Why I Don’t Want to Breastfeed in Public
The plan once this pregnancy was underway was to be a primarily breastfeeding mother, I did some research and asked other women about their experiences and decided I was uncomfortable with the idea of breastfeeding in public. Given what I have heard from other mothers, I don’t think I will regret it.
To clarify, I’m a breastfeeding supporter and I fully support mothers being able to nurse when and where they need to. Women should not be harassed for feeding their babies. I also don’t think breastfeeding mothers should be forced to cover up while in public.
Not all babies latch well when under a cover and if you don’t want to look at it then turn your head in the other direction. It boggles the mind how it seems a lot of society is pro seeing breasts until a woman feeds her baby the way nature originally solved the issue of feeding.
When it comes to most things I usually feel pretty confident about being a woman in my country. The laws are not perfect and are not fully ironed out in every area though when it comes to breastfeeding I am confident the law is on my side in most cases.
Still, when I think about it I feel uncomfortable breastfeeding in public. If I planned on nursing my children away from my home, it would have to be alone and in a private place. The people around me would need to be supportive, predictable, and mature enough that they realize what I’m doing is FEEDING and not some odd attempt to flash my goods for everyone to see.
I’m still unsure how my own child will perform or if I will have to rely on formula even in case of low milk supply. I just know my baby brother would not nurse when under a cover, so my mother didn’t have much luck with trying to use a cover. She often had to resort to finding a private room when possible and often her only option was to breastfeed in a toilet stall. She usually opted to leave and go to a clean and safe location instead.
Many Americans See Breasts as Sexual Objects
Due to the way United States society has treated female nudity in the past and up to today, the sad fact is breasts are a highly sexualized area of the body. During my research and discussions with other moms as well as exploring comments left of women showing off their breastfeeding, the comments primarily from men (sometimes women) were often very disturbing.
The thing is that men in this country often have sexual thoughts when they view a breast. Even though your breast is attached to a small hungry child and the act is in no way sexual, some men aren’t mature enough to handle such things. There is a high risk of the man being at the very least uncomfortable, he might say something and he might not, he may get aggressive, he may decide to ogle, or he may verbally harass and who knows what else.
This is the culture I find myself in. I do not like the idea of immature people peaking in and harassing me when I’m just trying to feed my baby. It is even more annoying to deal with rude women who you would also think would understand the difference between breastfeeding when compared to inviting sexual interest via breast displays though some of them don’t.
Some people argue that the United States culture as a whole has become more accepting about breastfeeding in public, but honestly you never know what weirdo you will encounter in public.
I Don’t Care What Other People Think Though There Are Consequences
I will be the first to say I don’t care what others have to say about me. There is no such thing as perfect to everyone. That being said, it is good to have a healthy degree of empathy to understand or even consider the views of others. What I do will affect my partner’s safety at times or my child’s safety.
There is also the issue of how what I do will affect him socially. There is an erroneous idea floating around that mothers who publicly breastfeed are attention-seeking, acting as exhibitionists, some even make it weirdly political at times where they guess what party they must be a part of. Depending on where you live all of this invites unwanted attention.
Also to note, the women I know who breastfeed in public are none of those weird judgy things that other people make up. It’s wrong for women to be judged for being a good mom, but such actions are judged and there might be consequences.
Breastfeeding Can Be Stressful
I already know the first few weeks of breastfeeding will be stressful for me. I saw my mom breastfeed my brother though given my weirdly prudish family they simply didn’t discuss bodies. I am having to play catch up and taking classes because I never got that wisdom directly from other female relatives.
Everyone says that after the initial hurdles with dealing with latch problems, fussy feeders, or milk production challenges, breastfeeding often becomes a relaxing event. Most report immense frustration when they first start nursing and pumping and trying to get all that taken care of.
They also report a variety of emotions can happen. Many moms report that breastfeeding sweeps away all their negative emotions and they feel good with the world. They report bliss. Some other moms report feelings of extreme depression or turbulent emotions in general often linked to their milk supply and feeding.
In either of those situations, the last thing I want is for some overly aggressive huffy nitwit bothering me or yelling at me for feeding my child. Just the thought of it makes me mad. I know I would probably tell them to leave me alone and not cow to their demands, this would just make them more unpredictable and irate.
The law in my state says I have a right to breastfeed my baby wherever I and my baby are legally allowed to be. Despite such things cases like this pop up from time to time.
I am not the calm one who will try to be polite while informing others of my legal rights.
I don’t feel like I need to subject myself to this sort of stress and harassment.
Women Have Bodily Functions
Some people truly cannot handle that women’s breasts create milk. They are often the ones who develop really weird views growing up about bodies in general even aside from their sexual hangups. I’ll never forget this one man I talked to who complained that it was so gross that women had to pee, poop, and their vaginas would discharge. While he was an extreme case, I think a lot of people are some degree of weird like this where women aren’t even human in their mind.
We are humans, humans are animals. Animals have basic life functions they need to live and to survive. We poop, pee, throw up, fart, we lose hair, we grow weird hair, we bleed, and we do so much more. Reality is a little gross though it is normal.
My life is pretty boring in most ways as my goal isn’t to be radical. I’m a simple woman who enjoys simple things. Other people still don’t know how to take me at times because I often don’t share their belief sets. They can’t understand that when I see a woman breastfeeding a child I just see a kid getting fed. They can’t understand how I don’t join them in their incredlous rant about how it is somehow dirty or immoral.
I’ve learned not to share too much or draw too much attention to myself. It is dangerous these days as well as invites conversation from people I’d rather not interact with. People who don’t understand the complexities of pumping and baby bottles and how you might not want to use the formula when you have breast milk though all of this weird argument escapes the fact that the real issue is they are bothered with a boob being in use to give food.
Creating a Breastfeeding-in-Public Friendly Society
I’m not really sure how a breastfeeding-friendly society would look seeing as how the United States seems to have an unhealthy relationship with breasts.
I think the reality is more women need to figure out how to be part of the solution. For my own part I plan to breastfeed around my first child when I have my second (if luck favors me). Children should be taught more about nursing and pregnancy and that breasts are not something inherently dirty or sexual.
I’m also a safe person to be around for any mom who might be nursing. She can chill around me and I will support her in her effort. I will support relevant causes should they emerge.
In the event that my second child is a boy, I will teach him about the function of breasts and how to view women as full people. If he is out and about with his wife and his child is distressed and clearly hungry, he should see it as a mom feeding a baby and of course, support her.
Though at this point I would also highly support more areas dedicated to give mother’s private spaces to do their mothering. Most women when given the option and who are able would probably prefer the privacy.
If you are a woman comfortable breastfeeding in public, I say THANK YOU! I would love to be part of that too though I find myself trapped in a place with some very toxic views on women.