Conversations: grade school breastfeeding educationBy Michelle | November 18th, 2010 | Category: Breastfeeding, Lactivism, Mothering | 2 comments
There’s something about riding in the car that brings out the conversation in our family. Between the front and back seat of my station wagon, we’ve talked about everything from ancient burial rituals to my story of adoption.
Driving to an appointment this morning, we chatted about different animals and what they eat – herbivores, carnivores, omnivores… Are there fruitivores, mom? Then the phrase I have come to both fear and cherish from the back seat, “Mom, can I ask you a question?”
Bravely, I say sure. “Well,” she continues, “I have been wondering what you learn about in your breastfeeding class.” Huh. Didn’t see that coming, but it’s a fair question – these two nights a week out have been playing a bit of havoc with everyone’s schedule. And, according to what Isabelle knows, babies breastfeed because that what babies do, so this much away time on the topic could seem suspect indeed.
I’m reminded that this is where it starts – the helping our daughters advocate for themselves. It’s one thing to show our girls with our actions that babies nurse – and it’s an important one. But so that they can advocate for themselves and others in a society where that advocacy is suspect and barely tolerated means they have to know in words what their hearts and bodies already know.
Yes, she’s 6. She doesn’t know that she ought to be outraged at the treatment she got when she was born. She doesn’t know that I hold out not much hope that she’ll have to brace against the same prejudices and misinformation that I did with her own babies.
That the science is still far behind what mothers have known since the beginning of time – and the application of even that science is slow and awkward and steeped in misogyny and oppression. That even the basic anatomy of the breast that we know to be correct today is not taught in medical schools – to the detriment of women and their babies. Yeah, she’s 6, so we’re not really going there.
Yet, breastfeeding is part of her body and her society – whether she goes on to have children of her own (she better!) or not, she can’t understand her own body and how families are created without knowing these things too. And I realize I’m overthinking this – she’ll ask her questions and I’ll answer them. Just like we do about every other subject. I believe that there is nothing off limits if she’s the one asking it – and I want her to believe that too.
She wants to know what I learn about in breastfeeding class and I want her to know too.
“Well, one thing we learn about is how women’s bodies make milk. Did you ever wonder about how that happens?”
“I did wonder – is the milk there always? Do I have milk in there now?”
And so we go, one step at a time.