coast 🙂 You know… I’m not too sure how she did it. I think she just kept trying and trying. If you can get onto it as soon as possible, it’s probably best. Lots and lots of skin to skin time. Time in the shower or bath. Also, have you contacted your local breastfeeding consultants about what to do?

      Reply
  13. I really enjoyed reading this 🙂 After my son turned 1 every call I got from MY mom would always start with “Are you still nursing?” One phone call when he was about 15 months I told her that after he nursed on one side he sat up, looked at me giving me the biggest smile and said “Mmmmm” She almost started to cry when she told me to go ahead and nurse him as long as he wanted to do it lol.

    Reply
  14. I’m curious as to why you blame “feminism” for the lack of maternity leave in the U.S. Improved health care for women (including longer maternity leave–and yes, paternity leave, too!) is something modern feminists are fighting for, not against. Stigma against breastfeeding and the over-sexualization of breasts is something feminists are working to correct. Feminists want women to have more choices, not fewer.

    You seem to have feminism confused with something else, which sadly gets less and less surprising, as people seem increasingly less informed about what it really is. Feminism isn’t about turning women into automatons, it’s about dismantling practices that put women (and men) into preconceived boxes.

    Reply
    • Maybe my point on feminism wasn’t very clear. The statement I was making was simply that before the feminist movement, a woman with a new baby (breastfeeding or not) was most likely not required to be at work. Now that we have all of our ‘rights’, women actually have less flexibility on their decisions to stay at home than ever before.

      Reply
  15. I really like your post but PLEEEEEASE stop saying America (as a country). I am american, im from and i live in Costa Rica. America from Canada to Argentina. And here we are as normal about body and breastfeeding as you are in Australia. Ü

    Reply
    • Is it only PC to refer to it as the USA? I wasn’t informed….thanks for the tip. :p

      Reply
    • I’m American too. I guess I was sort of generalizing, sorry if you took offense. But, I think the overall tone of the words I was using was just to say that Americans in general have this mindset. It certainly doesn’t apply to all.

      Reply
  16. My daughter is about to turn 3 years old and I lovingly continue to breastfeed her. Of course I can see that some people , even family members are not used to see that a toddler is still breastfeeding. I’m okay with that. I do it for her and for me and that’s enough. I’m not telling it was easy. In fact it was really painful at first but still is really worth it.

    Reply
  17. Loved this post! It does seem that the US is very unsupportive of new mothers and I do find the attitude to breastfeeding to be mindboggling. It’s sad how something so natural can be seen as something ‘gross’ by so many people. I’m American, but have had both of my babies here in Turkey where I’m currently living, and although I have many problems with maternity practices here, I think one thing they do right is breastfeeding. In the hospital it is just a given that you’ll breastfeed your baby and right off the bat doctors and nurses help get you started. It was also very easy to contact a breastfeeding consultant here, which I did with my first son when I was worried about if we were doing it correctly. I nurse in public (albeit with a cover over us most of the time), but no one blinks an eye.
    Also, I don’t think your post was at all aggressive towards women who can’t or don’t choose to breastfeed. I think on of your main points, which is completely true(!), is that women need help and support for breastfeeding to be successful, and I do sincerely hope that in future all cultures will develop (or maintain, for those who already have it!) a positive breastfeeding culture.

    Reply
    • That is so fantastic to hear that Turkey is on the ball with brestfeeding! Obviously, the culture there would be to cover up, but still, who cares! Thanks for sharing a different cultural perspective 🙂

      Reply
  18. This is a great article. But it makes me sad to read the usual raft of comments full of conflict and defensiveness depending on where you stand on breastfeeding, returning to work etc. Come on people! Can we not support each other’s choices? United we stand and all that… For the record, I was lucky enough to be able to breastfeed, did it for about ten months each time and went back to work after a year with each of my babies as a senior lawyer in a big corporate. My friends are having babies a little later than me, and I make sure I tell them about my choices and what worked for me, whilst still being supportive of their choices. I figure that’s the best way to support my sisters.

