Jason Toon


quality posts: 19 Private Messages Jason Toon

For parents raising children in foreign countries, breastfeeding seems like one of those issues that could be a minefield. It's touchy enough in North America; add in the general cultural confusion all expats experience and it's enough to make anybody nervous. Here are three accounts by North American moms of breastfeeding abroad.



Get your mind out of the gutter and look again.


Brazil: An American mom living in Brazil writes on the Expat Mums Blog, "I've been impressed by the level of acceptance and support for breast-feeding that I’ve seen. Pretty much every mother that I've met here has breast-fed." Not surprising in a country where the government sponsored the funny, cute ad shown above.

Mongolia: Canadian conservationist Ruth Kamnitzer writes in "Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan" about her three years living in the Mongolian countryside. "Their universal practice of breast feeding anywhere, anytime, and the close quarters in which most Mongolians live, mean that everyone is pretty familiar with the sight of a working boob," she says. But it doesn't stop there: "If a woman's breasts are engorged and her baby is not at hand, she will simply go around and ask a family member, of any age or sex, if they'd like a drink. Often a woman will express a bowlful for her husband as a treat, or leave some in the fridge for anyone to help themselves." Serve Cornflakes a la Mongolia at your next brunch!

France: What Wall Street Journal reporter and Paris resident Pamela Druckerman says in her book Bringing Up Bébé may surprise anyone who thinks France is a bastion of enlightened progressivism. "Breastfeeding isn't encouraged and many people find the sight of it disturbing," she writes. "Locals tell me that breastfeeding still has a peasant image." On the plus side, though, there's no chance your foray into the fridge for a midnight snack will turn into an involuntary breastfeeding episode.

If you've got experience nursing in a strange land - whether that means some exotic overseas locale or the restaurant down the street - share your bounty in the comments below.

 

devzero


quality posts: 2 Private Messages devzero

yes, I do need to get my mind out of the gutter so yours can float past.

HeadacheSlayer


quality posts: 5 Private Messages HeadacheSlayer

Breastfeeding in a strange land meant being the first one in my family--and my husband's--to breastfeed. I had little support with our daughter, and combined with her severe jaundice (made her very sleepy) and very bad advice from "doctors", I only lasted 2 months.

For my son, I was even more determined and educated myself--I still didn't have much support other than from my husband and daughter, but I nursed for 26 months.

Breastfeeding *is* the best, it's what we were meant to do. However I understand that for many reasons, a mom may not be able to, or even want to. At least be educated about the benefits of breastfeeding and the risks of formula.

I consider this--my daughter is VERY bright and does very well in school--she's at the top of her class in HS.

Her breastfed brother has the genius IQ ;)

brendan948725


quality posts: 39 Private Messages brendan948725

Maybe I'm blind, but I only see a boob. What is this really?



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bacalum


quality posts: 4 Private Messages bacalum
brendan948725 wrote:Maybe I'm blind, but I only see a boob. What is this really?



It's a multiple image. Look again. See the boob, sans areola and nipple?
See the partial baby's face?

No? Try again. An image of a baby's face is added so the baby's nose is where you might expect the nipple, with the baby's mouth seen below.

I like the idea of women breastfeeding. That's what they're for. Religious zealots have used the "sex is dirty and evil, therefore we're all dirty and evil and in need of God's mercy" idea to make even seeing a breast, let alone a breast doing what it's designed to do (supposedly by God, Allah, or whoever) sinful. Crazy!

When rich or powerful people propose a change, it is designed to make them richer or more powerful.

amreli


quality posts: 8 Private Messages amreli
HeadacheSlayer wrote:Breastfeeding in a strange land meant being the first one in my family--and my husband's--to breastfeed. I had little support with our daughter, and combined with her severe jaundice (made her very sleepy) and very bad advice from "doctors", I only lasted 2 months.

[...]

Breastfeeding *is* the best, it's what we were meant to do. However I understand that for many reasons, a mom may not be able to, or even want to. At least be educated about the benefits of breastfeeding and the risks of formula.


I'm sorry you had bad advice from doctors with your son, unfortunately it's still remarkably common even (especially?) in the US. Med schools typically don't cover it at all and residencies often dedicate maybe a few hours to breastfeeding education.

