Sunday, 9 October 2011

The Boob and the Slap.

                             "Breastfeeding" by Tamara de Lempicka  

Breastfeeding is one of the many things I've failed at in my life. That's cool - I'm ok with it. Neither of my boys suffered, and I'll never forget the distinct relief both Max and I felt when he downed a whole bottle of formula in one go. He was hungry! I'd bought fenegreek and rested and pumped ... but no boob in the world could have kept up with that guy. He was a feeding machine. I got shamed in mothers group, which was annoying. All of the mums went around the circle giving me advice, trying to "help" ... until I said, "Actually, you know what? I've made my decision, and I wasn't really enjoying breastfeeding anyway."


I didn't last long in that group.

A breastfeeding mother is so vulnerable. When Rocco was about three weeks old I took both my guys down to a huge repulsive play centre. Max was six, Dave was sick at home, and I just wanted to do something different. As I sat on the couch quietly breastfeeding, with my long scarf draped over me, a woman came up to me and said, "Excuse me, how old is your baby?" I told her and she shook her head. She told me that he was too young to be out.

I couldn't defend myself, sitting there with my boob stuck in my infants mouth. I was bone tired, and just gave her the death stare to rival all other death stares. Nearby children cried, such was the dark energy of that death stare. About an hour later, I went to feed Rocco again and noticed this guy sat across from me. I had to stay where I was to keep an eye on Max ... this guy watched, intently, as I got Rocco to latch on. My face was burning. Thinking about it now I get angry. He was a weirdo, man. The look on his face was just pure lust. Like, I was starring in his own personal fetish porno. That's where the lines blur ... when people think that breastfeeding is sexual. It is not.

All mothers carry their breastfeeding stories with them. It's a hot button topic ... I never felt comfortable breastfeeding in public, and it was such a relief to whip out a bottle of formula instead. That's such a shame.

Last week I read THIS PIECE over on Babble Voices called "My Take on Breastfeeding: Just do it, but discreetly." The author got hammered for her opinions on covering up, both in the comments and on twitter, until the editors at Babble had to issue a statement that the views of their writers were not necessarily Babble's views as a whole. Then Babble got some cranky questioning, about "cutting their writer's adrift." It was all fascinating and I sat there silently reading it all, eating my popcorn, keeping my own views safely at bay.

I sat in a meeting just this morning, and a woman's teeny baby was squawking. So she breastfed, very discreetly. I watched a guy watch her and I wanted to punch him, but that's because of my own issues. It felt a bit odd to hear the *gulp* of the baby drinking her milk ... again, that is because of my own issues.

How can it be acceptable to buy your morning newspaper and milk from a shop that sells booby magazines that people don't bat an eye at ... but a slip of a nipple in public for a millisecond while a hungry baby drinks causes an uproar? It doesn't make sense.


Yesterday, I watched the first episode of an eight-part series called "The Slap." Based on the novel by Christos Tsiolkas, it "traces the shattering repercussions of a single event upon a group of family and friends." (You can see it HERE.) Beware: Even though his character leaves a lot to be desired, Jonathan LaPaglia is a HOT HOTTIE. Who knew Anthony had a brother?

Basically, a child gets a slap by an adult at a party. The controversial factor was supposed to be that the adult is not the child's parent. Yet inadvertently the controversial factor was that the child was still being breastfed at four years old. I haven't read the book, so I wondered how much of a character set-up the whole breastfeeding storyline was ... did the writers all sit around talking about ways to make the childs parents look bad? "I know ... let's make the mother STILL be breastfeeding!"

A lot of people think that four years old is too for a child to still be breastfeeding. A lot of people think that women should not breastfeed in public, and a lot of people will vehemently defend the rights of any type of breastfeeding, anywhere. I met Annie from PHD in Parenting at BlogHer this year, she presented THIS VIDEO called "Covering Up is a Feminist Issue" at the keynote. Sitting behind the stage, I watched it backwards ... to my horror, as the images of beautiful mothers with their beautiful babies doing the most natural thing in the world went on, I became aware of my own hidden prejudice and beliefs around breastfeeding in public. And I am a person who has breastfed in public!

Why is breastfeeding so controversial? Shouldn't we all direct our strong views on, say child hunger .. instead of child hunger being met in a completely natural way?



  1. Beautifully and powerfully said.

  2. I was one of those Mums who was still breastfeeding her 2 year old, in public, ready to punch the nearest pervert or prude and sneering at the bottle feeders.
    Now, I still love to see Mums and bubs feeding wherever and whenever necessary, I'm still ready to defend them from perverts and prudes .... but instead of sneering at the bottle feeders, I just think "good for them - they are doing what works for them .... and isn't that baby cute".