    Reply
    • Comments like this are like gold. Thank you for sharing and keep spreading the word. And, good for you for taking time out from your career to spend time with your babies. You can’t buy back time 🙂

      Reply
  19. Please share this code if you feel for us mamas in the US! Sign the petition to mandate longer maternity leave.

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/expand-maternity-leave-coverage/MmbmTW60

    Thank you!

    Reply
  20. Makes me grateful that we have a full year paid mat leave here in Ontario Canada, but because we have the option to take the first year off it seems like everyone thinks that that’s how long you should bf for. My daughter is 11 mo and the pressure to wean her is huge! Bf still seems a little taboo here, when ever I bf in public I get weird looks and the brave ones ask “how old is that baby?!” but oh well I will continue to do what I feel is best for my child :-). Thank you for the article 🙂

    Reply
  21. I love the article! It is so good to know that somewhere there are so many people who think like you and feel the things the same way like you. When I breastfed my first son after he was one year old, it was very uncomfortable for me to share that with friends. Later I found many women near me doing it the same way, so it was just normal for me and my family, when I continued breastfeeding my second son for more than 3 years. And I felt the same way at the age of 6 weeks – couldn’t do anything more but speaknig about breastfeeding, sleeping, diapers and sort of babies’ things. It was not a problem to go back to work, when the child was about one year old, and feeling in absolutely good shape for work, and still breastfeeding. On the other hand my friend started a new job when her second son was just 6 weeks old, breastfeeding and pumping and continued breastfeeding him until he was 2. So every one has his own view and when there is a will, there is a way. Very important is to have information to make a choice and to have a friend, family, someone who knows, just to talk to.

    Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed! It is nice to know that lots of other women out there are doing extended breastfeeding! I’m still feeding my two girls, 3 1/2 and 15 months. I know that some woman are able to pump and return to work, however, I just wonder if it’s necessary! It’s great that the baby is getting the breastmilk, but there’s also other things to consider like bonding and never being able to get those cuddles back! I know some women have to do it. I just wish that women had better options…

      Reply
  22. Reblogged this on RaisingNaturalKids and commented:
    In today’s world, it is so important for women to educate women (and men) when it comes to nursing. Our babies are too important not to! ~ Dawn

    Reply
  23. love this article! I am sharing it with all my fellow mamas. the whole lack of maternity leave here in the US boggles my mind. my daughter is 15 weeks old, and I am a teacher working in a town that offers zero paid maternity leave. I took extra time off (I sadly have to go back with 3 weeks), and my husband and I have been squeaking by on 1 income. the irony of course, is that I am a kindergarten teacher who teaches loves and supports 25 5 year olds, yet am expected to leave my own little one at such a young age. I believe its part of the reason “the family” is breaking down in this country. the traditional family is becoming a thing of the past, and it saddens me to no end!

    Reply
  24. Just have to say that I chose to breastfeed for six weeks and take no offense to your article. I’m proud of my six weeks. I’d be proud of two weeks. I’d be proud of two days. That others choose to bf for longer (and are vocal in their support, and even those who speak out or sometimes demonize formula feeding — I’m not saying you’re demonizing) doesn’t bother me. I recognize that these obstacles do occur for breastfeeders, and nobody should make it difficult for them to do so (and I’d hope they wouldn’t feel some false sense of superiority to those who chose a different route). Ladies, whether breastfeeding, formula feeding, whatever, just enjoy your babies, always try to help another mama out even if you took a different road, and be comfortable with your decisions! Life is too short to waste your baby’s precious years gnawing over what other people think of you!

    Reply
    • THank you so much for posting this as I have been struggling with those feelings for a while now after nursing for 5 months (my milk dried up and medically could not produce more) and women in my community question why I didn’t do it longer. Being a mum is so much more than how you feed your child and thank you for telling me not to gnaw over what other people say because my daughter is developing beautifully.

