Bri Colorful

Breastfeeding is Beautiful

Posted on: November 7, 2011

Photo courtesy of Topinambour | Flickr

“Well, forgive me, but I don’t want to see your naked breast,” I was told in disgusted tones by a close friend in reference to nursing in public.

I can forgive this friend for her uninformed opinion, but I cannot forgive the society that produces such a negative attitude towards mothers. Here is the crux of my frustration. I am a new mother. I spent months and months leading up to the birth of my first child researching how to be a good mother to him. The subject I was most anxious about in all my study was breastfeeding.

I can give you an incredibly long list of websites and books that name the incredible and innumerable benefits of this natural method of feeding your infant. [To start with, here’s what the Le Leche League and the World Health Organization have to say]. There’s no question in anyone’s mind that where infants are concerned, breastfeeding is the way to go. I was so anxious to get this right, to establish the breastfeeding bond, to do what was right by my little guy, that I spent hours studying it while I was working and going to school full time. — and, to toot my own horn, I did it! If there is anything I am doing right as a parent, it is the way I feed my little man and no one could argue with an almost 20 pound three month old. He is definitely benefiting in this regard.

Proof

Proof that breastfeeding works

So can someone please explain to me why societal attitudes insist that I should be ashamed of this? At best, I am looked at curiously while I cover my baby with a blanket, like some kind of circus performer — at worst, I am angrily banished to a dirty public restroom (because nursing facilities are, if anything, rare in public places) because what I am doing is disgusting to the majority of regular citizens. They “don’t want their children to see that” or worse, they are afraid that what I am doing will excite some kind of sexual response.

These attitudes frustrate me. Why is my choice to sustain life in the most natural of ways gross to most people?

Photo Courtesy of Nextors | Flickr

The WHO states that worldwide, less that 40% of mothers choose to breastfeed (and those few who do are banished to a box to do so). We now have a generation of adults who can not remember ever seeing a baby breastfeed. They’ve seen billboards of scantily-clad women, and after watching almost any pg-13 or R-rated movie they’ve heard or seen more innuendo than they have storyline, and they walk by women who put a great part of their bodies on display day after day with the motivation of being provocative … but a breastfeeding mother? Not so. That is unacceptable. It is this woman that they must hide away.

We are not flashing you to be provocative or to make some kind of point. We are sustaining life; we are creating joy; we are furthering civilization. But we are wrong somehow. What we do is socially abhorrent.

WHY?!

Yes, let’s hide this beautiful bond away cause it makes us uncomfortable.

Here are a few little known facts to those who do not breastfeed:

  • Infants who are breastfed eat 8-12 times a day for 10-20 minutes at each meal. Do your math folks. That is every 1-3 hours all day long (and all night). That measures start of feeding to start of feeding, not end to start, so that means you could feed your baby and 40 minutes later, he’ll be hungry again. Take a look at my child. This is quite often the case. — Are you going to banish a mother to another room every time she must feed her baby simply because it makes you uncomfortable? Think of how uncomfortable and embarrassed she must be to have to leave the conversation so often, just to feed her baby.
  • Most infants don’t want to eat under a blanket. Why don’t you go around trying to eat a bowl of soup under a blanket everywhere you go and see how you like it? They want to look at their mommies. They want to see what is going on around them.
  • Beastfeeding is most often so discreet, sans blanket, that most people don’t even notice what you are doing. It only takes a second to latch a baby on and after that your shirt and baby cover most of what is going on.
  • It is often more obvious what you are doing when you have to go through the whole blanket or nursing cover routine.
  • 45 states have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in ANY public or private location and where there is no law, those women are protected from public indecency laws.
So please consider your attitude towards mothers and children and whether it is fair and just. Are you uncomfortable being with someone who is breastfeeding their infant? Is that an incorrect attitude passed down from your culture and the lack of mothers who breastfeed in public because of these prejudices? Should you correct your feelings on the matter?

I wish you could see what I see. Then you would realize how truly beautiful this is.

The measure of any society or nation is how it treats its weakest members. Surely that includes children, and women who are handicapped when feeding their infant. Civil law is improving in its attitude towards this class of individuals. Are you?
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12 Responses to "Breastfeeding is Beautiful"

Wow. Mommy Bear is in full swing! You go girl. Of course, I nursed all four of my babies and got so carefree and nonchalant about it, I could nurse (using a blanket) while grocery shopping, library browsing, or eating out — without a second thought. (Most people don’t know that you really only need one arm to do those things.)There might have been second-glances by some in those days, I don’t remember honestly; I was so comfortable and sure of myself, I didn’t care. It’s clear that not only are you doing the best possible thing for your baby right now – you are going above and beyond by giving him CREAM with his milk! Bracko is THE biggest baby I have ever seen for his age; beautifully dense and perfectly proportioned. Your “toss the blanket” campaign may yet revolutionize life as we know it!!!!

