One of the strangest parts of pregnancy that I’ve observed with my wife is that a woman’s body is suddenly of communal interest. And her breasts are the main topic of conversation.
Just about everyone and their mother (ESPECIALLY their mother!) wants to poke, prod, grab, grope and discuss. And it’s not just your body they want to discuss, it’s their body, too. I like to call it The Publificiation of Private Parts.
I find it absolutely fascinating to watch for two reasons:
1. Private No More: Ever since, you know, Adam and Eve, we’ve been made aware of our naked bodies. And, except for certain models and free-spirited individuals, we enjoy keeping those private parts private.
But, in pregnancy, everything changes. Friends, family, strangers at the store… everyone wants to rub her belly and marvel at swollen breasts.
I’m already fairly certain I may be in trouble if I don’t Tweet and text dilation updates from the delivery room!
And I have yet to meet a person in my personal or professional life who doesn’t have a story of their breastfeeding decision or attempts. I’ve heard about milk shooting across the room. I’ve heard dozens of tips to encourage breastfeeding. And, my favorite, I’ve heard about the wonderful family bonding breastfeeding can provide.
But at the end of the day, it’s people I know talking about their (or their partner’s) breasts, something (somethings?) that, in our culture, just isn’t really discussed so openly otherwise.
2. Community: An old African proverb commonly attributed to the Igbo people of Nigeria goes: "Ora na azu nwa." You may be more familiar with its English translation: “It takes a village to raise a child.”
As we are heading down the home stretch, I’m truly beginning to understand what that means. Despite the books we’ve read, classes we’ve taken and shockingly-graphic birthing TV shows we’ve watched, some of the best parenting preparation we can receive is from our “village.”
Over the past few months, it’s been stunning how much support and advice have come from our extended family and friends, the village that will help raise our child.
Tying in with #1 above, I may know a little more than I ever wanted to know about some of my relatives and their breastfeeding decisions and outcomes. But it’s been quite insightful to see how people I love and trust have taken on and reacted to breastfeeding.
To have so many families who have successfully breastfed just a phone call away is very reassuring as we are about to head down that road.
What about you? Ladies, how did it feel having your body discussed so openly? And guys, how did participating in some potentially awkward conversations make you feel?