There are two big breast fights going on at the moment and I’m nestled snugly between them. In the cleavage. Yes, even as you read this, people are waging war over boobs.The most public battlefront is over at Facebook where discreet images of breastfeeding have been deemed too offensive to remain on the world’s biggest social networking site. Wait, let me check the calendar because nobody told me a leap year means we leaped back to 1953.
Facebook, your ban is bollocks. Look, I know Mark Zuckerberg is really young and everything but it seems he doesn’t yet know the difference between “breastfeeding” and ”topless”.
Because unlike, say, flashing your boobs on a hens night, the only bit of breast visible during feeding is a modest glimpse of skin. It’s barely even breast. More like chest. And it’s far less than you’d see on display in the average food court. Unless your norks are enormous or your baby teeny tiny, their head obscures most of the action. So come on, Facebook. Pull yourself together and lift your ban. Honestly.
When it comes to bosoms, you couldn’t get two organisations more philosophically opposed than Facebook and the Australian Breast Feeding Association. They don’t like each other one bit. Do you know what else the Australian Breast Feeding Association doesn’t like? Formula.
I remembered this last week during a visit with a friend’s new baby when I was drafted into another breast battle, this one far stealthier. Before I explain, you should know this: I’ve breastfed three babies. Two successfully and one disastrously. I say this to establish my credentials as someone who has both loved and hated breastfeeding, who has felt like a legend and a failure, who has used formula at times and who is well versed in the complex politics of The Boob As Food Source.
My friend’s baby was four weeks premature, had lost some weight and was a little jaundice. Nothing serious but still anxiety-making for a vulnerable new mother mainlining hormones and sleep deprivation. Before I’d arrived, the paediatrician had instructed my friend to give her son a top-up with formula “even if it’s just for 24 hours until your milk comes in”. She cried. Tears are a typical new-mother response to most things (“Tea? Coffee? Why are you crying?”) but especially to the idea of formula. We feel like we’ve failed. Guilty. We fear our child will end up living in a cardboard box with no shoes and torn pants and it will be OUR FAULT BECAUSE WE FED HIM SOME FORMULA.
Groups like The Australian Breast Feeding Association have done a bang-up job at publicising the benefits of breastfeeding and I’m not being sarcastic. Is there a woman in the western world who doesn’t know breast is best? Message received and clearly understood.
It happens. It happened to my friend. When I arrived she was quietly seething, having requested formula from a midwife. The woman’s expression suggested my friend had in fact asked for a gram of coke and a naked male Twilight star off which to snort it. Ah, a Lactivist. These are the lactation ‘activists’ who believe so fervently in breastfeeding that formula is their f-word.