08 August 2011

Why SEEING breastfeeding is important: My personal challenge to you

*** NOTE: ***
This entire post was written and composed by Emma Kwasnica.  Unfortunately, this amazing, talented chica isn't blogging *yet,* so I'm posting it here to help get it out there... It was originally posted as a note on Faceboob that you can see here: http://www.facebook.com/notes/emma-kwasnica/why-seeing-breastfeeding-is-important-my-personal-challenge-to-you/436431689914

* If you wish to re-post this, please do! (But please remember to credit Emma!!)
* If you wish to TWEET THIS, FB SHARE THIS, please, please do!!!
And I sincerely hope you enjoy what this passionate woman has to say. :)

Why SEEING breastfeeding is important: My personal challenge to you

I'd just like to talk a bit about the bigger picture here for a moment, in that by Facebook taking this stance against breastfeeding images, and by creating such arbitrary obscenity guidelines as "no exposed areola or nipple may be shown" (I have seen many, many women whose areola covers up to a third or more of their entire breast - a baby's mouth could never come close to "covering" it all!), it is stigmatizing breastfeeding women, and shaming women into thinking that their breasts are much, much less than the amazing life-giving source they are. Nipplephobia has reached epic proportions here in North America, and this is to the supreme detriment of babies everywhere.

Just think for one moment, how many more women would breastfeed, or for how much longer, if only we rid society of the harmful practice of over-sexualizing women's breasts! And how much this, in turn, could benefit the BABIES. For whose voice do the most vulnerable members of society have, if not ours? Interestingly, we find cultures around the world where women's breasts are seen *only* in their functioning capacity, i.e., that of nourishing and comforting their young. I believe that we can get there, too (or at least try to find some balance), but we have to start somewhere, and I truly feel that there is never any harm to come from challenging the status quo (you're not surprised, I know ;-) ).

I've said this before, and I'll say it again: as a childbirth professional, but also as a woman, in general, it is absolutely crucial that one support ALL women to breastfeed their young. While you, personally, may have your own code of "decency" for how much skin YOU are comfortable showing while breastfeeding, it is important that you do not impose your own, completely arbitrary line drawn in the sand regarding "modesty" or "discreetness", onto any other breastfeeding mother. Period. Just like a woman who wants to cover up should be supported (and generally IS in our society....), we need to support those women who struggle --or those women who do not want, or care-- to cover their baby and their breast, and make life simpler for these women to, first and foremost, feed and comfort the baby!

Quite simply, this is about normalizing breastfeeding. The more we hide it away, classify it as obscene, shame mothers into covering up while feeding, and encourage women to retire to "private" rooms in order to breastfeed the baby, the less we see of it in public, and the less and less people are comfortable with the very idea of nursing in public. This is the sad reality of this pathologically hyper-sexualized (yet sexually repressed...) North American culture of ours. The solution, however, seems quite simple to me; breastfeeding (and/or images of breastfeeding) need to be seen every day, and I am convinced that SEEING more breastfeeding, wherever possible, is what will change our breastfeeding culture. Re-normalize it. Everywhere in North America (in all provinces in Canada, and in every state in the USA but two) women have the right to breastfeed in public, wherever they have the legal right to be. So women should do it. And they should feel completely free to do it. Lots of it. As much as possible.

If you want to be a part of the solution, here is one, simple thing you can do, each and every time you see a mother breastfeeding her baby in public : yes, give her a great, big smile, but don't stop there --go right *up* to her, and tell her what a wonderful thing she is doing for her child. I guarantee you, that if we all did even this simple gesture every time we saw a woman nursing in public, the tides would begin to turn.

I would also like to suggest in your daily life (outside the 'net), that you get out there and nurse your children in public. And do so with a huge smile across your face. Pretty hard for onlookers to say, feel, or do something negative in the face of a beaming, breastfeeding mother --n'est-ce pas?

Breastfeeding is normal. Normal. NORMAL. Say it, do it, show it.