    ...and I watched part of "The Slap" and the thing that really made me feel uncomfortable??? the lust of a grown man for a teenage girl.

  3. Fuckin hell. I just wrote a detailed reply, and the computer ate it. Awesome.

    As I was saying (this time in short). What I would really like to know is what right do we as women think we have that allows us to judge, comment on in a negative fashion, pry (without warrant), or give unsolicited advice to another mother on the well being of HER child?! I know many, many of these ladies and as I've said to them as well - pathetic! How dare they.

    This is one topic that really gets my back up. Each mother is an individual, and therefore will raise their child individually, in what ever way they see fit as being bestsuited to their family at the time.

    Again, taking into account the above, what gives any mother a lesser power over her own child, due to judgement?!

    Pathetic, and these women should be ashamed of themselves. Tall poppy syndrome perhaps? Who knows. All I know is it's a shit gig.

    The sad reality of this very topic is just this. Judgement. Everywhere. By most mothers. & I say most, because out of all of the online communities I am a part of, I'm ashamed to say it really is the minority who won't judge should / when the circumstance arose.

  4. I struggled to breastfeed my first son and it was a relief for all of us when he started the bottle at 3 months. When I had twins there was so much pressure to breastfeed them and I was so overwhelmed at the fact there were 2 babies let alone having to breastfeed 2 babies. The lactation consultant took one look at me and said I didn't have enough milk so I was prescribed a drug that is used for nausea but they discovered it promotes milk production. So I took my tablets, pumped, breastfed, bottle fed and finally after a month decided that I would go mental if things stayed as they were. It pisses me off that people feel they have a right to judge your choice and it pisses me off more that I let them.

    A few years on and my children are neither grossly obese nor inviting illness due to the lack of mothers milk immunity and we survived. Just.

    I could care less about breastfeeding in public, if you want to get your bits out go for it. Still, having a cover to be discreet can make it more comfortable for everyone, except maybe the pervs.

  5. It's so tricky, isn't it? When we lived in Sydney, I was fortunate not to have had any dirty old men stare at me when I breastfed my eldest in public, and - due to the number of other mums I'd see doing the same - I was naive enough at the time to think it was a widely accepted practice. I was discreet, never tried to make it a political statement, but never shied away from it if my daughter was hungry and it was what she needed.

    Then I had #2, we moved to LA... and I stopped seeing women breastfeeding at parks, or in shopping centres (do new mothers stay only at home the first few months?). No one said 'breastfeeding'. No quiet spaces were set aside in the shopping centres for mothers to feed. Dirty old men glared at me. I began to feel, for the first time, society's disapproval of my actions. For feeding my child. That made me madder than you can imagine. And sad.

    I've been here 18 months now, and can still count on one hand the number of women I've seen breastfeeding in public - and they've usually had a Titty Tent, Hooter Hider... whatever you call those capes. It's a shame, I think.

    Now I'm rambling... but wanted to say, great post. I love your take on these things.

  6. i will admit that i found breastfeeding a 4 year old confronting and yes i find it confronting because it's not the "norm". would i breastfeed my own 4 year old child? no. do i care if someone else does breastfeed their 4 year old child? hell no. their child, their body, their choice.

    it really annoys me how quickly people come down on those who dare offer an opinion in the negative about breastfeeding in public. yes it's natural but the reality is, for some people, seeing a woman breastfeed in public makes them feel uncomfortable -they can't help how they feel and deriding them for their feelings doesn't help the situation.

    Guv finds it very uncomfortable being around women who are breastfeeding in public - he's not a creep, an idiot with no idea or an ill informed "man", he just feels uncomfortable when he sees it and that's his right, just like it's a mothers right to feed their child how they see fit.

    everyone is entitled to their opinion and slinging mean, nasty, personal, totally irrelevant insults, at people who DO NOT AGREE with YOURS, is uncalled for and doesn't help your argument at all and this is what happens when the breastfeeding in public [and extended breastfeeding] debate comes up and it happens time after time and it really weakens BOTH sides of the debate because when you start taking the low road and insulting people in an effort to win the argument, people only see those insults and any valid comments you may have made about your side of the debate are immediately forgotten.

    great post as always!

  7. Oh, and I'm sorry that you had such a judgemental mothers group. That's awful. Mothers groups can be a great source of support, but when they're not, they're toxic. What business is it of anyone wether you bottle feed or not? x

  8. Oh boobies. My religion teacher in highschool said that if our hidden organs were out in public when god created humans, it wouldn't be an issue.

    I never had issues from people while I was breastfeeding in public. Not sure why. Maybe because I'm a big asian woman who could look like I could kill you if I sat on your face -- all while still breastfeeding.

