Monday, June 30, 2008

Baby's gotta eat

At the last Holistic Mother's Network meeting, we discussed breastfeeding in public and how many mothers--especially mothers whose babies are older than one year--feel like they can't breastfeed in public because it makes other people nervous. At work on Friday Shelly asked how the meeting went, and as I was telling her a little bit about that conversation, another co-worker piped up that mother should ONLY breastfeed in public IF they are covered up. She said breastfeeding mothers who don't cover themselves up with some kind of wrap or blanket when they fed their babies in public aren't being respectful of the people around them.

I'm sorry, what?!? The more I think about this conversation, the more upset I get. Breastfeeding mothers should not have to feel ashamed or cover themselves up in order to make someone else feel more comfortable. The majority of breastfeeding mothers I know will cover themselves up because of their own modesty, but, to make others feel more comfortable, they won't even feed their babies in public. They'll retreat to their cars or their homes, revolving every daily activity around making sure they get home in time to feed their babies. How completely unfair. This co-worker was adamant in pointing out that, even though it's used to feed a hungry child, it's still a BREAST and should be covered up.

Well, excuse me, but no it's not. I haven't thought of my breasts as anything but a life source for my baby for the past two months. And they'll probably cease to be anything but for as long as I am nursing. And it's unfortunate that formula feeding moms aren't looked at twice when they sit down in a public place to feed their babies, but breastfeeding moms are. We shouldn't have to run home or retreat to our cars to feed our babies so that no one within a three-mile radius will run the risk of being offended. Breastfeeding is a healthy, natural choice, often requiring a great deal of sacrifice on the mother's part, and the women who make it shouldn't feel ashamed of it.

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