Will you start by doing these simple acts right today? Indeed, I challenge you.

Warm regards,
~Emma Kwasnica

Emma Kwasnica & her family at the 2008 Montréal Breastfeeding Challenge. This photo and article were published in Le Journal de Montréal, a major daily francophone newspaper. If a North American city of 2.5 million can handle this in their daily paper, why can't Facebook? (oh, and before you pass inane judgment, and tell me these kids are "too old to nurse", please read this and get educated/get your head out of the gutter :http://www.kathydettwyler.org/detwean.html)

2010 Breastfeeding Challenge - notice the 11-month-old Would. Not. Latch. Not for the world. TOO DISTRACTED.

Mama love ~ nursing Sophie is such a joy

March, 2006 -- HOORAY FOR TODDLER NURSING (. Y .) (. Y .) (. Y .) Bitter sweet. My girlfriends and I and our three nurslings, just prior to our sudden and UNEXPECTED departure from Toulouse back to Canada (due to a stoopid competition clause kerfuffle with Seb's work at IBM). Christel, Christelle, and I found one another through our local LLL group. Our babies are around the same age and grew up around one another from 12mo through to 2.5yo (when we left Toulouse). There is nothing like finding yourself a like-minded "tribe" of mama friends who totally "get" one another. I will forever cherish being in the company of these two women and their babies, as I muddled my *own* way through, slowly but surely developing into the fierce mother I am today. Love you, girls ! xx

Montréal Breastfeeding Challenge 2009 "in the park". Torrential downpour for the event, but that didn't stop us "hardcore breastfeeders" from going ahead with our plans. I am 42 weeks pregnant with Chloë *to the day* in this photo; Sophie (2.5 y/o) nursing on cue for the official latch-on at 11am. Labour had, indeed, begun just a few hours prior to this moment, but I literally psyched myself out, and contractions petered right out at around 3am, because there was no way I could miss the Breastfeeding Challenge in front of my own house in the morning ! (Photo courtesy of Rowan Smith) http://www.montrealgazette.com/health/Breastfeeding%20event%20zapped%20H1N1%20fears/2056459/story.html

This photo was deleted by the "powers that be" of Facebook on Friday, July 16th. I've just re-uploaded it now. I do wonder if it is precisely BECAUSE my breasts are not being used to titillate men in this photo that it was found to be so offensive, offensive enough to be deleted. I mean, here is this nice-looking woman, hair done, wearing a somewhat dressy, funky, black top... looks like she could be heading out for a night on the town, right ? And instead of seeing her breasts all smooshed up into a push-up bra and a large line of cleavage displayed for all the hot-blooded men to ogle, we see a baby suckling at her breast. Could utter RAGE be the response on the part of (some) men looking at this photo ? On the part of the button-pushers behind their screens at Facebook, those who are deleting the photos, those who are responsible for insuring Facebook remains pure from all this sort of "filth" ? As ludicrous as this might seem, could they be feeling denied by the space occupied by this tiny infant EATING at my breast ? Disgusted by it ? I am devastated that our culture has done this to us, given us this mental disorder. But it has a name (Nipplephobia), and there is hope out there for people with it (therapy). Nipplephobia *can* be overcome; a large part of the therapy includes seeing more and more women breastfeeding their children, seeing more and more breasts EVERYWHERE, being bombarded by the image of breasts being used in their biological context --that of nourishing a child. I highly recommend you try it. It's also why I post the dozens and dozens of breastfeeding photos that I do, here on Facebook. Look at them. Over and over again. Please. It will do a world of good... 
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October 2010 -- The crazy-eyed lactivist strikes again. (I just put this sign up on my fridge, at home)

Nursing Sophie ~ 3 years, 11 months old


SuperMommySometimes said...

I love Emma. To death :)

dinnae said...

Me too! ;)

tracypoh said...

Love this post!

I have also bloggged about the World Milksharing Week & I hope you'd dropby.

tracypoh said...

My blog : http://thelilstuffs.com