For most of my life I didn’t even think about breastfeeding.
One: I was not yet a parent
Secondly: Because I really never saw anyone actually doing it.
So when I finally had friends and acquaintances around me who did nurse in public I was VERY taken back by my own actions.
I didn’t know where to look.
I felt so akward not by my friends actions, but rather my own for not knowing how to handle something that in reality is an extremely natural act that the world around me has made me afraid to look at a baby nursing? Really, me?
I share this because little did I know prior to that, friends and mothers all around me were doing the exact same thing in bathrooms, and private rooms or choosing to bottle feed with breastmilk in public. I want to first say that there is nothing wrong with your comfort level or what you choose to do as a mother, but to rather think about it in another perspective all together.
One where without words we are teaching communities in which we live about this amazing gift we as mothers can often produce. It’s great for the environment and it is fully sustaining our young and their need for food the entire first year of life virtually for free!
Now a few years later and I look back and now that I breastfeed in public, I wonder how that very experience or rather akwardness of mine would most likely never existed had it been the normal vision day to day over the course of my entire life to see women breastfeeding in public?
How could something so very important to all of mankind really become such a “thing”? (we all come from a mother right?)
I had a discussion with a few fellow mothers some time ago and topic fell on them being “more modest about nursing in public”. Later that night, I found that conversation stuck with me. At first I almost took offense to it simply because I have always been what I considered a “fairly modest” person, however I have no problem feeding my child from the breast, without a cover in public.
So, was this really considered a “radical thing that I’m do? Is it really a thing to expose specific parts of the body that sustain life and help grow and comfort our young? Should we feel the need to cover ourselves or see refuge in a bathroom stall or “special breastfeeding room?”
Please understand, there is absolutely nothing wrong with your comfort level or thoughts on being discreet. However it made me think again about that day when I didn’t know what to do when I saw someone breastfeeding for the first time. What if more women around me did this all the time without worry of exposing ourselves.
Has our culture sexualized breasts so much we as women feel the need to hide? How will our children view breastfeeding if they never see it happening?
Will our daughters feel empowered to choose the breast to feed and nuture our grandchildren?
So I look at it in a sense that if we our enitre lives, everywhere we go, when a child is hungry and a mother has the ability to nurse, would it be a matter of modesty or one of necessity? If it were more public would it make the ability to breastfeed easier in the long run? Would we learn from all that we have seen and heard our mothers talk about years before we are even mothers?
Would more mothers who can’t nurse for unforseen reasons medically, or physically have a better chance of hearing from another breastfeeding mother, who is not selling or promoting a suppliment, that breast is by far the best thing we can offer them. Would they hear about pumping or have better access to donated breastmilk?
Again all very normal healthy ways to nourish your baby.
I know in my mind I will continue to breastfeed my child in public, uncovered with a sense of pride for what I am doing, not only for my child’s health and wll being, but for our society as a whole.