Warning: This is highly opinionated.
A huge issue right now in America is whether a mom has the right to breastfeed her infant in public without the need to cover up her baby or her breast and, quite frankly, the fact that this is an issue is unbelievable. We live in a country that has attempted to falsely accuse and defund Planned Parenthood because conservative citizens don’t believe that the facility should be able to perform a completely legal procedure, abortion, because they are “pro-life,” yet there’s an uproar over actually feeding the infants they insisted should be born and whether they should be fed where/when they need to be?
There are a myriad of reasons that moms should be able to breastfeed in public, but let’s try to instead address people’s reasons for why they shouldn’t be able to.
Some people think that moms should be able to bring bottles around with formula or already pumped milk so that the babies can drink from those instead of from the mom’s breast. Not only does this cause something difficult for the mothers and babies called nipple confusion, but it also greatly increases the burden of the mom every single time she steps out of the house. She has to lug around extra pounds with those bottles in her bag and make sure to put the pumped milk on ice. She’ll also have to bring her pumping equipment because the baby won’t be feeding from her for several hours and without pumping, she could develop an infection or, more likely, she will begin to leak from her breasts. Not to mention the fact that she will have to still go to the bathroom to pump. Plus she’ll also have to find a microwave wherever she is to warm up the breastmilk in the bottle. Many do not understand this long struggle and the pre-planning that go into this supposedly easy cure-all for moms who are breastfeeding.
Others think that moms can simply put a blanket over themselves and their babies and although some can, there are others that can’t because their baby doesn’t like it. They will pull the blanket down, and what is a mom to do then?
Another argument is that moms can go to the bathroom to feed their baby. Since the general area of the bathroom near the sinks is still basically a public place, she has to grossly go into a stall and feed. This is not only unsanitary and disgusting, considering public restrooms have a reputation for being gross, but also an inconvenience to the mom and others who may need to use the restroom while the mom sits there feeding her baby in the stall. What about the moms that have other, older children that they also have to care for? Are those children expected to go into the stall with them and stand there while the mother feeds her baby?
Maybe you have children that you don’t want to expose to that. The fact is that they should be exposed to that because it’s a natural feeding process. As far as exposing things to children goes, it’s about as innocent as it gets. I’m sure that there are many out there with children that don’t think twice about letting them be exposed to graphic video games or movies, yet cringe at a woman breastfeeding openly. If your child can’t stop ogling the mom feeding her child and it embarrasses you, perhaps you can teach them not to stare. If they don’t stop, despite your endless requests, then I’m sure the mom, who is proud of her ability to breastfeed and glad that she is able to do it openly, doesn’t care that much anyways.
For those that state that they just find it plain disgusting and claim that they don’t want to see a woman’s breast or her breastfeeding, I feel that it’s almost unnecessary to dignify these “arguments” with a response. But here’s an idea for those of you that feel that way: look away. Just as a meme that is circulating from True Activist right now states, “Look away, like you do with politics, corruption, war, poverty, environmental destruction, or homelessness.” Also, I hope you change your mind when/if you become a parent, for your child’s sake.
Just in case you’re wondering, yes, I am a woman, so I suppose I have some personal stake in this. I’m also a woman who has been saying since elementary school that I don’t want children, and the same stands true today. I didn’t write this so my future children could live in a world where they can eat in public and because I have some ultra-maternal feelings compelling me to write this (although those feelings are perfectly valid and I am a pretty good dog mom). I wrote this because it’s incredible that women cannot feed their children without dirty stares and obnoxious comments and being asked to leave and I believe they needed at least one voice in their favor for once.
This article (In Defense of Public Breastfeeding) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and TrueActivist.com.