Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Stop Making Birth and Breasts Dirty


Nothing impresses upon me the importance of communicating body values to our children more than listening to women discuss birth and breastfeeding. What has a person internalized or experienced to come away with disgust and trepidation for basic human functions? Why are we not more concerned about this?

If a woman saw a mouth moving, chewing, swallowing food and she freaked out, saying it was disgusting and scary, we'd wonder about her trauma or suggest help. If she went on to say that she won't let her daughters see such a nasty thing, that she is protecting them from inappropriate and gross imagery, we'd be flabbergasted.

Yet, this is exactly what people do about birth and breastfeeding and we laugh along or even encourage it. The silly, overpriced breastfeeding doll comes to our country and parents are up in arms about it. Let's not even go into the war over those adorable plush "birth dolls" that give birth to a tiny baby and placenta. By the way women freak out online, I imagine they must be burning them in the streets.

These handcrafted dolls are amazing. Maybe if people could get past their issues,they'd consider them for their children.


Children are new to the world. They have no idea that the vagina is evil. They don't know that full breasts are gross. They don't look at a baby being born and think it's nasty or distasteful. Those are discriminatory judgments that they are taught to internalize.

Young people pick up on clues fast. If you make disparaging remarks, they learn from you. If you present birth as scary, dirty and gross, they learn to be terrified and grossed out about it. They are watching and waiting for you to take the lead. And if you don't, instead ignoring the issue until later, someone else will take the lead. Watch any popular TV show if you don't believe me. Birth is bloody, dangerous and traumatic in the media and breastfeeding is barely acknowledged. Or when it is mentioned, it's typically a headline about a woman being harassed or arrested.

I've watched my children as they meet their siblings at birth. They aren't grossed out. They aren't scared. They aren't being traumatized. It's one of the greatest moments in their lives. Their eyes light up. They look right past any blood or fluids to the tiny fingers and beautiful eyes. Their first instinct is to get closer, to touch the baby, to hug me, their dad, the baby.

Saying hi to #4

Stop teaching children discrimination. End the cycle of birth and breast disgust. YES. I'm saying to EXPOSE your children. Watch birth videos together. Discuss body parts and functions with anatomically correct terms and respectful definitions. Watch breastfeeding videos. Be respectful and supportive to a breastfeeding mother in front of your children. Answer their questions honestly and kindly.

YOU are telling them how to feel about it. Now is your opportunity to stop encouraging a cycle of terror and disgust involving one of most amazing experiences in life. Heal your inner hurts and give it a good try because this one matters. For you, for your children, for their future.


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