      Reply
  25. How we choose to feed our babies is always (sadly) such a touchy subject. I think you’ve done a fantastic job with this post! I’ve been thinking about this heavily lately as I feed my 4 month old and 2.5 year old daughters.
    When I had my first daughter (who just turned 13) at 21 years of age, I had no interest in breastfeeding her. I was a formula fed baby, as were my siblings and we are all healthy, intelligent adults. I grew up in a world where formula was the norm and was never exposed to breastfeeding mothers.
    It was only when I gave birth to my now 2.5 yr old, that I decided to give breastfeeding a go. And to be completely honest, the thing that made me decide this was after (reluctantly) going to a breastfeeding class and seeing a video of a new born baby being placed on their mothers chest and watching it climb up to the breast for their first feed. That fascinated me and I was eager to see if my baby could do that too! Well… my baby did do just that! Lucky for me, she latched on easily from day one and the only problems that I encountered in those early days of breastfeeding was coming to the realization that it’s normal for babies to feed almost constantly during growth spurts as a way to increase the supply and that breastfed babies don’t go by a 3 or 4 hourly routine as is the norm with formula feeding. That part had me almost giving in a few times! But I persevered and I’m so glad I did, because it DOES get easier!
    There needs to be more education. Not just for mothers and nurses and practitioners. I think there needs to be more public awareness. Those breastfeeding awareness posters that we see in our anti natal clinics need to be in the newspaper too. And on billboards. And in the media, on the news, in movies, on tv shows.
    Our generation will continue having these screwed up views, because we’ve been hard wired that way. But if we start normalising breastfeeding now to the public as a whole, maybe our children and grandchildren won’t face the same barriers that we experience now.
    Also, I feel so fortunate also to live in Australia (Brissy girl 😉 ) where our maternity leave laws are so much better than others like the USA.
    Well said Kate x

    Reply
    • Thanks for the nice reply 🙂 i’m on the Gold Coast! I’m also tandem feeding. It can be quite a shock to mothers when they realise that breastfed babies feed in random patterns (and sometimes are on the boob 24/7). We are so so lucky to have better maternity laws here and a better attitude towards breastfeeding in general… although, there’s always room for change. The good news is that breastfeeding rates around the world are on the rise. So, we’ll keep sharing and keep reaching out to the world and things will change for sure!

      Reply
  26. Hi Kate, I really liked your article and my perspective comes from the UK, where our government is currently reassessing maternity leave to allow for fathers to take some of the responsibility. While I would love for my husband to be able to stay at home more with our children, I know that right now I need to be here with them, and it isn’t just about the breastfeeding. My circle of friends includes women who have taken a career break in order to stay home with their children, and I have some friends who have returned to work part time due to financial constraints. Also, we women are very aware of our need for personal fulfillment beyond child-rearing, which is something that I feel we need not be ashamed of.

    For me right now the central most important thing is my children, but my career is important too. What I don’t agree with is the way our society coerces us back into the workplace, and tells us that we should pay other people to look after our children while we work elsewhere in order to pay for the privilege. If I am not earning enough money to cover nursery costs, travelling costs, and to pay for treats and holidays, then I see no reason for me to return to work. Being at home with children is work, and our culture, wherever we are in the world, needs to understand this and support us in our decisions.

    As far as breastfeeding goes, I managed it (and still do) without any major problems, but now find myself feeling somewhat embarrassed to admit. How daft is that? I daren’t tell people that I am still breastfeeding my daughter who is almost 3, because I know a lot of people who struggled to maintain breastfeeding, or chose to give it up after a couple of weeks or months. Why should I be ashamed to do something that is natural? I don’t know! I am working on my self-esteem with that issue. My friends know me well enough that they don’t feel like it is a personal attack if I talk about breastfeeding, or if I nurse my child while they formula feed theirs. But I have been conditioned by society to see it as abnormal behaviour, and I know that is wrong.

    Thank you, Kate for telling it like it is, and to everyone else, I accept your opinions but there is no need to react in aggression born out of fear and misunderstanding. We support each other no matter how we choose to feed our children. And we are very fortunate to have these choices.

