Lately the news has been littered with stories of breastfeeding mothers speaking out against establishments and organizations that have "shamed" them for feeding their babies in public.
Despite all 50 states in the US and Federal Law supporting a mother's right to breastfeed in public, covered or not, without being considered indecent or a nuisance, the general public just doesn't seem to "get it".
I could go on and on about the root issue here being patriarchal sexualization of breasts that is so deeply engrained into our society and morals that even women attack other women over this topic... but I will save that chat for another day.
Instead, let's not focus on why you shouldn't be offended, but rather why you should support mothers and how you can show your support.
Breastfeeding in public takes a little courage fueled by a lot of love. Covered, or not, breastfeeding can be awkward and challenging for new mothers. Feeling nervous about offending other people can be overwhelming when all we want to do is feed our babies. Add that overwhelm to the common challenges breastfeeding mothers are navigating, and it can be enough to make a woman throw her hands in the air and want to give up.
Why can't we, as a society, do what we can to alleviate one of those challenges if we can? When we see a mother nursing her baby we have some options...
1. Be quiet, turn your head, say nothing.
2. Offer a comfortable chair.
3. Offer a glass of water.
4. Congratulate her for her courage and being an awesome mother.
The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), CDC (Centers of Disease Control), and WHO (World Health Organization) all agree that raising breastfeeding rates is imperative for improving maternal-child health outcomes and public health. Raising these rates can only be done well in a society that agrees to support nursing mothers. When we make mothers feel like they need to hide away to feed, pump and bring milk in a bottle, etc., we are actually isolating mothers, making breastfeeding more work than necessary (hello! Breastfeeding is supposed to be CONVENIENT!), and even possibly suggesting decisions that could cause negative impacts to milk supply.
Using the phrase "I support breastfeeding, but...." does more harm than it does good. When we look at a mother feeding her child as a person selflessly meeting the needs of a helpless individual, how can we turn it into a controversy?
Infant feeding is normal. Breast or bottle doesn't matter. Feeding is feeding is feeding and should not be offensive to nosey onlookers.
BOOB ON MAMAS!
Check out more chatter about public breastfeeding here!