On Breastfeeding

When we give birth we are literally PUSHED into breastfeeding by various staff and people around us. If it doesn't come easily, our boobs are squeezed and pushed by hands and machines. We feel like cows, we feel abused, and we feel pretty useless and tearful.

Once we get a hang of it, we then start being pushed to STOP breastfeeding. Society or our jobs or our families or friends start the pushing this time- isn't it time to stop that?- they say, through various hints.

I had a VERY hard time in the beginning. The pure shock of the pain of giving birth, didn't prepare me for the pure shock of the amount of love I feel for that little person. And then the month-long shock of how difficult it was to get the breastfeeding right- nothing and nobody could have prepared me or warned me about how hard it actually was. I thought it would come naturally, you know.. easily. It took me five long nightmarish weeks to get it right.

Once it started to flow, it was really wonderful. My son wanted to spend his first months of life constantly attached to me, which I felt was the absolute most natural transition from womb to outer world. We stayed that way until he himself decided to let go a bit, when he started being more interested in the world around him.

It was easy as we always sleep together, so when he would wake up at night, I was right there, and we would just go back to sleep together- attached.
At around 6 months, I started giving him foods, which he loves.

When my son was around 8 months old, I went to visit my home country, Sweden, where I had my next surprise: people were VERY judgemental about my breastfeeding. They found it weird that I was still doing it. I was told that everyone does it until 6 months, and then stops. I was surprised, as in the community that I live in, I see women breastfeeding to 1 year and beyond, and that's considered completely normal.

Swedish friends were asking me why I still did it, and if I really didn't think I should stop soon. At least- I was told- I should have stopped before he starts walking. (I love you dearly, friends!) My 98-year old grandmother squealed with disgust when she saw me breastfeed my son, and screamed "are you still suckling him!?" (I love you too, grandma!)

With Sweden's very generous support for parents- new parents get more than a years' leave from work to hang out with baby- it just doesn't make sense that mothers stop breastfeeding at 6 months.
In Spain, where I live, mothers get around four months leave, but are encouraged to breastfeed at least 1 year. How does this equate?

This really made me wonder a lot about this so incredible natural act. Why does is create so much opinion? Why is it so taboo? I'm following Paa.la om Facebook, a breastfeeding advocate, and I read her posts everyday about women in the US being harassed for breastfeeding in public. They're being told to cover up, because they are making other people uncomfortable- which is actually against the law.

In Ibiza, Spain, where I live, no one bats and eyelid when I breastfeed in in public. I've had no comments and no one appearing uncomfortable.
On the other hand, in Thailand, one night, my son was crying hysterically and was really tired. I had been strolling around Khao San Road in Bangkok and all the noise, people and smells just got to him, and he couldn't relax. I sat down on a step by the pavement, and breastfed him. A thai woman walked past, and then came back- with a newspaper in her hand. She told me "cover!!" and told me it was rude to show breastfeeding in public. I glanced a few metres away at the scene of a group of prostitutes, dressed in black little dresses leaving little to the imagination, pouring vodka red bull down their throats and giggling with the western, fat men who's laps they were sitting on. I felt the situation bizarre. Me feeding my 9 month old baby in the street was unacceptable to her, but women behaving the way those prostitutes were behaving just a few metres away, was not rude?

Until today, I am breastfeeding my son. He is now 1 year and nearly 5 months.
I don't see any reason to stop- it relaxes both him and me, and during the times when he's sick, it's literally the ONLY thing he will drink/eat. It keeps us connected in such a beautiful way. Why would I BUY a substitute, to give him in a plastic bottle? A substitute, being synthetic and costing money?

The WHO (World Health Organization) recommends breastfeeding up until 2 years and beyond.


Popular Posts