Breastfeeding and the Normalization of Nudity

28 12 2011

Maggie Gyllenhaal openly breastfeeds... I don't know about you guys, but this looks totally normal to me.

On a friend’s page, a discussion about public breastfeeding occurred. Conversation turned to me admitting that my kids have seen me naked, and the idiots came out to play and told me how gross that was and that they’d pray for me. No one has ever been so stupid to me before, to offer their unsolicited and unintelligent advice to moi, mother extraordinaire. [I guess no one told you about me! Well someone’s telling you now– I’m the shit, so step off.] As if! Have any idiots attacked your mothering lately? This must be the kind of things the trolls are always complaining NCBers do to them. *scratches head* Well, there’s a first time for everything, so allow me to bite back.

Most people don’t have the gall to dispense their unwanted parenting advice to me. Even idiots can usually detect that a) I’ve got it all under control and running smoothly and b) my “death to you” face hardly rolls out the welcome mat for their BS. However, being that the internet is a playground for trolls and idiots alike, you’re bound to occasionally run into the type of clueless twit with no social filter (usually web-induced bravery, aka Plastic Balls) who totally overstep their bounds and think they have anything of worth to dish out to you on the matter. Below are some highlights.

ewww you dont hide your nudity from your old are they?

I would never…especially an 8 year old..ewww

i have a 7 year old and a 9 year old annd that just goes too far

I never heard of living like that…but EWWWWWWW I would never…my body as a mother is kids dont need to see it or understand it…My goodness

And in countries where nudity isn’t much of an issue, like Africa or Asia, rape is extremely common and not even fought against. You want to model our country after that???

Don't look now, Mother Mary, but your SIN is exposed.

het we are strong Christians and … I do not allow them to see me its private..their body is private

Watch out for the nip slip-- the kids will be scarred for life, and the men might rape you!

once your kids are big enough you should keep your body private between you and your husband,,,your kids dont need to see our bodies...noy judgeing you just saying it like it is….

bahahahahaha think about what yopu said…it makes nooo since

no disrespect intended you need help if you allow your children to see you naked all the time.Sorry but its just not a good thing

I’ll keep you in my prayers Elizabeth. I feel bad for you if you have to let your children see you naked…I really feel bad for you and them.

I have probably seen more in life than you have and [don’t?] need your help to understand the human body. As far as you being shy…be real

well if anyone supports that then you all need to be in the circus…That is crazy….

really…letting your 8 year old see you nude thats a problem…I am sooo not against breastfeeding your child I think its great but cover yourself up.


And for the record, I didn’t say I was constantly nude, or volunteering to get nude just to show it all off to the kids. I said that my kids have seen me naked, as in, if I am getting changed, in the bath, or feeding the baby, they will see me naked, and I don’t treat it like it’s the end of the world. It’s not an emergency, I have nothing to hide, and I’m not in a mad rush to cover up.

It is my humble opinion that attitudes like those expressed above are the reason that breastfeeding is still so taboo in our culture. All of the women in this discussion were for breastfeeding, but it was very conditional, and some of them were extraordinarily judgmental over children of your own being exposed to your nudity. I suggest that if there were less stigma on the perceived perversions of our naked bodies, we would be a healthier society, and breastfeeding would be less shocking to most people.


Asia and Africa aren’t the only “countries” (ha!) where women may be more nude and less shameful of their bodies. Even white countries, European countries, have less hang-ups about the breast. Some European nations even have nudity– including breasts– in television commercials! Do they also have more rapes? No. They have less sexual repression, less fear of the breast, and better education. They have fewer rapes.

This idea of the primitive savage being unclothed and barbaric with uncontrollable lust is a white Western perpetuation. Countries with more rape have their own societal problems, but they don’t necessarily stem from nudity. Nudity itself is not a provoker of rape. Repression and fetishizing of nudity, however, may very well be.

Avert your eyes, children! Mother is about to be made unclean. UNCLEAN!

America holds tight to long antiquated Puritan ideals when it comes to our bodies, and it has turned us into raging perverts (as were the Puritans). Only through healthy acknowledgement of our bodies and sexuality can we cure our perversions, get over our weird issues with the body, and even have less crime from sexual attacks. And, maybe we’ll even get to feed our babies and have it not be a “thing”.


