My thoughts on that breastfeeding photo

Some friends asked me how I felt about the photo circulating around on social media, of a lady breastfeeding openly on the mrt train. And then her subsequent facebook post declaring that she was not affected by the photo going around AND standing firm that there is nothing wrong with it. 

Well, before I start, congratulations on making it to the news and raising awareness on breastfeeding. 

My personal views on this episode? 

First, as a breastfeeding mother, I  feel the difficulties. Many times over the last 2 years,  Little Foot wants milk at the most inappropriate moments. And she wasn’t going to guai guai keep quiet if I didn’t let her get to the tap. And nope, she wasn’t going to wait till we reach the next private spot. 
Sometime before her 1st birthday, she also started to protest about the nursing cover. So I would run. Literally carry her and run to find a nursing room or sit in the car (oh yes, the luxury of having the mobile space). So we will not be nursing in full view of others. 

Then I started to educate her. Logic + nagging. Because I got tired of the situation!

“Do you want other babies to drink milk milk?” …”do you want uncles to see mummy milk?” . She got the idea somewhere along the way. And so we reached a nice compromise. She goes into the carrier and she would say “cover cover!” and nurse. Only in the car or when we have a room of sorts can she nurse without restriction. Fair deal.
So that’s us.  

Second, we all have rights. Your rights don’t overshadow mine and vice versa. I feel that perhaps all parties need not be self-entitled/ overly self-righteous.
It was not right for the busybody person to take the photo and post it online. That person ought to be ashamed of him/herself for doing it. 

Yet I also wonder if it was a little much to demand that a cabin full of folks who are not used to such a sight be made to watch in discomfort or “just look away” as the lady puts it. Just because “#proudbreastfeedingmama #useplasticbagtocoveryourselfwhenyoueat#nowrong #mybabywillalwayscomefirst #breastservingdifferentpurposes #notjustsex“?

 (so many hashtags…#fierce)

No babies are the same. Some prefer bottles, some want to directly latch, some reject milk. Some are feisty, some are gentle. So are adults. No two persons comfort level are the same. 

Personally, I respect that breastfeeding may make others uncomfortable. I have been there. I respect Papa Long’s discomfort at letting other men view what he felt they weren’t entitled to. 

And I respect our community’s awkwardness at what they feel is too much while some mothers, especially those who champion breastfeeding, challenge that it is a natural thing to do.

I also understand that there are girls and women who haven’t gotten to my stage and will be uncomfortable at the sight. I remember declaring how I was “scarred for life” when I witnessed my elder sister expressed milk some 10 years ago. And I almost never got round to accepting that I will do it one day because that is a natural thing to do. 

Today, people are actually awkward when I mention that I am still breastfeeding. Some of the elders frown discreetly. Some tell me in my face “够了” (enough already). I take it in my stride. Imagine me getting all riled up, whipping out my boob and breastfeeding in front of them just to make a stand. A bit much isn’t it? 

As an early Gen Yer, I watch how people from Gen X and older complain about us and the millenials saying we have a false sense of entitlement. Perhaps they are not too far from the truth? 

The lady challenged naysayers to try eating and drinking under covers.likely adapted from  arguments of “if you wouldn’t eat your lunch in the toilet, don’t ask my baby to.”

Telling people this is common space. Not happy you look away also hint of that sense of self-entitlement. 

Well…. if it was me, perhaps I would have gotten off the train and searched for a quiet corner to nurse. Maybe on days when I have more resolve, I may have tried to promote delayed gratification (a necessary lifeskill that parents today are stuggling to help their children learn because of or “instant” society and indulgent ways, and which Papa Long nags me about) and told Little Foot to wait or she can cry till we reach our destination (woe betide the other commuters). I would definitely have first offered alternatives like milk bottle (is it still no milk bottle drinking policy on trains?) or tried other distraction techniques. 

Still, who am I to say or judge? Because her comfort levels, views on this subject, and circumstances are not the same as mine. 

So I will reserve my judgement on this. 

And I wish her well on her motherhood journey. 

Meantime, I prefer that people don’t make sweeping statements about breastfeeding mums. 

We are have something in common, but that’s almost as good as just saying we are all humans. 

What I write may rile us some in the breastfeeding, but well, it is my personal stance. No offence. 
Peace. Out. 

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3 thoughts on “My thoughts on that breastfeeding photo

  1. Good point! I guess some mothers are fierce on championing breastfeeding. But being in Singapore, I agree that there are still many people who are uncomfortable with such sight….

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  2. A very well written piece with many valid points covered. Sensitivity and respect for others still very much in need in our local context.

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  3. I feel my son’s right to feed trumps a grown adult’s delicate feelings. I’ll always offer alternatives but if they don’t work, out come the boobs and anyone within earshot should be grateful for the peace instead of moaning about their sensitivities.

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