Say it with me…
Nurturing a child from the BREAST…
Pulling BREAST out of a bra so that an infant or toddler can receive pathogen-fighting human milk from their mother’s BREAST..
BREAST: either of the two soft, protruding organs on the upper front of a woman’s body that secrete milk after pregnancy.
All of the above phrases have zero negative connotations, but the word breast is somehow insanely triggering to many people.
Why we should continue to normalize breastfeeding
I want to get to the root of why this body part has been demonized or seen as something that mothers should be ashamed to expose even in instances where their innocent child requires immediate nourishment. This is such an issue, breastfeeding mothers and those who support have had to construct normalize breastfeeding hashtags across social media to bring attention to the unacceptance.
Many women have also posted pictures of themselves uncovering their breast at a dinner table in public as a form of unspoken protest.
While the efforts to raise awareness across social media may have been slightly exaggerated (from the perspective of many), I do respect the attempt to soften the awkwardness of such a genuine effort to feed an infant in public without guilt, shame, or barriers.
This blog post was first published in 2016. But now that I am 4 months postpartum and am currently exclusively breastfeeding my daughter, I wanted to do an overview to examine if these points still hold validity today.
Remarkable social changes for breastfeeding mothers.
As of 2021, I am thrilled to say that major progress has been made in this arena.
In 2018, it became LEGAL for a mother to breastfeed her baby in public in all 50 states! Mothers can now breastfeed in public without the fear of being fined for indecent exposure!
The Air Force has also made some advancements for their personnel by providing women of the military a private and sanitary space to pump breastmilk!
The Air Force instituted this change after doing a base-wide survey in 2017, which determined a need for lactation rooms.
You can read more about that here.
Before COVID-19, I would take my children to Wonder Place to play and their facility had a private area for mothers to nurse.
Also, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act:
Employers are required to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.” Employers are also required to provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.”
This genuine committment to change is what makes me feel confident that humanity is headed in a positive direction.
However, breastfeeding in public is still taboo for some and it has caused an emotional stir for many.
WHY does this divinely designed organ receive such a bad rep? And WHAT’S THE BIG FUSS ABOUT BREASTFEEDING?
As I scoured Facebook today to do some investigative research, I still see posts or comments addressing the topic, showing the sentiment of disgust with bare breast being exposed in public.
The fuss seems to be about women choosing to breastfeed in open areas versus private areas. And now that most places do provide an area for breastfeeding, what would be the harm in just utilizing the designated and more discreet areas?
We must formalize a workable solution to this problem of women breastfeeding in public, because more Moms are taking back their natural right to breastfeed (including myself) and we’re not stopping just because people feel that breastfeeding mothers should have 1 extra concern on their mind while trying to soothe their babies.
I want to touch on the topic of why is it offensive for a woman to uncover her breast in a non-discreet way to nurture her baby? Why is it deemed disrespectful?
Barriers with the acceptance of public breastfeeding
This is indeed a sensitive topic that I can look at from many angles.
On one hand, you have the individuals who practice natural thinking; those who have been completely unplugged from civilization and have resumed ancient methods of living. For people in this category, breastfeeding is natural and it should never be an issue with a mother’s breast being uncovered in public.
As children, these individuals most likely had a healthy introduction to the function of breasts and may have even been breastfed themselves. So seeing uncovered breast anywhere for them is not bizarre or something to create an uproar about, as if it was a sexual organ meant for eroticism or pleasure.
While on the other hand, you have people who have experienced traumatized events as children and are still battling with that hurt inside. What was once natural to them has become impaired, misplaced, disconnected. My heart breaks from this type of abuse in our communities.
I empathize with those who struggle to live day to day with a healthy mindset due to exposure at an early age to sexual perversion. This requires some deep therapy to unravel the damage.
The media doesn’t do any more justice by flashing overly sexualized images across television screens and pushing agendas through subliminal advertising. It’s become normal to see soft porn on regular channels during DAYTIME television.
During my childhood, certain visuals were only accessible after dark on premium channels. But now, children have access to adult entertainment at their fingertips.
So I get it…I’m completely cognizant of reasons why many have become disturbed with the sight of breast or even the word BREAST.