As for me, I’m still shy and modest and have a hard time being uncovered while breastfeeding in public. Truth be told, even using the cover in public has made me feel embarrassed, but I press on. I do what I have to do for both my baby and the greater good of society, and the braver I get the better it will be. I still have a ways to go… it’s like I can feel society’s weight on me any time I need to be natural in a pure and innocent way. But, it’s kind of our job to smash that, isn’t it?

The more we realize that seeing a little breast is no big deal, the better we’ll all be.


Bonus:    If you’re like Senator Tankerbell, you find yourself to be… aroused… and titillated… and confused by the counter-culture! The repressed will find sex in everything. They don’t need an exposed tit for that. The below is Rated R. Enjoy!

Taught Fear

21 12 2011

There was an old story once long ago in China that was told to its people. It might have been told by an emperor or magistrate to his people, or something along those lines. Anyway, the story goes that a couple was walking in the woods one day. They left the boundary of their territory, village, what have you, and came to the grim discovery that the entire outside world was nothing but a giant spider. This dismayed the couple, to say the least. In fact, it ruined their lives.

As most of us may suspect, the story wasn’t true. It was told as a way to keep the people within the boundary, content and obedient. And it worked. They were thankful to stay and play by the rules, thankful to not have to discover the terror that may lie beyond the boundary.

It made ruling over them a lot easier. When people think you have given them mercy, they are grateful for you, even if you are slapping them in the face. Times may be tough, and people may not agree with everything happening in their homeland, but at least they didn’t have to discover that the outside world was really just a giant spider!

The fear of learning more –learning too much– is a common theme in humanity’s history. Eve’s eating of the fruit, Pandora opening the box– these come to mind. It is usually a woman who starts the trouble, isn’t it? 😉

People are easy to control and manipulate, because it is our nature to want security. We want someone else to protect us, someone else to be in charge, and if someone warns us not to look behind the curtain we are all too willing to oblige because the fear of changing the way we live and think is much more terrifying to us than admitting that all our previous senses of security were built on lies. We put authority into the hands of others as sheep to a shepherd, and we are grateful for it. We don’t even mind that maybe we are being preyed on. To most people, knowing more is simply not worth the risk.

When it comes to birth, we have a choice:  believe in the spider, or risk the knowledge of everything that lies beyond the territory, even if it terrifies us. Face the unknown, or live inside the box. We have a choice to recognize that authority does not always present the truth or the whole truth for reasons which benefit them and/or maintain a system. Sometimes authority itself believes the tale, and in such ways are not entirely to blame. The emperor in this story, like many doctors and midwives you know, perhaps did not make up the tale himself. Maybe he was told by the previous ruler, or by an adviser,  or read it in a historical text, and they so believed as did the people of the countryside– never venturing or wandering. Never straying.

I’ve seen the land beyond the boundary. I promise you, it does not consist solely of a giant spider. Fear was taught to us by authority, written in books given TO authority, and everyone took everyone else’s word for it. Question. Seek. You will find.

Besides, even if I were wrong or lying, wouldn’t you rather discover the truth for yourself? Wouldn’t you rather know if the spider beyond the land were a fact, or would you too be content to live the rest of your life in obedience within the boundary that others mapped out for you?

“But doesn’t fear save lives, Elizabeth?

Not really. For the intention of freeing your minds, I like to differentiate between fear and instinct/knowledge/wisdom. The villagers in the story stay within their territory due to a common human trait– fear of the unknown; fear that was instigated and perpetuated by authority figures as a means to control. This fear, like most fear, was based on falsehood and illusion.

Instinct, knowledge, and wisdom, however, is what keeps us safe. It is not ignorance or fear that keeps us from putting our hand in a fire. Sure, no one desires to get hurt, but for the sake of this conversation, I wouldn’t call that “fear”, per se. We have the truthful understanding that it is all too likely we will cause ourselves harm to put our hand in fire. That instinct keeps us safe.

When it comes to birth, many live in fear. Fear of the unknown.  Fear from the stories they were told. They are controlled by what they are told, and live contentedly within the boundaries painted for them because they believe in the giant spider beyond. They would rather “play it safe”, because popping the bubble of the security illusion to risk finding out great terrors is not something most people choose to face.

It takes a certain leap of faith that these terrors were illusions in order to proceed beyond, and I would argue also good perception, intuition, and wisdom are required. Those of us returning with stories of the realities are laughed off, called liars, called reckless and dangerous, even censored. Some of you will believe that, but some of you will grow skeptical, begin to question, and maybe… just maybe… walk into the woods for yourself. That’s what makes it all worth it.

