Saturday, April 4, 2009
Breastfeeding in Public
I received an e-mail from a friend about breastfeeding. She asked me several questions, among them, were you a breastfed baby, did you breastfeed and if so for how long, and, did you have trouble with comments when you breastfed in public? One other question she asked was, “What do you think about mothers’ breastfeeding babies in public, as long as they are covered up?”
That last question is the one I want to discuss here, but first, this part of my answer. "I was breastfed as a baby, and I breastfed all 3 of my kids, it never hurt with any of them. As for breastfeeding in public, I'm all for it, and no a woman shouldn't have to cover up. Do you cover up your face when eating in public? Does anyone you know do that? If the answer is no to both questions, why on earth should a woman cover up to feed her child?"
That part of my answer pretty much sums up where I want this post to go. What I would really like to know, is why something so natural as breastfeeding is so frowned upon in public by society? Women have breasts so they can feed their children just like every other mammal on the planet it's natural. Do you hide your face when you see your pet cat feeding her kittens? Or your pet dog feeding her pups? What do you do, when you're driving down the road and pass a farm where a cow is feeding her calf or a mare her foal? Do you get all ashamed, and say "That's not right, they should go hide somewhere to feed their young!" No you don't, and why don't you? Because breastfeeding is natural, that's why! So why do so many say that women have to be covered up, that it's not right for humans to feed or be fed in public? Do people not realize just how hot and uncomfortable it is to have a child tucked up to your breast under a blanket? I don't care how light the blanket is, babies generate an awful lot of heat. Besides that, when you have your head under a blanket, would you be comfortable eating? No, you wouldn't be, nor would I!
I've seen women breastfeeding in public without being covered up, and I wanted to cheer. It really hurt me, when I'd hear other people walking past her saying she should go home to feed the kid. There was one time that I heard that when I did get on my soapbox as I'm doing right now. This couple walked past a woman feeding her child in the mall while she was sitting at a table having her own lunch. The husband (of said couple) took one look at the woman eating and feeding her babe, and said "What the hell do you think you're doing? This is a public place and children can see you! You should be ashamed of yourself showing your breast off to everyone who walks by! And if you aren't, you must be a slut to not care!"
I was absolutely horrified by that mans behavior! I couldn't believe my ears, that someone should be so vile as to say such things! Damn rights I got on my soap box that day! Most of what I said to him, I said here already, but I also asked him what he would do if his wife had a newborn babe, and needed to feed the child while shopping. Before I let him say anything, I also asked him what gave him the right to call this total stranger a slut, for doing the most natural thing in the world? All of this, I said loudly enough so that most of the people in the food court could hear me. The man turned beat red, I don't know if it was from embarrassment or anger, and turned around to leave. He never offered an apology to the woman though, and that is a sad thing. He could have at least done that. His wife certainly looked completely mortified from the moment her husband opened his mouth, at least someone in that couple had some brains, sheesh!
There was a smattering of applause for the tongue-lashing I gave the man, and the woman feeding her babe looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said thank you. I was about 4 months pregnant with my son at the time, and let me tell you, you don't want to mess with a pregnant, overly hormonal woman!
I'll never forget that day, it was a couple of weeks before Christmas, and I just couldn't believe the uncharitable attitude that some people have. I know that, for all the people who think like I do, there are that many more that think like the man who criticized the woman.
Society needs to change.
*shakes head sadly while climbing off the soapbox*