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.