The truth is that there are some spiders beyond the woods of birth (metaphorically speaking), but most of them are manageable. The world is not just a spider, it’s the world. It has many things, and most spiders are little and benevolent. Like everything in life, there are potential dangers, and also glorious beauties and discoveries, but entirely worth believing in yourself enough to take the walk and live your life, free.

Neonatal Resuscitation

7 12 2011

One of the biggest fears when talking about UC (unassisted childbirth) is how to respond to emergency scenarios. A common fear is that the baby will not be breathing or responsive at birth. I believe that having some idea of what you would do in a crisis is extremely important. Not only is it a life saver in the rare event that you face danger, but it’s invaluable for instilling the confidence and peace of mind needed for a truly relaxing birth for you and baby. After all, panic will help no one, even if you are presented with a challenge. Be prepared!

So, here are a few things to remember on the topic of neonatal resuscitation. This is not to be construed as medical advice; please research all subjects independently before making any decisions with regard to the health of you and your baby.

  • Babies are instinctively stimulated by mother. You can read more about how mothers tend to do this to illicit a response here in Emergency Childbirth: A Manual, by Gregory J. White. Lisa Barrett (midwife) also remarks, “Rubbing a baby and gently blowing and talking is usually enough to ensure the baby opens her eyes to look and take a breath. There is usually no rush as with a cord pulsing the baby is normally getting plenty of oxygenation and will come into herself pretty soon.”   Keeping the baby warm and stimulating it are usually more than enough to achieve positive results.
  • There can be a delay in crying, pinking up, or drawing first breath– don’t panic! The two previously quoted sources also support this and provide elaboration.
  • Aggressive tactics for administering oxygen are no longer generally recommended, and are often not even used amongst the medical community/rescue services. The Lisa Barrett link as well as the Emergency Childbirth text will discuss this more, including how utilizing pure O2 has not been proven better for neonate resuscitation compared with blowing shallow breaths for the infant (this too can be instinctive). In fact, these days, using oxygen on a newborn is considered to do more harm than good and so is foregone in favor of the gentler revival techniques. The International Association for Maternal and Neonatal Health (IAMANEH) also state that an oxygen tank is NOT essential for neonatal resuscitation, that the mask and bag are more appropriate (which is equivalent to shallow mouth-mouth), and even warn against routine suctioning of mouth and nose of infants after delivery.
  • Take action first, dial for help afterward. In an infant CPR video, EMT and Captain Nathan McConnell warns that if your baby needs help, your time is best spent attempting to stimulate and resuscitate. He recommends giving at least 2 minutes of care before stopping to call 911. Precious time could be wasted if you choose to dial emergency services first. By the time they respond and arrive, it could be too late, and since every second counts, immediate attention is key. Since life saving resuscitation techniques tend to be the same both at home and in the hospital, knowing how pros handle it will be critical to making sure you’ve done just as they would, and that you’ve done all that you can do.
  •  IAMANEH details the appropriate steps to neonatal resuscitation and speak on it very practically. Basically the steps (see all the links and sources) involve stimulation of the infant, clearing the airways, breathing for the infant, gentle chest compressions, and repeating.
  • Signs the resuscitation was successful include pinking of the tongue (lips alone are not indicative), overall raised APGAR scores, good pulse and good breathing. Resuscitation efforts can go on for up to 10 minutes or more, and 10-20 minutes is usually the period where further attempts would prove futile.
  • Finally, understand that the majority of the time, everything is just fine. The odds of you having to do any of this are slim. Knowledge of neonatal resuscitation techniques can be there for you just in case. You need to learn them, know them, get familiar and comfortable with them, keep cheat sheets, and then put it out of your mind. Don’t dwell on a negative potential… focus your attention on the actual reality and remain calm and optimistic. You have every reason to believe that birth will go smoothly, so don’t worry yourself sick (it only distresses the baby and increases the chances for dilemmas).

Nothing beats taking a class. If you’re like me, you have taken a class several years back and even been certified, but keeping current could be beneficial for both increasing your confidence as well as hearing the updated recommendations (as these change from time to time). Hear what the pros have to say, and if possible, get certified. If you’re unsure of your ability to react quickly in an emergency, do drills. Include everyone you think will be present at the birth. Think of all possible scenarios and outcomes. Have Plans A, B, and C.

