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Society is creepy (not breastfeeding)

The lactivist community is up in arms over an editorial by Kathryn Blundell that appeared in the UK magazine Mother and Baby. The editorial, called I formula-fed. SO WHAT? is a personal rant by a woman who chose not to breastfeed.  When I read it, it immediately made me think of two other articles that I've read. The first is Katrina Onstad's article Breastfeeding Sucks in the Canadian women's magazine Chatelaine. The other one is Hanna Rosin's infamous article The Case Against Breastfeeding that was published in the US magazine The Atlantic (which I responded to here and here).

What all three of these articles have in common is that they describe the societal pressure to breastfeed and include a woman's explanation of why she didn't want to breastfeed. They all focus on bullies (real or imagined) that make women feel bad for formula feeding.  Where they differ is that while Katrina Onstad managed to talk about the horrors of her breastfeeding experience and candidly discuss implications of bad breastfeeding advice and sometimes insensitive mother-blaming forms of lactivism, she never comes to the conclusion (as the other two do), that breastfeeding doesn't really matter.

When looked at objectively, breastfeeding does matter. The health outcomes of breastfed children and breastfeeding mothers are better. There is no doubt about that. When looked at subjectively, within the lens of any individual mother's decision about how to feed her child, breastfeeding may not win out. While I think each mother has the right to decide how to feed her child, I do think that there are way too many societal barriers to breastfeeding and those barriers are what keeps breastfeeding rates much lower than they should be.

One of my beefs with Kathryn's editorial is that it was peppered with breastfeeding myths. If women believe the things that she believes, it is no wonder that so many of them choose not to breastfeed. She said that she "also wanted to give my boobs at least a chance to stay on my chest rather than dangling around on my stomach", perpetuating the myth that breastfeeding makes your breasts sag (not true at all). She also questions whether some women who didn't breastfeed did it because they "felt like getting tipsy once in awhile."  If a breastfeeding mom really wants to get drunk once in a while, she should get a babysitter (because caring for your kids when you are tipsy is not a good idea whether you are breastfeeding or formula feeding) and pump and dump until the alcohol is out of her system (to maintain supply and avoid plugged ducts - pumping and dumping doesn't remove the alcohol, only time does). Or if she just wants a drink or two here and there, she can do that safely while breastfeeding. A fact checker, even for editorials, is pretty important in my opinion (as I previously told Margaret Wente and the Globe and Mail).

But the biggest problem I had with the article was her characterization of breastfeeding as creepy. One of the biggest societal barriers to breastfeeding is the attitude among much of the public that breastfeeding is creepy. This is why women are constantly told to go nurse in the bathroom or to cover up. It is why women are embarrassed to feed their babies in public and feel like they need to hide at home or in their car or take a bottle with them when they go out. Our society doesn't see breastfeeding as something that is natural and normal. Our society sees sexualized breasts as natural and normal. So attitudes like this one expressed by Kathryn Blundell in her editorial are not surprising:

They’re part of my sexuality, too – not just breasts, but fun bags.

And when you have that attitude (and I admit I made no attempt to change it), seeing your teeny, tiny, innocent baby latching on where only a lover has been before feels, well, a little creepy.

What if Kathryn had seen just as many breasts feeding babies as she had seen in sexualized imagery in her lifetime? Would she feel the same way? I don't blame Kathryn for thinking that breastfeeding is creepy. I blame society. But as an editor of a major publication she has, in my opinion, a greater responsibility than simply sharing her story. I think she has the responsibility to try to change how breasts are perceived. I think that her personal account, within a larger story about why the way breasts are perceived in society needs to change, would have been appropriate. But I think that her personal account, in an editorial about why formula feeding is fine, is damaging because it perpetuates and legitimizes the perspective that breastfeeding is creepy.

Breastfeeding may not be for everyone. But breastfeeding is not creepy. Our society is creepy for thinking that breastfeeding is creepy.

Image credit: scariepants on flickr

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Reader Comments (110)

thanks for the great article. i wanted to respond to one part

"If a breastfeeding mom really wants to get drunk once in a while, she should get a babysitter (because caring for your kids when you are tipsy is not a good idea whether you are breastfeeding or formula feeding) and pump and dump until the alcohol is out of her system. Or if she just wants a drink or two here and there, she can do that safely while breastfeeding"

because this is actually in error as well. it is not necessary to pump and dump after consuming alcohol. alcohol leaves your breastmilk at the same rate it leaves your bloodstream. pumping and dumping will accomplish nothing, except wasted time and effort.

