by Kim Chambers
The recent trend of celebrity breastfeeding selfies bothers me. I fully support the intention behind these images, to raise awareness of breastfeeding’s benefits and normalise breastfeeding in public.
Breastfeeding advocates will surely be chuffed at the priceless publicity recently generated by beautiful celebrities such as Jaime King, Pink, Gwen Stefani and Giselle Bundchen, whose Instagram feeds show them proudly and expertly breastfeeding their babies.
Pink is quoted as saying: “I think breastfeeding is healthy and natural and it’s a comfort to my baby.” She’s right, of course. The benefits are undeniable. And actress Jaime King says in her Instagram selfie caption: “These are the moments a mother lives for.” Yep – I’m sure mums do.
Five years ago I was struggling to breastfeed my firstborn and consumed with peer pressure and guilt to get it right. I tried and tried to make it work. But it didn’t. My baby rarely latched properly and my milk was woefully scarce. If back then those same celebrity selfies were doing the rounds, I would have told their perfect faces where they could shove their blooming breasts.
Many mums, despite heroic efforts, just cannot breastfeed their children. I can attest to many occasions where I felt a complete and utter failure watching my friends’ babies suckle away quite happily. My firstborn preferred a bottle and in the early days I put a lot of effort into bottle feeding her in private because I felt ashamed I couldn’t breastfeed.
New mums are a bit fragile and I was as weak as egg shells while struggling to breastfeed. I remember feeling slightly inadequate when my Internet feed was spewing out images of celebrity mums ridiculously snapping back into a size 8 shape, weeks after baby was born. Thank goodness the breastfeeding selfies weren’t also doing the rounds. They would’ve been as popular as lemon juice in a paper cut.
In my view, their selfies do not reflect the reality that myself and so many other mums live through. Here’s what my breastfeeding selfie would have shown: A pink faced, desperate mother hunched over her equally pink faced and desperate newborn, who is struggling to suck more than a couple of mouthfuls of milk from mum’s faulty flat nipple which is red and raw under an unnatural silicon, sombrero-shaped nipple shield. Glamorous.
For all you celebrity mums out there, please, spare a thought for us lesser mortals who don’t find breastfeeding “natural” or “a comfort.” Giselle Bundchen may be the hottest woman alive but I am thankful I didn’t have to suffer through her Instagram breastfeeding photos, or her comments in one magazine chastising people who choose to give “chemical food” to their child over breast milk. It would have been sent me into a hormonal rage.
I like that celebrity mums are supporting breastfeeding, I really do. I applaud that they’re lending their support for breastfeeding mothers and their right to feed in public. But the celebrity selfies make breastfeeding look so glamorous and expert, so natural. This is harsh to stomach when my own personal experience was anything but.
If I could have successfully breastfed my firstborn I certainly would have. I so desperately wanted to. So I take my hat off to actress Jaime King who I think sums up her beautiful breastfeeding selfie quite nicely: “Breastfeeding should not be taboo – and bottle feeding should not be judged – it’s ALL fun for the family.”
Wouldn’t it be nice if, one day, a high profile celebrity mother who wasn’t able to breastfeed lent her selfie support to bottle feeding mums, to challenge the stigma with bottle feeding. Dare I suggest a glamorous selfie where celebrity mother holds her baby who is happily sucking from a bottle and they are staring adoringly at each other? I look forward to seeing celebrity bottle feeding selfies. Though I suspect Hades might freeze over first.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.