Today, breastfeeding is gaining ground. More than ever before, it is considered to be the best option through which to nourish your child (by a long shot). Consider the study most recently posted by CNN, which boasts that children breastfed until (at the very least) the age of six months are reported to have higher IQs, or the overwhelming amount of data that supports the link between baby immunity and breastfeeding.
Now, amidst all of this positive feedback about the benefits of breastfeeding, nursing mothers are still dealing with discrimination issues should they decide to breastfeed in a public area (even if the law states that they are within their rights to do so). So why is it that mothers are still subject to open-ended criticism in regards to public breastfeeding? Why is it still such a hot topic?
The truth is, people against pubic breastfeeding rarely take in all the variables that surround feeding a baby. They fail to consider the state of the mother, or the specific needs of the baby, assuming that all nursing mothers and babies are the same, with identical needs.
As a result, these same critics make the error of assuming that the discomfort they feel when encountering a nursing mother is relevant—when the truth is, we should all be focused on what is best for our future children, whether we are parents or not.
When that baby is nursing comfortably with his/her mother, bonding with his/her parent while taking in the nutrients he/she requires, it is not shameful—and it isn’t inappropriate—regardless of where it takes place. It is as natural as it is innocent, which is why many of us could take note from the babies that we are breastfeeding, as opposed to going out of our way to make nursing a struggle for today’s mothers.
2 Other People’s Unbridled Emotions.
If a woman is in public and has to breastfeed, she will undoubtedly be forced to deal with the reactions of random people who feel that they have the right to comment or pass judgement on the act of breastfeeding itself.
People ogle, grimace, or even go so far as to avert their own children’s eyes. While these emotions may be interpreted in many different ways, it's still a wonder that individuals feel that they have the right to weigh in on something as personal as feeding a child.
Meanwhile, it's still perfectly acceptable for people to run around in short shorts and low-cut tops, as these are the societal norm. So what is it going to take for breastfeeding to become as widely accepted as the mini skirt?
Read any article that mentions the word “breastfeeding” and there is no doubt that the piece will be followed by a barrage of comments by users vehemently stating their position on breastfeeding—and it gets downright nasty.
For some reason, everyone thinks that they have a say about breastfeeding—whether they are parents or not. Sadly, the majority of those people have no problem stating how they feel—often to the poor mother’s face (because she doesn’t have enough to deal with, you know, with a newborn baby and all—she just really needs to hear how a stranger happens to feel about it to really top off her day).
Frankly, if you have a negative opinion, just keep that energy to yourself—nobody else needs to fester in your crappy attitude.
2. Covering Up Breastfeeding Women
Of course—every breastfeeding woman’s saviour—the nursing cover. Right. First, consider how enjoyable it must be for the baby to have a blanket over his/her head while he/she is eating (better yet, you try it and get back to us on how you feel about it).
Second, said baby is probably hungry and therefore crying. Taking the extra time to pull out the nursing cover and slip it on all while trying to make sure that your baby has latched on is the best time ever—and if you’re new at breastfeeding, even better. Never mind when the baby decides that he/she has had enough and pulls the cover off on his/her own. Bring on the challenges!
While some people use nursing covers without any problem, they really aren’t for everyone—and they certainly shouldn’t be used to make potential spectators feel better about public breastfeeding. A woman shouldn’t be obliged to wear a nursing cover to make others feel comfortable—if you don’t want to see what’s going on, the answer is simple—look the other way.
You wouldn’t go into Hooters if you had a problem with women wearing tight, tiny outfits would you? Unless of course you were going in there to hand out nursing covers—which would probably go over super well.
3. Bathroom Feedings
I suppose that the people that say this to breastfeeding women must be of the mindset that breastfeeding, like going to the bathroom, it's a private matter. But public bathrooms are disgusting.
And asking a mother with a susceptible, fragile newborn to go to a dirty washroom and sit on the toilet (because let’s face it, there probably isn’t a chair, and even if there was…gross) while people go to the bathroom around her is vile. These bathrooms usually stink and are, for the most part, fairly unsanitary.
Never mind trying to juggle a baby on your lap while precariously balancing yourself over a toilet while you try not to drop anything (yes, because women with babies usually have some baggage).
The point is, if a woman feels more comfortable breastfeeding in the washroom, then that is perfectly acceptable and is ultimately her choice. She and her baby shouldn’t have to go anywhere to make others more comfortable—and she certainly shouldn’t have to breastfeed in an area that she deems uncomfortable for the well being of her child.
It really isn’t up to someone else to dictate those rules to her—especially when all she is doing is nourishing her baby. It’s like her asking you to go drink your smoothie on the toilet in the restroom at the baseball park. Sounds awesome, right?
1 Strangers Staring at Their Breasts
This is actually a thing. Whether or not breasts are even private parts, is in my opinion, a matter of perspective. Lest we forget, we are animals and our breasts were intended for feeding our young.
They have been incredibly sexualized in the world that we live in, which is a result of our own societal standards—I’m fairly certain that there aren’t that many people out there who consider a National Geographic spread of bare-chested women somewhere across the globe to be sexy. If you do, that’s your own thing. The point is that people have the option of looking away if they feel uncomfortable seeing a woman’s breast.