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLyla

actually, i need to add on to my previous comment - if you are away from your baby for very long, then you should pump to maintain supply (depending on the age of your baby), so maybe that is what you meant.

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLyla


Yes - I meant that the mom should pump and dump both to maintain supply and to avoid getting plugged ducts (which can turn into a nasty mastitis infection).

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

yes, that makes sense, i just think there is a lot of misunderstanding about how alcohol is processed in the milk compartment, so it bears clarification. :)

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLyla

I haven't read the article (and not sure I'm up to doing so anytime soon -- I don't really need to get pissed off yet again right now), but I've been uncomfortable with a lot of the lactivist reactions to it. Why? Because http://www.raisingmyboychick.com/2009/07/on-breastfeeding-and-things-we-dont-talk-about/" rel="nofollow">I'm someone who gets uncomfortably sexual feelings while breastfeeding. Honestly, now that the Boychick has weaned (which he did at a bit shy of three years), I don't much like looking at/thinking about explicit breastfeeding photos (not like the one in this post), because they make me uncomfortable. I don't think they're wrong (they're not!), or aren't beautiful (they are!), or are sexual (they aren't) -- it's simply that I have a strong tactile memory, and the feelings they evoke in my body are not pleasant.

Which 1) is my issue, and IN NO WAY should be used to shame or discourage women from breastfeeding, and breastfeeding wherever they may be, and 2) is society's issue, because while I think breasts are sexual, the way I feel and how I use them in my sex life is highly societally influenced.

So I'm frustrated by this whole conversation, because I want to honor Blundell's feelings, am really angry at her perpetuation of harmful myths, am annoyed by lactivists who don't acknowledge that there's something real there (one tweet I saw simply called her "disgusting" -- am I, then, also? or did I earn a free pass because I breastfed anyway?), and am SO frustrated that we could be having a meaningful, nuanced conversation about sexual feelings and breastfeeding, but, once again, aren't. Because we're making it about sides, and morality, and myths, and scoring points, and not about the real feelings and real lives of real women. And that makes me want to crawl in a hole and give up on the world. (Or rant a lot. Or both.)

So thank you, for doing your part to pull back the conversation from trading barbs and skewering people, and making it about society, and how we can better serve women and their children.

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArwyn

Fun bags! I think my eyes crossed and my brain glazed over - I don't remember reading that when I originally saw the article. I also didn't realize the author is also the editor. Oof. Responsibility to your readers, man.

I know what breastfeeding culture (or the backlash of) is like here in the US; this makes me wonder what things are like in the UK. Similar to here? Do they have laws giving protection for nip?

Remember last year when there was that flapdoodle about the breastfeeding doll & nipple-flower harness? I was so surprised at how *shocking!* it was to so many people that children would mimic breastfeeding. Just the other day I was so surprised at the anger & vitriol in the comments section of a Salon article on placenta as food. I can't tell if I've greatly misjudged the openness of the minds in the world around me or if I've just managed to isolate myself from "mainstream" culture that much.

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFoxyKate


It is a very difficult topic to discuss, I think, because people in the "breastfeeding is sexual" or "breastfeeding is creepy" camp will use any admission of sexual feelings while breastfeeding as ammunition for their argument.

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

[...] a real, substantial way. It’s been articulated in a much better way than I ever could over at PhD in Parenting. On a more personal note, I have decided I am not going to be making my life any harder than it [...]

You put into words what has baffled me all along, the issue so many women have with nursing in public, feeling they need to hide, or being made to feel that they should. It never crossed my mind until I attended an antenatal breast feeding class. For my part, I never even contemplated anything other than breast feeding, seeing it as the most normal thing to do - but obviously it is not for so many in our society. And yes, I struggled with a good few problems and had to persevere to get there in the end, but at least the starting point was one of seeing breast feeding as the norm. I'm not sure if attitudes are different in other countries - being a German living in the UK, I always wondered whether in Germany breast feeding is the social norm and this has influence my intuitive feelings about it, in contrast to how women in the UK have been influenced, or if it's not really a difference between the two countries. All I know is that everyone I know in Germany breast fed, whereas here I know lots of women who chose not to.