  9. I totally sucked at breastfeeding as well, and also wanted to comment on the pervy man issue. once when I was very pregnant I was in a maternity shop trying a top on. The curtain of the change room was one of those ones that was not quite wide enough to reach both sides at the same time. I happened to glance up to see someones husband/partner watching me dress almost with an air of entitlement….like it was a free show. EEEEeewwww! Sometimes males just make my stomach turn.

  10. CARLA ... now I want to punch my pervy guy AND your pervy guy. That is so wrong.

    MummyK I laughed out loud at your comment!

    Stinkbomb I concur with everything you said. You are right - sometimes, breastfeeding does make a man feel uncomfortable in public. NOT because he's a perve, just ... because. I get that.

  11. Ah, the breastfeeding bullies ... and the anti-breastfeeding bullies. Sympathies Eden.

    The book has the child breastfeeding for an extended period, so the scriptwriters were kind of stuck with that one. The book uses the extended breastfeeding to symbolise the mother's lack of boundaries, self-control and discipline. One of my mates says she thinks, as the author is a gay man, into the most rough, tough and masculine sex out there, the depiction of a boy being breast fed for an extended period actually says a lot about what the author feels about women. The boob is emasculating the boy ...

    Phooey to that. Bubbas need love and nourishment. If your boobs can do it, brilliant, if not, we live in a first world country with safe and clean water and the best formulas science can deliver. And there are a lot more ways to fuck up a child than simply breastfeeding them :)

  12. I've had people gawk. When I had Bluey Mr Balcs best mate used to always come find me when I was breastfeeding him and sit and talk to me, and sometimes inappropraitely like talk about milk flavourings and stuff. I am sure he meant to joke around but it was really....weird, and made me want to just hurry up and finish.

    I get annoyed that women have to feel embarrassment over feeding their children. I've been on both the bottle feeding and breastfeeding sies of the fence, they both cop it. I actually was made to feel more disgusting breastfeeding, but I know people who have had different experiences.
    I used to feed Greenie in public a lot. I've NEVER covered up and I've actually spoken up to people who have made ridiculous comments, but I rarely got any comments it was the looks or "lack of looks" like I was disgusting, but those same people would have had something to say if there were a bottle in his mouth. You know?
    I just don't see why people care so much! Really who gives a flying fuck the baby is being fed, it's not maccas coke, so just leave it and be happy that baby isn't screaming.

  13. Deardarl, your comment made me go back and edit my post. I added "though LaPaglia's character leaves a lot to be desired" ... because YES, that made my skin crawl too.

    Siobhain - wow. It really is hard work, isn't it? I went on Maxolon with Rocco, to increase me supply. At 2am I was wired, crazy, tripping out and thinking I had spiders in my hair. He went on to formula the next morning.

    MJ, what is it with dirty old men and watching women feed in public? IT'S DISGUSTING. And sadly, it's probably played out across the world, every single day.

  14. Nicole, thank you for commenting even after your comment was eaten. I *hate* when that happens. And you are sadly right, it's often other mothers who are the most judgiest. Take a walk in my furry Foxy Long Uggboots, other mothers.

    Miss Pink, I want to punch your hubbies friend. Hard.

    Naomi - that is FASCINATING. Wow ... thanks for telling me it was in the book. A very passive way of getting your personal view across as an author, I suspect.

  15. I too am a breastfeeding failure - I attempted to starve all three of my children at the hands of "well-meaning" advice. I think it's important that we speak up because myth will have it that breastfeeding is easy. Truth is it's not. Those who don't "succeed" just end up boosting their parenthood guilt trip.

  16. Nikki that is so bloody true. Breastfeeding for me was just ridiculously hard, painful, sore, teary, bloody. Other mothers in my position would have gritted their teeth and gotten through it ... I've heard a rumour it gets better.

    I am not an other mother. I am me, and I could not do it.

    And the sight of those bottles all laid out on the bench at night, made up with formula and sterilised and everything? SUCH A RELIEF.

  17. Oh for god's sake ... please just publish a book already!

    You have THE most AMAZING way with words.

    I've not yet posted about my breastfeeding experience, but, it was ... an epic fail.

    And fucked with my head big time.

    My baby is now 10 months old, & I still suffer with guilt in regards to how badly I failed.

    Le sigh.

  18. I breastfed my son till he was 4. I am still feeding my nearly 4 year old daughter today. My son is ten and just the same as any other 10 year old boy. I did not see the show, but now I will. I have breastffed my kids all over the world. I hate the perverts too!

    I have never judged anyone on their breastfeeding stance ever . And I would never expect anyone to about me. But there are some nasty pastys out there.

    I just don't get it.

