Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Breastfeeding and Burkas


In some cultures women are expected to hide their bodies.  Other cultures do not follow these illogical customs.

Within the culture, women can be the strongest voices in continuing the practice.  They demand that other women cover up and claim they are themselves more comfortable covering up, as they feel immodest otherwise.  They claim it is their right to choose.
Right to choose

The burka causes worldwide debate.  When the entire female body is a sexual advance to men, can we achieve equal respect between the sexes (as is our aim in the western world)?

Yet for most of the western world, women's breasts are also required to be hidden.  Puritan, Victorian, Muslim...the shame is the same. This is so accepted as to be invisible.

The price of shame

There are many costs, but one is fundamental.  Too many women are so ashamed to show their breasts that they are crippled when breastfeeding their own babies.   Baby burka, anyone?

Breastfeeding has become so darn discreet that some girls and women never see it.  Others see it as weird, icky, funny...anything but natural and normal.  They believe that feeding artificial baby milk from a bottle is probably just as good.  

Here's a recent and dangerous myth:  breastfeeding is only for small babies and not children who can walk and talk.   People in other cultures and times benefit from natural weaning after years of breastfeeding.  In our culture, despite formal medical recommendations, the very idea is shameful or even abusive.

A healthy breastfeeding relationship is the soundest base for a child to begin a healthy vegan diet.  With worldwide concerns over children's weight and health, (NZ and wider) this is vital.
BF Alex.jpg

The real shame

A culture fixated on sex and money owns our bodies and our babies' birthright. 

Breastfeeding mothers, will your children learn comfort or shame in breastfeeding?


  1. My first was breastfed until 18 months to the day, when I reluctantly had to give it up. My second is 8 months old and I can't even imagine weaning him yet. I will feed him pretty much anywhere and am quite happy to do my bit to normalise breastfeeding again. Occasionally I find a place where I don't want to feed in public out of respect to other people - during church is one example: I'd be quite happy to feed my baby while listening to the sermon but there are people who I know would be offended.
    When my babies were really little and we were still learning how to latch properly, I would cover us with a muslin wrap if we were in somewhere really public (like a coffee shop), but my younger baby especially HATED being under there. I don't blame him!

  2. Hi Susan,

    Really great to hear your story.

    I have always been interested in the religious mindset that dislikes breastfeeding. Do you think Mary covered up when she fed Jesus? (Answer, not according to the art!)

  3. Thanks for your post, Jess. Attitudes to breastfeeding can often be astounding. My father-in-law used to leave the room when I fed my babies (luckily, that just used to amuse me.)

    Anyway, you can be discrete when you breastfeed; it's not like you go around flashing yourself about (at least, not until your baby decides to pull off at the slightest noise, and then give a huge grin to the nearest bystander!)