    Reply
    • There certainly should be a place for woman in the workforce! But, like you said, it needs to come from a personal choice to return to work and on terms that suit the family, rather than the work place. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one breastfeeding a preschooler 🙂 My daughter is 3 1/2 and told me the other day that she wants to have boobies ‘Until she’s at least 5!!!’

      Reply
      • Just to let you know…. you’re still getting women and woman mixed up! And while I’m being picky, in your sentence “will loose their health insurance”, it should be lose, not loose!

      • Thanks 😉 late night blogging is no good for grammar.

      • Hehe. Sorry to be so picky but these things just irk me! I hate that grammatical errors detract from your otherwise fantastic post 🙂

  27. Reblogged this on Spookymrsgreen's Blog and commented:
    I am sharing this article because to me breastfeeding is very important. I find myself sometimes quite nervous about sharing my views because people are quick to react in anger and aggression. Well, tough!

    I breastfeed both my children (one aged 3 and one aged 3 months),and they thrive as a result. But I do not look down on women who cannot breastfeed or who choose not to. I just want women to know that they have these choices, and we can actually trust our natural intuition…

    Reply
  28. Loved yourpost. Even in urban India, it’s considered old fashioned to bf. Haven’t seen any denim+ shirt clad girl bf. Only housewifish or rural looking ladies can be seen breastfeeding. I work and live on national capital. People appreciate my dedication to bf, but gimme the she-is-from-a-small-town look. But honestly, since I have started following your blog, am more confident telling people of my choice to bf.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for this response! I was a little worried when I stated, ‘The world’ in my title… but I really do feel that the entire world has issues on breastfeeding.. especially in developing countries like India and China, where they are starting to emulate the west! Don’t worry about those other people’s opinions, they’re just passing clouds 🙂

      Reply
  29. I was made to feel like a failure because I couldn’t breastfeed. By nurses, midwives and honestly, people like you. Please balance your thoughts with the idea that you aren’t helping a struggling mom by acting like she is a loser because she is choosing formula. My child is healthy and happy. Back off a bit, it gets to be fairly annoying to hear that LIFE ISNT FAIR TO WOMEN WHO WANT TO BREASTFEED. Whatever. Get over yourself. You have your opinion, others do too. Let’s show respect to BOTH sides. I am tired of being chided. You let your kids run naked on a beach? Whoopie for you. If that is your biggest concern in life, that you would be looked down upon in America for it, you need to re-examine what is truly important in this world. Breast feeding is natural, it is great. But do you really need to breastfeed a walking, talking child? If you think that was the case in history, you need to do more research. If it works for you, great. But it isn’t great for everyone.

    Reply
    • I’m think you misinterpreted the way this article was written. I certainly don’t judge any mother for not breastfeeding, no matter what the circumstance, there are lots of reasons why it doesn’t happen and I clearly did not say anything negative about woman who do not breastfeed. Many women who did not breastfeed commented on this article and only said positive things about what I have written. Although… I think you might be judging me a bit for MY views on breastfeeding an older child, don’t you think?

      Reply
      • I just want to chime in here and say that you can’t ‘make’ other people feel bad just because you express that you yourself have had a positive experience with breastfeeding, or any other type of experience in life. People need to claim their own feelings.

        Women who bottlefeed shouldn’t feel guilty about anything- they are doing the best they can for their child, just like anyone else. But I can’t see why women who breastfeed should have to shut up and keep quiet about it, like it’s some kind of secret that will offend other people. And if women don’t talk about the positive experience of breastfeeding and suggest ways to make our society more supportive of all women who want to do it, then how will anything ever change? Some women don’t want to do it, and that’s fine, but many women want to and ‘fail’ but that’s because they aren’t given the support and practical help they need and deserve, as this post states. I’m actually planning to train as a breastfeeding counsellor soon and I look forward to helping more women successfully breastfeed if they choose to! Anyway, that’s just my two-cents worth there 🙂

      • Thanks for your response Kim! You’re so right with everything you said! How cool you will be training as a breastfeeding counselor! That will be a fulfilling role to play, for sure!

