Friday, October 14

I will not be shamed.

"Isn't she old enough now that you need to stop breastfeeding?"
"You don't want be to be breastfeeding now, it's time to wean."

I've been waiting for those comments for a whole year now. I've heard so many horror stories from women who have been publicly shamed and humiliated by perfect strangers for feeding their babies - I was just waiting for the hammer to fall. I've actually been surprised at how supportive most people have been of my breastfeeding Iris. I've never gotten any dirty looks in public and I've never been told to go feed her in the bathroom (if anyone ever had I was fully prepared to tell them to go eat in the bathroom and see how they like it). I'm not sure why I've never experienced it - possibly because I am very confident as a person and in my rights to feed my child where and whenever I damn well please. Maybe breastfeeding is more normalized where I live - I'm not sure.

I haven't been particularly outspoken about breastfeeding, I just do it. I've breastfed in my friend's homes, at restaurants, at the craft store, the supermarket, walking down the street, at a public pool and just about everywhere else. I've actually gotten a few positive comments over the last year, mostly from children who say "do some babies eat like that?" or they simply smile at me as though they intuitively recognize the nurturing that nursing provides. Many women have smiled at me too with silent approval of my confidence. Men have smiled at me as well, and not just because my breast is partially exposed. Every conversation I've had with friends and strangers has been positive and reinforcing of the phrase "breast is best." 

Now that Iris is over one year old, walking and looking like real kid and not a baby anymore... well, I am waiting for the hammer to fall and perhaps even hit repeatedly. I know I have made people uncomfortable in the past and that's fine - they can avert their eyes politely. If they give me a dirty look, I will smile at them. If they have something inappropriate to say about it, I will share the facts with them. 

This is what breasts are for. I am not just a sex object. My daughter will not be traumatized by it. My milk is still just as nourishing as it was on the day Iris was born. It does not turn to water; it does not go bad. It does still give her nutrients, comfort and even protects her from illness. The wonderful benefits of breastfeeding continue well past 6 months or a year. I plan to breastfeed Iris as long as she and I are both happy with it; until she self-weans or until I decide I no longer wish to. 

If you don't like it, please politely avert your eyes and keep your opinions to yourself,
just as you would in any other situation.

I will not be shamed. 
I will be strong for those who are ridiculed for feeding their babies.
I am and will be a part of normalizing breastfeeding for this culture and society!


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