Breasts; they are not obscene, they are not vaginas or penises, they are not grotesque appendages that will put people off their dinner, they are just breasts! They are the food and drink, the sustenance, the everything to my 20 week old.
Why does breastfeeding cause such an issue in today’s society?
If I see a breastfeeding woman, do I feel awkward?
Why it causes such an issue, in my opinion, is because the sight of a breast, the flash of a nipple, can and does make people feel awkward. It has made me feel awkward! But that is my issue, we are exposed to breasts in society as sex objects, there for others pleasure. As soon as they become something else, the very conduit of life, it confuses people and this confusion leads to awkwardness and prudishness.
Who’s problem is it?
IT IS NOT THE MOTHERS. It is the person experiencing the awkwardness! These persons feel they have right to interject and/or complain. It is their problem and we as society should learn to ridicule those who make this very natural and sacred act so potentially difficult and anguishing.
Now I’m not a rampaging fully signed up member to the “Breastapo”, contrary to my rant so far. I am a Dad who thinks his child should be able to feed almost anywhere without fear of interjection. I don’t think it’s appropriate to do it blatantly. If I couldn’t get away with exposing my hairy chest, then show some decorum. Yes, it is just a breast and I know that, I don’t however want a guided tour. There is no need to announce your intention to breastfeed by showing your breast to everyone within your vicinity, if there is a glimpse in the pursuit of feeding, then so be it.
I have often wondered if many of the horror stories we often hear, about discriminated breastfeeders, are because of the ‘Breastapo’ type approach; “I shall bear my breasts to everyone I possibly can whenever my baby needs feeding”
There are many ways to be less obvious, less provocative and it still be unmistakably feeding. There are any number of ways to achieve this from the simple and cheap to the custom, purpose made items. The simplest being a Muslim tied to a bra strap or a shawl or blanket draped over a shoulder. The custom items ranging from nursing tops, to ponchos, to feeding aprons.
One argument against these tend to be about covering up the baby, this isn’t always the case. Most nursing tops allow just the exposure of the area needed for nursing, meaning that when the child is latched, very little if any flesh is on show (my spouse has stood in a supermarket car park talking to strangers about a push chair whilst doing exactly that and no one had a clue she was nursing).
Along with the covering up comes the awkwardness in seeing your baby and I agree that this is probably the biggest downside to the cheap and simple solutions. However, in a pinch, it can be used successfully. A solution we found to this, in addition to nursing tops, was this nursing apron from this company, which has a rigid boned neckline that allows eye contact to be kept. We have found it invaluable and has allowed breastfeeding to be undertaken with the minimum fuss or concern from any party.
In the UK we have the remnants of Victorian prudishness and have still not shirked its hold upon society. It makes the transition harder. The sight of a breastfeeding woman should not raise eyebrows, but it does. We need to aid that transition by being and showing willingness to be courteous to others. That doesn’t mean hiding your child under a blanket in the middle of a heat wave, nor does it mean a glorified expedition of the breast during an announcement to the world of your intention to feed. It means being mindful of others and your surroundings and choosing the method that suits. If your child will only nurse if you’re naked from the waist up, then so be it, but you wont be feeding openly in a posh restaurant or at a wedding.
Whilst I agree breasts are not going to make me go blind in any circumstances, there are times when they should not be purposefully put on display; just as there are times when my hairy chest should not.
There will be times when your little one will decide that they don’t want to cooperate and will make it harder. Putting them first is always the top priority and should remain so, but that should not be used as an excuse for insensitivity to others.
Nurse in public, in shops, in restaurants, in museums, in libraries, in the post office queue, in the playground, in the car, in a car park, in the park, at dinner, at lunch, at breakfast, at a wedding, at a funeral, at a christening. We have in most of these circumstances.
Nurse anywhere and everywhere you damn well please, just show a little decorum for the environment you are in, be considerate to others and maybe, just maybe, we can all move past the stigma, that something so natural and so pure has gained; because of the lack of respect for all parties involved.