Over at Alpha Mom, Amalah has a really interesting blog post this week on the big baby episode of The Office. Like Amalah, I “hate– nay, truly and forcefully LOATHE–the way pregnancy and birth are depicted on TV and in movies.” You know, where the woman is screaming at her husband “You B*$%#! How could you have DONE THIS TO ME!” and it’s sooo funny.
The Office got it closer to right than any TV show I have ever seen (except maybe Betty Draper’s third childbirth on Mad Men, which was pretty bleak. I mean, I wasn’t alive then, but I hear that’s pretty much what it was like). The Office showed how labor progresses slowly but surely. Pam was not a whiner. They reused that old Knocked Up chestnut (“Do NOT go in there!”) but I could forgive them that. The baby really was a newborn. Best of all, they showed a new mother having lots of trouble breastfeeding– but not giving up– and then, eventually, figuring it out.
Well. They kind of showed that. Amalah is right that “they got it mostly right” about breastfeeding, and that for television, it was a rather large step forward. For me, though, it was a Pyrrhic victory, because whenever they showed Pam breastfeeding her new baby, she put on a Hooter Hider. I mean an enormous cover. It looked like one of those aprons you have to wear when you get X-rays at the dentist.
Now, sure, Jenna Fischer (who plays Pam) is not actually lactating. But c’mon. When I do my play Mother Load I pretend to nurse this Frankenstein doll, and I just pull up my T-shirt a little bit and stick him on, and it looks rather realistic if I do say so myself. What the network executives at NBC, who were probably freaking about about showing a nursing mom on TV, don’t understand is this: when a mother is successfully nursing, as long as she’s wearing something that pulls up from the bottom, you pretty much CAN’T SEE ANYTHING.
I thought the huge “Don’t Look I’m Breastfeeding Under Here” thing Pam wore throughout the episode was a disappointment. I’m thrilled to see breastfeeding portrayed as something positive, and normal. But I don’t want the enormous coverups to become normalized as well, like they are a necessary part of the breastfeeding experience. I nursed three kids successfully, and even in the hospital I never saw one of those Aprons of Shame.
So I’m curious: what did you think of the episode? And what do you think of these things?