Thursday, 30 July 2009

A breastfeeding picnic

After a glorious, sun-filled morning by the pool, in my local park, my son and I wandered home. We passed our local uber trendy baby shop and in the window was a poster, it said:

“Picnic in the Park: For families and breastfeeding families”.

I have to say I have never been so shocked by an ‘and’ in all my life. I read it and re read it. “Families and breastfeeding families”. On the way home I kept rolling the phrase around in my head. How can the way in which a baby is fed, define a family? We like to pretend that it doesn’t exist, but there it was in black and white, the proof that when it comes to babies and boobs we have to take sides.

There is an invisible line which divides breastfeeders and bottlefeeders. To the untrained eye we all look the same. There is no malice between us. We can mingle, respect the others choice and often be the best of friends, but at the end of the day we either belong to one camp or another.

One of these camps is definitely more fashionable. Although the health professionals try to walk the line between encouraging breastfeeding and not sitting in judgement at those who don’t, one thing is sure; nobody ever congratulates you when you’re a bottle feeder and tells you that you are doing the best for your baby. Everybody always says “It’s what works for you”. Yeah right.

If you are breastfeeding however; then once you have uttered those magic words “I’m breastfeeding” nobody questions you. But if you’re not breastfeeding somehow it’s everybody’s business and open season on your breasts with total strangers.

“Are you breastfeeding?” the man says looking directly at my breasts. Several things go through my mind at this point and one of them is “Would it be inappropriate to tell you about my nipple scabs?”

Just to be clear about this. I have nothing against breastfeeders. I wasn’t breastfed, but this didn’t bother me. I was always willing to give it a go because I am a champagne hippy. However; I don’t really like people fucking with my tits so I had an inkling that I wouldn’t be a champion breastfeeder. I’d prefer it if you didn’t tweak my nipples during foreplay unless I’m royally shitfaced and too numb to care. The bottom line is I tried breastfeeding. It didn’t work. Big deal?

What I really resented, was having to go into great personal detail about why I thought I might not be a breastfeeder. If I ever mentioned that I wasn’t breastfed, in an attempt to try to explain why I thought I wouldn’t be able to, people jumped down my throat hysterically to tell me that this had no bearing on my ability to breastfeed.

I wanted to scream “I’m not just following in some pointless family tradition! My nipples are hyper sensitive. I deeply suspect that my mother and I have a similar trait which means we just don’t want to be touched in that area and excuse me if I haven’t actually discussed my mother’s sexual preferences with her!”

Suffice to say that I won’t be attending the picnic for families and breastfeeding families, primarily because I have serious concerns about what people are going to be eating at this picnic. There’s bound to be tofu (something else I have grappled with and failed) and possibly quiche made with free range eggs and breastmilk. Although, as a bottlefeeder I’d be on the unfashionable side of the picnic blanket with all the other ‘bad’ mums…..where at least a girl might get a glass of wine.


  1. That was a really interesting post and i had never thought about how people viewed this issue. Don't even worry about it. I am the only bottle feeder in my place of work of 5 breast feeders and the sixth one will join in December. They don't consider me an outsider, and we have great discussions abt breast and bottle too. Just like you I am quite comfortable with being what i am.