Friends and Breastfeeding

I’ve been trying to be friends with a girl. We know each other through friends and seems to have a lot of similar interests, but she’s just not going for it. Today my husband told me his theory on why: breastfeeding.

To be honest, I had almost forgotten that people get freaked out by it. I’ve already converted all of our main friends to at least not caring when I do it. Most of the time, I don’t realize that I even started breastfeeding Peanut until letdown. It’s just such a natural thing to me that I don’t worry about who could be getting offended.

I know that sometimes I startle people when they see me do it. I know that it’s probably weird especially for the people around me because being in my age group and having a child means that I’m likely the first person their age that they’ve ever seen breastfeed—if not the first person of any age (which is just sad).

But for someone to actually dislike me because of it? I just don’t know what I feel.

My initial reaction was “thank goodness” because it meant that it wasn’t that it wasn’t me. Thought, really it is me. Breastfeeding is a big part of what makes me, me. At least it wasn’t that I’m horribly annoying or something?

Immediately after, I started to just feel sad. Sad for her future babies that probably wouldn’t breastfeed if their mommy was so against my breastfeeding. Sad that someone would dislike me because of something to wonderful and beautiful. Mostly, sad because we live in a world where breastfeeding is seen as gross, inappropriate, and sexual.

Of course, all of this is just a theory. Maybe she doesn’t dislike me. Maybe if she does, it’s because of my bad jokes.

Have you ever had an instance where someone doesn’t like you because of your breastfeeding? What did you do about it? What would you do about it if you were in that situation?

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15 thoughts on “Friends and Breastfeeding

  1. You know what? If that is really why she doesn’t want to be friends with you, then screw her. She’s not someone you’d want as a friend anyway. Ugg.

    I hate that you live in an area where you are made to feel that breastfeeding is “gross” or not normal. I wish you could come here and hang out with my group of friends, who wouldn’t think twice about it. It sucks that you feel so alone and isolated, and I know it takes a lot of strength for you to do what you know is right for you despite societal pressure.

    As for the girl… maybe by the time she has a kid of her own, she’ll change her tune. And she might look back and realize how immature she was to act the way she did with you. Maybe you will inspire her down the line, you know?

    • I certainly hope so. I think a lot of people who see Peanut breastfeeding out in public probably have an initial yuck type of reaction, but my hope it that it stays in the back of their mind and one day when they have babies they’ll remember and it will seem a little more normal for them.

      Actually, some of the biggest breastfeeding advocates that I know have told me stories of the first time they saw a woman breastfeeding in public and how it grossed them out, but now they look back and admire the woman.

  2. I haven’t had that happen to me yet, but I’ve gotta admit that I was a little hesitant about telling my new neighbors that I breastfeed. They’ve been okay with it as far as I know. And to be quite honest, my 18 month old only nurses at naptime, bedtime and when she wakes up so no one really sees it anymore. To think that someone wouldn’t want to be your friend because of it is sad. I’m sure it’s something else. Maybe she likes to take her time when it comes to making new friends.
    I’ll say this, if you haven’t said “I need people around me constantly. I don’t like being alone.” 3 times within a 1 hour time span, then you’re in good shape. A woman who invited me over for coffee actually said that to me. Over and over. I’m creeped out and have no desire to be her friend. I have my own stage 5 clinger. She’s 18 months old. lol

    Kristi, Live and Love…Out Loud
    @TweetingMama

    • I only mention breastfeeding when it’s relevant, so I don’t think any of my neighbors knows that Peanut still breastfeeds.

      Though I do with that I could get Peanut to only nurse at naptime and bedtime. It seems like every time I sit down she wants to nurse. Actually, as I’m typing right now she’s having a fit because I just told her “Not right now, I’m busy.”

      I’m going to tweet at you about this. 😛

  3. “Most of the time, I don’t realize that I even started breastfeeding Peanut until letdown.”

    That is me ALL THE TIME. Except, I don’t even notice letdown. It’s more like “Where’s Margaret?…Wait: How long has she been latched? Anyone know?”

  4. i’m sure that’s not it, some people are just anti social? it never bothered me when you’d BF Dea. then again, i’m all for nursing.

