Category Archives: breastfeeding

Pregnancy is not an illness…

…but sometimes it sure as hell feels like it. Boom tish!

When I was having my daughter, we had a trainee midwife attending us as one of her “case studies” for qualification. She had a sticker or something with the motto “Pregnancy is not an illness”. From this you could tell she was young, idealistic, totally delightful and had never had a child herself. I always wanted to add the punchline above, but I restrained myself. After all, I had no idea until I had become pregnant myself.

I have to say that I was gobsmacked by how unwell I felt when I was pregnant with my daughter. I had blithely expected that I would carry on life as usual, and work up until the day I had her, but it didn’t work out like that. I ended up leaving work early. I know some women who haven’t felt ill, and others who ended up having to be hospitalised because they were so sick, so it really does depend on the person.

The worst of it is that the really sick period (5 weeks to 14 weeks for me) is when you aren’t supposed to tell anyone. So you can’t explain to anyone why you’re turning green at the sight of a cup of coffee, or you have a sudden insane desire for Pink Lady apples all the time. (Mmm, that yummy pink crunch!)

Any expectation that your life will go back to normal straight after having a baby is also misguided, in my opinion. I’ve heard of a barrister struggling to Court to make an appearance one and a half days after giving birth, which just seems insane to me. In fact, from the way it was reported to me, it was like a competition: “X came back 2 days after she’d had hers, but can you believe it, Y beat her and turned up 1 and a half days after she’d had her baby!” Seems like a pretty stupid kind of competition to me.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about the reports that Cate Blanchett is to take part in the 2020 summit two weeks after her third baby is due. That seems like insanity to me. The only way in which she could possibly manage it is to palm the child off to someone else for most of the time. And even then, she’ll still be feeling a little sore and sorry for herself. If she’s trying to breastfeed, she might need the baby brought in and out of the summit. Or I guess she could take the child to the summit, but it’s very difficult to concentrate on work-related matters when you’ve got a beautiful newborn there demanding your attention. At least, that’s my experience. And I wouldn’t have it any other way: this new person has come into your life and you want to get to know them.

Cate might miss out on her new child for nothing anyway: this 2020 summit sounds like a bit of a furphy to me. A case of letting people talk, and then just going on as normal afterwards. It reminds me of Charles II’s strategy with Parliament – he got them to fight and talk amongst themselves, while he got on with ruling the country. Mind you, Parliament had an equally dismissive idea of him: “Give him a whore and a side of beef and he’ll be happy.” Lovely.

So, despite thinking of myself as a feminist, I’m just not sure about Cate’s appointment to 2020. She’s a great actress and all that, but her attendance so shortly after the predicted birth of her child gives a message to women that, yes, you can just get back to things straight after having your baby. This might be the case if you have a phalanx of nannies and other support people, but for most normal people, the process of having a child is an exhausting and all-engrossing one which does affect your capacity to work. Even if you’re not unwell and tired during the pregnancy itself, you are likely to be sore and tired after the birth (whether natural or caesarian). And babies are made so that they cause us to focus a lot of attention on them when they are born. And you know what? That’s natural.

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Filed under breastfeeding, childbirth, childcare, children, feminism, motherhood, parenthood, pregnancy, society

Now that’s far too late to wean…

I am all in favour of breastfeeding. But sometimes a good thing can be taken too far.

According to BBC News, Dr Izzat Atiya of Al-Hazar University in Cairo issued a fatwa as follows:

He said that if a woman fed a male colleague “directly from her breast” at least five times, they would establish a family bond and thus be allowed to be alone together at work.

“Breast feeding an adult puts an end to the problem of the private meeting, and does not ban marriage,” he ruled.

“A woman at work can take off the veil or reveal her hair in front of someone whom she breastfed.”

Apparently, according to sharia law, breastfeeding at infancy establishes a familial relationship between a woman and child even if there is no biological relationship. Dr Atiya sought to extend that principle to adults in order to get around the problem of segregation in the workplace.

Well, I’m glad he was thinking of creative solutions to  segregation in the workplace… That’s a good start to providing equal opportunity for women in the workplace in Islamic countries. But no, no, no, ugh! Allowing a colleague to drink from your breast seems a million, billion, trillion times worse than allowing him to see you with your hair uncovered.

I’m glad to say that this ruling has sparked outrage throughout Egypt and the Muslim world. It has been retracted as defamatory to Islam.

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Filed under breastfeeding, crazy stuff, islam, law

Breast is best

In his comment on ‘Prudish Jurisprudence?’, Iain mentioned that the American public has a very strange attitude: they decry images of naked women and sex on TV, but are quite happy to see violence. This made me think of a report concerning an American parenting magazine which featured a baby feeding from its mother’s breast on the cover. Seemed pretty tasteful to me: you couldn’t even see the mother’s nipple. I have to say that the first thing I noticed was the loving look on the baby’s cute little face.

There was uproar! 25% of the women who contacted the magazine complained because they found the image offensive. Some said it made them feel sick. One woman had to rip off the cover so her husband didn’t see it, another had to immediately turn the magazine face-down.

How ridiculous! Did these women feel sick when they looked down in the shower and saw their own breasts? How did they cope with breastfeeding their own children? Did they have to have their eyes shut while feeding their child? Or did they just immediately put their child on the bottle? I wonder about their husbands, as well, if they believe their husbands cannot cope with a picture of a breastfeeding baby.

It’s just a perfectly natural part of life. News for that 25%: we are MAMMALS. Being mammals, human mothers feed their young with milk which comes from nipples. Babies don’t think naked breasts are disgusting. They think they’re pretty nice.

I breastfeed my daughter, and I do so in public. I am pleased to say that I have never had any adverse comments. On the contrary: a few people have come up to say how gorgeous it is to see a happy baby having a nice feed. Of course, I am reasonably discreet – when my daughter allows this – she has a habit of pulling off the breast and rolling over to smile at everyone happily mid-feed. I think she’s trying to let everyone know how much she loves her milk! Obviously, Australians are more sensible than Americans in this regard.

However, if someone ever challenges me, I am going to ask them to explain to my crying baby why she can’t have her milk. I don’t think she’ll find their arguments convincing.

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Filed under breastfeeding, feminism, motherhood