Here here! 🙂

First off, I completely agree that breastfeeding should not be shuned by society nor should any mother feel ashamed to take care of their baby’s needs in public. I have heard many things from people bashing breastfeeing in public and I get so frustrated at their ignorance. However, I do believe that because of the disgusting twist society has put on the beauty of the female body and sex between husband and wife, a mother should cover up when feeding her baby. No mother deserves dirty looks but no man deserves the temptation. We have no idea what arouses every man and we should respect them enough to cover up, just like they should respect us and our natural bond with our babies.

I have thought about that as well Carrie I think since most mothers who breastfeed in public do so discreetly, there is often little to cover up in this first place. My point is that covering with a blanket should be up to what makes mother and baby comfortable, not a response to society’s blanket sexualization of women’s bodies. I think it is a discredit to men in general to think that they will sit there are stare as we breastfeed our children. With pornography, the woman becomes an object without feeling or flesh and blood because she is not real, she is a photo. With breastfeeding they witness the breast performing its natural function and the person is a real human being, not just an object.

To paraphrase some research I did at the FIA’s site:
Some men may indeed be aroused by the sight of breastfeeding, but most decent men will look away as they would from an erotic billboard or ad (especially since how awkward would he feel just sitting there staring at you, really, as opposed to an actual billboard). Also, many men are simply curious about breast-feeding since society has made it taboo. Men may be simply interested since it is something they have never witnessed. The more women breastfeed out in the open, the more everyone will witness women’s breasts fulfilling their natural function of feeding babies and the less taboo the breast will become and so men will be less obsessed with it. So by nursing in public you can actually help those whose thinking has been turned backwards by media and society.

That’s a great point about recognizing the purpose of the breasts but no means would I think any man would just sit there and stare, particularly those that are aroused by it, but it may ignite thoughts in their heads and for those that may already have a pornography addiction, bring other images to mind. And the idea that pornography is ONLY viewed by the viewer as an object is erroneous. Many men that are addicted fantasize about the women as if they are real.
But you make a great point about seeing the breast for its natural purpse.

I agree that breastfeeding is natural and beautiful for the mother and the baby, I breastfed my children and plan to breastfeed the child I am currently expecting, I’ve breastfed on a plane, at church (not in the mothers room), and many other places. but I also feel it is a matter of modesty to cover up at least while your child is latching on. I was taught to cover up that part of my body and I don’t feel it is bad or wrong of me to think that other people should cover up too. besides, just because we see out breasts as baby bottles sort of speak, doesn’t mean we should expect everyone else to be as comfortable with that as we, the nursing mothers are.

PS I don’t feel like anyone has to actually SEE a breast performing it’s natural function to understand the purpose of it. people know what you are doing if you are covered up or not. Lets all just be modest and respectful of other people and the issue won’t be an issue anymore.

Awesome!! I was able to breast feed both my children until 6mo and then for a medical reason i dried up and nothing i did would bring it back 😦 and that made me sad. but so many times even in the family room at church i was told: “cant you do that else where? its inappropriate and there are children here!” ummm… right on the door it says nursing mothers welcome. and then another person told me “just give him a bottle, its easier” no … no its not. then i’d miss all those precious smiles directed at me while they nursed. i’d miss the warm weight of them pressed against my chest at the wee hours in the morning. on quite days i’d even snuggle down and nap as one of htem nursed. no way would i give that up. if i tried to cover up while i nursed, my children would squirm and unlatch every 30 seconds or so, it was painful and time consuming. i finally found a bunch of nursing shirts that hid everything and the baby could be latched with out being covered… my problem solved. i applaud you for your take!

Liquid gold, that’s what it is. God gives everyone an equal footing when they are born. They can all be given the best at birth and do well.

First, your baby is so cute!
Second, I breastfed my first child anywhere and everywhere without a cover. I got kicked out of resturant for breastfeeding her but in the end that’s their loss. I won’t be going back; I’ll just go have lunch with my now two children somewhere else and nurse the youngest in peace and without a cover. (There is acutally a place where I live that has a picture of a woman breastfeeding on the cover of the menu, which is so cool even if it is a bit odd for a menu. So ha to the place that says my baby can’t eat in their resturant this place has her favorite on the menu.)
Society is messed up. Breastfeeding is natural and beautiful and I would much rather my children think breasts are for feeding babies than just for sex. I would hope that someone’s four-year-old has no idea what sex is and that “the baby is eating” is the given explaination. Children need to see breastfeeding so that they can grow up and breastfeed their own children.

Right on! I can’t tell you how many times I’d get looks or hear whispers about breastfeeding Taylor in public. I say ignore, ignore, ignore! What you’re doing is beautiful and healthy. 🙂 And he is just so cute!!!! 🙂

Beautiful baby! My mom (ARNP and major lactavist) tells me I’m making good groceries for my not so little man. He is 2 months and 14 lbs 9 oz. I would never give up this precious time with my son and I feel incredibly blessed to be able to provide him with everything he needs for now. Breastfeeding is so beautiful and most men are not aroused by it at all and ignorance cannot be combated by shame and hiding.

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