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Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Freedom to Feed

Earlier this week I came across this article. I was baffled, to say the least. While most accounts of being told to stop breastfeeding in public don't go so badly, they still can be filed under events most women would rather avoid experiencing. No one likes to be told off, plain and simple. It's embarrassing and leaves a bad taste in your mouth. You ultimately feel like you did something wrong and that is where my need to write this post came to life.

Breastfeeding is never wrong, no matter where/when/how it is done, it is always right. Feeding your child in the most natural way possible, the way your body was created to do, should never be discouraged, no matter how uncomfortable anyone around you might be.

While I have never personally been asked to move my breastfeeding to a more private area, I still feel very strongly about this issue for one important reason: discouraging nursing in public can discourage nursing in general. As a new mother, I can recount my first public feeding experience. I grappled with trying to cover my bosom with a blanket, as it slipped away or was pushed off by my little babies waving arms. I tried to find discrete corners or separate rooms while my family members tried to encourage me that no one would notice, to no avail. I would stay in the car to nurse, while everyone waited inside. If I were told, back then, to move my activities to the bathroom I would have been very discouraged. Think about how many new mothers are intimidated by breastfeeding in general. How many of those mothers would feel defeated and completely discouraged by that one moment when a stranger decides to tell them where they can feed their child?

Thankfully, after a few months of struggling, I started to become more comfortable with my body and my ability to feed. The longer I nursed the more my breasts became a tool rather than a sexualized object. Now, I bust them out wherever I am. At the beach, the park, the mall, a restaurant, a barbecue, museum, grocery store, the pool, on a boat in a moat with a goat. When my child is hungry he gets it. Occasionally, I think about how it will look more and more odd, as my child becomes more of a toddler, but that still does not discourage me. I will feed him, in public, for as long as he nurses.

Last week, while Jude stopped for a milk break at the beach, I promptly lowered the top of my bathing suit and let him latch right on. I started to think, his head is covering more boob than some of the bathing suits around us. Why are people more comfortable with the disgustingly skin baring bikinis women wear than a woman feeding her child?

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