  19. Oh Cherie ...hon, as much as I tell you to give yourself a break and forgive yourself, you'll still probably do head miles over it.

    When I had my first baby, I honestly had no idea how hard it could be. One of the hardest things I (tried) to do, ever. I would have loved to have done ot for at least a year: Max was six weeks, Rocco was four weeks. X

  20. Oh nothing changes. At all. Nothing.
    Judging women. Mostly women..who DARES tell another mum "you shouldn't be out with a baby that young"
    I am an "old lady" now, and I give any mum a look, a smile, even offer a word or two if it seems like her world with her bubba, toddler. 5 yo whatever is "not working at that time"
    I am over it. I was judged. Yep. 32 years ago.
    I was a failure at Bf child one (40 years ago) but by jingo I "was going to do it all properly" with number 2 who eventually came along. And I did, because I knew a bit more. But I also knew that I HAD to go back to work (financially & mental health wise) so when it was time to do that - only full time options then - the 'mothers who didn't work but did breasted' had NFI (and I don't swear) how "on earth" I could even DO that.
    I did.
    Taught a great class. Year 1. Began preparation for promotion the next year.
    Had a baby staying with a wonderful family day care mum who was on my way to school. Breastfed boy am, and pm, and in between expressed. Eventually comp-fed during the day...with bottle of soy milk/
    Until he was 8 months.
    Now, I am not saying this as a "Badge of Breastfeeding" mumma. I'm just saying that's what worked for me, and him, and our family.
    The Slap.
    Couldn't read past chapter one. Swearing. More than anything it was that. So, tonight on Compass on ABC1 I believe Christos is being interviewed.
    Probably watch that.
    THAT is my 5c worth....

  21. "My Take on Breastfeeding: Just do it, but discreetly." I agree with that view.

    Breastfeeding is completely natural. There's no need to cover it up and hide, however it's my opinion that you do need to be classy about it. "Discreet" doesn't mean "cover up shamefully". It means "discreet". I was in a store a couple of weeks ago. A small, cramped store with narrow aisles. A woman was breastfeeding her child while in the store looking at the merchandise. She had taken her whole arm out of her shirt, shirt over her shoulder, pulled her bra down and was holding the child with one arm, her breast dangling down into the his mouth. She was squeezing past other customers, facing TOWARD them not away from them. Her bare breast was inches away from other people. That is not discreet.

    Maybe it's a "fine line". But, personally, I don't think so. I think it's pretty clear what's appropriate in public and what isn't.

  22. I'm still haunted by my own breastfeeding failure 3 years on. Once I was in an elevator with my then 3mth old and an older lady. She was all goos & gaa's over my son and the suddenly asked me if I was breastfeeding him. When I managed to mumble an embarrassed no, with face flaming in failure, she uttered a terse "shame" and literally turned her back on me.

    The minute I was clear of the lift I sobbed my heart out. She never bothered to ask why, but just chose to judge. It hurt almost as much as childbirth.

  23. Breastfeeding! Will this issue ever go away.

    I was one of those really lucky ones, my babies came out and started feeding and never seemed to stop for a full year. I had enough milk to be the wet nurse for the entire hospital. Sure I had mastitis and the usual pains at the start from over feeding babies, but really I had nothing to complain about. And guess what - NO ONE at mothers group wants to hear that. So I silently sat back and fed my babies, I was rarely discreet, didn't bother thinking about that, was probably too tired to care.

    The thing is, I am not allowed to help or give advice as I am considered one of those 'who wouldn't know what it's like'. I don't know what it is like to bottle feed a child, but I do know what it is like to do anything, anything at all to get a baby to stop crying and if that had meant a bottle of formula I would have walked barefoot in the rain and hail to get me some of that stuff.

    As for the Slap, the show doesn't show the true characteristics of the mother (from the book), she is a nutter who annoys everyone and really the Slap should have been for her. (Well, not really as I don't condone violence against anyone, but maybe a good talking to about how horrid her child was would be a start.)

