Who are you really breastfeeding for?

Posted Tuesday 11th March 2014   By Ericka Waller

Here is a conversation that never happens. Mum one: Are you breastfeeding your baby? Mum two: No Here is a conversation that happens all the time. Mum one: Are you breastfeeding your baby? Mum two: No.. because he was not seeming to get enough/my milk supply was low/I had to go back to work/I could not keep up with the demand/I have inverted nipples.

And so on.

Justifying. To everyone, all the time. Other mothers, mothers-in-laws, ourselves.  Why?

They are your nipples. It’s your baby. If you want to breastfeed for a day, or a month, or a year or five years, it’s your choice. If you don’t want to breastfeed at all, it’s also your choice.

If you are a mum who believes in ‘extended breastfeeding‘ (a term hated by extended breastfeeders who believe there is no ‘normal’ length of time) then you are always going to feel strongly about your reasons for doing so.

I’ve got my opinions on it, but I am not going to write them, because it’s none of my business. I feel good about how long I fed my children for. I don’t need to justify why to anyone else, and neither do you.

Angry mums, like Chrissy Chittenden, who wrote: ’Why are we, as a culture, creeped out by the idea of a woman wholeheartedly enjoying breastfeeding? We’re uncomfortable at the suggestion that a woman might exercise such autonomy over her body that she breastfeeds beyond infancy and might actually LIKE DOING SO’, only make me think ‘the lady doth protest too much.’

She goes on to say: ‘Why does the idea that one might not want to stop breastfeeding imply something illict or sexual? Oh yeah, because that’s what boobs are really for. The sooner they’re over the breastfeeding thing, the sooner they can get back to their regular job of just, y’know, sitting still and looking pretty and perhaps making a few men a lot of money. Silly me.’

I want to tell her that my boobs (yuck to the word boobs) are so shriveled and wind-sock-shaped from the ‘normal’ amount of breastfeeding I did, that they never sit still and look pretty. They flop and dangle and swing in the breeze.

You are never going to get the response you want from someone else when you justify your decisions as a mother, because the approval you are seeking is your own.

From now on, every time someone mentions breastfeeding I am going to shake each of their knockers in turn, before they have even finished their sentence. Let’s see if we can make that normal too.