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercartside

FoxyKate: In the UK, there is a law protecting nursing in public until the baby is 6 months old. Having an age limit is ridiculous if you ask me.


June 27, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Lyla you are right that as the alcohol is metabolized it leaves the milk. However if a mother is missing one or more feedings she should pump to protect her milk supply and prevent engorgement. :)

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArtemnesia


That's true, but I also see people rejecting breastfeeding, and rejecting advocates as zealots, when we pretend that it never happens.

And, personally, I'm not ok with the "let's not mention it because they'll use it against us" argument because that also means I have no support. It leaves me with nowhere and no way to talk about my feelings, and try to figure out how to get past them, and how to breastfeed anyway, and process how it went last time in preparation for a next time, should there be one.

I would rather be on the side of truth and nuance, even if it gives ammunition to the mudslingers. I don't want to be involved at all in an argument between two sides both of whom will use nontruths and halftruths to make their "point", even if I think/know one side is more "right".

So yes, it's difficult, and I respect any woman who doesn't want to risk talking about sexual feelings (uncomfortable or pleasant or both or other) in breastfeeding. But I wish more would, whether they ended up breastfeeding or not -- and I really wish the lactivist community would start taking us seriously.

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArwyn

I am sorry about the discomfort you have. I hope when weaning is finally done you have lots of happy memories.

The making, having, and feeding of babies is all inherently - *viscerally* - sexual. Acknowledging it is a million worlds away from, like, being pervy about it, people!!

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFoxyKate

And my "people" there was not directed at you. Not sure if that was clear! ;)

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFoxyKate

"Ma'am, I'm sorry, but your baby turned 6 months 3 days ago. Can you please discreetly place your fun bags under a Hooter Hider so as not to offend the passers-by?"

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFoxyKate


Just to be clear, because I wasn't in my short reply earlier, I'm not suggesting that anyone should not mention their feelings. I support you both in sharing your feelings and dealing with them and would support anyone else who chooses to do so. What I was trying to do was to concur with your frustration that "we could be having a meaningful, nuanced conversation about sexual feelings and breastfeeding, but, once again, aren’t." I think there is a justified fear that a meaningful and nuanced conversation would be used against us. But I don't think that means we shouldn't have the conversation anyway.

Personally, I don't talk about sexual feelings at all on this blog (whether related to breastfeeding or anything else). It just isn't a topic I'm comfortable venturing into in this space. But I do think that if people want to talk about it they should be supported in doing so.

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Here's what I found curious:
"They’re part of my sexuality, too – not just breasts, but fun bags.

And when you have that attitude (and I admit I made no attempt to change it), seeing your teeny, tiny, innocent baby latching on where only a lover has been before feels, well, a little creepy.""

One's vagina is also a sexual organ- in fact, it's key to having PIV sex. What is the author going to do, never have a normal delivery to preserve her vagina's status as a "love canal"? Good gravy!

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNakia

Arwyn, the issue of the moms who find breastfeeding feels creepy, or disturbing or whatever is hardly researched at all, and seldom mentioned. Having feelings that one thinks are inappropriate as a mom is hardly conducive to relaxed breastfeeding, public or not. My hat is off to all the women who have gritted their teeth and breastfeed for however long they could stand it, for the good of their little ones, when they would have felt such relief to stop. Fortunately, the babies don't much care.

The problem is that women are always in a double bind, about breastfeeding and any other aspect of mothering you can think of. It's like the Japanese proverb about the nail that sticks up above the rest getting hammered flat. If a woman really enjoys breastfeeding, and welcomes several years of it instead of months, tongues will wag and she will be accused of selfishly prolonging a relationship that should be truncated for the sake of the child's independence. If she can hardly stand the thought of the next breastfeeding, she's called selfish for weaning. If she has no interest in breastfeeding at all, she will either be accused of being selfish, and/or she will take to heart each and every comment or article on how she has undermined her baby's health for the long term, and feel like a pariah.

