When my website went live, I was so excited to share it with everyone. I sent an email to a friend, a male friend, with the link to my site. Much to my dismay, he was not as excited as I was. His response was something like “I cannot un-see those pictures”. Being that this was an email exchange, I didn’t realize that I had actually offended him. I asked why the image of a baby at the breast was so difficult to see and he responded “I don’t have anything against breastfeeding, I just don’t want to see it or be near it”.
I went through a series of emotional reactions. First, this is someone I consider a friend. Second, this is my job. Third, it’s breastfeeding, for heaven’s sake. So even if we disregard the breastfeeding part, I was a little hurt that someone I know feels so negatively about something I do for a living. I don’t disregard his job, nor would I. Now let’s get back to the breastfeed piece. I guess I never really understood why breastfeeding is so completely offensive to some people. Breastfeeding is completely normal and women have been nourishing their babies this way for centuries. Even before I had children, I thought it was odd to see a baby with a bottle in his mouth. When did society decide that women parading around in lingerie on prime time tv is ok, yet breastfeeding a baby is offensive?
I know…it sounds like I am on my soapbox here. I guess I am. The only way to make breastfeeding normalized is to breastfeed, and to promote breastfeeding. This isn’t going to happen with my blog – it takes a village. Here in my house, breastfeeding is normalized. My children are used to it, they know that their mom works with mothers and babies, they know that they breastfed when they were babies. The “normal” came a little less naturally to my husband and step-children at first, but even now, I feel confident saying that breastfeeding is more the norm to them as well (I’ve even gone so far as to introduce and define the word “doula” to my step son, but that’s another story).
Breastfeeding will become normal to society when more people breastfeed. I have definitely seen an increase in breastfeeding over the last few years, but there’s still much work to be done. More people will breastfeed when given adequate support and education. The way we address breastfeeding needs to change, the way we talk about breastfeeding needs to change and the way we support breastfeeding needs to change.