Breastfeeding baby in today's society

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We all know nursing moms are "under fire" constantly with society these days. It's becoming something that is looked down upon all because breasts are considered sexual. I hate how I'm walking through the store and I get stared at. I'm not even a person who feels comfortable enough to breastfeed without a cover. Yet you'd think by the dozens of strangers' eyeing me, I have pulled my breast out for the entire world to see! I can't go a day without someone gawking at me and giving me dirty looks because I am simply feeding my child. I can only imagine how worse those looks would be if I was brave enough to walk around without my cover. This isn't how it's supposed to be. Why can't people understand that breastfed babies are no different than formula fed babies? They just happen to get their milk a different route rather than the bottle. And that is perfectly okay. Why should we be stared at like we're side show freaks for feeding our children in the most natural way possible? I've breastfed all four of my children so far, I have only successfully kept breastfeeding two of the four. The glares, the nasty comments from people, no support from my family and never gets easier. When I first announced I was going to breastfeed my first born, I remember thinking......if I can successfully do will be such an amazing bond with my child. I remember being excited and proud of myself for not giving up  through the struggles and getting to experience something that some mothers only hope for because they were unable to breastfeed. But from day 1, I heard nothing but complaints. I've heard it all: Breastfeeding is "gross", that my daughters would grow up being lesbian because I breastfed them, that I'm teaching my sons to be obsessed with breasts(Ha! Like all men aren't obsessed with breasts anyways), that it embarrasses my sister and makes her husband uncomfortable. And that it's just plain wrong.
Let me just address some things from personal experience. The theory that breastfeeding is gross is just plain dumb. How is it gross to feed your baby? It's not! It's just the way you make it seem. There is nothing sexual about nursing a child. Breasts are only sexual objects because the media has made them to be. I recently saw a poster on facebook which said something like: How is it okay to show this(Victoria Secret model showing off her breasts) and it's not okay to show this(a breastfeeding mother)? And that is completely true! How flawed is our society that breasts are not considered bad when it's a model practically showing herself off and yet nursing mothers are ridiculed for feeding their children. It's ridiculous! Next, whoever thinks that breastfeeding causes a baby to become homosexual is just messed up in the head. I have known PLENTY of girls who were breastfed growing up that ended up loving guys just the same. It doesn't automatically make a person feel a certain way. Same goes for the notion that boys will grow up being obsessed with breasts. I don't think I know one guy who isn't somewhat obsessed with b**bs regardless of how they were fed as babies. Will kids grow up and be turned on by bottles because you chose to feed them that way? Of course not!

Then you have people like my sister. She has never been comfortable with breastfeeding for whatever reason. She's just always thought it was gross. That is her opinion. However she felt like it was her right to try and tell me how to feed my children. EVERY chance she got, she made it known that she didn't accept that I chose to breastfeed. But then when her simply telling me how she felt didn't change my attitude towards breastfeeding, she decided to take things to the next level. She told me I'm not "allowed" to nurse around her anymore. When I was breastfeeding my first, my son got hungry at my cousin's reception. So I did what I always did. I grabbed my cover, put it on and fed my son. My sister was APPALLED. She kept staring at me uncomfortably and was like, "Don't you want to excuse yourself to the bathroom or go sit out in the car to do that?" I simply said, "No I'm fine like this" and went about feeding my child. When my daughter was turning 1, she made sure to tell my mom that I better not breastfeed around her or she wasn't coming. When my mom talked to me about it, I was angry. Who was she to tell me that I couldn't breastfeed my child at my own daughter's birthday party. My mom took her side and tried to reason with me, saying that I could excuse myself to the bathroom and feed my daughter. It caused a pretty big family argument because while I didn't mind excusing myself to the bathroom, I don't feel it's hers or anyone's right to tell me to go to the bathroom to nurse. After all, I'm the one who has to nurse so if I'm comfortable doing it, that is all that should matter. But more than that, I don't think my mom or sister truly understand what they were asking me to do. Not only were they trying to make me hide and feel ashamed of nursing my child, they were also asking me(the hostess of the party) to be absent for most of the party because my daughter was a slow nurser and we would have been in there almost the entire time. And all of this to accommodate my sister who shouldn't have a say in anything and would only be around me for a few hours! To settle a family feud, I reluctantly agreed. The party was pointless. Nobody got to see my daughter or me for much of the party. After that I decided I would feed my child any way I wanted and if she didn't like it, that was just too bad. I realized I was being asked to hide something that is supposed to be the most natural thing in the world and that was unfair of her to even ask. When I had my third child, I made the "mistake" of feeding my daughter in the middle of church service at my sister's church and she about had a heart attack. I was now "banned" from attending her church unless I chose to formula feed because I supposedly embarrassed her and her husband in front of their congregation. Again what is wrong with this world that feeding a child is so wrong? Just in case you're wondering, no she did not get her way. I refuse to feed my child any other way than what I'm comfortable with just because someone around me "can't handle it". Now that I'm on my fourth nursing child, my sister surprisingly hasn't tried to "ban" me from breastfeeding but she has made comments such as, "it would be so much easier to just formula feed" or "Your son needs to chunk up. Obviously your milk isn't doing the trick!" But I just choose to ignore her comments. As long as she isn't trying to tell me how to feed my child, I don't really care. 

I said all of that to say this. Feed your child the way you want and leave the personal feelings out of it. It is nobody's right to tell someone else that the way they feed their child is wrong or gross. Everyone does whatever they feel is right. I chose to breastfeed because of the amazing bonding experience and it's best for baby. But that doesn't mean that it's right for EVERYONE. And that is perfectly okay. Why can't we all just keep our opinions to ourselves and stop being so judgmental? More women would probably feel more comfortable breastfeeding if it wasn't seen as such a taboo subject. 

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Sophia Wright Jun 19th '14

Thank for the article, but I think society in general has moved away from breastfeeding being negative. There are many companies promoting nursing and other nurturing activities.

Kristin Cobb Jun 20th '14

My daughter was breastfed for 7 weeks before I dried up. She was 7 weeks premature, so I had to exclusively pump to feed her. Even just pumping, some of my family looked at me funny and said that formula feeding would be easier. I stuck to breastfeeding until I quit producing. And I plan on breastfeeding any other children I may have.

Trey&Genesis'momma Jun 20th '14

Kristin I'm sorry. :/ I had to stop breastfeeding two of my children but it wasn't because of milk supply issues. Their pediatrician didn't know much about nursing and thought they weren't gaining weight like they should so he basically forced me to stop. Sophia....that may be your opinion but honestly, I beg to differ cause I have seen the backlash with nursing mothers, not just in my own life but others as well.

Nida S. Dec 23rd '14

I have two children who I breast fed for 2 years. In fact I'm still feeding my daughter who is 2 years 2 months. In her case I really want to wean her off completely now because I am tired now but she is a fighter. So I have to go slow and steady with her. Having said that, breastfeeding my children was one of my best parenting decisions. The medical benefits are many, like better immunity, better weight gain ( no overweight babies) , higher intelligence levels ( I know this is debatable but there was a study where they determined higher IQ's haha). People around me are usually surprised, at awe or plain shocked when they realize how long I breastfed. But I am always quick to ramble on about its benefits and how every mom should give it a go. I stand by that all the way. I was blown away when my family doctor showed complete shock when she found out I was still breastfeeding my daughter. That made me realize how uninformed doctors can be. They should be the first ones to be pro- breastfeeding given the medical benefits. The experiences you shared here about people's ghastly reactions are awful. I can't imagine how people can distort this beautiful thing into something so vane and shallow. Well to each his own. We, people like you and me, well we know we are right, so who cares right;)??