Oh course, it used to be the breastfeeding moms who all felt (and were treated) like pariahs, like Banquo's ghost at the party. They were damned for wanting to feed exclusively, because they were starving the baby. They were given dirty looks because they expected to nurse the baby "anytime, anywhere". They were attacked by other women simply for doing what they were doing, with no comment; other women who had bottle fed took these "unseemly displays" of breastfeeding as some kind of criticism. I could never quite understand that one. I'm breastfeeding, so you feel guilty because you're not? How does that even work?

It's never easy to separate oneself from one's culture. That's why parenting "subcultures" are so popular, groups of like-mined parents. Soon you have "us against them". Since in anthropology, perception is all, it's hard to argue with moms who are doing what they firmly believe is the best for their babies. It's easy, however, to argue with practices based on whatever the cultural norm happens to be, which have little or no basis in fact. Of course, facts that contradict culture are not very popular. People who contradict culture are not popular. It's just getting very tiresome to feel that the whole breastfeeding culture is lumped right in there with creepy things. How very Victorian and status conscious we are.

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHelen

It is so unbelievably ass backwards to me that anyone would find breastfeeding creepy IN GENERAL. If they're personally put off by it or uncomfortable, we can't judge them. But painting the entire process as something unnatural is, well, unnatural.

I am not sure that we'll ever be able to "fix" the way nursing is perceived in this country. Breasts are hyper-sexualized to a really freakish extent in so many forms of media and advertising.

I'm so grateful I was able to have a great experience nursing both my kids. Most of the ignorance I've encountered has been online.

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

Found your article from Lyla (the first commenter above). Very well said. I wholeheartedly agree with your concerns about Ms. Blundell's opinion piece. I, too, found her comments about breasts and sexuality particularly disturbing. How sad that her view of her own body has been so twisted that she cannot conceive of her breasts being used for their biological purpose. How sad, too, that our culture has damaged the way women value their own bodies, and the role their bodies play in sexuality and mothering.

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

ITA with Lyla. On reading this entry I thought the same thing. Glad to see the clarification, but I think it would have a place within the article for people who don't read comments.

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRobbin

Lol! (and the "fun bags" comment pretty much tipped me over the edge, too.)

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

So, she's the editor of the magazine? Is the publication by chance filled with formula ads? Just wondering. The marketing departments of formula makers must just love "articles" like that.

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

Well said, as always. Our society is damn creepy in a lot of ways, and this is one of them. We live in disturbed and dysfunctional times.

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Maven

Her whole rant was filled with misinformation. No wonder she hates breastfeeding - if it was like that, none of us would do it.

It pains me to think that her child would grow up and see what she wrote though. She acts like the child is a parasite who's not worth feeding or touching if it means disrupting the rest of her day. All of this makes me wonder what happened during her birth to cause her such a disconnect from her child.

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTheFeministBreeder

THANK YOU for this informative article! Breastfeeding is NOT creepy. As you know, I am an avid (extended) breastfeeding supporter and encourage any woman to at least try it. Once you run into problems, I want to be there as a resource and supporter via my blog. My article that asked if women who choose not to breastfeed are selfish got the most comments I ever got on a post. http://dagmarbleasdale.com/2009/08/mothers-who-choose-not-to-breastfeed-selfish/

I just spent a weekend on Nantucket with my large, extended family to attend a wedding, and I breastfed my 3 year-and-8 month-old son in a taxi, on the beach, and on the ferry. No one around us even had a clue I was doing it. I will be posting a picture of him breastfeeding on the ferry on my blog tomorrow :)

Dagmar's momsense

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDagmar Bleasdale

Following that reasoning, actually HAVING babies should be creepy too, since at least half of them come out the vagina, into which the male organ presumably went to conceive said baby.

The thing is, breasts are dual purpose. I breastfed both my babies, but not in a really long time. And I'm married to a boob man who really loves mine. Breasts are capable of feeding a child AND providing pleasure for both man and woman. I don't think it's that difficult to separate the two though.

On a related note I'm in the process of writing a piece for API Speaks on what women can do when they really dislike breastfeeding, but want to continue it anyway. I've been looking for a doula or LC to get a few quotes and am having a hard time, because when the topic comes up, most seem to suggest that I was abused or did not have a proper support system, or was suffering from mental disease, and none of those were/are true. And I know I'm not the only one. Since I know Annie has a large pro-bf readership, if anyone out there can help, I'd appreciate it.

