You’d think that being the daughter of a man that owned a restaurant for 30 years, with fabulous, organic, and tasty homemade pizzas, should know how to make some tasty homemade pizzas like Dad. The truth is that I did serve customers, working for 15 years with my family in various business positions and eating those awesome pizzas that my father made most days. The problem was that he made them in a different time of the day, so I never got to see him make them. I simply assumed that I was going to enjoy his pizzas for life, so I never really observed his work in detail.
What does this have to do with breastfeeding? No more and no less than simply giving value to the importance of observing a good example. Every day I read articles promoting breastfeeding in public. Fewer and fewer mothers are daring to breastfeed in public for different reasons; they feel uncomfortable, watched, and in some cases, they have even been asked to either cover themselves or breastfeed in private.
This has lead to a new generation of mothers who have not had the chance to observe other women breastfeeding, or even hold a baby in their arms. One of my favorite routines at the beginning of every class is to ask all the women who have had the chance to observe other woman breastfeed, to raise their hands. In a group of about 15 mothers, only 2 or 3 would raise their hands.
Breastfeeding in public is a right of mothers and babies.
From my point of view, it is a benefit to the mother, for the baby and for the whole society, for many reasons. Among them:
It meets the physiological needs of an infant in the immediate moment that he needs it, wherever it may be.
It benefits a mother who is already very tired spending 24 hours a day with a tiny and helpless human being who depends on her for survival. This is easily achieve by allowing her to comfortably sit anywhere and breastfeed her baby, without anyone saying anything that will make her feel uncomfortable.
It promotes breastfeeding, giving the opportunity to other women of the society to observe a mother breastfeeding in public. It shows them that it is possible, which in turn helps them realize it’s normal; breastfeeding is in fact normal, and to do it in public is perfectly fine. It’s a completely natural act.
You’d think that because we are mammals we should know how to Breastfeed.
To see the importance of breastfeeding in public and the value of a good example , I want to share this wonderful story :
…”A gorilla raised in captivity got pregnant without ever being around other mother gorillas and their young. When her baby was born, she just plain didn’t know what to do – she would hold the baby close to her breast but facing the wrong way, and so forth. The zookeepers eventually had to intervene and artificially feed the baby.
When she became pregnant again, someone had an anthropologically intriguing idea. The zoo contacted the local chapter of La Leche League and had some members start going to the zoo with their babies, feeding them in front of the gestating gorilla so she could see how fellow primates did it. And when her baby was born, she ultimately was able to nurse. Even when she stumbled a bit at first, the LLL taught her by example, and she prevailed. It wasn’t by convincing her with studies on the benefits of gorilla milk. It wasn’t through guilt or judgment. It was just by example”…(from the book: “So That’s What They’re For”, you can read the article at http://dou-la-la.blogspot.com/2011/02/nursing-in-captivity-on-bethenny.html)
With this story I want to do highlight the importance of knowledge passed down through the family and society. Everyone can help mothers to feel comfortable and to breastfeed their babies.
And perhaps, on my next trip, I’ll stay closer to my dad to watch him and finally learn how to make pizza J
The complete article can be read by clicking on the following link: http://dou-la-la.blogspot.com/2011/02/nursing-in-captivity-on-bethenny.html you can also find it in the following book: So That’s What They’re For! by Janet Tamaro )