JONESIE: The real problem with the breast-feeding debate

Hey, did you hear about the breast-feed-your-baby supporters who went before West Kelowna councillors last week? Lets just say a few boobs got exposed, badump-ump.

Thank you, thank you everyone. No please, hold your applause till the end. But seriously folks…. A few nursing students and an Interior Health person did what do-gooders do and asked West Kelowna council to support them support mothers who want to breast feed their babies and not feel harassed for doing it.

Now, first of all, just let that settle in for a moment. We need two levels of government and a council delegation to find support for breast-feeding — the third-most natural thing ever to occur to a mammal. Number one, of course is making babies and number two is the need to criticize other mothers, which is why we are really talking about this in the first place.

Because rather than smile and say nice things like you would normally expect, councillors chose, well, another route. As reporter John McDonald noted, the poor nursing students got a “rough ride.” As if they needed help finding an example of the problem. Now that noise you hear from Kelowna’s west side is the sound of some hard back-pedalling as councillors promise to revisit the idea.

But really, Coun. Rosalind Neis was closest to the mark, if you can forgive the logical gap in her comments. She spoke passionately, as a nurse, about having to counsel young mothers who couldn’t breast-feed or chose to bottle feed their babies because they were singled out by other mothers for being terrible mothers. Why that’s a reason not to support mothers who want to feel comfortable breast-feeding in public, only she can explain.

However, she did make the right point because Lord help new mothers everywhere for the barrage of opinions she is going to get.

It should be right there, Chapter One, Page One, Line One in What to Expect When You’re Expecting: “Congratulations, you are pregnant. Be prepared: Your glow is a beacon to invite all other mothers and some fathers to tell you everything you are doing wrong, scare you, intimidate you and make you feel horrible. This is compounded once the baby is born.”

Sixteen years ago my wife took our three-week-old son on his first outing and within moments some old hag came buzzing over like a locust to the crop, ostensibly to have a look at the little darlin’.

“You’re taking him out so soon? Oh, dear, he should be at home for at least a few months,” she said, complete with a tsk, tsk and a wag of the finger.

Mothers are ruthless with each other. How many of you have heard these delights: “Oh, just one child? You know he needs a sibling to be raised properly.” “Four children? You’ll never have time for them all.” “No children? What kind of woman has no children. You’ll regret it.”

Go on, tell me I’m wrong. I could be. Because for some reason, all these conversations were had when I was out of earshot and that’s where fathers come in. STAY CLOSE and ward off the hags.

And here’s a little piece of advice for everyone. The next time you feel the need to offer some advice to a new mother, ask yourself this question: Is the child in immediate danger? If the answer is yes, then fire away.

If the answer is no — JUST. SHUT. UP.

— Marshall Jones is the editor of infonews.ca

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