What a touchy subject!
Breast Milk or Steak? Which is more acceptable in public?
Ultimately, who has more right to eat in public?
For decades, public breastfeeding has been a topic that has caused controversy and one filled with heavy emotions. While some feel strongly that breastfeeding should be a private matter and not a public display, others feel that they are simply doing the best they can to give their baby the best start to life – breast milk.
Think About it for a Second
For me, its simple. You’re an adult, and as an adult you have the means to feed yourself if and when you get hungry. Walking in a mall and feel a rumbling tummy? No problem. You have multiple options readily available to you, food courts, restaurants, grab a snack on the go, your choice.
When you have children, whether toddlers or teens, they can speak for themselves. They might not be able to acquire the food independently, but they sure as hell will make you aware that THEY ARE HUNGRY! What do you do then? Back to the food court, snack on the go, heck you open a pack of viennas right there in the store for them to eat. You don’t tell them to suck it up and wait till you get home. Sure, sometimes you do, but after a while you realise, this was a battle you shouldn’t have picked and you get them something to eat.
Then there are babies. Helpless, tiny little humans with no ability to feed themselves and with only their hysterical cries to notify their parents of their immediate needs. What to do when your baby gets hungry in the store or in a restaurant? No worries at all, you simply take out his bottle and feed him.
BUT…and here’s the million dollar question…What if your baby is breastfed?
Watch Out! Its Breast Milk!
A woman’s body was designed for bearing children and then providing them nourishment after birth, yet society makes it out to be something disgusting, something to hide and to be ashamed of. Why should a breastfed baby be treated any different? Why is it perfectly fine for adults, children and bottle-fed babies alike to enjoy the comforts of restaurants, parks and theaters, but the breastfed baby is discriminated against?
Mind Your Own!
Nobody is forced to watch another eat and I personally feel watching someone chew with their mouth open is much worse than seeing a nursing baby.
When asking around it seemed that it was mostly women (mothers nonetheless) who feel offended by seeing another breastfeed. They argue it is simply a case of self respect and respectfulness towards others to not breastfeed in public. That their husbands shouldn’t ”have to” look at another woman’s breast while trying to chew down his steak.
However, when asking the husbands (not in the presence of the wives of course) they seem to not be bothered by it. In fact, many didn’t even notice the breastfeeding mothers in the room. One husband confidently said “You have to realize a boob is more than a toy, someone’s health and growth depends on what comes out of it.” Smart man. 🙂
Just Cover Up – or Nurse in the Bathroom
Many people reckon that they have absolutely no problem with mothers nursing in public as long as they cover up. When I was still young and ignorant I shared this exact sentiment and then I myself became a mother in 2012. I remember being caught off-guard a few times with not enough pumped milk, where the malls were busier than expected or a trip took longer than planned and I ended up having to leave a restaurant table to go feed my hungry baby in the car while everyone else was enjoying their meal.
All of this changed the day I had to feed my infant on the toilet of a public bathroom.
We were attending a Christening of a friend’s baby when it took much longer than expected. I had already ran out of pumped milk on our way there, as an accident delayed traffic tremendously and we barely made it in time. While sitting on that closed toilet seat, nursing my baby, it dawned on me what I was doing. I was forcing my child to eat his lunch in a public bathroom! A place where I would later tell him to not touch anything, because it is filthy! He deserved more than that! I respect myself as a mother and him as a human being far too much to ever do that again!
He’s always hated having his face being covered. Obviously, who wouldn’t? He would continuously pull the cover down. This battle of trying to stay covered drew more attention to us and the chances of a nipple popping out while trying to get the cover over my shoulder again was much higher than if I had just left it down.
It also doesn’t help that it gets bloody hot under a blanket in the middle of summer, and keeping him covered aggravated his irritability (and mine) while he was starting to develop a heat rash. |
It was however, my toilet seat experience that started to shift my mindset. I became very uncomfortable covering his face. It felt like I was endorsing the idea that what we were doing was wrong, embarrassing and had to be hidden.
It’s time we Normalize Breastfeeding. A breastfeeding mom shared a brilliant idea on Facebook. She said: “If you feel uncomfortable watching my baby eat, you’re welcome to collect a blanket from me to put over your face while you enjoy the rest of your meal”. I absolutely loved that!
Love Support is All You Need
Being a breastfeeding mother and choosing breast milk as the one and only source of nutrition for your baby is one of the greatest gifts you can give as a mother. However, it is a choice that will take a massive toll on both your physical and emotional state daily. Just producing breast milk is exhausting, having to worry about when and where you’re allowed to feed your child is just absurd.
If you’ve never been a breastfeeding mother, I urge you to read this post I’m Not Lucky to be Breastfeeding you might just have a slightly better perspective of what they have to deal with.
Next time you see a mother nursing in public, rather just give a nod of encouragement or better yet, just ignore her completely.