Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Breastfeeding is Normal

Recently, I was shocked to hear a very intelligent and educated friend of mine--who I like a lot--complain about a woman "flaunting" her boobs while she breastfed her child at a busy restaurant. While I wasn't there and should probably think twice before straying into the view that everyone else is like my family, I don't think that woman was flaunting anything. There is a big movement out there to "normalize" breastfeeding and yet there are still so many incidences where people and institutions ask or prefer woman to breastfeed out of sight. People, I want to clue you into something. Breastfeeding doesn't need normalization. Breastfeeding is already normal.

What do I mean by that? For the last eight years, my wife has either been pregnant, breastfeeding, or both. Eight years is a good chunk of anyone's life. This means that for the last eight years, many decisions have been made for us. For the last eight years, my wife has had to choose the clothes she buys and wears based on what is easiest to breastfeed in. For the last eight years, we have had to decide our schedule based on a baby's breastfeeding habits. For the last eight years, we have had to design driving and travel plans partially around breastfeeding. For the last eight years, sleep schedules have been entirely dependent on breastfeeding. For the last eight years, every single thing we have done, publicly or privately, has had breastfeeding attached to it some way or another.

It is every present. It is a 24 hour commitment. It is a lifestyle commitment. It is a life.

I'll leave the numerous benefits of breastfeeding out of this. You know why we breastfeed. You know it's the best thing for us to do for our child, for my wife, and for society. So don't act like it's a light decision or a flippant decision or a decision that was made to inconvenience anyone. Under typical circumstances, it is the only decision that results from any wisdom at all.

So don't argue that. Breastfeeding is a part of who we are. There is no half-measure here. If we are out and about, we have to breastfeed. If we are at a restaurant or a department store or a grocery store or a school or a freeway rest stop or a movie or a mall or your house, we have to breastfeed. It is us. It is our life.

Yes, there are products that "help" for the self-conscious. There are "hooter-hiders" and pumps and bottles. Don't dare ask that we use them. Those exit to pray on our insecurities, to make us spend money on something that is otherwise biologically given to us. They are not normal.

When you are breastfeeding as constantly and regularly as we do for as long as we do, it is far too complicated to ask us to sequester ourselves in our home unless we have enough milk pumped. It is selfish to ask us to cover-up with hiders something that you can look away from if you're bothered. There's no flaunting involved. There's no self-satisfaction involved in something that is so regular and normal.

My wife isn't thinking, "These people will see how smug and I am and how awesome my tits are" when she is breastfeeding in public. She's thinking, "I wonder what we should have for dinner on Tuesday," or "Man, 'Breaking Bad' is a good show," or "Goddamn I'm tired; we should go to bed earlier and stop watching so much 'Breaking Bad,'" or something like that. She's thinking the same things you think. She's doing the same things you do. She lives her life as normally as she can, just like you do.

The act of breastfeeding for a breastfeeding family is as essential and normal as anything in your life. If you're bothered by it, that's on you. Let's strive to stop the breastfeeding normalization movement. Let's strive to recognize something that is inherently part of us, part of who we are, part of our lives: breastfeeding is normal.

Let's move on to other topics.

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