Ahhhhh! Nipples! Or, Public Breastfeeding in 2016.
I recently shared a meme on Facebook that was speaking to the importance of nursing in public to normalize breastfeeding.
I totally agree with Scary Mommy here... lets all stop calling it breastfeeding. It's just feeding.
I shared this meme along with a few sentences about my personal baby feeding journey...about how for the last 11 years I have shamelessly breastfed in public.
And, boy have there been times when fearlessness was the only thing making it a comfortable experience for me.
I also mentioned that I don't care what anyone thinks...and I don't.
I really, really, really don't care about anyone's opinion on when and where I feed my baby.... except, of course, my baby's opinion. When I get signaled that I've got a little one in need of food, or closeness, or comfort, or any combination of the three...I'm going to bare my breast to said tiny person. I am going to meet their needs, and anyone else's comfort level with that is of zero significance. Raising a connected, cared for human that has trust in the world and feels secure in their place in it, that's what matters to me.
Breastfeeding on demand is where that starts.
For my children, it's non-negotiable.
(And there is a reason that breastfeeding is protected by law nearly everywhere a woman is legally allowed to be in the United States. Because even the government believes we're all adults here...)
However you deal with your own feelings on the matter, I'm going to feed my kid.
Anyhow...I shared this meme last week, and one response I received really blew my mind. We were merely days away from stepping into 2016...and yet here I was reading incredibly anti-woman, anti-baby remarks thrown at me... to my surprise, by a fellow female.
She brought up a few points that I didn't find worth my time or energy to refute then and there. She wasn't the audience and facebook wasn't the platform.
However, lightinmyhands is both.
So here I am, sharing this experience, hoping that the mom I recently saw heading to her car to breastfeed her baby at the park may read this, and know that she doesn't have to do that. If only one mom finds the strength to toss their nursing covers in the garbage, I would consider this post to be an overwhelming success.
I want to share my rebuttal to her comments here with you for a couple of reasons..
1. to help normalize breastfeeding
2. to illuminate just how backwards our society still is on this issue. Again... it's 2016. This happened just days ago.
1. Mom's that can't conceive might see you breastfeeding and feel sadness.
Ok. That sucks for them, my heart feels for their struggle... I'm still going to feed my baby. And I would truly hope that a mom battling fertility issues won't see me and think "I wish she wouldn't feed her baby right here, right now... when and where it is hungry. I see this and am sad because I don't have a baby."
No. I highly doubt that is reality because this hypothetical woman is also an adult.
She can deal with her feelings. I have faith in her ability to handle any of her own emotions that might be stirred up by catching a glimpse of a breastfeeding baby. And if for some reason she can't, that really isn't my concern... I'm busy meeting the needs of a tiny human who relies on me for everything. A tiny human who has chosen me to be his tour guide to life this incarnation. A tiny human who needs a foundation of love and trust and security. My job is to provide this foundation, a huge part of providing it is breastfeeding on demand. And my little guy is not going to take his lunch in a public restroom because someone might get their feelings hurt about a completely natural, essential human process.
2. Some mothers can't breastfeed and will see this and feel sadness.
Yes. It is highly likely that a mother who is/has been unable to successfully breastfeed might see this and feel sadness. That is a reasonable emotional response. Some people can't hear, should I cause myself to go deaf to be sensitive to their issues before or after I feed my baby in a toilet? Again, we're talking about adults and they can deal with their shit. And if they can't, perhaps they can find a good therapist to talk it out with... but I'm still going to feed my baby.
3. Public nudity
Really?. Really? Do you not watch T.V.? Use the internet? Read print magazines? What magical rock do you live under where you're never exposed to advertising. Since you're publicly chastising me on Facebook, it's safe to assume that you are exposed to advertising. So... let me get this straight...you're ok seeing breasts, as long as they stay true to their natural intended purpose, ... to psychologically manipulate you into buying things?? But me feeding my baby is somehow perverse?? Hmm... put it that way and it just sounds really quite silly, doesn't it?
I was told I could bottle feed breastmilk when in public, or the baby could take formula. It would live.
Yes, it would live...and "live" is kind of a 'worst-case scenario' approach to child rearing, isn't it?
Humans are adaptable; resilient. A child can "live" through a lot of things. My goal as mother of my little ones is for my children to not only survive, but to thrive.
So.... I think I'll keep breastfeeding my babies. Shamelessly. Anywhere and everywhere we are legally allowed to be.
In 11 years of breastfeeding, I've never been able to successfully pump milk... nor is a bottle a replacement for a mother's breast. Breastfeeding is so much more than simply food.
I have breasts that make milk; wonderful, beautiful, amazing, human milk. Milk that changes with the developmental and immunological needs of my growing human. Formula is not an adequate substitute if this liquid miracle is readily available. A bottle is not an adequate substitute for a real life mom's available breast. For the love and connection, for the flow of oxytocin that strengthens the bonding that homo sapien sapien babies have evolved to expect.
Should we be dining at the same restaurant, and I take offense to your lunch, will you be taking it to the toilet? Or covering your head with a blanket while you dine? Perhaps you would be willing to take an "adequate" substitute... one I feel more comfortable with? Sounds silly put that way, doesn't it?
So, yes... it is true... I don't give a rat's behind what anyone thinks of how, when, or where I choose to feed my wee ones.
And it kind of hurts my heart, that with as far as women have come, there are still some that would try to shame me into a closet to feed my baby.