  5. I haven’t had anyone be extreme about it, but I have noticed that some people kind of drift away from my general vicinity when I start bfing my daughter. I don’t know if they are doing it to give me the privacy that they think I need or if they are uncomfortable. I’ve noticed my in-laws doing it the most, actually. I have a friend who I can tell breastfeeding makes her uncomfortable, but to her credit she doesn’t say anything or leave the room.

    • Males in my family used to drift away when I started nursing, but over time they’ve gotten used to it. How old is your LO? Maybe it’ll just take some more time?

      If not, you could always have a talk with them. I actually ended up telling my dad that he doesn’t need to leave the room when I nurse. He was just doing it because he thought I may want some privacy so he was actually kind of relieved when I said I don’t.

  6. my kids are big but i well remember the resistance i met when nursing my kids…even in my own house! many people said, “eww, can’t you do that somewhere else?” and i would respond, “uh, NO. the baby needs to eat.” that was my response pretty much anywhere we were.

    we were in a restaurant with my in-laws and for the first five minutes, my father in law didn’t even notice i was feeding the baby. once he realized though, damn, you would have thought i was changing her diaper on the table! he got loud and obnoxious, telling me how disgusting it was i was feeding my baby during our dinner. i pointed out to him that she was making FAR less noise and mess than he was and would he please just shut up and eat his dinner.

    i also was rather unpopular at my office as i returned to work and insisted (in 1992) on a place OTHER THAN THE BATHROOM to pump. i had to threaten legal action and endure the wrath of the dept administrator for a bit BUT ultimately, a breastfeeding mom policy was instituted and it was worth the hassle.

    basically, i didn’t give a crap what anybody thought. i was doing what i felt was right for my kids and that was it!

    fwiw, i was encouraged by a friend to continue nursing after returning to work.

    • That is a fantastic stance to have on breastfeeding in public! I always try to do it where ever I’m at too (of course within reason because some places it’s just too inconvenient for me to breastfeed her) because people need to see it everywhere to normalize it in their minds.

  7. To bad you don’t live where I live, I’d be friends with you! I’m not the only one in my age group (21) to have kids,but I am the only one to breastfeed. I have a 2yr old who I still nurse and a 9 month old. I am the first to do any kind of attachment parenting tho, which is sad! That’s probably why I don’t have a lot of friends, there are not a whole lot of people I can relate to.

    • I’m also in a similar situation. I’m 22 and while a lot of girls around here have babies already (Utah has a very young average age of marriage and parenthood), most of my friends do not. I like to think that we’re influencing them to make more attachment parenting-type decisions when they do have babies. 😛

  8. It could be that she isn’t “against” breastfeeding, it could be she is just a little more conservative than you concerning it. Don’t jump to the conclusion that you are being hated or discriminated, but maybe consider that you are more brash than she is comfortable with. Some people believe that moments like breastfeeding are acts that are best done with care and a little privacy, and if you wish to make that in to a conclusion that breastfeeders are discriminated and oppressed, that is only your opinion that most don’t share, made evident by those who follow your blog. Also, you haven’t even talked to her about this, so she could just not want to be friends, it happens to all of us, not just those who breastfeed.

    This was just a little defense on her side. There are more sides to stories, and the most extreme is typically not the most true.

    • I can entirely understand that I may be more “brash” than she is comfortable with, but that’s the problem. Breastfeeding is not an act that is done with “care and a little privacy” because it is simply the act of feeding a baby. That is the whole purpose of this blog. Would you expect someone bottle-feeding to be “private” about it? If you are like the general public, you would not. Why is it any different with a breastfed baby? I do not believe that moms who breastfeed are “discriminated and oppressed”, but simply that if it is not treated as the norm to breastfeed in public, new moms may choose not to breastfeed. If we’re constantly hiding it, then new moms will think it is something that can’t be talked about so their problem will never get solved. If we treat breastfeeding as something gross and indecent, then when a baby needs to feed and is in a public place, that mom will continue to get thrown out, tweeted about, and ridiculed for doing what is best for her child.

      Also, did I not say in the post that this is all a big assumption? I think it’s very likely that she may just not want to be my friend. Honestly, that’s not too uncommon for me. I am a very socially awkward person. Nevertheless, the issue does come up that people choose not to be friends with breastfeeding moms because of their breastfeeding. I was just using this case as an example to make a point.

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