The westernized countries, such as New Zealand are all about promoting breastfeeding, which is totally in their right to do but then, encourage mothers to do it behind closed doors. One of my good friends who recently had a baby has just travelled to Uganda with her baby and husband, she stated the other day that there was a "Very relaxed breastfeeding culture here actually, it's nice." There are no shirts sold with the pockets to hide the breasts, they just whip it out and feed their child. This is an awesome concept to those mothers that had 50 gazillion ties or clips to undo then make sure the child is in the right place with out showing all your goodies to the world. (by the way I was one of these mothers)
Here is my experience of breastfeeding and yes, it is only ONE person's experience but I hope that I am not the only one that felt or is feeling this way:
"My daughter was born 9 months(ish) ago, 5 weeks early and quite a surprise. I had absolutely no idea about breastfeeding except a short dvd on the benefits (not an instructional video which would have been far more useful). I was lucky enough that Summer (Miss 9 Month) was kept in hospital for her Jaundice for a week or so as this allowed the lactation consultants to teach me everything they knew. Even so, I went home not fully aware of how to breastfeed properly, and struggled with my 2kg baby as to positions to hold her in. When I got home, we realised that formula couldn't factor into our budget at all that week so I struggled past the first week and had the result that every breastfeeding mother hoped for. Summer gained weight. This should have made me happy, ecstatic, sane! But tired,grumpy, emotional me just wanted to scream out for a valid excuse to stop breastfeeding. The time wasn't as 'bonding' as described, I loved my daughter more than the world itself and although this sounded selfish, I wanted my body back. As I look back now, 9 months on, I realise that this isn't selfish, if I had given up breastfeeding at that point, I would have been a happier, more content, able and saner mother to Summer. Instead I was thoroughly upset almost consistently over the next few months and the guilt weighed heavily for thinking such selfish thoughts. I yelled and I screamed behind closed doors and felt beyond alone yet could feel the world judging me. My sister came to stay with me over this time and I had put on the facade that I was okay with breastfeeding, "I just whip it out now" I told her a week before she came. Her response, "oh you don't really just whip it out do you?" I laughed it off, racked with sadness that my own family had reservations. My best friend was the other extreme, "She should be sleeping through the night by now, your supply isn't going down is it?" Both of these people, my sister and friend, don't have children and people without children in my opinion should not offer their opinion! Only support, non-judgemental support. My soon to be brother-in-law was boarding with us at the time and was particularly unsupportive, leaving me with no other choice than to lock myself in my room every 3-4 hours. The one moment I was at peace with my emotions was when my aunty came for a few days to stay and told me that 'my mum had issues with breastfeeding' (my mum had passed away when I was a child) and my sister went to hospital severely dehydrated because mum wasn't comfortable to breastfeed her beneath the hounding eyes of all my uncles and other family. I could definitely relate as I had sometimes resettled Summer and fed her at a less public time, with her actually missing out. Expressing wasn't an option as I could only express 5mls at one sitting maximum.
Recalling my experience even now makes me so upset, as I feel the judgement on myself building up again. However at 4 months I called it quits before I suffered a mental breakdown. I weaned her onto her bottle within a week and after that life got so much easier. My fiancee took over her weekend night feeds and I managed a full nights sleep for the first time in 4 months. My emotional strength grew and I felt like I was enjoying my daughters company instead of counting down the minutes to the next feed. There are things that people don't tell you before birth and this is one of them. I hope I'm not alone with my thinking but if I am, this burden on my shoulders seems to have lifted after sharing it with you all."
So in conclusion, whether it was my reservations or societies, I think that society needs to enforce open breastfeeding EVERYWHERE or let mothers make up their own minds without judgement. I don't advocate either way because the third option should be MYOB!