I believe we can normalize breastfeeding by “planting seeds” about it with the next generation. I believe normalizing breastfeeding starts with children.
“Oh my gosh, he is eating you!”
My son’s playmate had just found me nursing my youngest in the living room. Her eyes widened with curiosity as she began to tiptoe closer. I quickly thought about what I should say or do.
Should I brush it off and play pretend? I imagined myself shouting, “He IS eating me, run!” and watching the kiddos chase each other out of the room with excitement.
I decided that I would invite her to sit with me instead. I explained that some babies drink milk from bottles and that some drink milk directly from their mother’s body (and some both). I let her know that my body made milk for my baby to drink just like many animals’ bodies do. I let her ask any questions that she wanted to. Her first question made me chuckle: how much milk do you have to drink to do this? After our conversation I had a realization…
Normalizing breastfeeding starts with children.
I’ve ditched my breastfeeding cover and posted my fair share of #normalizebreastfeeding photos on social media. However, I’m not confident this will result in the most change. Each time I breastfeed in the general public, it still feels like a revolutionary act. Perhaps I am helping normalize breastfeeding the most by “planting seeds” about it with the next generation.
I don’t ever remember learning about breastfeeding in health class, and all of my baby dolls were most certainly drinking out of bottles. I didn’t grow up in a family where breastfeeding was the norm. I married into one. If I hadn’t done so, I’m not so sure I would have considered the option. The seed had never been planted for me.
Children represent our future, and if they’re taught that breastfeeding is a beautiful, natural act, I believe that, as adults, more women will choose to breastfeed and that more of their partners will be encouraging of it.
This is certainly easy for me to say since I have obviously breastfed my children and it is quite normal to my oldest son. I also realize it may not be feasible for board books about breastfeeding to become popular bedtime stories in most households (although how great would that be?!).
Perhaps we can regularly teach children about breastfeeding in schools. Or maybe there can be a movement to include breastfeeding in more children’s movies and toys. Apparently, there was once a breastfeeding baby doll but parents were all up in arms about it being ‘too much.‘ Sigh.
I honestly don’t know what the exact answer is. I do know that increased familiarity with breastfeeding among children is critical. Children are naturally curious and extremely receptive.
As for my son’s friend?
She now enjoys hanging around my littlest and I while he nurses, and she continues to ask many, many questions about the process. Perhaps the seed has been planted.
Photo: Anna Kraynova/Shutterstock