Thursday, January 19, 2012

Normalizing Nursing: A step out of my comfort zone

Dear Delilah,

Last week, Lani Michelle of Boobie Time, the mama behind the movement to bring breastfeeding back to Sesame Street, requested images for her post on a Mommy's View of nursing. I immediately knew that I wanted to participate and started looking through photos for the perfect one to contribute. I've got plenty of blurry, hastily snapped photos of nursing from my perspective, but none of them were "it".

I recalled that when Nicole of Bella Photography took your 3 month photos, she also captured some beautiful shots while we took a break so that you could nurse. I have shared many of those images since then. In fact, they comprise the current header and buttons for this blog! As I was looking through those photos, I came across one that I had forgotten about. Taken over my shoulder while you paused to look lovingly up at my face, it had been one of my favorites, but very few people had seen it. Why? Because it contained *gasp* my entire nipple.

Photo by Nicole Aarstad

While I've had no qualms about sharing nursing photos far and wide, I hesitated to share this one. Not because I was embarrassed about it or thought that there was anything wrong with it, but because I feared what sort of reactions people might have to seeing my entire breast, even in a non-sexual context. That fear has kept me from sharing an image that speaks volumes about that magical but brief time in my life, when my body provided all of your nutrition and was a primary source of comfort and safety for you.

Looking at that photo, I can almost feel your soft baby skin and your silky hair. I can almost smell your sweet breath. I can almost hear your little coos and contented sighs. This photo reminds me of how healing our nursing relationship has been for me, and how in awe of my own body I was before, during, and after the process of bringing you into the world.

I was quick to send Lani the photo before I lost the courage to do so. I stepped out of my comfort zone to help demonstrate that nursing is normal and beautiful, and that it is not something obscene to be covered up or hidden away. Using breasts to feed babies is the biological norm, not an indecent act to be censored. If sharing this image can help to convince just one person that breasts are not inherently sexual, and that their sexual purpose is but an added benefit to their existence, it will be worth any sideways glances or criticism my sharing it might bring.

If I want to do my part (and I do) to normalize nursing and desexualize women's bodies, I've got to be brave. I've got to show, talk about, and support nursing anywhere, at anytime, and with anyone. I can't be afraid of what people might think, for it is that very fear that keeps so many women from following their heart's desire to nurse in the first place. I've got to it for them, and I've got to do it for you, so that if you become a nursing mother one day, you won't feel ashamed or embarrassed by the natural beauty and wonder of your body.

Love,

Mama



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10 comments:

  1. Beautiful post and AWEsome portrait! I'd love to have nice nursing pics of my littles.

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    1. Thank you! <3 It's nice having a friend who takes such beautiful photos, and who is comfortable getting so up close and personal while I nursed! :)

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  2. Beautiful photo, and yay for stepping out of your comfort zone! <3

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  3. Thank you for stepping outside of your comfort zone. The photo is beautiful; a true capture of momma and baby love. :)

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    1. Thank you! It really does capture the overpowering love of those early months. :)

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  4. This touched my heart greatly. Thank you so much for sharing this. Congrats on pushing those boundaries. I know it had to be really tough, but no matter how big or small this step was for you, it was a great one. Take pride in the accomplishment you made here in this post.

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    1. Thank you! After the warm and supportive response I've received, I feel kind of silly for being afraid to share it sooner. The photo is almost 2 years old!

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  5. What a gorgeous photo, Im glad you plucked up the courage to share it :) I can totally relate with your nervousness to share and I think many more moms do to.

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    1. Thank you, and thanks for sharing the post! <3

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