Also unfortunately, formula companies are more than happy to perpetuate the idea that breast is "best" because then they can say that formula is "just fine" or "good enough." And the vast majority of people don't go out of their way to get the "best" of whatever, they're fine with "good enough." Studies have shown that people will almost always say that breastmilk is better than formula, but those same people disagree with the statement that "formula is worse than breastmilk." Until that disconnect is fixed, things aren't going to change much. Breastfeeding is normal, formula is an inferior substitute. It's better than straight cow's milk, or nothing, but it's not as good as breastmilk.


CalcMonkey


quality posts: 5 Private Messages CalcMonkey

It's sad how in the United States, women are harassed by choosing to feed their child the best nutrients possible. I've seen this happen in public as well as just in conversation. People suggest that formula would be easier... they don't understand that the decision to breastfeed has nothing to do with what is easiest but is about what is best for the child's health!

ssowsun


quality posts: 0 Private Messages ssowsun

I'm from Canada and it's pretty well-accepted here to breastfeed in public and from all I've heard I was pretty nervous to breastfeed in public on a recent trip to the US; Mesa specifically. I'm happy to say that I didn't get one dirty look and definitely no nasty comments (we were there for 10 days so I NIP'd numerous times). In fact, one woman stopped in a department store, as I was nursing my daughter, to tell me how happy it made her to see me nursing in general and also nursing in public

takahari4


quality posts: 0 Private Messages takahari4

I'm a stubborn women. My 5th child is only 5 months old and I nursed my other 4 until they were between 16-18 months. I would front kick a mofo if they had the gall to criticize me for breastfeeding in public. I keep it covered up. No one other then baby sees anything.

w00tgurl


quality posts: 26 Private Messages w00tgurl

^^^^^
don't have kids but i hope i can breastfeed because it's the best, most natural food for a baby plus it helps your body get back to normal. but i'd throw some kind of cover over because i wouldn't want my boob on display for oglers. it's not for you all to look at, it's for the baby!

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beck12


quality posts: 41 Private Messages beck12

I know I am late to this convo but wanted to chime in. I practice what is called child-led weaning, which just means nursing until the child has outgrown it (and believe me, despite common cultural myth, they all do outgrow it, they will not & actually physically cannot nurse forever). For more info on a "Natural Age of Weaning" and what I am talking about you can read here by Dr. Kathryn Dettwyler Phd: http://www.kathydettwyler.org/detwean.html

Anyway, I have definitely heard my fair share of criticisms, had plenty said behind my back & read a lot of things online about "moms like me" and the funny thing is, I am not sure what a "mom like me" is even supposed to be like. Apparently (according to online posts/rants) we have "unresolved issues", are overindulgent to our kids, the milk has "no nutritional value" , etc, etc,

I worked 6 weeks after I had my 1st and nursed. I have a tattoo, my nose pierced, am feminine, wear makeup & dress nice most days (even now that I a SAHM). I worked in an industrial, male dominanated office, wearing a business suit, etc, etc. People think they have some idea about what a mom "is like" when she is a child led nurser. All I can say is a mom who does that isn't someone you can pick out on the steet, believe me. The only thing I can even say with any certainty is that she is probably well educated on the benefits of continued nursing for her child and herself & what is biologically normal behavior for humans AND she very likely has a backbone and has grown thick enough skin so she can put her family's well being ahead of social comforts and familia pressures most times AND that she is definitely VERY patient (lol). Because that is all I have ever seen out of any mom that I have known that has practiced child led weaning. Other than that - they seem as diverse as they come.

It is probably (socially) the hardest of all feeding paths to take. I quit talking about nursing or any reference to pumping at work at around a year when everyone assumed I would (should) wean. I then went to pumping in my car on lunch (wearing a cape) rather than deal with people's ideas/thoughts on it (since I had basically been told a number of times already that I *should* wean, "before he had teeth", "before he got too attached", whatever other reasons you can come up with).

