To Be Bold About Your Body When You Breastfeed

(Originally published on my Facebook account on the 24th of January)

So, I breastfed my daughter in public for the first time today…

Knowing I had an appointment I could not miss the day before, I subjected myself to hours of painful pumping, trying to fill bottles that would fill her during our time away from home. I told myself that she could feed from plastic nipples so that I wouldn’t have to experience glances from people I didn’t know and would never see again who were uncomfortable at the sight of a woman nursing her child. I said a long prayer the night before that she would sleep longer than the waiting time in the office so that I wouldn’t have to show skin in a space occupied by men who glare in fascination, but feel offended that my body is being used for something other than to pacify their personal desires.

What I was telling myself without fully acknowledging it was that I was going to subconsciously give others power over my body while taking away natural nourishment for Kai. I was going to give into the continued sexualization of breasts and add to the limitations women face, instead of celebrating liberation in the fact that I was able to provide for my child with my body. For the first time in my life, I was able to give of myself in ways other than carnal fantasies being fulfilled or being a portal that could bring forth children. My womanhood, once again, started to transform right along with the evolution of my skin being stretched out with the lines drawn across my stomach. My body, I found, continued to have purpose to it that would feed and fill my daughter.

I left the bottles behind.

And after an hour of napping, she woke up with the brightest eyes and started smacking her lips together, code for ‘It is time.’ I won’t lie when I tell you my own eyes scanned every crevice of the room as to wait for judgement to pour in. Her father, without saying a word, grabbed a blanket and covered us, giving me an added boost of confidence to do what I was given the natural ability to do. Thankfully, we are pushed into situations during moments of hesitation that call for us to be bold in our actions to remind us how our thoughts, more than others, can make us prisoners.

And he sat next to me with his ‘I dare any one of y’all to say something’ facial expression and I rocked and hummed. Fed and locked eyes with hers. I went back to the months prior during pregnancy and did that exchanging of words with her sort of telepathically, telling her “we did it!”

And she looked at her dad afterwards with a look of contentment that would have never been had I listened to the limitations placed on women regarding what we can do with our bodies. She looked at me again, three weeks in, and smiled as if she knew what it was to say “thank you.”

 

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