Okay ladies, (sorry gents, I think you’re ruled out of this one – you know, by anatomy, nothing personal), so you’re doing something natural, something beautiful: you’re breastfeeding your bairn.
But, like many natural things, there are some unwritten rules, and here I am, writing them down to make things easier on everyone. You may want to park the thank you’s though – like cracked nipples, it’s not all pretty. And please, no complaints, these are not my rules (I’ve broken most of them), these are society’s rules, that I’ve learned the hard way.
1. Breastfeeding is okay, but don’t talk about it. If you find yourself stuck for conversation or asked about your little one’s milk habit, speak of “feeding” and “feeds” – drop the breast prefix, TMI and all that.
2. Ideally you should stop by 6 months. Definitely by a year.
3. When breastfeeding anywhere where other people are present (who you aren’t related to), make yourself more conspicuous by covering up with a muslin, shawl, blanket or garment specifically designed to hide-the-act-while-at-the-same-time-making-it-a-lot-more-obvious.
4. If like me you’ve ignored rule 2, then reacquaint yourself with rule 1 – under no circumstances should anyone but those who live under your roof know what you’re doing; to that end, you can disapply rule 3: stop with the public displays of breast-action altogether.
5. Never speak of the changes breastfeeding has wrought on your *looks around* *whispers* breasts. Preferably don’t even let your partner see them in natural light. Ever. Again.
6. Purchase breast pads and nipple balm in the same way as sanitary towels or tampons – in a discreet, almost embarrassed manner. In fact, generally treat lactating the same as menstruating.
7. If you break the rules, accept and expect that others will make their views known.
8. If you follow the rules, accept and expect that others will make their views known.
9. Even if you are awed and impressed by the super-soaker capabilities of your breasts, don’t put the photos in the baby album.
10. If you must speak about breastfeeding, try to confine it to the less desirable aspects, or weaning off of the breast, no likes a propagandist – bet you didn’t know “breast is best” is actually a shorthand for “breast is best not talked about even if it has amazing health benefits for mother and child”.