Let’s normalize saying the word breast aloud without shame.
Can you believe that the word Breast is something that many still feel is inappropriate to say aloud?
Maybe it’s because I live in the Bible belt. But I have noticed that some of the older people cringe at the sound of the word breast.
It’s apart of the human anatomy that is treated more like an abominable object rather than a beautiful gift bestowed upon women from the beginning of time.
In fact, human female breast contain alveoli and other glands. These components work together to excrete milk in the same way a female cow does to feed her calves.
Benefits of breastfeeding
The CDC also recognizes health benefits for both the infant and mother.
Benefits to Infants
Infants who are breastfed have a lower risk of:
- Type 1 diabetes.
- Severe lower respiratory disease.
- Acute otitis media (ear infections).
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Gastrointestinal infections (diarrhea/vomiting).
- Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) for preterm babies.
Benefit to Mothers
Mothers who breastfeed their infants have a lower risk of:
- Breast cancer.
- Ovarian cancer.
- Type 2 diabetes.
- High blood pressure.
Additional Breastfeeding benefits include:
- It is a huge money saver! Formula is at least $30 a can. Bottles and other feeding items could total up to $300 or more. Just imagine how much money a mother can save with exclusive breastfeeding.
- Mothers can create an eternal bond and closeness with her offspring with the experience of nurturing from the breast. It creates a utopia for the infant. It provides the mother with emotional comfort seeing that the infant relies on her for nutrients.
- A study from Cambridge University showed a breastfeeding mom is 50% less likely to suffer postnatal depression than non-breastfeeding mothers.
- Release of melatonin, the body’s natural sleep aid. In the middle of the night when everyone is tired, the baby is able to be fed instantly. Mommy can go back to sleep quicker because of this increased melatonin and Dad doesn’t have to get out of bed to warm bottles in the middle of the night. So in essence, EVERYONE WINS!
- Breast-milk melatonin also has anti-oxidant properties to relieve pain. Great for babies with colic.
- Most importantly it’s called LIQUID GOLD. Breast milk contains antibodies that strengthens newborns’ immune systems, which reduces the need for artificial vaccinations.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that breastfeeding begin within the first hour of a baby’s life and continue as often and as much as the baby wants.
The tone of disgust with breastfeeding
Before giving birth, I received unwelcoming comments from mothers who were 20+ years past childbearing or women who had NEVER given birth…saying,
“I wouldn’t breastfeed my child because it’s unsanitary.”
“I just couldn’t see myself letting my child suck on my breast. That’s nasty”
“You’re going to breastfeed? Why?!”
If you are the type of person who believes it is your duty to comment on a mother’s desire to breastfeed her unborn child, please reconsider doing this. Your experiences with breast are yours alone. It is not the end-all-be-all summary for humanity.
The proper question instead would be, why not?
Why is it that other mammals use this organ for its primary purpose, yet when it comes to humans the idea of nurturing from the breast is absolutely absurd?!
Why can’t a mother just bottle feed their baby instead of using the breast in public?
Not all mothers are career women who commute daily to the workforce. Many are homemakers and exclusively breastfeeding. That is my case.
Babies who have been trained from birth to latch onto their mother’s breast WILL NOT ACCEPT A COUNTERFEIT NIPPLE when feeding, unless they use a pacifier on a regular basis.
I repeat, BABIES WHO HAVE BEEN TRAINED FROM BIRTH TO LATCH ONTO THEIR MOTHER’S BREAST WILL NOT ACCEPT A COUNTERFEIT NIPPLE WHEN FEEDING, UNLESS THEY USE A PACIFIER ON A REGULAR.
The nipple from a bottle has a harder feel against the baby’s palate. Training a baby to take a bottle instead of the breast would require months. And even so, the baby always wins. It is ultimately their preference how they choose to be fed.
The time that it takes to try to get the baby to drink from a bottle, because the mother is trying to be “decent” in public, her breast is simultaneously responding to the cries from her infant. The milk will release automatically/involuntarily. And if it’s one of those rushed days when the mother forgets to wear nipple pads, her shirt will get drenched with precious breastmilk.
