I was reading a controversial Facebook post the other day (always designed to increase one’s blood pressure!) about women being told to ‘cover up’ when they are breastfeeding outdoors. The reasons people, well mostly other women, gave for this necessity ranged from sad to laughable to quite outrageous.
- It’s unnecessary
- It’s immodest
- Women are doing it for attention and should just stop
- It could cause any man who sees breast tissue to go on a hormone fuelled rampage of raping and pillaging (okay I am paraphrasing here!)
- It is damaging and/or distressing for children to see
I’d like to address each of these points separately:
Breastfeeding in public is unnecessary and immodest
Having breastfed both my children, including publicly, I feel adequately qualified to address this point. In the early months especially, babies feed a lot. An awful lot! Sometimes it seems like they are permanently attached to your breast, so unless you wish to become a prisoner in your own home you have to go out sometimes and when you are out the baby may get hungry or just want the comfort of feeding.
Now people suggested covering the baby’s head with a cloth or even expressing milk to feed from a bottle. Some even said use formula. Seriously! I have nothing against women using formula if that suits her family but that is just a slap in the face to a woman who enjoys breastfeeding and may have struggled with pain and lack of sleep to get it right. How dare someone say such as thing because they are uncomfortable with the fact that nurturing a newborn naturally involves the breast.
As to the covering up – breastfeeding is a skill and a mother needs to see what she is doing initially to get the baby latched correctly. For those who have never done it, a badly attached baby is incredibly painful for the mum and results in poor milk flow for the hungry baby. Besides which, mothers and babies like to look at each other and some babies hate having their heads covered. Additionally, once the baby is attached, the breast is hidden by the baby’s head so I can only conclude that those who complain are actually uncomfortable with the mere though of breastfeeding rather than the supposed flesh on view.
Lastly expressing milk – My firstborn was ill just after birth and I had to express milk. It is not a task for the feint-hearted especially when you factor in all the other stresses of a newborn such as lack of sleep, feeding etc. but the most disheartening thing was that my baby WOULD NOT drink from a bottle. At all! Ever! I would have loved it since it would have enabled my partner to do some of the night-time feeding so I could get some sleep. Or even to go out for a few hours with friends, without the baby – but NO – babe had different ideas.
So to those who think it is unnecessary to breastfeed in public, you could be consigning some women to house arrest.
This is a picture of me breastfeeding my second child while the older one is far more interested in ice cream. There is absolutely no bare skin showing to anyone except me, and the baby. England in March is far too cold for flashing your boobs 🙂
Women are doing it for attention
OMG! This is just not worth even addressing except to say that yes I realise some women have had mass breastfeeding protests but other than that – Seriously – Get over yourself!
Men Can’t Cope
I was paraphrasing when I wrote: It could cause any man who sees breast tissue to go on a hormone fuelled rampage of raping and pillaging but that was the gist of some of the comments (mostly from women, sadly!).
Good grief – I’m quite speechless really! All I can say is that if this is the case, which I highly doubt, then MEN need to control themselves better. As with rape, this is not the woman’s problem.
While breasts have been sexualised they are not sexual objects – they are designed to nurture infants. I find it sad that people can view with disgust what to me, and many others, is a beautiful sight. Something is deeply wrong with such a society. The UK and the US need to take a leaf out of the book of the Europeans who have a far healthier attitude to nudity, breastfeeding and sex.
But Think of the Children!
How many time is this old chestnut going to be trotted out?
Yes let’s think of the children shall we:
- The little boys in adult bodies who snigger and giggle at the mention of breasts and feel jealous and resentful of their children.
- Or the girls who grow up ashamed of their bodies and struggling to feed their babies because they’ve never seen any one else do it and feel inhibited and judged. In the past children grew up watching others breastfeeding and no doubt listening to tips about latching, positioning etc but these skills are being lost.
Children who grow up seeing breastfeeding see it as perfectly normal and some quickly lose all interest. Others sit next to you feeding their doll or teddy while chatting. All quite delightful and no cause for alarm.
It’s a Public Health Issue
If you don’t care about any of the above maybe an appeal to your wallet may work?
Ask yourself how much money your government spends on treating gastroenteritis in infants because of badly sterilised feeding equipment. We could cut that cost if more women felt comfortable breastfeeding.
Finally – It’s Called Breastfeeding!
One last thing – please stop using the euphemism: Nursing. Nursing means caring for the elderly. If we can’t even say the word breast what hope is there!