    Oh dear, have written a blog post...oppps

  24. I started ranting in my comment and had to move it on over to my place:

  25. I am reading this in the middle of the night, typing one handed, while breastfeeding. Therefore, I am half asleep and probably won't make sense. I really don't understand why any mother gives a rats ass what any other mother feeds their child. I am too tired and overwhelmed with my own life to care if you feed your kid boobs, formula, or farcking peacock milk.
    I breastfed the Nate meister until he was over 2, and only quit to start meds to try for a second. THe first 6 months were hell on a stick, i suffered every breastfeeding issue a person can suffer. I think the only reason i kept at it was that after 2 losses and the IVF process was that i was determined that my stupid body was going to do SOMETHING correctly. But that was my own mental fucked upedness and I stared at many a formula feeding Momma with jealousy.
    I am breastfeeding Ellie...but I decided ahead of time that if it was like the hell that was Nate, I would quit and go straight to bottle and anyone that didn't like that would have to kiss my exhausted ass. Luckily, this time around was easy as pie, so we are still going, but man i hate the night feedings.
    And, I don't enjoy breastfeeding in public whatsoever. Not because i think women shouldn't ...but because I have huge juggly jiggle fleshy floppy beastly massive boobs, and getting one of those things out and getting my poor wee daughter latched on discreetly is like trying to lasso an octopus with no one noticing.
    I just realized i have no point.
    I am tired.
    Breastfeeding is ok, bottles are ok, just get the kid fed. And love the little whippersnapper. Love. That is what the kid needs.
    Ta da.

  26. Am I arrogant when I say I do not care what or how you feed your kids, as long as you feed them?

  27. I think breastfeeding is not controversioal because of the potential for nipples, but because it is a bodily function. The breasts seen on boobzines mostly look really artificial (size doesn't matter), firm and round and at attention, so they are more like - I don't know, a toy? A piece of art? Whereas to many people I know, breastfeeding in public somehow equals taking a dump on stage. (Which, I think, is a ridiculous opinion, but in modern democracies everybody is entitled to their own stupidity and narrowmindedness.)

    Some people I know couldn't breastfeed. Others didn't want to. Still others continued to breastfeed their children till way into kindergarten (and haven't stopped yet). There os so much controversy going around on what is good for the children that it appears no one has thought about the mothers. Doing something you hate because others say, "It's good for your child" cannot be healthy, and I am pretty sure the child will register the negative emotions. So - as long as mother and child are healthy and well, every way of feeding a child is fine with me. I know my own choices, but I also know that they may not necessarily work out as assumed.

  28. I am pro-breastfeeding but know it's not for everyone. It's the same as me being pro-choice; it doesn't mean I think every woman should go out a procure a hasty abortion.

    I've had an interesting breastfeeding journey. The staph infection in my nipple was quite memorable, as was the massive oversupply which meant I got to donate milk to sick premmies. I'm still going cos Tricky likes boobs.

    I could care less how people choose to feed their children... they're not mine, why should I care?

  29. Our mothers group used to meet at a cafe and I remember this old guy staring at one of the mother's as she got her boob out and I sort of couldn't believe it, he was managing to put a sandwich in his mouth at the same time too - uuugggghhh - vom! I think my previous piece on JustB (not the one about the Slap) about all men being pornstars is most appropriate here!
    BTW I loved how you captured the multi-faceted road that is feeding - and the guilt thing I saw so many girls in such anguish over BF difficulties. If it works without all the issues you just thank your lucky stars and shut up, not judge. Nicole x

  30. I rarely feed my kid in public (and now that she's on solids I hardly need to now), but when I do I don't look at anyone. I don't want the glares or pervy looks. I can't see them if I don't look! I'm discreet and don't do it where people are eating. If anyone asked me what or how I was feeding her I'd answer "milk". y'all don't need to know any more than that.

  31. Breastfeeding nightmare with #1. Got a guzzler for #2 which I ended up not being able to keep up with. Bizarrely, I lived in Spain for a few years and used to bounce around the beach topless, but would cover up when I was breastfeeding. Although to be fair, when I lived in Spain it was pre-kids and my boobs bounced around all perky-like instead of swinging around like cricket balls in socks. Which is what they do now. Thanks to the Guzzler.

  32. Rex, I'll be really interested to hear your take on it when you watch it. And good ON you for the breastfeeding! I can't imagine my boobs working like that!

    Donna, I really wish I had been standing next to you when that lady in the lift said that. You sweetheart ... what a low blow. X

    Clairey, I adored your blog post comment and commend you on having such awesome breasts. Really - I'm not even jealous. Some women can just do it and do it well. And thanks for shedding light on the mother's character, interesting.

    Tinsenpup - Imma make my way over there in five!

    KateyPie, seeing a comment from here was like ... eating a seventy dollar hamburger in the New Your Hilton with a beautiful friend who makes you laugh and feel warm. DelaWHERE?? I love you, and I remember turning to you last year saying, let's meet up next year and you were all, well hopefully I can't coz I'll have a baby by then. AND YOU COULDN'T COZ YOU HAD A BABY BY THEN.

  33. Denyse - ADORED your comment! And, I proudly bestow upon you a Breastfeeding Badge of Honour, because that takes dedication. Especially "back in the day." Well done, mama.

