Tuesday, June 19, 2007

This post is not what you think it is.

Before I begin, let me state emphatically that I love and adore the site Ask Moxie. It's an awesome site chock full of sane, realistic parenting advice - all new mothers should read every single post of Moxie's about infant sleep habits (I have this one bookmarked at all times for easy reference - I wish I would have had this with my firstborn from the beginning). What attracts me most to her site is that hands down, Moxie has one of the greatest core of commenters out there. This is a site where I almost always take the time to read the comments if the topic applies to me.

Recently, two posts on her site have really got me thinking. I was really disappointed not in the posts themselves, but rather in some of the commenting going on. I am curious what all of you have to say.

In the first post, Are You Breastfeeding? a reader asks if he was wrong in asking a neighbor if she was breastfeeding her newborn. Another neighbor overheard the question and said “Your wife can ask that question but you as a man cannot.”

In the second post, "Are You Breastfeeding?" Response, Moxie follows up with some clearing up of the context of the question and asks if the previous commenters would change their answer. It turns out the guy knew the neighbor fairly well and had children himself. His breastfeeding question was posed more in a "commiserating" sort of tone.

What made me sad about many of the comments stating that "No, it's over the line to ask a new mother if she is breastfeeding" is that the comments ranged from Squeamish to Guilty. Here is my own comment to the second post:
I didn't get an answer in the first time because frankly, I had to "walk away" and think for awhile. Many of the comments just made me downright sad. Particularly, the ones that fell into the Squeamish or Guilt category.

There were many commenters who said they felt guilty for not being able to breastfeed and that's why the question bothered them. Then, there were many other commenters who were clearly skeeved by the idea of a man even asking about it.

Breastfeeding is only one of many questions that folks ask about new babies - I get all sorts of questions regarding diapers (cloth/disposable), sleeping (crib/co-sleeping), etc. Yes, many of these questions are tinged with Potential Judgment, but that's LIFE. There will always, always be someone lurking inthe corner waiting to point fingers and Judge.

Anyway, as a 37 week pregnant gal who will be breastfeeding again in a few weeks, my answer doesn't need context - I totally welcome any and all questions regarding breastfeeding. Until folks get more comfortable with the whole concept of a "baby sucking at one's breasts" we are going to continue reading news story after news story of women being kicked off of planes, asked to leave restaurants, kicked out of parks, pools and other public venues all because folks aren't "comfortable" with it. Again, not angry. Just sad. Very, very sad.

I think what is most disturbing is that it is very easy to dismiss most of the "anti-breastfeeding" commenters on other sites who are clearly uneducated and ignorant - I'm still shaking my head over the comments about Maggie Gyllenhaal and the mother in the Boca Raton restaurant. However, Moxie's site is different - these folks are clearly reasonable people and the overall tone of her site is moderation. In my experience, these are the normal folks we are encountering every day. Maybe it's the pregnancy hormones talkin' and perhaps, I am over-reacting (something my husband can attest I am wont to do), but seriously.

Is asking a new mother if she is breastfeeding really out of line?

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