Sunday, January 9, 2011

Breastfeeding: A Difference in Culture

So Americans are boob people right? That's the theory anyway. Personally, I think they are Boob looking at people, not touch and interaction. It explains both the fascination with fake ones and their fear of breastfeeding. Cause let's be honest, they never feel real and what's the big deal with feeding a baby?

I really can't understand the last one. My boys were popped out in Brazil.  I wasn't even allowed to bring a pacie into the public hospital my oldest was born in, much less a bottle.  Actually, I had nurses in regularly harassing me to breastfeed him more. Let that milk come in!  And oh did it ever.

Then came life. I had to leave the hospital and continue on with my life, baby and breast included.  And you know what, that baby and breast came out wherever and whenever they needed to. Every member of our circle of friends, family, and any bystander nearby when I was on a walk got an eyeful of boobage.

And you know what, it was no big deal!  Because, here's the shocker, it's not a big deal.  I actually had a harder time with the amount of comfort Brazilians feel with breastfeeding as opposed to the other side. I had family coming up to look and love on the baby while on my breast.  Awkward but apparently only for me.

Once my second came, I was practically pornographic with my breastfeeding.  I guess I got a little too comfortable, as my husband actually asked me to be a little more modest.  Obviously that set me off on a hormonal rage that was totally irrational and made my brother-in-law practically vow to never procreate.  To say I feel strongly about breastfeeding is like saying I like to eat.

At the same time, to each their own. I feel that there is nothing worse than a miserable Mother breastfeeding.  Energy, spirit, pheromones, whatever you believe, it passes to the mini-me.  It is a personal choice... one that Americans do not appreciate.

That's what I don't get.  Why we have to see every woman's ass crack from 10 yrs old to 50 but can't see a top of a breast is beyond me. At least the breast is being used for feeding. Unless you are stuffing hot dogs in that crack, I really don't need to see it.

So what's the big deal?! Does this country really have nothing to bitch about that we can be offended by a Mother feeding their child? Do we really find it disgusting and inappropriate?  If that is the case, this economy really needs to drop. The comfort level needs to fall to a new low. If the US has reached a point where something so maternal and natural can be deemed NC-17,  it is LOST.

I dear you breastfeeding haters out there, eat your lunch with a sheet over your head. Hell, half of you eat like starving mammoths.  I'd love to send you to a special room to feed. Hell, if I have to cover up my hungry child, I don't want to see your ass inhaling a super-sized meal.  Consider this a compromise.

Oops, got a little feisty there.  Like I said, I feel passionately about breastfeeding. There is nothing better than milk, a little boob, and a snuggle.  All you men agree, don't lie!

In this way, I have yet another reason to stay an expat, besides the fact that we really don't have another option.  It is a universal fact that breastfeeding is the best choice and not the easiest, even in an accepting culture.  Every time a woman pulls out her boob, it's a little bit of a "thing" for her, no matter how comfortable she is.  I prefer to surround myself with people who understand that.

I will accept Brazilians telling me to put socks on my child in 90 degree weather, informing me that my child is too fat or skinny, and saying that they really should be walking instead of in a stroller (at 18 months in a big city).  And I am happy to have a Grandmother ask me, as with my second, why they are taking a bottle at 8 months instead of the breast.  You know why, because they actually care.

Wow, mind blowing caring about other people besides yourself.

Children are a compromise and there is no romancing that.  Your job as a parent is to try your best to do your best for them.  Your job as a society is to support that.  I think we Americans forget that sometimes.

As for my regular readers, if you are wondering about this twist to the normal rants, as if there is a normal, it's because of Twitter. I follow a lot of Mommy Twitter Tweeters.  You can find my page at @rachelsrantings.  


  1. I breastfed for a full year- just stopped last month. But I always covered up in public. I felt crazy enough to be doing it in a restaurant or a park to begin with. Although I think that had more to do with my self-consciousness than anything else. I honestly never encountered any of the "Breastfeeding is gross" people that you hear so much about.

    But I live in New York. So that might explain things.

  2. Breastfeeding in Brazil is great - I was even encouraged by the waiters at Fogo de Chao to do it right there at the table as I got served beef. When I asked if they could give me a clean serviette to cover up, they looked at me in utter astonishment as if to say "cover up what?", maybe there I should have answered "any beef juices from falling on my baby, and keep the meatfest coming while I do this!"

  3. I love that there are explicit and detailed television Public Service Announcements about how to successfully breast feed on Brazilian television. Or the local expert on a morning talk show demonstrating proper form.

    NEVER in the uptight US! Did Mary breast feed Jesus? Did she use a clean serviette?

  4. I too got comfortable just "popping it out" to breastfeed in Brazil. Then I took my son when he was 7-months old to the States and got told by a guard at the National Air and Space Museum when I was sitting on a bench out of the foot traffic to breastfeed that "they have special rooms for that". UGH! Definitely culture shock for me! Of course the extended breastfeeding of 2 and 3 year olds here in Brazil still weirds me out.

  5. I really wish Americans had a better view of breastfeeding. *sigh* I only BFed my son for 4 months (I worked outside the home so it was getting difficult to pump at work) but never felt comfortable enough to do it in public because of the reactions I'd see other moms receive. However, if I ever have another child I would be sure to BF in's my right. :)

  6. We have uptight people in Brazil too. A few months ago I was pregnant and taking my older kid to the pediatrician with my husband and there was this couple with a baby and a nanny in the waiting room. I could not believe when I realized that while the girl was breastfeeding, the father and the nanny were taking turns with a blanket to make a curtain and block our view from her precious little boob. It was beyond ridiculous, me and my husband started laughing right there. But that's the exception I know. I've seen women breastfeeding while window shopping at the mall.
    I am currently breastfeeding and will do it in public anytime. I do cover up however bc I still think it's weird that my husband's friends may be looking at my boob, or that guy I once had a crush on, but that's just me trying to make a point to myself that although my first role now is a mother, I'm still a woman with some self esteem/love. Call it self preservation if you will, I dont know, just feel that as a mother I abandon every other aspect of me, lose my right to my own body in so many ways, that I do like to cover up. Plus, for my husband, since I've been checked out before and it got him real pissed. So to avoid conflict, I cover. My point being, do it if you feel confortable, dont do it if you dont, it's your body, your right to chose. But never judge a mother who's breastfeeding no matter how, for that's the highest form of maternal love.

  7. I bf in public (in Chile) when we're out at restaurants or malls. I've never seen anyone give me a second glance. I don't care if they do. Boobs become non-sexual when used to feed babies, I cant imagine anyone turned on by that! A guy who tries to perv on a bf mum is a pathetic twat ;)

    And if anyone told me to go in a 'special room', they'd get a earful of f*** off from me. Don't mess with a sleep derived mother!

  8. I love that it is accepted and encouraged in Brazil. I bf mine for 22 months and I fed him everywhere, never felt like I had to cover up or that anyone even noticed, it just felt normal and fine. My son wouldn't take a pacifier or a bottle either. Breastfeeding is work! Back in the US during our visits, it was a whole different feel, there was an awkwardness for sure. It's too bad. It's about feeding your child as nature intended folks, that's it!