Over the past couple of days I've read Alison Bartlett's Breastwork and Fiona Giles' Fresh Milk, both fascinating studies of breastfeeding and its various social and cultural values. I loved getting different perspectives on the process, particularly when, for the large part, the main 'issues' around breastfeeding seem to be whether it's ok to do it in public or how to support women who want to breastfeed but have difficulties in getting started, without making women who can't or won't breastfeed feel inadequate.
I'd done some reading on the mechanics of breastfeeding and after a painful and awkward start haven't had any problems, either in terms of the feeding itself or people's reactions. It's not a blissful, near-spiritual bonding process as is often claimed: I just find it convenient. In fact, I'm doing it now, while blogging. How Mother-Earthy and noble! I think I've become less and less discrete over time, but even so I haven't had to justify myself or my feeding habits to anyone. Bar the occasional conservative talk back caller, breastfeeding has seemed to be a bit of a non-issue.
Little did I know of cross-species feeding, lactation porn or breastfeeding men!
It does make for an interesting thought experiment: how would attitudes to breastfeeding and parenting be different if it were commonplace for men to breastfeed, too?
*extra special Brownie points for whoever gets the reference!