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKayris

But breastfeeding IS sexual, just like every other part of reproduction. Not in a turn-you-on kind of way, but conceiving, gestating, birthing, and sustaining a mammalian offspring with your own body is all connected. Sex=reproduction=babies. In a perfect world, each of these parts would happen exactly the way our bodies are designed to make them happen. In the case of sustaining a human baby, the normal, biologically accepted way to do it is with your boobs. The same boobs that attracted your mate and may have helped convince him to have sex with you. Anything other than mother's milk is, biologically speaking, totally inferior. It's not that artificial milk is acceptable and breastmilk is best. Breastmilk is normal and artificial milk is not.

But we make choices all the time that we know perfectly well are not meeting the basic needs of our families. If you need to make a sacrifice in feeding your baby, fine. Whatever. I'll choose to make inferior choices in other areas, you can choose to do so there. Your family, your health.

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

I do agree with your interpretation of the article, as the case needs to be made loud and clear for breastfeeding mothers! Well written.

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterknotty

I have very mixed feelings about this. Because, like you, I have had those feelings. I'm usually able to suppress them, but I don't enjoy it. It's uncomfortable for me. And while I'm committed to breastfeeding, deeply, I'm not sure I would call it enjoyable for me. And I think my inner conflict is why.

I suspect that there are many more of us, but most of us are afraid to discuss it. I don't discuss sexuality in general online, for a number of reasons. And I definitely don't want to contribute to the argument that somehow I'm breastfeeding for sexual reasons, because that's not true. I just feel so conflicted about this, and to me it's just another example of how we need to foster a breastfeeding culture that allows us to discuss all of the many shades of breastfeeding without it being used as negative fodder.

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmber

I know how you feel. I remember a week or two after my son was born we fell asleep while nursing and I had a very strong and vivid erotic dream. I woke up to my son nursing away.
Now that IS a very uncomfortable thing to go through, and I totally understand what you mean. It freaked me out at the time and freaks out the very few people I have ever told. It is definitely not something commonly, or in my experience, EVER talked about in the lactivist community. Just had to throw in my two cents. (And yes, I did go on to breastfeed my son until he self-weaned at about 18 months or so.)

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjess

Our society IS creepy for thinking breastfeeding is creepy. What is even creepier is a society that has been brainwashed to think that something artificial is better than, or just as good as, something that is natural.

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWendy Armbruster Bell

I am becoming so frustrated with our society and am beyond all good words and logic, so I won't even try an intelligent comment. Love reading your blog, Annie, even when it gets me going. ;)

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrenna

"It is a very difficult topic to discuss, I think, because people in the “breastfeeding is sexual” or “breastfeeding is creepy” camp will use any admission of sexual feelings while breastfeeding as ammunition for their argument."

But the thing is, we don't have to admit it; they *already know* (the science is clear) or intuit it, as Blundell alludes to. Denial only invites scorn because we're either being disingenuous or ignorant. We're screwed either way, yeah? And worse, if the former, it implies that we really *are* perverts because we're acting like we have something shameful to hide. The only thing that can be done, it seems to me, is to talk about it from a clinical perspective; to explain, without embarrassment, that lactation is scientifically known to be a hormonal process that shares physical space with sex (and birth for that matter,) so that, yes, there is the possibility of some shared physical sensations, and that there is normally a psychological boundary that keeps the things distinctly separate, so that, for instance, a mother can feel a clitoral zing from nipple stimulation yet not for a heartbeat associate it with her relationship to her baby. If a person experiences those sensations and has trouble finding that boundary she may be conflicted about breastfeeding or reject it entirely. But that's not the fault of the natural system. If it's perverse but yet our bodies are designed that way, then humans, motherhood, and the breastfeeding relationship are inherently perverse. And that's absurd; it makes a mockery of motherhood. It can only be, rather, that it is this culture's perceptions that are perverse, and that we misunderstand and misinterpret what is going on in our bodies, laying artificial conditioned mental associations over it.

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

Since you mention Margaret Wente, you should see the crap that is her latest piece "Motherhood - the new Oppression" (last week on theglobeandmail.com) - I don't even know where to begin on this one...

