Breastfeeding has got to be one of the hottest hot buttons for moms in America; possibly as volatile as the abortion issue, and apparently yesterday’s Ask the Moms segment has started a minor firestorm within the breast feeding community.
Yesterday on our Fox 5 Ask the Moms segment, one of the moms asked a question about covering up during breast feeding and for how long a mom should breast feed for. I should have known that any conversation regarding breast feeding would lead to World War III because moms are so divided on this issue.
Here is the video so you can watch it first:
Since this aired yesterday, we have had some negative feedback about the segment, both on Facebook and here in the comments. Some of what we said was misconstrued and unfortunately, since all three of us on the panel have similar opinions on the subject, it came out a little one-sided. Sitting in the proverbial hot seat today, I feel compelled to expound upon my thoughts on this controversial subject.
My personal story:
I was anxiety ridden about breast feeding before my first daughter was born, and once she was born, all of my fears came true. Since she had to be in the NICU for a few days due to a pneumo thorax in her lung, I was not able to nurse her right away. I began pumping and as soon as I could, which was 3 days later, I tried to get her to latch. Latching did not come easy for this mother/daughter team, which was emotionally and physically painful as hell.
For nearly two months, that hell continued. I had bloody, chaffed nipples, I saw five different lactation consultants, went through countless packets of Soothies, attended breast feeding support groups, had to take Vicodin for the pain and cried a river of tears over the fact that feeding my baby was not a natural, easy process like it was for so many other women. I wanted to give up countless times. I threw things at my husband in the middle of the night and called him names that are not even appropriate for this R rated blog. One day, my determination to nurse paid off and I was able to breast feed her with no pain and with great ease. I went through the exact same thing with my second daughter and nursed her til she was a year old.
I See Both Sides:
I find myself in the middle on this issue because I saw nearly every breast feeding issue from mastitis to bloody nipples and I still pushed through and ended up nursing both my kids for 9 moths to a year. It was probably one of the hardest things I have ever done and the most rewarding. I loved bonding with my girls in that way and when I weaned my older daughter I was a little sad to see that era pass. I appreciate breast feeding groups and sites because they helped me through some dark times.
BUT, with all of that said, I STILL think it is a woman’s prerogative to choose whether or not to breast feed her baby.
For a multitude of reasons, some women cannot nurse. Many of my friends were not able to nurse their babies for health reasons, and I know that many of them feel enormous guilt and pressure from breast feeding groups who make them feel less than. Even though I would help women push through if that was their choice, I do not think badly about women who choose not to. It is their decision, made for physical and/or personal reasons.
Clearing Things Up:
Unfortunately my words (and my sarcasm) and those of my panelists have become misconstrued. All three of us said that we think it’s fine to breast feed in public, but we also advised that it is common courtesy to people around you to cover up your breast.
I myself nursed my first daughter a few times without a cover and I noticed that I was making the people around me uncomfortable. I can’t change them, so instead I started wearing a Hooter Hider, one of the best inventions ever. I could still see my baby while she nursed, she wasn’t being smothered, and no one around me was bothered. It was a win win. So it is my personal opinion that women should be aware of their surroundings when they nurse. People who have to pull their pants down to give themselves insulin shots don’t do it in the middle of the mall or a restaurant. They do it discreetly, even though it is something that they need to stay alive.
When I said in the piece that women should move if they don’t want to be judged, my standard Mama Mary sarcasm came out, and what I meant is that in the current climate of our society, uncovered breasts are unfortunately, taboo. Our beaches are not topless, nor are our ads (albeit revealing). We are not Paris or any other city where women’s breasts are just as average as a knee cap or an elbow (I’m not saying that I agree with that cultural norm, it’s just the way it is). Is nursing outright in public the answer to changing that? Maybe it is. Maybe not.
I regret that one of us on the panel did not properly represent the pros for breast feeding and that some of the viewers felt like we were condemning breast feeding, because we certainly did not mean to do that. The segment could have been an hour long and we still would have made someone mad. But as far as I’m concerned . . .
The Bottom Line Is:
Your breasts, your baby, your decision.
It’s your decision to nurse or not, for how long, and where and when to do it. Learn the facts about health benefits but then listen to your body and don’t let anyone else tell you what’s right for you. Go for what you know, ladies.
UPDATED: February 21st 8:00pm: I decided to turn the comments off on this post because the name calling and cursing began which is just taking this too far.
Also, I want to clarify that this post was not an apology. I am not sorry for my opinions. Our Fox 5 panel is made of “real moms with real advice”, we have never claimed to be a panel of BF experts nor was our short segment a study on lactation.
If you are a nursing mom, and are truly having problems nursing or you have serious concerns about how, where, when to nurse, then please contact me privately and I will help you. I promise I will not judge you or tell you to cover up if you don’t want to cover up. I will get you the help you need.