Just some quick updates to the great breastfeeding debate of ’14. I think the most noteworthy thing about the hundred or so comments it inspired was how friendly and respectful all the disagreers were. I didn’t have to delete a single comment.
I love that about you guys. That we can disagree, passionately, about important things. And not get mean.
Thank you so much for that.
When I write a content-type post, I almost always sit on it for a day or two. I reread it. I ask the husband to look at it. I want it to say what I mean, and be free from spelling and grammatical errors, and be funny if at all possible, and not be hurtful or offensive.
I did that with this post. But, unfortunately, I have heard from multiple people whose opinion I respect that I came across to some folks as judgmental and unkind and that my stance might be damaging to women who are struggling with body image or are having a difficult time nursing. That I was shaming women.
That was certainly not my intent. My intent was to describe my own personal journey. I am an advocate for breastfeeding. I am an advocate for public breastfeeding. And yet, I’m not comfortable with “top-down” nursing. Even though I think nursing is good and normal. As I tried to process why that was, I realized that I have a standard of modesty for myself and I prefer to and am able to maintain that standard even while nursing. So I do. And I wanted to tell you why and how.
Do I think everyone should agree with me? Sure. Absolutely I do. That’s why I have a blog. But I don’t have an expectation that everyone will. And I won’t love you less if you don’t.
The comment section was overwhelmingly a discussion of whether breasts are rightly considered sexual. I was involved in that discussion. It was an interesting exercise. But, really, the more I’ve thought about it, the more it really doesn’t have anything at all to do with what I’m talking about.
I certainly don’t cover while nursing because I fear that anyone will think it’s sexy. I just do it to try to be polite. I think that’s the word I was searching for. Not dignity, which, of course, every mother has. Not even really modesty, although that is part of my personal motivation. But modesty is predominantly concerned with intent, and while some women do appear to be breastfeeding in an attention seeking way, I doubt that that applies to anyone who reads my blog or that I know in my Catholic homeschool mama circles.
It’s just me trying to be polite. I know that I don’t even always do a perfect job. Sometimes I forget a cover or scarf and have to make do. Sometimes my baby is wiggly and a scarf is no match for her. But I make the attempt because I think it’s good manners. That’s why I do it.
Also brought to my attention was the fact that I was flippant about the fact that nursing is easy for me, but it isn’t easy for everyone, and that my post could be potentially very discouraging for mothers who are having a hard time.
I do not want this blog to be a discouraging place. I do have an easy time. Now. And, while I had a hard time for the first few weeks with my first baby and a surprisingly rough start to nursing this go round, I’ve probably had an easier time than most women. I’ve also been very fortunate to be literally surrounded by other nursing moms at the park every Friday. Nursing, and public nursing, has seemed very normal to me since I’ve been a part of this particular community.
I wish every mom could have the same type of support system. If you don’t, I encourage you to try to find it. It makes a huge difference.
If you are struggling, I’m so sorry. Probably it will get better. But maybe it won’t, and that will be okay too. If you were offended or discouraged by what I wrote, I’m sorry.
Anyway, I’ve decided not to edit the original post, except for the title, because while I may have stated it clumsily, it’s still what I think. I hope this clears up my intent.
And, if I may, I would like to state for the record that if it ever appears to you that I have meant to shame or humiliate or be condescending toward you . . . it was not intentional. I meant to be supportive and encouraging and funny. And that last one is probably what did me in.