    Megan - see, I agree with you. My husband came home once really offended about a woman who was at a park with him and some friends ... she was breastfeeding but just sat there and left her boob hanging out of her top, so her daughter could just run up, suck on it, then run off. I would have found it offputting too.

    Nicole - GROSS! It's disturbing, how many "pervy guy stories" are coming out of the woodwork!

    Diandra - yes. "Doing something you hate because others say ... It's good for your child .. cannot be healthy." When I knew I had to wean Rocco I felt so bad, and so guilty. But when it was done? I had my body back, and seemed to be able to look after him better. Which was sorely needed, as Dave was so, so sick at that time. Took a lot of pressure off. Thank you for commenting.

    Glow - go you! Feeding all the prems ... wow. I hardly had any drops for anyone. Boobs are so different.

  34. xoxoxoxoox
    guess what? i am one handed again because I have my floppy boob out again! fun!
    i thought of two instances when i was judgy about women not breastfeeding. it isn't right to be judgy, but i was.

    1.) the woman who told me "I won't be breastfeeding because my boobs are for my husband only." Am I the only one who finds that wicked creepy??
    2.) the women that told me "ew, I just don't understand breastfeeding, it is so unnatural". ????????????????? because formula is the natural choice, i assume? confusing.

    Your thoughts?
    ps - nyc next year?? burgers are my treat.

  35. It's weird, isn't it? How it conjures up OPINIONS in the first place. FFS. It's just milk. It's just boobs. It's just babies and milk and boobs. It's not something that even needs discussing at the end of the day. First-world chit chat (actually, I hate that 'First-World' business, so sorry about that).

    Letting it all hang out there is up to the individual woman, I guess. I preferred to cover up (I didn't always breastfeed - my babies had other ideas). I suppose people get all funny about it because it's...


    And babies.

    And that's kinda weird in our society at the end of the day. Boobs are so sexualised here. We even fake them up to get them sexier.

    Men aren't used to boobs being unsexual, so it's hard for them to be able to make the distinction. I get that. It's pervy beyond belief, but I do get it.


  36. Really enjoyed your post, Eden and the discussion that follows.

    I had b/f problems with both boys. Managed to last about 4 months with each and was relieved to move onto formula. I was never comfortable feeding in public, I tried to cover up with a wrap or hide in parents' rooms.

    Mostly, I think our society is stuffed and has some crazy notions. Seriously considering becoming a Buddhist nun when my kids leave home...

  37. Because the MINUTE we fall pregnant the whole thing becomes a competition:
    - how bad the morning sickness
    - how bad the heartburn
    - how long the labour
    - drugs? no drugs
    - breastfeeding - how long?
    - sleeping through the night
    - eating solids
    - toilet training
    - first words
    - crawling
    - walking
    - reading
    - writing
    and on and on it goes.

    It's the dark underbelly of human nature - the need to compete, the need to be better than someone else, the need to be FIRST.

    And it shits me to tears.

    Where, as a society, has our kindness gone? Our sense of helping each other rather than judging? Our fundamental belief that no-one should get left behind?

    Now it's dog eat dog and if you so much as swerve off the thick white line we're trudging along may the wrath of the masses rain down upon you.

    Wow, aren't I the snarky cynical one all of a sudden.

  38. Love the post, Eden. I've breastfed both my kids but #1 was hell on earth for the first 3 months. It's something I really wanted to do but I can fully appreciate why others bottle feed instead. Really I just think it's more important to do what is healthiest for bub (and what is most healthy for bub is having a healthy, happy mama there to love them).
    What really pisses me off are those people who think they can ask people personal questions like "are they are good baby?" (Read: are you a good mother?) or "are you breastfeeding?". None of their business. I suggest everyone starts replying "who was the last person to suck your nipples?". It's personal right? MYOB judgemental stranger!

  39. Ha! We were just talking about someone the other night who is the authority on breastfeeding although she only did it for 2 weeks with her one child. She would answer questions meant for others like she had some kind experience - with second children, with pumping, with working. Like someone above said - I don't care how you feed your child, as long as you feed your child.

    On the other hand, it does make me cringe to see 4 year olds drinking Mountain Dew (not sure if they sell that in Australia, but it's the next best thing to an energy drink - loads of sugar and caffeine). Why? And please don't follow that up with complaining about how your kid is out of control.

    As far as breastfeeding in public - it makes me kind of uncomfortable to see someone's boobs in any context. But I also don't want to see your husband's hand in your pants, or any kissing with tongue. I'm a prude, I guess.

  40. Wow. This is one of those topics that digs up a lot of emotions. It also sheds light on how dangerous, and divisive, it can be to take the high ground.