In truth, some people seem have trouble with that—and how that makes them feel really isn’t a breastfeeding woman’s responsibility. Ogling isn’t polite either—a breastfeeding woman, for the most part, isn’t baring her skin for your enjoyment. She is doing it to feed her child because he/she is hungry.
Never mind the fact that once the baby latches on, your breast is no longer revealed—at least not any more than a woman’s would be if she was wearing a low-cut shirt. So before you decide to comment on a breastfeeding woman’s state of undress, try understanding it from her perspective before making the situation one about yourself.
5. Act of Breastfeeding as a Statement
For the most part, nursing women are just trying to feed their babies. Now, there are some exceptions. Take the small protest outside London’s Claridge’s in 2014, in response to the luxury hotel’s request that a breastfeeding mother be more discreet (they handed her a giant napkin to cover up with).
Or the much larger protest in Copenhagen in 2013 as a result of a woman being called “disgusting” for trying to nurse in a café. In truth, these protests were an attempt to call attention to the problems that nursing mothers face when trying to breastfeed in a public place. Consider that poor mother from Texas that asked an employee to use a dressing room to breastfeed, and was told to use the alleyway.
These are the type of actions that lead to protests. It is highly unlikely that a woman sitting on a bench with her bosom exposed is trying to make a point of making you uncomfortable. And if she is, remember that you have the option to leave, much like you would if anyone anywhere was making you uncomfortable.
I think that it is also important to remember that all women are different—some woman have larger breast than others, making them harder to conceal, while some babies have a harder time latching on, requiring more attention from their mothers while trying to feed.
These issues might lead to more breast being exposed, or for a woman’s bosom to be visible for a longer period of time. These are all variables that are out of the mother’s control—and quite honestly, none of anybody’s business.
It’s sort of like commenting on a person’s appearance. How much do you really know about that person? Enough that you can pass judgement without knowing the details of that individual? Not really. Unless you’re just an incredibly self-absorbed person.
6. Breastfeeding Becomes About Others
“Breastfeeding makes people uncomfortable.” “Breastfeeding embarrasses other people,” and so it goes. A mother has enough to think about when she has a child—there are a million things going through her head and honestly, she is probably a tad exhausted, which may make her seem inconsiderate at times.
But her choice to breastfeed is one of necessity—she has to feed her baby in order for him/her to survive. Pump, you say? Maybe that baby won’t take a bottle, breast milk or not. What do you want to tell that mother in that case? Be more discreet, cover up, you might say to her.
But that baby is having trouble latching on, and is becoming more panicked because he/she can’t reach the nipple because the mother can’t see what she’s doing. Use the bathroom, you’ll say. We’ve gone over that—it’s gross.
A woman’s choice to breastfeed is her own—and her decision to do so is what's best for her child. She isn’t trying to make you feel weird—and we’re pretty sure that you’re seeing less skin than you would during a trip to the beach.
Try to remember that feeding a baby is an exhausting task, and it really has nothing to do with you. Making it about you is just a waste of that mother’s time—and she really doesn’t have all that much of it.
7. Feed Baby at Home
Of course this is the answer to all of our problems! Feed the baby at home! Does anyone that says this ever have any concept of how often a young baby needs to eat? During those early months, those precious little babes eat non-stop, around the clock. It's time-consuming and exhausting for new mothers, regardless of what a joyous bonding experience it is.
Should a mother just stay in her home until her child graduates from breastfeeding to bottle? Are you going to bring this new mother groceries? Open up all of her windows to get her some fresh air? Bring her a latte so that she can feel halfway human? I highly doubt it.
Mothers are humans, after all. They do need to get out of the house from time to time, even if it's only to ensure their continued sanity. Bringing bottles along when travelling is definitely an option, but then you have to think of how to keep the bottle cold and how to warm it up—and this is only if your baby takes a bottle.
If you have a baby, you know this—so I can only imagine that the brave souls giving this sound advice to harried mothers are probably not parents themselves.
8. Commonly Compared to Pooping
This is one thought that puzzles me, because I really have a hard time understanding how breastfeeding is similar to the act of excreting. But let’s just break it down for fun. When you go to the bathroom, you are producing waste. When you are breastfeeding your baby, you are nourishing the child so that he/she can survive.
That being said, I’m not absolutely certain how nursing can be compared to pooping. Now I realize that this statement might also be used as a response to a nursing mother trying to explain to an unhappy stranger that breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world. Going to the bathroom is natural, one might say. So is breastfeeding—therefore, they should both be done in a bathroom. Or in private.
I guess the main point here is that breastfeeding is not generally something that a mother can control. She can try to the best of her ability to time when her baby will need to feed, but sometimes, despite her best efforts, her baby will get hungry thirty minutes after she’s nursed him/her in the back seat of her car.
Should the mother then race back to her car? Leave her lunch, or coffee, or shopping cart where it is all while trying to juggle a crying, squirming baby just to make you feel more comfortable? I don’t think so.
And what’s more is that I don’t think that raising our babies amidst a throng of stressed out mothers overly concerned with making everyone around them more comfortable is the best thing for these impressionable children. Maybe the best thing that anyone could do is just focus a little more on themselves and less on trying to fix everyone else around them.