Breastfeeding Audience

I need some space, and so I am moving out.“, I exclaimed.

She said, “Your generation is extremely selfish. You don’t value relationships.

Yes, Ma! I am selfish. I don’t value those relationships that do not let me feed my newborn privately and peacefully for a few minutes of the day.

What’s there to hide if you’re breastfeeding your child? Or is it something special that you have that others don’t have?”, she asked.

Forget it Mom. You’ll never understand this.

She was the one who taught me that I should keep my body protected from prying eyes at all times. On that day when she told everyone that I ‘have become’ a big girl, she shared many lessons with me, which were probably shared with her by her mom. One of the lessons was to stay away from men, including my father. She dismissed my ‘why’ declaring that I was back talking and was becoming rude and manner-less day by day.

I do remember having lots and lots of arguments with my own mother because I could never find a few minutes of solace to feed my child. Every time I began feeding the baby, someone or the other would enter the room on the pretext of one thing or the other. And no, locking up the room was not an option because ‘our people’ had their stuff kept in the same room, as if there was no other place left in the house.

Today, after 15 years, I told her that I cannot feed my baby peacefully in her house because of the careless intrusion into the room by her male relatives forever staying with her. She said it was ‘ok’ to breastfeed a child in front of anyone. She said if I loved my child with all my heart, nothing should matter to me, not even exposing my bare skin in front of absolutely shameless men. What hurt me more was her comparison with a cow who gets milked irrespective of who all she is surrounded by.

Mom, the cow does kick when annoyed.

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We all are aware of how important breastfeeding is.

Breast milk is best for your baby, and the benefits of breastfeeding extend well beyond basic nutrition. In addition to containing all the vitamins and nutrients your baby needs in the first six months of life, breast milk is packed with disease-fighting substances that protect your baby from illness.

Read the full benefits here at How breastfeeding benefits you and your baby?

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Pregnancy is a biological process and many of our ancestors have been through dozens of deliveries with absolutely no medical assistance and no major issues. But we also need to understand that with the current day lifestyle and the stress related to it, the average female health is becoming worse.

Mothers and newborns are prone to newer and scarier infections. The immediate family must ensure the safety and comfort of the mother and child much more than maintaining relationships. A separate neat and clean room must be provided if possible. First time mothers are anyway hesitant in feeding the baby in front of anyone. So why add to her misery by crowding the place with insensitive relatives who comment on everything from the size of her nipples, to the colour of her breasts, to the amount of milk she produces, to what and how much to eat and when. You are forgetting that you’re intruding into someone’s private space.

I agree that there are mothers who feed the child in front of the world at a railway station or a construction site. But should that restrict you to let your own child/grandchild suffer because his/her mother feels uncomfortable by making her open up her assets in front of everyone. And then you blame it all on her. Is that fair at all?

Breastfeeding is a basic civil right. However much I would want to say that exposing my breasts to feed my child is my right, I cannot shy away from the fact that it is the most uncomfortable and awkward feeling any mother can have. Asking for a few minutes of solitude with your child to let him/her suckle enough of the only food they are allowed in those first few months….is that selfishness?

This morning I saw a young mother trying to cover herself up as much as possible and feed her baby sitting at the bus stop facing the wall. And there were lots of men and women shamelessly staring at her as if waiting to get a glimpse of her bare skin. She finally quit. The poor hungry baby kept crying loudly. When will we learn to let the mother and child be by themselves.

Or is asking for space and time to feed your child really such a huge sin?

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13 Replies to “Breastfeeding Audience”

  1. Frankly, I have breastfed my son in a local train, hospital waiting room, restaurant.. and I wouldnt care if the world watched as I have to feed my hungry son. It is upto the men and women to give some privacy to the woman to feed the child. Or as said here, speak up.

    1. Even I have breastfed my firstborn in a wedding hall, at the clinic and in the train. But trust me, I was never comfortable. I was always conscious about the staring eyes. I spoke up much later. I should have spoken up earlier. I regret it.

      1. My mom would hv also advised me to cover up as that’s how they grew up. But another lady advised me to not change my life because of baby. She advised to be practical and use nursing bras, so simple.

  2. Sometimes we aren’t left with much choice, are we? The baby doesn’t go by the clock and doesn’t easily follow a pattern. If I found someone looking at me I loudly said to my husband, see people stare. That would do it! 😀

    1. The problem was that I had many complications during my first pregnancy because of endometriosis, ovarian cysts and blocked tubes. And then heavy blood loss post delivery. Hence I had to be at Mom’s place. The husband couldn’t help much as he wasn’t staying there. But that sounds like a practical idea to put off those who stare.

  3. Why is it such a big deal? A lady was asked to get off a train here because she was feeding her baby. She sued the transport company … So much unnecessary drama.
    Feed or not to feed is the mother’s choice. Expecting a baby to wait to be fed is just cruel :-/

  4. This is such a powerful post and I loved your thoughts to the core. I remember my friend talking about the same issue in her initial months after the delivery. How the poky relatives unabashedly come and comment on so many things they shouldn’t ranging from the size to the color of the nipples and the breasts, the way it should be held and what not?! Where on earth do they have so much of audacity? Or sheer shamelessness I wonder!

    Cheers
    Geets

  5. A lot of women here are fighting for their right to feed their baby wherever instead of being asked constantly to stop and cover up. I agree that it is natural and we should not feel shy about doing it, but I do appreciate your annoyance and embarrassment! It’s easy for us to say that it’s normal and natural but if people keep staring and making unsavory comments, it really is an ordeal!
    I now get what you meant in your comment on my joint family post; it could not have been comfortable at all.

    1. Yes, Roshni! That’s exactly what I meant. I have not had much problem adjusting in a joint family setup otherwise. I got married and moved in with my in-laws in their one-bedroom flat and spent 3 years without any complaints. of course, mine being a filmy-ishtyle marriage my mother-in-law ensured that I couldn’t survive there. That’s a long story. In this context, I was more upset with my Mom, who refused to understand everything giving the only excuse as maintaining relationships and helping relatives.

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