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbecky

Actually, that article is misleading and 100% wrong in some places. The Daily Mail is an *appalling* newspaper.

"Under current laws, women who breastfeed in places such as restaurants or bars can be charged under public order or indecency legislation." is complete and utter nonsense. Women in the UK have always been free to breastfeed where they like. The change in law (in England and Wales) allows women to take legal action against people who try to stop them but it will require you hire a lawyer and bring a civil suit. In Scotland it is an offence to harass a breastfeeding mother so if someone tried to stop you, you could call a police officer to deal with it.

At the moment, if you nurse a baby under 6 months in public you're protected by legislation designed to prevent discrimination on the grounds of *maternity*. After 6 months, a woman breastfeeding her baby is protected from discrimination on grounds of Sex Discrimination.

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKirsten

PhD in Parenting,

While I am not suggesting your statement below is wrong, in fact I believe it to be correct, I think it would be helpful to your case and quite informative to your readers if you could provides some evidence that proves your statement.
You said:
"The health outcomes of breastfed children and breastfeeding mothers are better."

I look forward to this information, thank you for a good article and for fighting for what should be obvious to anyone with half a brain.

In Good Health

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTAGarran

I come from the UK and live in Germany. I also feel that in Germany breastfeeding is much more enjoyed/ celebrated than in the UK with less silliness about it. From the outside, I feel that women in the UK are much more "sexualised" than in Germany - there seems to be quite an expectation of women in the UK to wear clothing which is deemed "sexy" (usually revealing as much skin as possible) when going out - also for the benefit of each other (and being in with the girls). In Germany there seems to be more of an emphasis on being "cool" - which involves clothing which is relatively unisex. My impression (based on a very limited sample!) is that it is more expected in the UK for young women to be promiscuous whilst in Germany, I get the impression that longer term relationships start earlier.
Completely aside from the feelings you get while breastfeeding, I think you're absolutely right that society plays such a huge role in this attitude to breastfeeding and I think that in the UK women are sexualised in bizarre ways. But it has become like a club where members get strong feelings of identification being a part of it. The celebration of membership being the "hen's night" - cum weekend, where girlie activities are explored to the full (pampering, dressing up etc. - not to forget alcohol).
I've also heard some awful stories from friends in the UK about the lack of support they got when they were having trouble breastfeeding in the first few days after the birth... this is something which could be improved pretty easily, even if society can't change overnight. Preventive health care is one of the strengths of the British health service after all.

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

That is a really good point. And you don't often hear women saying "my vagina is just for sex, I'm not willing to deliver a baby through it"...

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChanna


I linked to the evidence that proves that statement in the sentence prior to the one you quoted. You can find the information you are looking for here:

http://www.phdinparenting.com/2009/05/14/the-scientific-benefits-of-breastfeeding/" rel="nofollow">Scientific Benefits of Breastfeeding

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting


In general, I think you are right. However, there was quite an uproar recently when the author of a book on sex post-children used the statement "lucky c-section bitches" in reference to the fact that their vaginas were still completely in tact and not all mangled and stretched out like the women who had delivered vaginally, which is insulting and insensitive to both women who did deliver vaginally and who think that their vaginas are just fine (thank you very much) and those who found their c-section birth to be traumatic and didn't consider themselves "lucky" at all.

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting


I'm almost scared to look it up. I'm increasingly convinced that she can't come up with interesting enough topics to write about, so she has to purposely write about things that are offensive in order to generate page views for the Globe and Mail.

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Good point Andrea. It probably is filled with formula ads.

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I nursed my son until he was 13 months old, and weaned too soon. I had a few, scattered and fleeting thoughts about the sexual nature of breastfeeding, wondering ifI should feel guilt...

Instead I felt pride and amazement at the beauty of my body, and it's ability to sustain and nourish my child. I adored beastfeeding so fully, I became passionate about nursing in public, refusing to join a friend in the bathroom when I said it was time for my son to eat. "But why?" she asked, "they have a beautiful nursing room with couches."

"Because," I told her, "It took me a long time to feel comfortable nursing wherever I am when it's time, and I'm not going to sit in a bathroom just because it makes someone else upset."

