Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Culture of Milk

I pretty much have all this breastfeeding stuff down cold. I can nurse with no hands, nurse two at once, nurse anytime and anyplace with or without a blanket. Or so I thought. I recently read an article about breastfeeding as a part of family culture.  As I was reading it, it occurred to me that often, when I am breastfeeding around family, I leave the room or move to a less occupied corner of the room.  No one has ever said anything negative about my nursing or given any indication that I should leave the vicinity to do it, I just kind of figure I should.  But the funny thing is, I don't do it for my own comfort.  I am very comfortable nursing in front of people.  I have no problem nursing in front of my mom or my friends or strangers at the park.  But I guess I just figure the rest of my family would probably rather not see it even though they've never indicated that.

So I was thinking, in these days of small families where mom may be done nursing the last one before the first is even out of diapers, many children and teens and young adults just aren't seeing much breastfeeding going on around them.  So, why would they see it as a totally natural and great thing when they've never really SEEN it much at all?

This will not be an issue plaguing my kids.  Mitchell is 8 and he is already very supportive of breastfeeding.  He brings me the baby if he thinks she's hungry, and he has no qualms about coming up and hugging and kissing Ivy while she is latched on.  To him breastfeeding is as normal as changing a diaper.  And many of our friends are pretty public nursers so all the kids witness breastfeeding on a pretty regular basis even when i'm not currently nursing anyone.

It never occurred to me that by nursing in another room, perhaps I am doing my younger extended family members a disservice. Far be it from me to be one who keeps breastfeeding in the shadows.  I want my female family members to feel comfortable nursing around me - I would never want them to have to go in another room (unless of course they really wanted to). I am the oldest child in my family, one of the oldest cousins too.  And many of the younger family members are just starting to get to the age of having babies of their own.  What better way to show them that it's okay to nurse with us than leading by example?  So if this next generation is going to have a strong family culture of breastfeeding, let it begin with me.

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