    I know that breastfeeding in public can be uncomfortable (and even sometimes, ick, exciting) to many people. The reason that many mothers (and other supporters) find this problematic is that it is basically sentencing new mothers who do choose to breastfeed to house arrest. The theory is that if we could bring it out of the shadows on a massive scale then we would all be so used to it as just another part of life that it would be normal.

    I also think that if we were more open with the topic, we would also be more understanding of all the difficulties that can arise to prevent successful breastfeeding.

  41. Why is breastfeeding so controversial?

    I am with Kim on this one - it seems that mothering and parenting in general can be controversial becasue its competitive and because its important. Important and consonsuming gets attention & fervour.

    I felt the "breast is best" brigade when my three were little babies.

    I would suggest, actually, that a "well hydrated baby" is best.

    And if were were all as gentle on each other as we aim to be with our babies, the world would be nice place...


  42. To add to my other comment above I just wanted to say. I saw a old historic photo of an about 3 year old child breasfeeding. No, we don't live like that anymore, so it's really hard to balance our world now to fit in the demands of breastfeeding. It's so hard. Most of these cultures walked around with no tops on anyway! Our world has changed drastically over time so that something that is Ment to be natural come with so many issues.. I had my own issues too. I am no hero cause I breast fed my children so long, but I am also no freak. It was still hard and it worked for me. To many negative opinions on each other is what will bring us down. But I am concerned for the next generation of women, what are we showing them? What pressures are we putting on them?

    I never thought I would share this much out here, like this. Thanks Eden xo

  43. Jesus Christ! Writting comments on your iPod touch should be banned! I Ment a to say ' aboriginal child' breast feeding!

  44. I remember sitting on a shopping centre bench when Amy was a few months old and breastfeeding. I had no issues feeding in public and it didn't bother me. However, about 5 minutes into the feed, a security guard walked up and positioned himself about 3 metres away, facing me.

    I still can't work out if his look was a look of concern that people might bother me, or if he wanted to ask me to leave. It was one of the most intensly uncomfortable things and nothing about feeding in public made me uncomfortable. I think it was the scrutiny.

    Nathan came back from getting our hot drinks about 10 minutes after that and Amy finished feeding shortly thereafter, but I can still remember how awkward it was and remember thinking that if this is what other women went through regularly, no wonder no one wanted to feed in public. Luckily it was a one off thing for me and it didn't bother me too much.

    Or, there is the other time that Amy was SCREAMING and I was rushing to find a seat to sit down, while also patting her back and unclipping my bra. I sat down and in one movement had her lying down, my top up and her feeding. Three second job, max (I was good at it by then) and as I did it, a group of teenage boys walked past. One of them freaked out and as they kept walking I could hear him saying "HOLY FUCK YOU GUYS, I just saw that girls NIPPLE". I think it might have been the highlight of his day. I still laugh about that, because really, I had no modesty left. I used to sunbathe topless as often as I could while breastfeeding, because why the fuck not?

    (Apparently, I am introverted, right up until it comes to babies and breasts and then I don't give a fuck who sees what. I'm a little weird.)

    I do think that all women needs to do what feels right for them, in their gut. And everyone else needs to leave mothers with babies alone, to do whatever works best, without judging, or giving assvice.

  45. I breastfed both my kids, in fact I've only just weaned my younger child at 19 months (still feeling a bit sad about this, but that's life and he's doing just fine).

    I once had a staring man, too, in a city cafe. Luckily he was metres away which made it easier to ignore him. Still, I find it difficult to see how someone can just stare (except for small children, who are just curious).

    A friend of mine has two children and for medical reasons is physically unable to breastfeed at all. She had a hard time explaining that to the midwives at the hospital though. They thought she was being defeatist and 'giving up' so they gave her a pep talk aimed at encouraging her to try again: "Lots of women feel they can't do it, but everyone can!" No, actually, my friend really CAN'T. Time to move on.

    BTW I've just found your blog and I love the way you write. I find myself nodding in agreement, or laughing, or discovering more and more things that you've experienced in common with me (like a husband in remission from cancer). Keep up the good work :)

  46. When I had my eldest many years ago my milk was on the wane and advice from nursing mothers was drink a bottle of stout.. problem, I think they meant a stubby and hubby bought a long neck, well, the baby slept all night and so did I..... didn't put her on the bottle for ages....

  47. When I had my eldest many years ago my milk was on the wane and advice from nursing mothers was drink a bottle of stout.. problem, I think they meant a stubby and hubby bought a long neck, well, the baby slept all night and so did I..... didn't put her on the bottle for ages....

  48. Thank you for the shout out and for the great post.

    Unfortunately, this is only one of many issues on which mothers are judged. Mothers are judged so often that even when they are not being judged, they assume that they are. I wish I knew how to make it end.

