Friday, 7 August 2015


I've been saving up mentally for this post for a long time. And I'm still not ready.  But I never am.  So let's go before Breastfeeding Awareness Week is over.  Let's talk about #normalizebreastfeeding.

I know it weirds some people out; some good people.  I know they say, "Hey, you can breastfeed your child while covering yourself/remaining modest."  I get it.  I don't want you to be uncomfortable.  In fact, I'm sure it's a moral obligation for me to consider your discomfort.  And I do, really.


This is one of a handful of issues that I will. not. budge on.  I need to know--need, the way I need regular meals and a safe place to sleep at night--that I have the right and the respect to breastfeed my child whenever and however I see fit.  Without scruples, without hesitation, without pausing to consider the environment or the time of day.  It is so, so important to me.  And it's important to my babies, too.

I'm a pretty traditional Catholic and an American and a conservative to boot.*  But this is where I stand in solidarity with all my "liberal" hippie sisters and insist that I and my child deserve to live in a world where feeding him--not in a flashy, look at me kind of way but in a way that is full of dignity--lacks even the tiniest whisper of shame.  And an insistence on covering, without recourse to the feelings of the mother, is a threat to this.  It broadcasts the message that breastfeeding is good BUT.

And no mother doing what is good and natural and God-ordained to nurture a child should ever hear the word BUT even implied when it comes to her mothering.  On such a precarious and important issue, even the smallest unnecessary caveat risks shattering the hard-won confidence of the modern mother.

Whether she nurses or not.  (Whether she cosleeps or not.  Whether she works or not.)  BUT is a sliver in the dam that can bring the whole thing crashing down.  Any kind of condition** placed on parenting is one too many; it is a symbolic stance saying that there is a right way and a wrong way.  

And, in the case of breastfeeding, there can be no wrong way to nurture an infant with his very mother's milk.

*  The more Catholic I become, the more I understand Catholicism cannot be confined into tiny boxes labeled "conservative" and "liberal."  That's how you know you're in the right Church.  ;)
**  I'm not talking about abuse and neglect here but the unsavory tendency to pass off parenting styles as absolute truths.

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