Overheard conversation today between two otherwise normal looking thirty-something women:
“She breast fed her first daughter for like one month, and her second one for like zero months.”
“I’m not going to breastfeed at all. I don’t like it.”
“Me either. I think it’s gross.”
My husband noticed my chin on the floor and told me not to stare.
I’m eavesdropping, I said.
“Well you don’t have to be so obvious.”
What century is this? It was all I could do not to grab my 19 month old and proudly start nursing him then and there, mere inches from these misguided souls!
In fact, the only thing that stopped me was the dress I was wearing- with no access whatsoever to my breasts.
I’m glad I was wearing that dress- it saved me from what was sure to turn into a public scene. (As if we weren’t already causing enough of one with 2 small wildly active boys in a restaurant!) I’m sure it would have only hurt the cause.
But back to the question at hand. How can we reach these women? If hospitals are ceasing to give free formula samples, and news stories populate the airwaves claiming breastfeeding could save 900 babies a year, how can we convince these women that it is the furthest thing from gross you will endure as a parent?
I am here to tell you it is not easy. In fact I’m writing this from my bed as I have a random case of mastitis. With a 19 month old nursling I’m convinced this is some sort of record.
And I know there are very real reasons women can’t breast feed- breast reduction surgery, dehydration in childbirth, certain medications taken by mother, going back to work, etc.
But “I don’t like it” and “It’s gross” are not valid reasons.
Some people disagree with my stance, but I agree with the Surgeon General. Breastfeeding should not be considered a lifestyle choice.
It is a public health issue.