Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Who Are the Boobies in Your Neighborhood?

How sad is it that I can't imagine this being shown on PBS today?

All joking aside, I have to say that I think this is so sweet and beautiful, with the tinkly Mr. Rogers piano music in the background.  And those little wagging goat tails?  "Feeding can be an wonderful way of expressing love."  You said it, Mr. Rogers.

Speaking of nursing, Violet and I are doing pretty well these days.  The discomfort was much more manageable this time around and I was pain-free right around 2 weeks.  Violet is doing a really good job with the breastfeeding.  Now at 11 weeks, she's not quite to the stage where she latches on practically without assistance but she has mastered nursing in the side-lying position (a real necessity, I think) and her increased head control just makes the whole thing easier.  I have diagnosed myself with a bit of overactive letdown which is less than ideal.  Some days I blame the situation on the pacifier use but it's not really possible to know; my highly unscientific anecdotal perception is that a lot of moms have more milk and faster letdown with their second baby because boobs say, "HEY!  I HAVE DONE THIS BEFORE!  I KNOW WHAT TO DO!"  Anyway, for whatever reason, she has markedly different nursing habits than Grace-- her nursing sessions are much shorter and not as peaceful and she seldom nurses for comfort or falls asleep nursing.  It's not quite the fix-it-all comfort mechanism that it was for Grace, either; Violet seems to prefer walking around in the sling when she's overwhelmed or fussy.  Breastfeeding is SO much easier than it was in those first weeks but we still haven't gotten to a really easy stage.  I'm hoping that we get there, and have even toyed with the idea of ditching the pacifiers in the hopes that she would nurse more frequently but more slowly and eat less during a single feeding.

It did eventually get super, super easy with Grace and that's when I really got comfortable nursing in public with her; it didn't seem as important to be at home in my specific spot on the couch with my specific pillow and all that.  I do nurse Violet in public some now, of course, but I still sort of mentally try to arrange my day so it's minimized because she's not super good at it yet.  At church I still go back to the "cry room" when Violet needs to eat; I have joked with Rob about going back there lest the unthinkable happen and someone catch a glimpse of my boob in the seconds between unfastening my bra and her latching on.  Seriously, do those rooms seem to anybody else like they subtly reinforce the taboo of breastfeeding?  On the other hand, the chairs are more comfortable and you can chat a little with other moms during the sermon...  (Bad Julia!)

Another thing that I think is indicative of this taboo are those nursing covers.  What is up with those?  Yes, the fabrics are cute (always a good thing in my book) but they seem to be just one more thing that communicates the message that nursing is weird and needs to be hidden.  I am not a fan.  On the other hand, I do think that anything that helps more women breastfeed and breastfeed longer is a good thing, so if those covers do that, then maybe I am a fan at some level?  I don't know...  I am a very modest person with pretty high standards for how much skin I show, what my clothes communicate about who I am, etc. but I do not at all think it is immodest to feed my baby in front of other people.  Everyone's favorite hippie moms over at Mothering magazine have this project where they have collected images of mothers nursing in various public settings in order to help other mothers feel comfortable nursing in public.  It's a Powerpoint file, which is kind of annoying, but it's still a really lovely collection of images.  Christine at welcome to my brain also has a weekly feature of breastfeeding pictures that she puts out there in the effort to normalize breastfeeding.  This post particularly makes the situation clear.  Our culture has somehow been trained to be uncomfortable with something that should be normal, and it has negative effects on our babies (who are breastfed at really terrible rates in the U.S.) and on mothers.  I have some half-constructed theory rattling around in my head that this taboo is linked to sexual objectification of women and a failure in our society to recognize women as multi-faceted whole people.  Whatever the cause, you really feel the taboo when you are in the stage of life of nursing a baby and it's just PLAIN WRONG.  So here I go, doing my part to normalize breastfeeding, talking openly about it and you know, bringing Mr. Rogers into the picture.


Kiki@Seagulls in the Parking Lot said...

Our church has a great nursing room and a lot of the moms still use the covers in the nursing room where only other mothers nursing their babies are. I refuse.

But, I do go to that room to nurse because he is so loud while eating and he usually fusses before I get him latched on. So, nursing while in the church service doesn't seem like a great idea.

I have appreciated my nursing cover more for the fact that it covers my belly and side. I don't really want people looking at that. Nor do I think people want to see it!

But, I don't use it at home, which again, some moms have implied they do since they have other/older children. My boys probably see more of me than they realize!

amydove said...

Wow, I agree that this definitely would not be allowed on a kids show these days. Maybe it was taboo back then too, which is why Mr. Rogers tried to educated people about it.

I don't mind public breastfeeding at all, but I agree with the above that I'd probably want to cover my stomach - funny what that says about our society (boobs ok, tummy flab not).

This has also been an issue on campus because moms are often forced to sit on a toilet to breastfeed at school.

Eva said...

IMHO, it is crazy that such a video would not be aired these days. It is also crazy that anybody thinks that breastfeeding is sexy in any way.

Kris C. said...

My church is very breastfeeding friendly but also has a nursing room for those who are more comfortable going there. I usually sat in the rear in the sermon and used a blanket (more for any single guys nearby) until my boys got loud enough that they really needed to be somewhere else. I have liked the nursing areas in the malls, because you actually have a place you can sit down that's a little out of the way, in case there's an older child who needs to be watched or a baby who is easily distracted.

Robert said...

Mr Rogers is demonstrating some pretty terrible latches there.

Colleen said...

Aw, that video is so sweet. :) But I too cannot imagine them showing it nowadays... how sad. Glad to hear you and Violet are getting along well with the BFing!

Kimberly said...

I was going to leave this comment: "Dude, what you said!" and leave it at that.

But then my 2 month old stopped nursing and I can use two hands. YEAH. Three minutes and then I am going to nap.

I think they do show that clip of Mr. Rogers still. Someone said, anyway.

I use the nursing room at church, but mostly b/c I still have to manage the boob with my son, and it is a bit more complicated and has lots of hands and elbows (me) and grunts and burps and kicking of feet (him). And we have chairs at church, so no backs of pews.

Also, re: the "side and belly" comment. TOTALLY get where you are coming from. I am a huge fan of the Old Navy maternity/nursing tanks. They are long (maternity) and have the clips (nursing). They are the only tanks that cover my whole belly and NEVER pull out of my pants. I have two in every color and wear one every day. 'Twill be an extra layer of annoyance during the moist Virginia summers, but no one will see my stretch marks. :-)

I agree with you re: nursing covers. But I mostly don't wear them because they are big PITA. AND they interfere with me nursing. So.

Good post.

angie.a said...

Love Mr. Rogers! I cried when he died. Pretty much all of his episodes are excellent!

HAHA! We're posting on each others blogs at the same time. :D

angie.a said...

Oh, no we weren't HA!!! It was the other julia. :D

Melodie said...

Loved this. We're definetley thinking about the same things. I feel like I could have written your post myself at some point. I found you on Maher Family Grows having left a comment that I really connected with. Thought you might like to peruse my blog as well.

All the best!

Christy@pipandsqueak said...

I am a huge breasfeeding advocate. I nursed Katherine to 22 months and plan to go long with Caroline as well. As far as the covers, I use them. I am pretty discreet and don't think people would see much and if they did oh well. But, I know that often I am in public where there are men, teens and plenty of people that do feel uncomfortable. Sure it may be their problem not mine but I choose to go ahead and use the cover. It also helps my baby not to be as distracted when nursing in public. We lived in Norway when Katherine was 18-21 months and I never used a cover there because culturally it was so weird.