I wasn’t planning to comment on the whole David Koch breastfeeding issue, but I felt compelled to address it after watching him on his show Sunrise this morning. (Let me say first off this is NOT a breast versus bottle issue, and I actually bottle-fed far more than I breastfed).
As you may or may not know, the morning tv host caused an upset on friday of last week when he said that breastfeeding mothers should be “discreet” and “classy” and make sure to cover up so as to not make others uncomfortable.
Hundreds of Sydney mothers responded by staging a nurse-in outside the studio this morning, and one of the organisers was invited in to discuss it with the hosts live on air. The most important point she made in my opinion was his use of the word discreet. She pointed out to him that by using that word he was attaching shame to the whole idea of breastfeeding. And I think this is the most important thing we need to address.
There is no debate anymore on the benefits of breastfeeding, and every woman who gives birth in a hospital knows it’s best for the health of both herself and her baby. Partners, grandparents, friends, employers, in fact society as a whole, supports and encourages women to breastfeed.
As long as they don’t have to see it.
David Koch explained himself by saying that he is a big supporter of breastfeeding, and pointed out many times that two of his own daughters are currently breastfeeding mums. But Kochie how supportive are you really being of your daughters when you imply that to breastfeed in public in not classy. That it makes people uncomfortable. When your daughters visit you with their babies, do they have to leave the room so as to not make you feel uncomfortable? Because guess what? That’s NOT being supportive.
The real problem with breastfeeding in our society is there is still a certain ickiness at the sight of a baby suckling at a breast which has claimed sexual priority. It’s still all about the breasts and not about the feeding. It’s just a big set of knockers on public display. Breastfeeding is still too primal, too traditional, and too intimate for a lot of people. They prefer the barrier of clothes dividing mum and baby with food coming in the latest bottle designed to MIMIC that same breast which they don’t want to see doing what it is designed for.
I had limited success breastfeeding. My daughter was a breeze and we lasted almost six months, but my sons lasted a total of three months. COMBINED. Kochie’s attitude reminds me of so many of his generation: by all means breastfeed that child but please go and do it in another room. And please close the door while you’re at it. My parents and in-laws “supported” my breastfeeding, but EVERY TIME I went to do it on the couch or in a room where everyone else was, one of them would suggest that “I” would be more comfortable in the bedroom.
And it still pisses me off after all this time, especially when I see it’s still happening. It’s HARD ENOUGH learning how to breastfeed in the first place. It’s hard enough getting out the door with a baby. It’s VERY HARD the first time you brave breastfeeding in public. You DON’T WANT TO FLASH YOUR BOOBS. Especially when they feel jumbo sized, are leaking, covered in blue veins, and we’re still not sure what we’re doing. Every single mother I have ever witnessed breastfeeding in public has been modest. For her own comfort, not anyone else’s. I can say without hesitation that the whole breastfeeding in another room thing was a large factor in my stopping, especially the first time when it was already hard enough. How are people supporting breastfeeding when they walk into a room to find a mother nursing, then gasp in shock or horror, and beat a hasty retreat. This is not supportive.
How do we fix it?
More public breastfeeding.
Our children need to see it, our small sons need to see it and be told that’s normal, natural, and no big deal. Our daughters need to see it so that when it’s their turn they have an example to inspire them. Our grandparents need to see it, really SEE IT, and not feel uncomfortable. It’s not boobs on display, it’s just a hungry baby.
So ask yourself how supportive you really are. Ask yourself what kind of a world we live in when over-sexualised breasts are used to sell EVERYTHING, but breastfeeding can be considered offensive.
Let’s take the words “discreet” and “classy” off the table in relation to breastfeeding. Let’s bring back normal, beautiful, natural, and accepted. Let’s remember that it would be far easier for a mum in public to give her child a bottle. Let’s applaud every single one of them for daring to do what’s right.
Let’s stop talking. And continue feeding.