  30. Thank you for this article! I feel like it was written by me, because it echoed all the thoughts I have had since I had children. I know some people took umbrage over what you said about feminism, but that was exactly what I felt. I was a feminist all my life, but when I had a baby, I felt like feminism had let me down. Suddenly I was supposed to leave my baby in a daycare and go to work full-time, when I could not even contemplate the thought of staying away form her the full day, every day!
    I do feel like feminism has bridged the financial and power gap between men and women, which is great… But how about giving value to the basic feminine traits of love, support, nurturing? Somewhere I feel like these have been sidelined in the quest for money and power for women. And that is really a shame.

    Reply
    • That’s exactly what I was trying to say about the feminist movement! I probably could have explained it better (as you did)… Female energy is loving and nurturing. It seems like it goes against a women’s very nature to leave a small baby just to return to work… It’s such a shame that it’s what is expected for mothers these days. Hopefully, by the time our children are having children, the world will get the whole maternity leave thing!

      Reply
      • Very right. My own mil (will you believe m Indian) discouraged me from bf coz my maternity leave is only 3 months. Its called weakness to be attached to Ute child so much. Fr a minute I gave it a thot, tht the professional in me is working for 9 years and will work for many decades more,but it’s my strength that am able to respect and give space to the mother and woman in me and not take her away from her child. I decided to ebf.

      • Good for you! Way to go sticking up for what you feel is right!

  31. I had my daughter 5 months ago and medically couldn’t breastfeed. I had 12 fmla weeks, 6 of them paid by my employer luckily. However we had some complications and I had to go on bed rest. Luckily my employer held my job but if I hadn’t been with the company for so long I don’t know if I would have been so lucky.

    Reply
  32. Poor women in America.. i’m in the UK and have a 4 month old daughter. Had i been working for John Lewis long enough, i’d have been given 9 months full pay as maternity pay and a job to go back to. I get half with the government for 9 months and am not employed now since it’s been 6 months since i started my mat leave and they decided to dismiss me coz i haven’t returned to work even tho i have till March 4th… and i thought that was harsh.. hope the US law changes!

    Reply
  33. Reblogged this on Gin's Things and commented:
    I had trouble breastfeeding my first back in 1993. I now ask her the dreadded “Are you still breasfeeding?” question, and I feel terrible afterwards, becuase I don’t think before I ask. Her son is only just a year old, but when I had my babies anything past 6 months was weird. Teeth were the main reason I guess.

    Reply
  34. Dismissing someone on maternity leave is illegal in the UK is what Anonymous means! You can breastfeed where you like here, it is enshrined in the UN Rights of the Child charter which UK has ratified. You still get hassle in some places but they are the ones flouting law not the breast feeder.

    NB it’s not actually illegal to dismiss a woman on maternity leave in the UK but it is very difficult to do so legally. I think the law stands that you have to have worked for a company full time for 12 months for them to be legally required to keep your job open for you for 12 months.

    We are incredibly fortunate in the UK maternity rights wise compared to a lot of countries, but still here the statistics around around employment post maternity leave are appalling. 70% of women returning to work post maternity leave report discrimination, 1 in 7 women are made redundant upon returning to work. There’s a good article in the guardian from earlier this year about the UK situation – http://www.theguardian.com/law/2013/mar/09/women-on-maternity-leave-illegal-discrimation

    Respect is what it all comes down to for me. There is still a huge lack of respect for mothers and for babies. A distinct lack of respect and value for what they do in the first few years. What baffles me is how this continues to be so when there is so much evidence now, scientific studies, on the outcomes for people and society this crucial period has.

    You know what I would do if Queen for the day (one of the things, the list is long, it would be a busy day) I would take all those statues of military men in squares around the world and replace them with statues of all kinds of nurturing people, breast feeding mothers, fathers carrying their babies in slings, people cuddling animals….

