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Breast-feeding then and now, and here and there

If the times are a-changin', they need to speed up!

by MaryP  |  1514 views  |  2 comments  |        Rate this now! 

Last week, so PunditMom tells us, a woman was asked to leave a family restaurant for the heinous, anti-family activity of feeding her child. With her breast. Facebook is trying to ban pictures of babies nursing. A few months back, there was an enormous uproar when a magazine aimed at mothers of babies under a year old showed a baby nursing at its mother's breast.

And I shake my head and say "Those Americans are so whacked out about sex." And all my American friends -- and I have quite a bunch of 'em -- say, "Hey! That's not us! We're not like that!!" Which is true. They're not like that. In fact, I don't know anyone who is.

But the thing is, it is largely an American phenomenon, this squeamishness about breastfeeding. You just don't get these stories, this steady stream of these stories, from many (any?) other countries.

I breastfed each of my three children for a little over a year apiece. That's roughly three and a half years of breastfeeding. I nursed them wherever and whenever they needed it: in restaurants, on buses, on the subway, at ballgames, company picnics, friends' homes, schools, bank lobbies, malls, church... (And not in the nursery, necessarily: right there in the sanctuary. Discreetly, but right where I sat.)

Not once, in over three years, in all those times, in all those places, not once was I asked to leave, asked to cover up. (Though I used a receiving blanket most of the time, I didn't always). Not once was it even suggested that what I was doing was objectionable.

If that strikes you as unusual or note-worthy, then also note this additional fact: all this happened twelve to twenty years ago.

Twenty years ago, I nursed my eldest all over the city of Toronto, where we lived at the time, and no one even blinked. It couldn't have been that I was just lucky -- not for over three years. It could be that I lived excusively in large urban centres, which tend to be less conservative. I might have run into some flack if I'd lived outside central Canadian cities. But even so, it was twenty years ago!

And so I wonder: When will my American friends have the same freedom?

About the Author

Mother of three (teens), step-mother of five (teens), home daycare operator of five (todders), and STILL SANE!! NOTHING is impossible...

Read more by MaryP




2 comments so far...

  • It's not just Americans who don't breastfeed. As far as I understand, in many developing countries, doctors push (US and European-made) formula as the "modern" way. I have lived in Turkey 20 years and can count the number of mothers I have met who have breastfed their children on one hand. While they give lip service to the idea of breast feeding, once a family reaches a level of income that will allow for the purchase of formula, the mothers' breast suddenly refuse to work. It seems to be a matter of social status.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by KatieK on 20th October 2007

  • It's not just Americans who don't breastfeed. As far as I understand, in many developing countries, doctors push (US and European-made) formula as the "modern" way. I have lived in Turkey 20 years and can count the number of mothers I have met who have breastfed their children on one hand. While they give lip service to the idea of breast feeding, once a family reaches a level of income that will allow for the purchase of formula, the mothers' breast suddenly refuse to work. It seems to be a matter of social status.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by KatieK on 20th October 2007

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