I had no plans of writing a post about this topic as it is one that really divides the ranks. And even as I write it the tune of a solemn nature echoes in my head as I fear that with my words I might be burying myself in murky waters. Gasping dramatically for air, here goes: so the discuss on discreet and indiscreet breastfeeding in public has become a reoccurring motif through the script of normalizing breastfeeding campaigns.
While everyone chants in unison ‘power to the breastfeeding mum, let’s normalize breastfeeding.’
Silent whispers rumble ‘normalizing breastfeeding doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be discreet.’
Silent whispers rumbles ‘normalizing breastfeeding means we shouldn’t be discreet.’
Prior to writing this post I would probably have fallen firmly on one side of the divide, now I ask myself, what really matters here?
The underlying debate rises from our personalities as individuals which doesn’t change a whole lot with the advent of breastfeeding. Some mums are extremely private people and some are not, this has nothing to do with confidence and everything to do with their personalities. Some mums prior to baby had no issues with showing some flesh; some found a flash of skin a little off putting, and for some it’s the other way round; breastfeeding and motherhood doesn’t rid us of those traits, if anything it further compounds them. For all I know and can remember mothers have breastfeed their young in different places (on the farm, at the market, on the buses etc.), in different ways (covered with a wrapper, shawl, uncovered, breast out, breast underneath etc.) you get the picture.
So why the chasm and why is it widening?
Social media: thanks to this fascinating tool of modern day life which makes it possible to share my thoughts with you, the same tool has the abilities of exaggerating the acts of everyday living into catastrophic levels. Throw social media into schools and kids start to pull all sorts of pranks including online bullying to get attention, throw it into politics and leaders say one thing to be politically correct and recant it via tweeter, throw it into entertainment and the most ludicrous or horrendous actions become entertaining.
With the advent of social media we have all become extremely socially aware. And that’s the essence of social media; to be social with the media and with others who use the media and to unknowingly empower the media that uses us (Ezinne Ukoha). We can now create our own media stories, sadly the media only celebrates or recognizes extreme issues, no one wants to watch normal life on the media. Sadly no matter how awesome and widespread media is, it will always remain a snippet of reality, and though it seems intrusive we must remind ourselves that some of our own works,pictures etc might also seem intrusive to another person.
Secondly the breastfeeding cause is a cocktail of causes as it is a cocktail of personalities: breastfeeding and motherhood generally is a very empowering process. It makes us fierce as tigers, we not only want to feed our children in the best way possible but we also want to give/leave for them a world with equal rights and privileges for everyone. And it’s on this second note that we start to differ a bit. The picture of what the best world is differs for each of us, not in the all so big details but in the tiny ones that become obvious on closer inspection. It’s like those spot the difference puzzles, the general picture looks the same, some of the differences jump right out at you, others take a while to spot, some matter, and others don’t. More importantly each person takes a different amount of time to solve the puzzle.
What is the point here? We have mums who are activists, feminists, conservative, naturist, and so many other terms which describe people. At the end of the day the common thread between all of them is that they’re breastfeeding mums and that’s all that counts.
Best way forward:
Stick to the cause that matters to you per time; for this week and beyond its breastfeeding. Strip off all the other labels and find the common ground – we want more breastfeeding mums and there is no single format for reaching out to everyone because there is no single format for being the best mum except putting the well-being of your child first.
We are all making statements on a daily basis with our choices, breastfeeding is no different; discreet/indiscreet you’re telling /showing the world how nature intended for us to feed our babies in way that suits you best. Doing what makes you comfortable, working at your own pace and a healthy baby is all the empowerment you need.
Whatever cocktail you make of your motherhood journey if you can remember where you came from, where you’re and most importantly where next you want to go I say rock on.