How sad that breastfeeding is a controversial conversation in 2018 America.
We live in a country where freedom of religion and freedom of speech are both woven into the fabric of our society. Recently peppered with the freedom to love anyone, with the legalization of gay marriage. We're so progressive in our thinking, but we are still so archaic in the mindset that women should cover up their bodies when feeding their babies.
We pride ourselves on being “the western world” we say. We claim to celebrate women and their bodies. We pride ourselves on not making women feel like they need to cover up, for religious reasons or any other reason. However, when it comes to nursing, we want to banish women to closets, bathrooms and the backseat of their car. Because when it’s convenient for society to say so, breasts are offensive? Because when it’s not benefiting adult aesthetics and instead it’s benefitting a babies nutrients, we can back-peddle, saying we’re offended, and shame women?
And do you know why? Because men and women benefit from the aesthetics of the female body or the sexual arousal associated with it. Because it's socially acceptable for women to be, sexualized, and being maternal isn't "sexy" so it's not supported.
And that’s a shame.
What I have to say to that... grow up society.
You see, I'm a new mom. My daughter is 11 weeks old and I have kept her alive solely by breastfeeding. When I was pregnant, just a few months ago, people often asked me if I was going to breastfeed. "I'm going to try" I'd respond.
When she was born the hospital gave us the "miracle hour" where we were encouraged to do "skin-to-skin." During that hour, my little genius babe, scooted her way over to my breast and with little help, latched herself on and started eating. I always tell people, she knew what she was doing, I just cooperated.
Breastfeeding was something I always wanted to do, but also didn't want to pressure myself into. I knew people who had health issues and other setbacks which prevented them from breastfeeding. So, I was just hoping for the best.
So many people felt comfortable talking about breastfeeding when I was pregnant, that I was mystified to see the adverse reaction when I performed the actual act of breastfeeding. It was totally different.
I have encountered people, even my own family members, who leave the room when I nurse. Who feel compelled to look away, not just while she's latching, but during the entire feeding. Who pack up to go home when I have to pull my boob out to feed my daughter. Who straight-up avoid visiting, just because I'm breastfeeding.
And these are the obstacles I face before I take my baby and breastfeeding self out into public!
It baffles me that in July of this year, we JUST made Breastfeeding in Public, legal in every state. While I am celebrating this milestone, I am also sadden, that in a country which has legalized guns (a deadly weapon), via the second amendment, since its inception, how pathetic that it’s taken all this time to legalize feeding our young in public?
In so many articles and posts about breastfeeding in public, the naysayers logic is often that they, "don’t want to have to explain" to their children what’s going on.
Why? Don’t you explain to your child that they have to push their poppy out on the potty during potty training. Don’t you explain to them when they feel sick that sometimes their belly hurts and it’s okay, the pain won’t last forever? Don't you explain that when they’re tired they have to lay down to rest to feel better? These are all natural functions of our body. Yet we shame breasts because society has sexualized them.
Children are innocent. They are not influence by popular culture’s views on sexualizing women. They see adults and children. It’s black and white for them. Things are only “weird” for them, if we make them “weird” for them.
Since my own experience breastfeeding, my two nephews (9 and 5) and my niece (4) have been curious, asking questions about my nipple shield, why my daughter doesn’t have a baby bottle and what I’m doing under my Boppy nursing scarf in public. All of which I’ve met with one simple answer...
"This is how some Mommy’s feed their babies. It’s where the milk comes out.” And that’s it.
Children accept that for its face value. Because its honest and easy to understand. It’s cut and dry. It's logical. It's true.
And after that answer; feeding my 11 week old daughter is truly of no more interest to them. It’s back to the discussion of Minecaft, guitars, coloring, Disney and “watch me” as they tumble across the living room.
It’s the adults who overcomplicate things, and what’s infuriating is we’re using the kids as scapegoats... when truly, they don’t care.
They don’t turn their head in horror when they see a woman breastfeeding, ...the adults do.
They don’t “feel funny” or “feel compelled to look away”...adults do.
Adults make it weird. Adults create the shame. So stop blaming the kids for your own uncomfortable feelings about mixing sexualization and natural nurturing
Ironically, we live in a world that openly accepts breasts in the context of breast cancer awareness. "Save the Tatas” has been a popular bumper sticker, slogan, and movement; sparking a Mother’s Day walk that proudly paints my city of Philadelphia pink each May. In that context Tatas are something to be celebrated. No one's “offended” about explaining Tatas to their children when their waking for a cause. Yet when a Mommy is giving nutrients and life through those same Tatas, she is shamed.
In a society where neon lights advertising strip clubs is a norm and staple of every American city, why then are we so embarrassed of the nature purpose of these breasts?
Meanwhile, we openly accept feminine hygiene products, Viagara, lube, condoms, and Plan B all advertised on TV, magazines, pop up ads on social media and billboards across main stream America. But we’re shaming, “how Mommy’s feed their babies?”
We take our children to the Zoo or the Pet Store and marvel at the Mommy’s animals feeding the baby animals, but we scowl and shame women when we see them breastfeeding.
It all makes zero sense to me.
And while writing this blog and "calling out" the naysayers should feel vindicating, it's not. Because the shaming of women breastfeeding, has life; and it’s bleed over onto how we women see ourselves.
While it’s true, many women can’t breastfeed, because of a health reasons, supply issues or because of their jobs or lifestyle (hell, it’s a full time job). Many women also don't do it because they themselves say, "it makes me feel weird" or "I don't like it."
And whenever I hear that, I feel like we’re letting society win. Letting them pollute our thoughts and how we view our own bodies. How we ourselves have viewed feeding our own children.
It’s not supposed to feel “weird.” Don’t let them win. Don’t let them change how you and your baby bond and how you give your baby nutrients.
In a world where awful things like terrorism and addiction, are epidemics that we will have to explain to our children, far sooner than we’d like...we need to stop acting like breastfeeding is something shameful we have to shield our children from too.
Get a Grip. It’s 2018. We live in a country where we can’t even agree on whether global warming is an issue or what do with the 2nd amendment. So, as far as I’m concerned, we’ve got bigger "fish to fry." Leave the Mammas and the little babies alone!
Judgment begets judgment. Negativity begets negativity. Shame begets shame. So change the way you think. Change the norm, and change the stigma. Save the Tatas, Free the Nipple, and shut up about breastfeeding.
Marie-Antoinette was rumored to have said, "let them eat cake." In this case, the “them” is the babies, and the "cake" is the breastmilk! So Let them drink milk! Hey, it does a body good. ;)