I wish that breastfeeding in public weren’t an issue at all. It seems an awfully silly thing to be talking about, let alone arguing about, but it is a serious issue and it is a human right that must be defended or else is overridden.
I wish I could say that I’d never been asked to take my baby to the bathroom to feed him, even being discrete in the process. I wish I didn’t know people personally who were spoken to in a degrading manner about such a wholesome thing as nourishing their baby the way that God had intended them to. I wish that women were not still being thrown out of restaurants, amusement parks and pools for said “crime” on a regular basis.
And I wish, when people make light of breastfeeding and breastfeeding activism on TV and in the media that I didn’t take it personally but I do. So, Debra, a little explanation in response to your post, It’s enough already with the breastfeeding:
I tortured myself with my first baby, relegating myself to my room if he had to eat when we had people over, or running him out to the car if we were in public. He refused to eat under a blanket; (I can hardly blame him. I wouldn’t do it either) he screamed and flailed and eventually wriggled it off. I learned to be very discrete. Anything my shirt didn’t cover, my baby’s head did. But a preoccupation with others people’s qualms kept me from eating in restaurants; my baby would need to eat before the meal was through. I couldn’t go to the mall; too much ground to cover when my little one’s “hunger siren” went off. And if, for some reason, I had to go out, I fed my baby in the bathroom (yum, yum) or the car.
My eyes burned and my heart thudded in my chest while I hid myself away. Being a new mom is hard enough without feeling like an outcast for trying to give your baby the best you can offer. I became angry and frustrated with everyone else and it started to show.
Finally, with our second baby only a couple of weeks old, we found ourselves at the mall Playplace- my one-year-old climbing, jumping and being a boy- when the my new baby’s siren went off. An old wound tore open, as if it had never healed. Then I felt my husband’s hand on my arm. “Why don’t you just nurse him here.”
“He won’t let me cover him,” I stammered. Number two followed in his brother’s footsteps.
“So?” He responded.
“It doesn’t bother you?” I was incredulous. “What about all these people?”
“He has to eat. Who cares what anyone thinks,” replied the most wonderful, understanding man on the planet. And just like that, I was free. I could go anywhere. I could do anything. I got a sling and nursed my baby so that nobody would notice at all if he weren’t so noisy.
Sure, there were occasionally dirty looks and I felt unwelcome on more than one occasion but those snags seemed a small price to pay to have the freedom to be a mom and capable, functioning member of society all at once.
I was lucky, and I benefited from women who fought the battle to give me the right to feed my babies whenever and wherever they are hungry.
Almost any kind of human (or animal) rights advocates are seen as extreme by those unassociated with their cause. I figure you have to be “extreme” to make anything happen. Does campaigning to pass breastfeeding legislation seem silly and extreme? Without it, nursing mothers can be arrested for indecent exposure (and have been.) I wholeheartedly appreciate the efforts of “lactivists” all over the world who have created a more accepting place for breastfeeding mothers and their babies to be.
More to the point, would I post a picture of myself nursing one of my kids as my Facebook profile picture? No. To me it is an intimate experience that I would wish for everyone but don’t need to share with everyone. But should the posting of such pictures be regulated by this or any organization and labeled as obscene? No! I see more breast on the sixteen-year-old, bikini clad, girls dotting my brothers’ friends lists than you ever could on a nursing mother. A baby’s head, after all, is bigger that the span of one side of any bikini top.
To me, the insult lies in the fact that it’s obviously not the baring of flesh that’s offensive (for the above reason) but the act of the mother nursing her child. Or, as some apparently view it: a person sucking on a woman’s breast. To me it is just another example of objectifying women’s bodies and a very confused culture.
Is breastfeeding not covered in health class? It should be. I feel like a member of a small minority of people in the world who understand what breasts are meant for, that babies need to eat when they’re hungry and that a glimpse into the breastfeeding relationship between a mother and her baby is one of the most beautiful things a person will ever behold.