I’m reading a fluffy little book titled: “All You Need to Be Impossibly French” by Brit Helena Frith-Powell. I am a real sucker for all those “how to be like the French” books, because as a Midwestern American woman, it seems, at least from the outside, that the French women have it all covered. Work, family, men, clothes, food, beauty, you name it, the French *appear* to do it better.
Some of the later chapters expose some of the darker underbelly to the French mystique however, including the somewhat surprising chapter on breastfeeding. According to the author, French women, as a general rule, don’t breastfeed their babies. Something to do with pleasing their men, a perception of saggy boobs, and weight loss. Granted, the author shows her zeal for nursing in the scorn she heaps upon these “misguided” French women.
This caused me to think about my experiences as a working, nursing mother, which were in turns amazing, difficult, challenging and wonderful. I have never been as proud of something in my whole life as nursing my daughter for 13 months while working full time (and going to law school part time to boot).
I relished the opportunity to spend time with my daughter in the middle of the night (even though like most new parents I was sleep deprived), because that was the only quiet solitude we had together. And they grow up SO fast.
Why breastfeeding is controversial I will never know. There should be nothing LESS controversial than breastfeeding. But unfortunately, there are nursing nazis out there who consider feeding with formula a type of child abuse. Nonsense.
Yet it makes me sad when I see moms who aren’t nursing. I wonder if it’s something they wanted to do but didn’t get the support they needed to get through the rough patches? Are they not able to nurse for medical or other reasons? Or did they just not want to, because, like the protagonists in “Impossibly French” they had concerns about their appearance and sex appeal to their husbands or boyfriends? There could be dozens of reasons a woman doesn’t nurse, and dozens of reasons she does.
Lord knows it is tough enough to be a new mom, without the world (myself included) scrutinizing your every move with a disapproving eye. My words of advice to those would-be nursing nazis is that you will do the “cause” of promoting breastfeeding much better if you keep your opinions to yourself and not harass the poor, sleep deprived mother of an infant.