Walking through the mall, you spot a woman sitting on a bench, right there in front of “Motherhood Maternity,” hunched over with her back facing you. She is evidently holding a baby, or possibly a small child – at this distance it is hard to tell. As you walk closer, curiosity growing inside of you, it appears that the woman is holding a baby – perhaps a 6 month old. The baby is just lying there – it’s sweet little fuzzy blonde hair poking out over the side of the mother’s arm. As you walk around the woman, it becomes clear. The baby isn’t just lying there – the baby is nursing. The mother isn’t hiding herself one bit. There is no blanket draped over her shoulders. Her breast is obviously poked right out of her unbuttoned shirt – her bra being exposed for all to see.
Depending on the type of person you are and how you feel about breastfeeding, you may find the situation sweet – feeling that the mother is doing all that she can to benefit her child in the best way possible. Or you may not even see that the woman is breastfeeding – and only that she has her shirt open, here in the middle of the mall, with her breast hanging out.
What many people don’t understand is how important breastfeeding really is. It contains amazing immunities for the child, boosts their IQ, and offers a comfort that an artificial, rubber nipple just doesn’t quite compare to. It’s also beneficial for mom, too. It helps her to lose weight faster after giving birth, helps to prevent ovarian and breast cancer, while also providing her a closer bond with her child. These are just a few of the amazing benefits of breastfeeding.
When a woman chooses to breastfeed exclusively, she is making an incredible commitment. She is committing herself to providing food, comfort, and nutrition for her child all solely on her own – at least for the first six months. After that she may decide to start offering solids, yet if she so chooses to still breastfeed, will continue to do so almost as often as before.
Let’s face it, moms have places to go just like anyone else. They don’t want to stay cooped up in the house in front of the television all day – sitting on the couch with a baby attached to their breast, feeling like some kind of slave. Sometimes they just want to go out – do some shopping, go out to dinner, or go see a movie – and a lot of the time, that means bringing baby along with them.
What is a woman to do when her baby does that deep, hunger cry out in public – that cry that instinctively starts letting the milk down from her own breasts? Is she to ignore these natural cues – to go about her shopping business with a screaming baby in tow? What really is so wrong with a woman choosing to sit down on a bench for a few minutes – to open up her shirt and nurse her baby? Especially if the baby falls asleep at the breast, which many babies do? Wouldn’t that make your shopping experience all the better – to not have to deal with a screaming child, but a calm, comforted one?
What many people don’t understand is that a mother unbuttoning her shirt to nurse her child isn’t trying to make some controversial statement by showing you her bare breasts. She is just doing her motherly duty – feeding her child just like a bottle-feeding mother would pull a bottle out of her diaper bag. She isn’t caring much as to what skin is showing – heck this is defiantly not a time to be trying to look sexy. All she is doing is nurturing her child.
Some say that a breastfeeding mother in public should find a restroom to go nurse in – but what if the baby starts crying to nurse in the middle of the mall – the restroom being all the way on the other side? Is she to run with her screaming baby in tow – pushing him or her in the stroller, causing a scene of mayhem all around her? It’s just so much more simple to find a place around her to sit and nurse. Plus most restrooms aren’t all that sanitary for a baby to be eating in. Would you eat in a bathroom stall? It’s just so much easier for a mother to nurse near by for the few minutes that the baby needs it – then to get on with her business.
Some also say that a baby breastfeeding in public should be covered with a blanket. My question for them is – Have they ever tried eating with a blanket over their head? It is suffocating to say the least. It makes the child hot and sweaty. A lot of the time they will just pull it off of their heads and play with it. They hate it. In fact, draping a blanket over a child draws even more attention to the public eye. Why should a woman put her child through the torture of hiding them under something just to benefit an unknown stranger?
There are so many misconceptions out there about breastfeeding and not enough straight facts. People underestimate the importance of breastmilk – the fact that although a baby may prosper on formula, they aren’t receiving the “whole package” that breastmilk really gives them. It’s like raising your child on fruits, vegetables and whole grains, or raising them on McDonald’s Happy Meals. Which one do you think makes for a healthier child in the long run?
Our society may never get over the relation of breasts to sex , but what it needs to accept is the fact that breasts are multi-purposeful. They can nurse and comfort a child during the day, while also acting as sex toys for their husband later that night. It’s okay for them to still be seen as sexual. Yet when it comes to a mother sitting on a bench and pulling out her breast to nurse her child, they go back to their most primitive of functions – they become a feeding tool for their child.
It is this importance of breastmilk that must be spread. Without mothers breastfeeding in public, the public eye doesn’t get to see it occurring as much as they should. People need to see it to understand it. Mothers need to see that other mothers are comfortable with nursing in public – so why shouldn’t they be comfortable doing it as well? More nursing breasts need to be shown bare so that it becomes more of a normalcy for the public eye to see. If mothers keep draping things around them, our society will never change, and people will continue to look at breastfeeding as a shameful, inappropriate thing – rather than the incredibly important thing that it really is.