When I got the email from the Parent Bloggers Network regarding a new website that had been launched in the wake of Facebook banning photos of breastfeeding mothers, I was intrigued. The League of Maternal Justice was created in order to help women empower each other, and to stop injustices against basic practices in motherhood.
I know that I am fairly late in the game in blogging on breastfeeding (or not), as friends like Alex Elliot have been blogging about it for awhile.
First, I'd like to say that I feel lucky that I was able to successfully breastfeed H exclusively for about the first 6-7 months of his life, and then only in the morning and at night when I was home for a couple more months.
Granted, I was living in a fairly liberal city (shout out to P-town, OR), where I felt very comfortable breastfeeding in public; restaurants, theatres, you name it. Yes, there were still stories about people who were talked about or gawked at, but I never personally experienced it...that I know of.
At the hospital, a lactation consultant (LC) visited us in the room, and then everyone was automatically scheduled to be seen 2 days after being released from the hospital to see how the feeding was going, and if there were any supportive measures that could be taken. The LC was programmed into my cell phone, and there were a couple of times that she returned my call as late as 9 or 10pm.
I had a very hard time breastfeeding in the beginning, and had to use nipple shields (holy crap, Alex, I know what you mean about the cost) and the whole nine yards. The last thing I would have been able to coordinate at that point (in August, mind you) was to throw a blanket over my shoulder, nearly suffocating my child in the process.
I wore a nursing tank so by the time my shirt was pulled up (with the tank down) and the baby's head was there, you literally couldn't see ANYTHING. I've seen far more just visiting a local dance club...not a strip club...a dance club. It is amazing to me that when breasts are used in a manner that is objectifying, or sensual to others, it's perfectly acceptable (in fact encouraged, hello Girls Gone Wild) but when they're put to their designed use, folks must cast their gaze aside and secretly whisper about that brazen girl who's nursing at the table....GROSS! Then, there are certainly women who don't feel comfortable breastfeeding in public, and that is also their prerogative.
I could go on and on about breastfeeding, and how difficult in can be in the beginning without the appropriate support, etc. I could also go on about a woman's right to choose how she nourishes her baby. Some women are devastated when their bodies don't produce enough milk, or their design is simply not conducive to feeding, and the last thing that they need is grief over formula feeding. Last I checked, they don't put arsenic in formula (or any other damaging chemicals.) I certainly supplemented with formula after I returned to my extremely demanding job, whose schedule sometimes did not allow multiple pumpings (although there was a very nice lactation room with a rocking chair, refrigerator and magazines galore at my work)....but I digress.
The bottom line is that women are put in the position that we can't win for losing. If we breastfeed, it seems that some would be more comfortable if we did so cloistered in the corner where nobody could see us. If we choose formula, we are made to feel that we are depriving our babies of the ability to have a healthy and successful life. We need to support one another, which starts with the basic right to feed our children, and also acknowledging that a photograph of a women in the act of nursing is NOT pornographic.
When a baby is properly latched, they are covering as much as a pastie would...are people really taking the position that a BABY is worse than a PASTIE?