  49. Eden I don't think it's about breastfeeding or smacking or any of the 16 million other things parents come under scrutiny for everyday. I think it's the whole concept of perfect parenting that sucks. All parents know how bloody hard and not always wonderful and rewarding the job can be. What we should accept is that in any circumstance at any point in time the parent you are watching and making a snap judgement on based on that 30 second insight into their lives is doing the BEST THEY CAN at tha particular point in time! The majority of parents out there want to do a good job. We should all give up on the concept of being the "perfect" parent and get on with being the best damn parent we can be.

  50. I'm a big advocate of being able to breastfeed in public without a cover. I like to be as discreet as possible but most babies don't like a cover over their head. I know, weird.

    But you only have to look at these comments to see how polarising breastfeeding is, which is kind of what disappointed me so much about the twitter response when I was watching the Slap. So much disgust. I don't know why people can't just shrug and say 'not something I'm comfortable with' without it going to that place. And I kind of wish I'd waited to blog my rant about it because after all of this discussion, there's still so much to say.

  51. I've breastfed all my kids, but if it hadn't of worked out, I'd be happy to give them a bottle. With my first, I was shamed by my mothers grop for *still* breastfeeding at 10 months, & because I was young & stupid I weaned her. With my second, I went back to work after 4 months & copped shit from the childless barbie dolls I worked with for 'abandoning' my baby. The youngest wouldn't wean until he was 2 yrs & 2 months, I ended up going cold turkey which worked really well, but copped shit from LOTS of people over a-feeding him too long, & b-weaning *too harshly*. It is astonishing that everyone has an opinion on something that is so individual. And creepy weirdos! Ugh. Once I caught our neighbours friend looking over the back fence at me while I breastfed, talk about feeling violated. THESE are the people that need a bloody slap.
    I love your writng, Eden, you are a slice of fucking reality. xxx

  52. I had a woman rudely chastise me when I was bottle feeding our first son. She went on and on about the health benefits blah, blah. I couldn't wait for her to finish to tell her he was ADOPTED. I thought that would shut her up...Oh, no, not her. She then started about how I should have begun medication months earlier (cuz you know you always have lots of notice when you are adopting--three days in our case) and then I would have been able to produce milk. I wanted to stick my boob in her mouth just to shut her up.
    Second son, (via birth) Ichose not to Bfeed because husband would be helping me with bottles...HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, oh, I crack myself up. I don't know if he fed him 5 times total. By the third son, I Bfed just because I didn't want to haul my lazy ass to the kitchen in the middle of the night.

  53. Breastfeeding or not is such a personal decision and should not be judged by anyone. Period.

    By the way, did you get my tweet telling you I quoted you in a post (JenAnnHall)?

    I hope the more you and me and others write about stuff like this, the less of an issue it will be.

  54. I had to nurse until my children were 3 yrs old, because of their food allergies.
    I will not tell you the harsh judgments on me for this.

    I was just trying to keep my children ALIVE!

  55. I love breastfeeding for many reasons, mostly because I know of the benefits for my child, but to be honest lately I have been struggling and trying to deal with my guilt I feel each day in wanting to give it up and head straight for the bottle.

    I have to give myself the lecture and pep talk to stay with it.
    It is just so tiring, and my life is so hectic that I know it will be easier to go on teh bottle and get help from those around me. I spend a lot of time out and about and get tired of having to discreetly breastfeed.
    Sometimes I just whack her on and think to fuck with anyone who thinks anything bad of it. My child is hungry and that is priority, I dont' care who sees my boobies.

    At the end of the day every mother has to do what is best for her otherwise she can't be a happy mummy which only affects our children.
    To hell with anyone else. As I say their opinion of me is none of my business!
    Great post Eden

  56. I was a breastfeeding goddess with my first child, sobbed with pain when she gave up at fourteen months. I was horrible to know. One of 'those' mothers. I look back now and I can see it so clearly.

    The second kid, not so much. Just as the first one was easy, the second one was HARD. I nearly gave up so many times.

    Just because the first one works, don't mean the second one is gonna.

    I realised (much later in my life than I would have wanted) that I was a judgemental cow and now, when some poor woman is feeding her baby formula, telling me 'I tried really hard, I really really did' she doesn't need me to say 'You should try harder'. She needs me to say (in the nicest possible way) 'That's your baby, you do what's right for you and for him'.

    Ultimately, cloth or disposable, dummy or not, breast or bottle - as long as your child is happy and loved - surely that's all that matters.

    One of the best things I ever saw was a lady walking around the supermarket, breastfeeding her baby while she shopped. I'd have loved her confidence and her ability.

    And the whole extended breastfeeding? Good for them. None of my business regardless but good for them.


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