    Reply
  35. My daughter, who is now almost forty, was a Lamaze, Le Leche baby. During our first outing as a family, (her dad (my husband), me, and she went out to eat. We intentionally chose a quiet place to avoid overstimulation. We chose an out-of-the-way booth for this first experience as a family. Of course, she decided that she needed to nurse….no problem. I was prepared, so I discreetly unbuttoned my blouse from the bottom up with a baby blanket over my shoulder. Then, I cradled her with my left arm while I ate my lunch using my right hand. She was draped with the blanket, so there was absolutely nothing to see, and I made it a point to leave her eyes uncovered so we could make eye contact while our new little family enjoyed a public meal together. As she nursed, she made those tiny “whuffing sounds” that babies make while nursing…quiet, soft sounds imperceptible a few yards away. Imagine our surprise when the restaurant manager approached and asked us to leave, either that or she and I could go to the ladies room until she was through. I was furious, responding that “people don’t eat in bathrooms”. I pointed out that the two female teenagers that entered his restaurant shortly after we had arrived were baring much more skin than I was showing. Finally, we left. I called the restaurants corporate headquarters to register a customer complaint and was told that the specific individual to whom I needed to speak was unavailable. The receptionist took my number so that I would get a call when her boss could talk with me. During the following week, there was no return call, and I called again several times. Eventually, I stopped calling. (I am tenacious and persistant, so I just kept trying!) Within a few months, those restaurants all across the nation were closed. No wonder, since their “policies” were archaic. (I love it when I know the “Karmic Goddess” is doing her job well!) I was young, naive, and a new mother then. Now, I would tersely and quietly reply, ” We are staying until we are through with our meal. If you feel like you need to, call the police. I will go to the nearest publc phone and call my attorney.”) My message to new nursing mothers is “Stand your ground.You are doing the right thing by nursing your child.”

    Reply
  36. I love this article. Well done for having the courage think you meant ANYTHING malicious here. Its the way people read it and take what they want to take from it. Yes some moms can’t b-feed due to medical reasons, no desire to b-feed, work etc, but you didn’t (in my opinion) bash anyone for not b-feeding. Your article is loving, caring and so beautifully written. I am fortunate that I was able to be a “stay at home mom” and managed to bf my daughter until she was 12 months old. But I get you when you say your gran kept asking you when you would stop. I had that with my mom in law (We love each other to bits by the way), but I felt pressured nonetheless. My son was a different story, he was given 25mls “top ups” while I was in hospital as the nurse wouldn’t let me leave the day after giving birth to him because he was 2.2kgs and both my kids decided to enter the world when I was 36 and 37 weeks preggy, even though both were perfectly ready. As a parent you worry and I didn’t feel right about the top ups, but carried on with them anyway. When he was around 4 months old, he rejected boobie as it is easier and quicker to get milk from a bottle. I was very sad.
    All in all, I regret not bfing longer. If we ever had another baby, I’d definitely bfeed as long as possible. 2 and a half years or so.

    Oh by the way. We live in South Africa and at my hubby’s company, the moms get 6 months PAID maternity leave and even the dads get 3 weeks paid leave.

    Reply
    • Sorry that should read “have the courage to write this, when you are bound to get negative replies. I don’t think you meant anything malicious…”
      Computer problems on my side. 😉

      Reply
    • So glad you enjoyed! For the amount of times this was read, I actually received very few negative comments! Phew! I know it’s not easy and someone is bound to get their feathers ruffled by reading anything breastfeeding related. I think that all parents do the best they can with the energy and information that they have at the time. Six months paid maternity leave is awesome! Would be an incentive for sure to have another little babe 😉

      Reply
  37. Pingback: Why the World Has a Screwed Up View on Breastfeeding (And Some Things We Can Do to Help) - Raising Natural Kids

  38. Pingback: Why the World Has Screwed up Views on Breastfeeding (And How To Change Them) - Raising Natural Kids

Share Your Thoughts