Very few people IRL even know I nursed my 1st to 3 1/2 yrs old or that I am nursing a two year old now. I am not ashamed of it. You do however have to be aware that people might say rude or inappropraite things to me in front of my very bright & perceptive preschooler & he might internalize that. they may also be so bold as to say things to him like "You're too big for that" which my own fathe rsaid once to my son who asked to nursed & he was only 2 1/2 yrs old. My dad thought he meant well & said it merely like you might say to a 3yr old who suddenly asked to wear diapers after being potty trained for a year. My son immediately acted ashamed. I think there are a lot more "closet" nursers than people realize - and there are more moms trying REALLY hard to not upset anyone than people think too. there are even suggestions on how to teach childrne code words to ask to nurse while in public so mom or child doens't ahve to deal with unneeded social awkwardness. I just want to do the best I can by my kids. It is undoubtably the healthiest thing you can do for your child biologically (look at any study on long term nursing). Now granted, a child that age isn't generally nursing in public nearly ever - but even then, on occassion a child may want to or mom may need to (maybe they have been out all day & haven't had a chance yet) or the child may get hurt & ask to and I think overall it is sad that you have far more to fear in rude comments if you were to nurse your three year old after he hit his head, even very discreetly, in public then you do if you were to publicly pour Mt Dew into a bottle & hand it to a 10 month old for no reason at all. That is completely NO joke or exaggeration.

I loved the article about nursing in the land of Ghengis Khan - I read it back when it came out. I was nursing then & am still nursing now. It makes me wish that it could be like that here. It would make mothering a nursing baby & toddler a whole lot easier.

When people put restrictions on nursing moms (such as "as long as she is discreet enough")that really isn't true support for nursing. Supporting nursing is just that, support. By definition, support means to carry some or all of the load/lessen another's load - and putting outside people's various definitions of "discreet enough" onto a mother isn't actually supportive. It places the BURDEN on mom to have to somehow manage to make those around her & her baby comfortable with nursing.

Some people literally think that no moms should nurse anywhere even with a cover (those types suggest your home, your car, a bathroom or a nursing room ONLY), some think for sure a cover & then it's fine but any time you can see the baby's head that isn't discreet, some are fine as long as nothing on mom is showing, but babies head doesn't have to be covered, etc.

If you want to suppoort nursing moms, support a mom who nurses in being able to do so with as little problem as possible and that is real support. Putting the burden on mom to do anything other than what makes HER best able to feed the baby isn't support, it is restriction, and at worst at times it is a deterrent. If mom feels that those around her are uncomfortable AND she feels like she must take that responsibility to work around that, that often leads to moms supplementing with formula (which can lead to supply issues & other problems) or staying home more than they should (isolation) or not nursing at all due to social discomforts. Shy nursing moms are literally further discouraged by the occassional write you hear about a nursing momma being kicked out of some place for nursing.

These attitudes discourage nursing & anything externally put upon the mother that makes her not want to nurse or makes nursing harder IS not support. Read the article if you haven't. It totally explains what I mean. Mongolians DO actually truly support nursing, and so much so they actually embrace it & celebrate it, rather than shun it away into nursing rooms & under patterned special ridiculously named "hooter hiders" & such. Funny too we call them hooter hiders, after all many people consider Hooters a family restaurant.

Any time you say "I support you as long as", you may as well say "I support you, but" which everyone knows means ignore the first part of what I said & pay attention to whatever I say after the "but". I FULLY support a woman using a cover, or a nursing room or whatever she needs to make HERSELF comfortable. I would argue though that just as often what makes a a mom uncomfortable aren't her own feelings about nursing in public but her perception of how she might be viewed, the kinds of looks she may get or the comments she may recieve & THAT is the part I find rather ridiculous within our culture. If a woman just wants to use one & would use one even in Mongolia - then more power to her. If she feels she needs to use one due to cultural hangups - that is unfortunate. I used my car or nursing rooms at times too - especially at naptimes. It is nice to get away to a quiet place sometimes.

