Breasts were created to feed a child. That is their sole purpose. They have been sexualised by society. There is absolutely nothing sexual about a baby breastfeeding.
Writer and mother Kim Phillips Bowen has heard it all. Being a breastfeeding mother, she has experienced her fair share of criticism from people who had issues with her breastfeeding in public.
Tired of it all, she listed down 15 ignorant excuses people give why mums shouldn’t breastfeed in public, originally published in Breastfeeding Mama Talk:
1. “It should only be done in private or it is between a mother and child”
If it’s a private moment between a mother and her child, are mums supposed to do the same when they give their children a bottle instead? Kim argues. It’s basically the same principle.
People don’t always eat in private.
“If you choose to do it in private, then that is your choice,” she said. “Not everyone chooses to do that nor do they have to.”
2. “Cover Up”
Not all babies feel comfortable feeding under a blanket. In fact, many babies hate being covered even with a light blanket.
“They will kick, scream, and make a fuss,” she said. “It might be 90 degrees out, would you want to be under a blanket? Do you eat with a blanket on your head?”
3. “Bring a bottle”
Among other things, breast pumps can be expensive and many mothers just don’t produce as much milk with pumps.
“Pumping can be time consuming, difficult and painful for many women too.”
4. “Don’t leave the house when a baby will be hungry”
“Many women have kids, jobs etc. and with busy lives, this is not an option,” she says. “Many breastfed babies eat on demand, especially because they have small stomachs and eat more frequently.”
5. “Be discreet”
Kim argues the there are different definitions of being “discreet.” What your definition of it may not be the same as someone else’s.
“Most women don’t ‘whip it out’ and stand up and say ‘Hey, look at me, I am getting my boobs out to nurse. Most people would not even notice a woman breastfeeding.”
It’s important then that more people see women breastfeeding so that it becomes normalised in society.
6. “Why don’t you just go in the bathroom?”
Bathrooms are filthy; no one in their right mind would prefer eating their meals in the bathroom.
7. “I don’t pee in public, why should a women nurse in public? Or peeing is natural too. (This goes for sex as well)”
“They are two totally different things,” she said. The above argument is totally irrelevant unless you are trying to ban public eating too. There are bathrooms specifically created for peeing.”
Besides, peeing and having sex in public is against the law, while breastfeeding is a legally protected act in many countries all over the world.
8. “Why do women these days think it is ok to breastfeed in public? Women in my day were discreet”
“Guess what? You may not remember it but up until the early 1970’s, it was totally normal for women to breastfeed in public.”
Breastfeeding was covered by mainstream media back then, like in shows Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers.
It’s exposure steadily declined after formula companies started making mothers think they shouldn’t nurse in public, so that more people would buy their product, and in a way for them to boost their profits.
9. “It is a sexual act”
“Breasts were created to feed a child. That is their sole purpose. They have been sexualized by society. There is absolutely nothing sexual about a baby breastfeeding.”
10. “I don’t want my kids seeing that”
“You don’t want your kids to know what breasts are actually for?” she asks. “It is ok for your child to walk by a lingerie ad that is 10 feet tall with boobs spilling out and is clearly selling sex, but you don’t want your kids to know what breasts are actually for?”
Kids seeing mother breastfeed will teach them that breasts are not sexual objects, and in turn learn to be more respectful to women.
11. “It is inviting trouble”
Saying that breastfeeding attracts trouble is not unlike saying women who wear skirts invite rapists.
“This statement is not okay and is not what we should be teaching our children, she says. “Teach your children what breasts are for and when they grow up, this won’t be an issue. We should be teaching children to respect their bodies and respect other people’s bodies no matter what.”
12. “I don’t want my husband/boyfriend seeing that”
“You probably have an issue in your relationship. He is a grown man; didn’t he learn not to stare?”
13. “That baby is too old to be nursing”
Both the Center for Disease Control and the World Heath Organization, among other international and national heath agencies, all suggests mothers to breastfeed a baby until they are at least two years of age.
“A baby’s immune system is not fully developed until age 2 and nursing helps the immune system the most.”
14. “There is formula so a mum doesn’t need to nurse”
The benefits of breastfeeding extend beyond its nutritional value. “Breast milk is like liquid gold. There is nothing in the world that can compare to a mother’s milk.”
Among many things, breastfeeding lowers rate of breast cancer and ovarian cancer in women, and lowers risk of SIDS, leukemia, in babies. Besides, formula is expensive, and for some mothers who can’t afford it, breastfeeding is the way to go.
15. “I don’t want to see that”
“I may not want to see the guy at the next table chewing his food with his mouth open either,” Kim says. “If you don’t like it, Don’t look.”
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