Like I usually say– even if you don’t plan on having a UC, being as prepared as you would need to be to have one is such a good idea, because you never know where you’ll find yourself and what will happen. Accidental UC’s happen all the time, and mothers who weren’t expecting it and were not prepared experience worse outcomes than intentional UCs that were thought out in advance. When it comes to birth and nerves, education is key. Never hesitate to transfer to a hospital if you suspect something is amiss with your neonate and they do not appear to be thriving. It’s always better safe than sorry.

Why One Midwife Doesn’t Want You to Learn Neonatal Resuscitation Skills

7 12 2011

My article on Neonatal Resuscitation was removed from The Birthing Site because one midwife took issue.

Her argument is that laypeople cannot learn neonatal resuscitation.

Cannot, or should not?

I knew when I discussed with TBS about potentially writing for this subject that this particular topic was touchy. I asked them first. I let them know my intentions. I knew I was too much for people, not for everyone’s palate, and I knew that there could even be some concerns about liability surrounding this. Yet, I was enthusiastically received, published, and was praised both by them and other sites and members for writing a great article. People said it was helpful. It only took one professional to say “Nuh uh uh!” to have the information hurriedly snatched back, amidst apologies and thanks for their expert valid opinion.

Well, I’m not sorry. I did nothing wrong. I won’t apologize for writing it, and I won’t keep it from you. I will publish it again here. Look for the follow up to this piece.

Things in life sometimes ARE complicated. Our digestive system is complicated, yet we eat every day. Our nervous system is intricate, yet most of us move daily. Most things in life are a paradox, both simple and complex. Birth is one of those things. Neonatal resuscitation can be one of those things. There are probably 1 million and 1 things to know and learn about it, yet birth and resuscitation happens every day all over the world and largely without fuss. We need to find the balance between the intricate and the simple. The confidence to flow with the simplicity of nature, and appreciation for the complexity — we re-educate ourselves in an effort to regain the confidence stolen from us by the established businesses who hold authority over our heads. With it, they control our very life and death. I don’t know about you, but I’d like a little knowledge and a little say in that.

You can’t censor information. You can’t burn books, even if you’re afraid of what the commoners might think they’ve learned from it all. People in authority think information is dangerous. That’s the story of humanity. Choices and freedom are still for us to have. No one can “let” you do anything. You have the right to birth your way, and you have the right to read my article. What you do with that will always be your final choice. You are in control.

The facts are this:  Most mothers who feel the need to stimulate a response from baby achieve this naturally and with ease, unless someone has given them fears to hold, fears that they won’t know what to do, that they aren’t good enough to handle it on their own. That panic leads to death. Not being calm, irrational hesitation on your part leads to death. Not knowing when to call for outside help leads to death. Letting their fears contaminate your mental space is a graver danger than birthing without assistance.

Take back your power, think for yourself, and live.

I was the "liker" there, btw.

Now she's talking about breathing tubes? These are not a normal aspect of neonatal resuscitation. This woman is a midwife. I was not aware that midwives were trained and skilled with intubation. It is not recommended that people utllize intubation who are not skilled at doing it very regularly, since it can injure the throat (especially so for a neonate!). She is not making a case against UC, she is making a case against home birth.

I’ve read Samantha’s comments again and had this to add:  so much of what she is saying to do to stimulate the newborn is exactly what I am talking about (for example, rubbing). She and I are on the same page there. I am not sure how her info there is better or contrary to mine… it’s not. It’s in harmony with mine.

It terms of some things I found insulting… looks like a copy paste job? No, I wrote it all. I wrote it myself. That’s pretty inflammatory. That sounds accusatory. These are MY words. Never held a life in my hands? What on earth does that mean? I’ve been responsible for three newborn lives in my lifetime, the last of which was MY own UC. Of course I’ve held the life of a newborn in my hands! I would argue that every mother has.

So, I stand by my work, my good intentions, etc. Samantha having “UCers best interests at heart”? She is discouraging learning more. I am advocating it. She sympathizes with UCers. I am one. She’s a midwife who believes she is necessary. I believe you can DIY. I don’t think having their best interests at heart quite fits.


And this, my dears, is how one single person with a title after their name can silence others using fear.