The feeling of wasting ANY drop of milk is distressing to a Mom!
Why should she have to experience this hassle? Is that fair because we expect mothers to be “decent in public by not whipping her boobs out?”
The issue of engorgement.
Another possible unknown fact…breastfeeding Moms can get extremely engorged, a condition which is more painful than breastfeeding itself!
The breast can become inflamed and possibly set up an infection due to blocked mammary ducts. The only way to release this engorged pressure is to express breast milk. Again, when a child is EXCLUSIVELY breastfeeding, a mother has no choice but to pull out her breast and immediately nurse her child.
Children use the breast to calm themselves
Additionally, children sometimes use the breast as a pacifier, especially for teething babies. So, if a Mom is having to pull her breast out multiple times, it is not to give you a free peep show. It is because mothers are MORE concerned with soothing their baby without suffocating them with a blanket…than they are concerned with an adult having an issue. And rightfully so!
Most babies hate being covered with blankets while feeding. It makes them sweaty and uncomfortable. And they will end up snatching it off anyway! 😂😂
Having a newborn comes with its own challenges. It’s frustrating enough to have to plan the perfect time to attend social events with a newborn; planning around their sleep and nursing schedule.
If you are imagining in your mind that a mother is gaining some sort of pleasure by exposing her breast in public, this idea is largely false.
Put yourself in a mother’s shoes. Imagine this stress on top of having to worry about others’ opinions of such a natural act…along with the frustration of covering up and taking the breast out multiple times…..back to back….to soothe a fussy child.
That baby is too old to still be breastfeeding..
I’ve heard this expression time and time again. The WHO has this to say about the suggested length of time to breastfeed.
WHO also recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months of age with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to 2 years of age or longer.
Mothers should be encouraged to breastfeed their children for at least 1 year. The longer an infant is breastfed, the greater the protection from certain illnesses and long-term diseases. The more months or years a woman breastfeeds (combined breastfeeding of all her children), the greater the benefits to her health as well.
The key phrase here is “or longer.” No one should be sitting with a calendar waiting on another person’s child to turn 2 so that they can declare to a woman that her child is past the age of getting any nutrients from her breastmilk.
We don’t display this type of outrage for cow’s milk! We welcome the idea of drinking another mammal’s milk into adulthood. And the U.S. dairy industry has a corrupt system of producing mass quantities of cow’s milk; it’s basically animal cruelty.
Feel free to review these resources below.
But the outrage isn’t focused there. Somehow human breastmilk that is excreted against no one’s will has to have an expiration date.
Here’s some things that we can do as onlooking citizens to ease the tension.
Instead of making the mother feel uncomfortable, simply turn your eyes to something else as a courtesy, and allow her solitude to calm down her baby.
If your children have questions, don’t make it awkward. Simply educate them on the spot and say, “Hey this is natural for a baby to drink milk from their mommy’s breast.” Turn it into the perfect learning opportunity. Try giving an example of how animals nurse their babies in the same way. Most children will resume their normal activities after their curiosity is satisfied.
To women concerned with their husband or Boyfriend staring at a mother’s breast in a sexual way….
Lactating breast have a different appearance than a non-lactating breast. One breast may be larger than the other…sometimes appearing blotchy or swollen. The nipple will have a slight droop because it instinctively assists the baby with latching.
The chances of your Man getting aroused at the sight of lactating breast SHOULD be slim to none. If not, then that is a candid conversation the two of you must discuss privately. Security starts there my love…at home. A woman should never place blame on a breastfeeding mother for personal and/or relationship insecurities (IF that applies to you).
In the meantime…De-sexualize your mentality. Educate your family. Train your thoughts to see nature when you see a breast instead of seeing a sex toy.
Let US correct our OWN backwards thinking instead of criticizing innocent mothers who are simply providing their children the best nutrients they could receive at such a tender age….as The Creator intended.
To learn more about breastfeeding visit http://www.healthychildren.cc/.
To join the movement and help support Founder Vanessa Simmons with her mission to Normalize Breastfeeding, visit her website at https://www.normalizebreastfeeding.org.