OMG that baby is eating her breast!

November 30, 2010 · 19 comments

Oh my God!

Oh. My. God.

Last night I came across another article blasting mothers for breastfeeding, uncovered, in public.[1] It invokes all the usual arguments: breastfeeding is natural, but so is defecating, and no one wants people to do that wherever they want; mothers should schedule feedings so baby doesn’t need to eat while you’re out, and if they do, just pack a bottle of breastmilk; private businesses should be able to dictate who may patronize them, and if they don’t want breastfeeding mothers, they shouldn’t be forced to; and breastfeeding mothers don’t care how other people feel about them breastfeeding in public.

Well, we can agree on the last one. I don’t care what other people think of my breastfeeding in public. While I don’t mean this in a militant, fem-bitch, “let me show the world my breasts and the public be damned” sort of way (as it is often taken when breastfeeding mothers make this statement), I do mean that I don’t care. My obligation as a mother is to my child, not to those who choose to gather and comment on my parenting (either positive or negative).

And to me, this obligation extends beyond the need of my children to eat. As a mother, I have to help my children find their moral compass and define their values. I want to teach my children how to determine their values through study and reflection, and also how to live them — by acting on them . . . even in public . . . even when it’s not a popular view. If I can’t demonstrate this to my children, how can I expect them to do it themselves?

I want my children to have confidence in their decisions, to stand up to bullies, and also to be the ones who defend others from bullies. So that’s how I live. I believe breastfeeding is normal. I believe my body is functional and useful. I believe women and children are important members of society. I believe I should respond to the needs of my children, wherever I am, so that’s what I do — whether others approve or not.

There is peer pressure our entire lives to look a certain way and to behave a certain way. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone thinks their way is the way it should be done. If we listen to all the other voices, we’ll be pulled in every direction and never be able to make choices for ourselves. I don’t want that for my children, so I won’t allow it for myself. My obligation to take care of my children extends beyond nurturing their bodies. It extends to shaping their morals, developing their values, and giving them the confidence and courage to live those values in the face of degradation and ridicule.

Our children are watching. They see our actions and notice if they change from one setting to another. I don’t wish to offend people who are squeamish about breastfeeding in public, but my breasts are not sex toys and my child needs to eat. If I believe it, I must act on it. If I cover up, go to a restroom, hide in a corner, or bring a bottle to feed my child in front of other people, I deny my values to the public and demonstrate to my children that denial is an appropriate thing to do. But it’s not. So I breastfeed, uncovered, in public, because my body is functional and my child is hungry. And it is not something I will allow myself to be ashamed of.

[1] Facebook Reawakens The Lactivist Monster, http://hotair.com/greenroom/archives/2010/11/29/facebook-reawakens-the-lactivist-monster/

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