queen of faff

Former secret writer. This is my rehab.

Ostentatious

2 Comments

Ostentatious. This word has festered inside me overnight. A word that I barely use has taken hold and is rising like bile in my throat.
The word, spoken by yet another person who knows nothing of what they speak, seemed, yesterday, instantly dismissible for being ridiculous. But words, although not sticks and stones, certainly can do harm.
Breastfeeding is a choice but it is not an easy one. It is emotional agony for those who want to but can’t, it is emotional agony for those who want to but are struggling. I imagine it is also painful for those mums who know they don’t want to but are judged for making that decision or are pressured to change it.

There was nothing ostentatious about the night in hospital when, after nearly 48 hours and very little sleep, I found myself alone with my new baby. She was hungry and I couldn’t feed her. The tears that flowed were not showy or flamboyant, but an expression of the abject failure I felt as a mother because I couldn’t feed my own child. There was nothing ostentatious about having my boobs squeezed, massaged, by a multitude of midwives and healthcare assistants who were trying to help me and my baby start our breastfeeding journey.

There is nothing ostentatious about the mothers, of whom I am one, who have fed their child through the pain of cracked nipples, mastitis, blebs. I still, despite no longer feeding, read daily posts from these mothers, calling out in dark and desperate times to other women who know how it feels. They need advice, support, they need hope that it will get better, get easier.

We live in a world where lads’ mags, and even a national newspaper, feature faked tanned, photoshopped, silicone breasts; where strip clubs are a normal part of a night on the town; where a calendar entitled “Backsides 2015″ is on a shelf at just my toddler’s eyeline height, on a stall in my local shopping centre – the front cover showing only the ripe behind of an anonymous woman. Yet people go into meltdown if they get a flash of a mum’s sideboob while she is feeding her baby. I am genuinely both perplexed by and angry about this.

A friend wryly mused last night about packing nipple tassels and a flamboyant bra in her changing bag when she next goes out and will be feeding in public. How else can you be giving a ‘pretentious or showy display designed to impress” whilst breastfeeding?

By your baby’s milk always being the right temperature without needing to heat a bottle? By reducing your risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and your baby’s risk of obesity, eczema and type 2 diabetes? By having a free source of food constantly on tap? By burning 500 calories a day without trying? By your womb shrinking back to size with each suck from your baby? By your baby’s body telling you what it needs and your body responding to produce the right antibodies and calorific content?

Is that impressive enough?

Newsflash Nige – this is what boobs are for.

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2 thoughts on “Ostentatious

  1. Great blog! Totally with you. Breastfeeding is one of the hardest things I’ve done and one of things I’m most proud of. With my first I had traumatising daily weigh ins, ‘too much weight loss’, ended up expressing for months on end. This time round excruciating infections and mastitis. Both times have had the ‘breastapo’ guilt trips and also the ‘Just give formula!’ brigade. I don’t think I’ve ever doubted myself and my abilities as much as when trying to feed my own children and have had to stay constantly strong in the face of doubters. There is nothing quite as unhelpful as reading pro breastfeeding articles that inform you of all the disadvantages your child will have if you can’t manage to feed it. I read about the lady who threw herself in front of a train because she was so devastated that she couldn’t feed successfully. So many women are reduced by post birth pressures, I wish there was more support available.

    I wasn’t ever breastfed and neither were my sisters and unbelievably none of us have yet grown two heads despite our disadvantaged upbringing! For me thankfully it now currently seems to be plain sailing and I am very proud to have persevered this far and will damn well do it in public if I want to!

  2. Oh he is a complete tool. Haven’t read the exact quotes but now read a couple of pieces about them (including yours!). If I had read this when I was still feeding I would have made sure I went out and breast fed in every public place possible!

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