Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Great Boob's up!*

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!


  1. Hmm. I suspect the reference is either Blackadder or David Mitchell/Peep Show? Just made the mistake of googling it. Big, BIG mistake!
    Quote aside, those books sound fascinating - I'm adding them to my reading list now! I haven't encountered any problems in terms of people's reactions either, in fact the only slightly unnerving breastfeeding-related moment was when an elderly man approached me specifically to say that if I wanted to breastfeed then and there then that was fine by him...
    Gosh, if men could breastfeed then I suspect we would have had paid parental leave several decades/centuries ago... actually once you start thinking about it the whole course of history starts to look a little different, doesn't it?

  2. Oh, actually, there was that time that I was thrown out of the Octagon theatre during the Writer's Festival because Juniper was feeding too loudly... how could I have forgotten that?

  3. Naughty, unruly Juniper! Honestly, how does one go about approaching someone to tell them their baby is suckling too loud?

    And yes, the title is (sort of) from Blackadder: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ah9qOD-moqc

  4. With an apologetic smile that refuses to budge despite the incredulous response of the woman who you are asking to leave...