Also, my husband is a boob man, 100%. He is all about the "fun bags". He can watch my child nurse, amend amazed at the beauty and simplicity of feeding his child... And 20 minutes later be engaged in sexual acts that vert much include breasts. To HIM, they can both be sexual and non-sexual... But either way - BEAUTIFUL. There is no reason for nursing women to need feel their breasts should not be sexual, and NO reason for anyone to believe that breastfeeding IS TOO sexual.

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMandy


I edited the post to clarify. I hadn't expected the post to explode like it did and my regular readership is fairly educated about that type of thing, so I didn't feel I needed to clarify. But since it is out there in the general public now, I added the clarification.

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Also, please forgive the typos... I tapped this comment out on my phone!

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMandy

Advertising 'first milk' formula (i.e for babies under 6 months) is illegal in the UK, but the magazine is filled with ads by formula companies really pushing the limit of the law here.

Something else you may not be aware of is that it was just National Breastfeeding Awareness Week (where there is a lot of breastfeeding promotion) in the UK and this article was published just in time for it. We get a lot of anti-breastfeeding press in the UK around this time. Mostly embittered journalists who use it as a chance to get their own back on the 'Breastfeeding Mafia' during National Breastfeeding Awareness Week.

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKirsten

I think the fact that society thinks its creepy is going to take a little while to work its way out of the system. Too many people grew up thinking babies eat from bottles, and it's hard to change that perception later as adults. A friend of mine has a 10yo boy who thinks the fact that her new baby breastfeeds is super creepy. He's never seen his mom doing anything like that before (or anyone doing anything like that before) so yeah, it freaks him out. My 8yo boy on the other hand, doesn't bat an eye. He's seen his younger brother and sisters all breastfeeding so to him it's not creepy in the least, it's normal. He'll even come up and start rubbing his 6 week old sister on the head and kiss her on the head while she's nursing (which is creepy for ME because, geez, give me a little space, but it's good that he's not embarassed by me breastfeeding).

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth W.

I also had very uncomfortable sexual feelings with breastfeeding. I think it's part of why I took advantage of what seemed to be a fairly natural weaning point at 12 months (although it quite possibly was just a breastfeeding strike or a period of being easily distracted).

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterZoey @ Good Goog

I can understand the "creepy" feeling, I guess. The breasts are sexual first and anything else very very last in my American society. My inability to breastfeed stemmed from my own thoughts of my breasts and also my family's thoughts on what my breast should and should not be doing. I had my first child at a very young age (I was 15). I bought a breast pump, pads, the little pillow, I was totally ready to breastfeed. As soon as I gave birth, it seemed like everyone was against me breastfeeding. My husband, my mother, the nurses were even a little wary calling the lactation consultant when I ran into problems. I had some inhibitions as well, of course. It made me giggle when my baby latched on the first time and I was abruptly quieted by my husband because he was embarrassed by it. Anyway, I had 2 more children, also at relatively young ages, and I tried again with the both of them but ran into the same problems. As a matter of fact, with my last child, we were vising my mother and the baby was fussy. I told her I was going to try to breastfeed her and she seemed so disappointed, in that quiet mom way. The only person who was so completely supportive of me, and by supportive I mean she made no "deal" out of it one way or the other, was my grandmother. She actually helped me help my youngest latch on in the hospital. It was a very beautiful moment. My point is, after all of the preparation I did for all of my children, buying crap, reading up on breastfeeding, telling the nurses, doctors, everyone I was breastfeeding, I never did for more than a few days. I never really received help or support. I read all the books, made sure I was prepared but maybe I should have spent more time preparing everyone else. I felt like a total outsider. I would give anything to turn back time and be stronger and breastfeed my children. I know now that if I had just followed my instincts and breastfed, I would not be missing this vital part of motherhood. I was a mother albeit, a very young mother, and my instincts were strong. I knew what was right. It may have felt odd to feel the suckling but I had no reason to be embarrassed when I smile and laughed. I thought it was beautiful to watch my children take what was naturally, biologically theirs. My children are healthy and just perfect but that special bonding we should have had never came to be. I tried my best to replicate it. I made sure we were skin to skin, all of that stuff they tell you to do. My youngest is turning 4 this year, my oldest is 8 but to this day it kills me that I did not breastfeed. I had to spill my guts, sorry!

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAdri

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