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Archive for July, 2010

Would you rather:

A) be sexy

B) breastfeed

There’s a lot of debate on this topic at the moment, but every article I’ve seen seems to miss one very important point: what about option C) both?

There are various articles deconstructing the notion that being sexy is more important than breastfeeding, and what that may say about society. There are also plenty denouncing Kathryn Blundell as irresponsible, dangerous or just plain wrong. There are even a few that get right behind her right to choose what she does and doesn’t do with her body. All of them essentially polarise the choice into sex object or milk cow, but none of them seem to question whether that binary view is really valid. This is not helped by the misinformation that Blundell is spreading:

“I wanted my body back.” – one of the benefits of breastfeeding is that the hormones it releases help to get everything back into shape quicker – internally in terms of the uterus contracting back down and externally in terms of losing baby weight. There’s also the fact that unless you hand over your child to a third party for raising, there’s a very high chance that child will want cuddled, picked up, kissed better and all the rest for years to come, so you don’t really “get your body back” anyway.

“And some wine” – So long as you’re sensible, it is entirely possible to drink while breastfeeding. The amount of alcohol that comes through the milk from the odd glass of wine is very tiny – and given you’ve probably abstained or close through the pregnancy, chances are only the odd glass is needed to get tipsy. If you’re very concerned about alcohol being passed on, you could express and get a feed or two ready before starting on the drink. It doesn’t work for everyone, but then nothing does.

“I also wanted to give my boobs at least a chance to stay on my chest rather than dangling around my stomach” – Statistics show that breastfeeding makes no difference to sagginess or otherwise of breasts. It’s more to do with being pregnant, getting older and genetics.

And then there’s the suggestion that feeding method is the one big thing that determines what life is like for a new mum. Very few new mums really feel sexy, but I doubt the feeding method changes that significantly – to my eye it has more to do with having recently been through a physically, mentally and emotionally life changing event that has morphed their bodies almost beyond recognition. It’s all exacerbated by worry that they’re getting everything wrong, frustration when things aren’t perfect and irritation that everybody in the world seems to have conflicting advice that they offer whether it’s wanted or not. Oh, and lack of sleep. Nobody feels at their best when they’ve not slept properly for weeks. So perhaps it’s the simple fact of being a mum that gets in the way of someone enjoying her life and body, rather than one aspect of how she chooses to do it. If you’re not prepared to let your life change at all, are you sure you should change it in such a dramatic way as to add something that requires so much time and effort?

It looks like you’re going to be going through hell, desperate to get back to some kind of normality and searching for your own identity outside of motherhood anyway. Formula feeding is not a magic bullet to fix that, and breastfeeding may even help – I know it’s added to my confidence as a parent, and confidence is always sexy. There are plenty of good and valid reasons not to breastfeed, but the desire to be a sex kitten is not one of them. Quite simply, the choice doesn’t work that way – or perhaps I’m imagining all the breastfeeding MILFs I’ve met.

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