Monday, April 27, 2009

How Do I Act Around A Breastfeeding Mom?

I was reading through the UK's Guardian website and saw this question in the "Dear Lucy" advice column.

What is the etiquette for a man when a female friend starts to breast-feed her baby in front of him? Do you look away but continue talking? Do you look her directly in the eyes - and nowhere else? Do you share the moment with her by looking down at her baby whenever she does so? Or should you just make your excuses and leave the room?

I braced myself for Lucy's answer. I thought she used humor nicely to discuss how this is a tricky area in modern life and how of course it's possible for men to talk with a female friend while she nurses, but it may be better to just get it over with and have a look at her boob so everyone can move on. Although she has a messed up way of describing it ("once you see a child chowing down on a purple-veined udder while its mother goes cross-eyed in agony, the spell will be broken and you'll never want to look again"), I think for most of us, once we see a woman breastfeeding for the first time, we realize it's not that big of a deal. Is it gross? No. Do women have udders? Indeed, we do not. If most women go cross-eyed during nursing it is not because they are in agony, but because that oxytocin is a helluva drug! But I think some people really do need to see nursing up close and personal, to really have a look and realize, "Oh, is that all? Move along people, nothing to see here."

So how should you act around a breastfeeding mom? Continue to talk to her the same way you would if she wasn't breastfeeding. Feel free to look at both the mom and the baby. If a breastfeeding mother is comfortable nursing in front of you, respect that she thinks you're enough of a grown up to handle it. If she wants to cover up, that is her choice, but don't ask her to. If she offers to leave the room, please tell her she doesn't have to. If you find that you're so uncomfortable being in the room with a breastfeeding mom, then excuse yourself, but don't expect a new mother to move to another room on your account. If she's visiting you in your home, don't offer her the back bedroom as a place to nurse. I can remember people doing this to me and it made me feel like an outcast. I didn't want to be relegated to a back room, I wanted to stay and enjoy the party! You may think you are being nice by offering a private space, but many moms don't want to be alone for 20-40 minutes nursing a baby when they could be having
some adult conversation with friends. If a new mom has prettied herself up and made it out of the house, let her enjoy the company! Follow her lead and she'll let you know what would make her the most comfortable. After all the indignities that come with having a baby, she probably won't mind if you catch a peek of boob. But for the love of all that is holy, don't look at her stomach.

Never want to miss an update of the Blacktating Blog? Subscribe here.
Twitter me- I'm blacktating

blog comments powered by Disqus
Related Posts with Thumbnails