I need to vent for a moment. Bear with me, this is going to be quite long.
Today was such a beautiful day. There was an event going on in our hometown, so we spent most of the morning there before my fiance left for work. People from all over the city came to celebrate, watch a parade, eat greasy carnival food, and participate in some fun activities. It was really the perfect day for it.
And, of course, there had to be someone to ruin it.
Here we were, minding our own business, when I glance over and notice that there is a mother standing next to me, feeding her child. She’s got the baby held tightly against her chest, and there was the bottle, pressed into the child’s mouth. He happily sucked away, blissfully unaware that nearby, I was judging his mother for her choice to formula-feed her child. It’s just so unnatural, I should not have to be subjected to seeing that in public. No one should. That mother should have done the decent thing and gone somewhere she wouldn’t bother anyone, because no one wants to watch a child eat like that. Use a blanket, find a bathroom, go to your car, I don’t care, just don’t let me see it.
I am ashamed of you mothers who think that it’s okay to flaunt this kind of thing in public. What are you teaching future generations? That this kind of behavior is acceptable in a public space? It’s mind-boggling that you could only think of yourself, and not of those around you. You’re clearly just crying out for attention. I’m tired of seeing moms at the grocery store, at the mall, at the park, on Facebook, anywhere feeding their children with plastic bottles. It’s absolutely disgusting. I support formula-feeding, but I don’t think it needs to be so obvious out in public.
My rant isn’t over yet. If it hasn’t quite sunk in, please re-read the last couple of paragraphs before continuing on with this post.
Truth be told, the above scenario is completely false. It didn’t actually happen. We did go out today, but we didn’t actually see anyone feeding their child, and if we had, you most certainly wouldn’t be hearing about it here because I don’t care how people feed their children. Breast or bottle, it’s not really my business.
People do seem to care an awful lot about how I, and millions of other women, choose to feed my child, though, and it’s rather infuriating. It’s on my Facebook all the time. Just last week, after posting an article about breastfeeding in public, one of my Facebook friends commented about how “gross” it was because she didn’t want to see another woman’s breast, that children who refused to take a bottle were “special needs” (and implied that moms needed to pump before going out), and that women who breastfeed did it to flaunt their breasts. This is, of course, a very simple explanation of the things that she wrote, as her comments were fairly long and dripping with ignorance.
The newest breastfeeding “controversy” that’s been plastered all over my news feed is the story of Karlesha Thurman, the young woman whose friend snapped a photo of her breastfeeding at her college graduation. She posted it to Twitter and got all kinds of backlash for it, instead of receiving congratulations and praise for not only graduating college, but for raising a child while working on her degree – a degree that will benefit her and her child in the long run. This young woman is amazing, any young parent who tackles parenthood while attending college deserves a pat on the back, and no doubt she has worked her butt off to get to where she is today. She doesn’t deserve the criticism that she’s received as a result of that photo.
We, as a society, have been brainwashed. Why does the United States have such a problem with breastfeeding? Because, as we have been taught for so many years, that the female form existed simply for the pleasure of men, that breasts are meant to be ogled, not to provide nourishment to our children. We have been told that if we show our breasts in any way, we’re “skanks” or “whores,” because obviously we’re simply showing them off because we want attention.
When a woman breastfeeds her baby, I can guarantee you that she is not looking for attention. She doesn’t want you ogling her breasts. In fact, that nursing mom probably would prefer that you didn’t even notice she was nursing. “But she’s not covering up, it’s right there, I can see it,” you say? You have these really useful muscles in your neck and your eyes that allow you to turn your head or avert your gaze. A child should not be inconvenienced and covered with something just because you aren’t capable of controlling what you look at.
Another thing that people against breastfeeding often say: “She should move somewhere else, where other people don’t have to see it.” You mean to tell me that the child, who has just begun giving cues that he or she is hungry, is going to have to wait five, ten, fifteen minutes (or more) for Mom to find an “appropriate” spot to nurse? Meanwhile, baby is getting more hungry by the second. Suddenly, the child is screaming and inconsolable because he or she didn’t get that milk right away. Doesn’t that seem a little mean?
Of course, there’s always this statement, too: “She’s just doing it for attention, stop flaunting those breasts.” Actually, she’s just doing it because her child wants to nurse. It has nothing to do with you whatsoever. If she were flaunting, she’d probably take her whole top off, stand up on a table, and yell out to everyone in the area, Look at my breasts! Instead, here she is with her child latched onto her nipple, which isn’t even visible when child is feeding, and as soon as she’s done, everything gets put back into place. There’s no flaunting anything here.
And there’s this one: “Why can’t moms just pump and feed from a bottle?” Well, we can, and many moms often do, but not everyone can afford a good pump and not everyone has the time or the energy to devote to pumping. Even if you can afford a good pump, you have to constantly clean all the parts in between pumps, and you have to drag that thing everywhere you go. Pumps also usually don’t pull enough milk from the breasts, so if you’re pumping frequently, you have to fight to keep up your milk supply. It’s a huge inconvenience to pump just so a mom can try to make everyone around her feel comfortable while she feeds her baby.
Finally, this argument is my favorite: “Breasts are sexual, they should stay in the bedroom.” So you’re telling me, that because some people like to play with their partners’ breasts, that means they’re used strictly for sexual purposes? Hands and mouths are used sometimes for the same reason, but you don’t see everyone walking around with gloves and face masks for fear of offending someone. Breasts produce milk, they’re not inherently sexual. They provide nourishment to children all over the world, and in many places, breasts are seen as no big deal. They’re just a part of the human body.
In the end, it doesn’t matter how you choose to feed your baby. Do what’s right for you and your family. Formula is a wonderful thing for mothers who either can’t breastfeed or simply don’t want to for whatever reason, and no one should ever make you feel ashamed for using it. Breastfeeding is also a wonderful, natural way to feed your child, and no one should ever make you feel ashamed for nursing in a way that makes you and your child comfortable. Do you prefer to use a cover or find a place away from the people around you when you breastfeed? There’s nothing wrong with that, but there is something wrong with judging women who choose to not do those things.
If you’re someone who judges women in any capacity for how they choose to feed their children, whether by formula or breastfeeding, you should be ashamed of yourself.