I also have travelled enough (sadly not since I have had my children) that I have seen women nurse in other countries. I can't speak for France, but I find it odd if they have issue with it since everywhere else I have been in Europe women nursed very openly. Perhaps they don't in France & I just didn't notice? It was a really weird, eye opening & great experience for me. It helped me, who comes from an area of low nursing rates, to see that it didn't have to be as weird as it is in the US. I was forunate to do this travel before I had kids, so I was able to get over any weirdness I had ever felt about it as well. Feeling weird about it is normal when you grow up here, using that as a reason to put pressure on nursing moms is where it crosses a line. I feel weird about lots of things, I don't expect anyone else to change what they do so I don't have to feel weird anymore. LOL

Anyway - sorry to get so long winded. I adore Woot & am excited to actually find the forums AND then to find a topic so near & dear to me (obviously). Thanks for allowing me to put in my perspective! Sorry if I was a tad too serious - I have just done so much reading & research on it & find it fascinating. ***please don't kick me out of woot for being so wordy*** lol

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kschouten


quality posts: 14 Private Messages kschouten

I am an extended nurser, too, and practice CLW, as do most of my friends. It helps a lot to have a community of support, though it was hard getting to the point where I knew enough people to feel so supported. I remember before I had like minded friends, nursing my ten month old daughter was difficult to do in front of a moms group I was attending for the first time. When I think back on that, on her being such a baby and yet seeming so old in the eyes of mainstream America to "still" be nursing, it seems sad to me.

Even before I had children, just based on the research on breastfeeding I was determined to make it to the 24 month mark, and then leave it up to my children from that point forward (little did I know that I would end up tandem nursing my kids who are almost three years apart, and that although the first months were difficult with both children, we found ways to get through them and reap the benefits of long term breastfeeding).

lilstar


quality posts: 0 Private Messages lilstar

Great post, Beck! I nursed my oldest till she was 4, my 2nd till 2.5, and my 3rd is only 5 months so nothing else has passed his lips unless he hoovered it off the floor without me catching him! haha. I remember cradling my 2nd baby in my arms and nursing him when he was around 10 months and thinking about how there was a large portion of society who believe he should wean soon, if not immediately! And it felt SO WRONG! Just a tiny little baby like him? He had no idea what society though, all he knew was that his tummy was filling with yummy milk and he was cozy and relaxed and happy in mommy's arms. I sat there silently thankful that his nursing time was less than half over and no one was going to force him to wean before he was good and ready to do so.

bradw76


quality posts: 7 Private Messages bradw76
bacalum wrote:It's a multiple image. Look again. See the boob, sans areola and nipple?
See the partial baby's face?


I'm not even sure it's a multiple image. I thought that was a chubby baby cheek in the foreground, with the camera being slightly to the rear of the baby's right side.

I like the idea of women breastfeeding. That's what they're for. Religious zealots have used the "sex is dirty and evil, therefore we're all dirty and evil and in need of God's mercy" idea to make even seeing a breast, let alone a breast doing what it's designed to do (supposedly by God, Allah, or whoever) sinful. Crazy!



There are a lot of "religious fanatics" that are the most fanatically PRO-breastfeeding people you'll meet. After all, feeding is what GOD made breasts for, not sex! It's as easy to blame a sex-crazed society that can't see a breast without getting aroused.

katgrrl


quality posts: 0 Private Messages katgrrl
Very few people IRL even know I nursed my 1st to 3 1/2 yrs old or that I am nursing a two year old now. I am not ashamed of it. You do however have to be aware that people might say rude or inappropraite things to me in front of my very bright & perceptive preschooler & he might internalize that. they may also be so bold as to say things to him like "You're too big for that" which my own fathe rsaid once to my son who asked to nursed & he was only 2 1/2 yrs old. My dad thought he meant well & said it merely like you might say to a 3yr old who suddenly asked to wear diapers after being potty trained for a year. My son immediately acted ashamed.


super super late to this but.....
so sorry to hear that ignorant comments caused your son to feel that way. My 2 year old just said "I'm sorry" to me, When i asked her for what she said "I'm sorry for na-na (her word for nursing)". I could have killed myself or anyone else for making her feel badly about it. I am totally ready to stop nursing but I guess I need to back of getting her to agree. I hope my reply to her was enough "honey don't be sorry. Na-na is what mothers do top help their babies grow big and strong and kind and smart like you."

and here I was all proud of myself for talking openly and honestly about my extended nursing. I guess i was being too open in discussing my willingness to stop.

some,times i am just not a good mom.