Friday, December 07, 2007

Reluctant Lactivist

I found out sometime last year that I'm a lactivist or at least the NY Times told me so.

Ironically when the article came out, much of my breastfeeding was a very private affair. You see, I was almost exclusively pumping due to my son's health problems. And there's really no discreet way to pump in public. Only Madonna wears huge breastfeeding horns in public.

My son would breastfeed once a day but only in the most private of circumstances. A dream (not a wet one) of those who would ban breastfeeding from public places.

But I never felt dirty or embarrassed breastfeeding. I've never received any comments or dirty looks or been asked to stop. Most of the time the world seemed oblivious to the fact that I was breastfeeding. With my daughter who has always been healthy and focused on food, we breastfeed anytime anywhere she was hungry.

Maybe it's living in Silicon Valley. Maybe it's because my Burmese mother taught me that breastfeeding was normal and natural and I watched both of my siblings breastfeed. Or maybe it's because I'm

half-British and so used to doing things discreetly. But I'm a lactivist, because I believe that women should be allowed to breastfeed in public. I also think breastfeeding should be discussed and taught to all moms.

I think breastfeeding like dancing is something you learn by watching other people do and doing it yourself. It's not something you can learn from some book. Also like any dance, it takes two people and while it's not PC to say so, some partners just can't dance. My breastfeeding dance is frankly more like the funky chicken then the graceful waltz found in the La Leche guides, but it took my son a long long time to learn to latch on properly. If he had been my first, I'm not sure if we would have learned to breastfeed successfully. But my daughter came first and she was extremely eager. The second try she latched on and would not let go. Hoover and barracuda accurately describe her breastfeeding style. So I was an experienced partner by the time by my son was born.

One thing did bother me. The article states that some lactivists compare public breastfeeding to gays holding hands. Once when I held hands with a woman, I got a shocked look. So the reactions I've received personally are the same. And in some states both can put you in jail. However I've never heard of a woman being beaten up or had her life threatened for breastfeeding in public.

Crossposted to Silicon Valley Moms Blog

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