Not (m)any breastfeeding role models

Originally uploaded by Shannon Miller Lifestyle. Original can be found here.

Growing up, I didn’t know a lot of people who breastfed their kids—or if they did, I didn’t know about it. I am sure it was around me, but I don’t remember seeing it. When I babysat (which I did a lot), I never heated breast milk; it was always formula. Even with newborns. Even for the children of doctors and nurses.

As for TV shows, the only time I remember breastfeeding on TV was when it was a documentary about a tribe or indigenous culture somewhere. While informative, it just furthered a stereotype that I held that breastfeeding was primitive and not necessarily something for white moms in suburbia. The other images of breastfeeding on TV, show it in a bad light. The one that comes to mind is the 10 year old still breastfeeding on Game of Thrones from his clearly deranged mother.

Just to make sure I hadn’t missed anything—I am notoriously bad at remembering movies and TV shows—I googled it. I found one blog which gave the following examples:

Jackie had leaky boobs on an episode of Roseanne. She leaked through her wedding dress AND nursed while saying her wedding vows. Awesome. (see this post by dirty diaper laundry for more details!) Season 6, Episode 25

Pam on The Office struggled with breastfeeding at first and had a lactation consultant help her get a good latch after the nasty nurse told her that a bottle would be just fine. She finally did get a good latch on the wrong baby (hehe). Pam also pumps at work! Season 6, Episode 16

Miranda on SATC struggles with Brady not eating and won’t latch. She whips out her boobs (albeit stage boobs) in front of Carrie. “Your boobs are HUGE!” -[but don’t get me started about her lugging a car seat around NYC when she doesn’t even have a car … where is your sling Miranda?!?] – Season 5, Episode

Jamie nurses all over the city during an episode of Mad About You. Paul wants her to switch to the bottle because he is jealous of the closeness between mom/babe and wants to be able to feed. He is also embarrassed about her nursing in public, but Jamie doesn’t want to stop nursing yet. (the bottle ends up “winning” in the end though..) Season 6, Episode 10

On an episode of Friends, Carol is breastfeeding and Joey and Chandler freak out. Ross tells them to stop it because its just “my son having his lunch”. He then encourages them to ask questions. Way to go Rosco! Season 2, Episode 2 (the rest of the episode is pretty funny – all of the friends tasting the milk!)

I love the United States of Tara. Love it. This season Charmaine had a baby and so far the portrayal is “real-life. Tara as Alice comes over to help Charmaine and she has leaky boobs. Awesome. Welcome to my life. “You need to put nursing pads in your bra!” says Alice. The next episode Charmaine is stumped because she has had a boob job and isn’t sure if it is safe to breastfeed – so she goes out looking to buy a pump. I am not sure where she’ll end up with feeding, but I was happy to see leaky boobs! Season 3, Episode 5 {I also loved Neil’s diaper changing scene!]

Any others?

I know my sister breastfed her kids. I heard about it, but unfortunately, I really wasn’t around much when her kids were little— so I missed it. Still, she has been really supportive.

I guess, I really didn’t have (m)any breastfeeding role models growing up. But I have them now and I hope that my little Elephant will have them. I had multiple friends and classmates pregnant at the same time as me. Many of them are now breastfeeding Moms who I really admire. Also, some of the blogs I read have been very pro-breastfeeding (I am thinking about you Becoming Sarah—she is inspirational on so many parenting fronts, but also had a beautiful photo breastfeeding her 2 year old). Also, my friend Ayana at work.

I wish that breastfeeding was less taboo. Maybe it is more mainstream and that is what led to the cover of Time.

Other thoughts on breastfeeding: Introduction, Breastfeeding in Public (coming soon), Resources (coming soon)

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5 comments

  1. I breastfed Gaia from Oct. 1984, through Cead’s birth in Nov. 1986, and he stopped to Oct. 1989, only to have me birth Pippa in Nov, 1989, who continued to January 1993, whereupon Iska was born in Feb. 1993, whence I breastfed a toddler and newborn (tandem only 2 months). I repeated this when Finn was born in Dec. 1994 and fed Ski and Finn until March 1996, only to finally end with Finn in Nov 1998. Altogether, Oct ’84 to Nov ’98 with only 1.5 mos as a non-breastfeeding mom…we managed in every conceivable locale, situation, etc. including pumping in a restroom at Lambert while reading Nora Ephron…would never have done it any other way…a very satisfying aspect of mothering. Hat off to you as you continue during all your travels…

  2. This is so true and you know what I just don’t understand societies embarrassed relationship with it when it truly is so natural and normal in my eyes. Unfortunately I feel the media is to blame, women are and have been way to oversexualised thus leading them to believe that boobs are just for pleasure when really it should be the other way round. I have breastfed both my babies, Maia until she was 9 months old but had to stop as I fell pregnant and it was causing complications but I’m now up to 11 months with my second and I hope to carry on for a while. There’s nothing more amazing than being able to nurse your baby, wherever it may be, knowing you’re providing them with the best possible nutrition and at the same time sharing a closeness and bond like no other.

  3. I can’t remember (m)any role models either. But, I do remember a photo of my mother at a party when when I was very little. She was sitting, breastfeeding me, looking very young and pretty, and drinking a glass of wine. I have also been told stories of my great grandmother breastfeeding in her local pub whiles drinking a pint of dark ale!

    I am 41, and grew up in the US, and I think at that time women were fighting for their position in the workforce and motherhood in general was seen as something negative. I don’t remember any women saying to me, “when you grow up you have to have a family and be a good mother”, it was get a career. I understand completely, and I am sure it is kind of ironic that I have actually chosen to be a “stay at home mom”, (and I hate that it needs a title to justify this choice).

    It is hard finding a balance between paid work and raising a family, and it needs both parents to do their part. That can only be done when society accepts parenting as a necessary and important part of society and supports it with eduction and positive role models. – well, in my opinion, 🙂

    • Clare
      Both you and your sister were breastfed. As was I. So you come from a long line of breast feeding moms. How could you have forgoten that?
      Mom

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