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More Stories - The Way We Were

Breastfeeding A La Mode

I am so thankful that efforts to promote breastfeeding and make it socially acceptable have finally paid off.  "Baby Blues", the comic strip that appears in the comic pages in millions of homes shows the newest baby, Wren, like her brother Hammy before her, happily breastfeeding.  While body parts aren't visible, it's quite obvious what's going on, even to the penned in sound bite, "Thup, thup".  The other day on a television show, a mother was discreetly and nonchalantly nursing her baby.  This degree of  acceptance is a great change for our society, and one so very much for the better.

My mother breastfed all five of us, as I did my three.  I coached my daughter long-distance in the Navy, and she was able to breastfeed for almost six months, a mammoth task which the Navy made allowances for.

When Mother and I nursed our children, it was almost unheard of in the USA.  It was actually considered a backwards and somewhat shameful thing to do!   If one nursed anywhere except in complete privacy, it had better be so discretely done that no one had an idea what was going on.  Once I went with a friend to visit an acquaintance of hers that had a new baby.  When it came time to nurse, despite our protests, she excused herself and shut them both up in the bedroom while she fed her baby.  The fact that I nursed, as did most women in our family, and that my friend was from a European community where nursing was normal, didn't cut any dice with her!  She said she couldn't even "do it" in front of her hubby!

Until a very few years ago, women could be - and were - arrested for nursing in public, even if no breast was showing.  I remember my mother giggling and giggling about one incident with baby Debbie.  She dressed the children and herself in a hurry, grabbed diaper bags and supplies, and went with Dad to a function a couple of towns away.  Debbie decided she was hungry, and went from fussing to loudly crying.  Believe me, this child would hit a decibel that rattled your head like none other I've ever heard! 

Mother, as she often did, went to the car where locked in and swathed in a blanket like a bhurka, she would "do the dirty deed".  This was not fun in a closed car in Florida sun, nearly leading to heatstroke before one was finished. 

Oh, oh!  She had absentmindedly put on a fitted dress with long sleeves, high collar and a back zipper.   Under the blanket she struggled to unzip enough to pull the dress down and free a nipple.  No dice.  No matter how she tried, she couldn't manage it. 

Debbie got louder and shriller.   Mother got desperate.  Having a diaper bag of cloth diapers (disposables not having come into use),  inspiration hit.  She closed each window of the car on a clean diaper, and hung others from the sun visors to block the windshield.  Stacking toys, diaper bags and other paraphernalia in the back window to block that view, and carefully locking all the doors as she climbed in the back seat, she took her dress off completely.    

Debbie was a slow diner.  Mother could hear people walking by -- some slowed down, perhaps trying to peek inside while passing, others accelerated, rushing by with a snort or harrumph.  Finally it occurred to Mother what people thought was going on inside the car!  And I'm sure she began to pray a policeman wouldn't come by as well. 

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The Sneaky Kitchen
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Web Site by Bess W. Metcalf   Copyrightę April 1999 - 201
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