Breast feeding awareness week is here, and my Facebook newsfeed is filled with beautiful snaps of mums feeding their babies and toddlers.
But, as one might expect, this is a subject filled with controversy. Why? I’m not quite sure. But it is.
When I was still feeding Miss Rose, I rarely encountered anything but either positivity or lack of interest. I fed her everywhere and anywhere. I started feeding her under a shawl due to shyness and insecurity, but as she got bigger and rejected the cover, and my confidence grew, I stopped bothering to try and hide it and just got on with it. She needing feeding, I fed her. Boob out, boob in. Job done.
What is interesting is that, despite not being able to see any nipples, these photographs seem to get reported as indecent. Yes, indecent.
How dare a woman put a photograph of her feeding child on public display.
This is old news, it has happened time and time again. The idea that breast feeding a child is somehow unnatural (because obviously we aren’t designed to do that… erm…) and perverted (coming from the idea that our boobs are purely designed for sex and therefore anything coming into contact with them is kinky) comes up in debates about breast feeding constantly.
Is breast feeding unnatural?
Clearly not. This concept is so breathtakingly stupid that I don’t even know if it warrants a response.
Humans are mammals. Mammal mothers make milk to feed their young. Therefore breastfeeding is a natural part of mothering. To be honest the fact we make milk is evidence enough for that. I find this argument ridiculous to the extreme.
Is breast feeding perverted?
This argument stems from the patriarchal control over women’s bodies. Men like boobs. Men want to keep boobs for themselves. Men like sex. Men want to control sex. Therefore, men don’t want to share access to their own personal pair of lady lumps.
Shockingly, the primary function of our breasts is not to, excuse the pun, titillate men. Yes they’re squishy, and soft, and sexy and fun. But that is just a side note. Not wanting to share is selfish and ignorant. Prioritising your sexual satisfaction over the health and well being of your child is pathetic.
Why don’t you just express?
In a lot of cases the anti-feeders do not disagree about the quality of breast milk in terms of feeding, and have no issue with breast milk being used over formula. It’s the manner in which it is delivered that causes the problem. Therefore, why not express?
A lot of breast feeders part express, or full express, and for many reasons. Some aren’t comfortable feeding in public, some want to share the feeding duty with a partner, some have to go back to work before the child is weaned. All valid reasons if that is what you want to do and what works for you.
In my case I couldn’t express. I tried, but I could barely get any out. Miss Rose got quantities out and would get me producing milk at such a rate I could hit the wall on the other side of the room. But with a pump? Barely anything.
Also, it comes down again to the question of WHY should we express? If a mother WANTS to, then fine. Just as if a mother WANTS to bottle feed, fine. It’s up to the mother. But why is expressing milk out of bodies and into a bottle preferable to just feeding directly?
Society seems to look down on mothers, mother’s bodies, mother’s rights. It seems that everything associated with a woman becoming a mother is considered a negative. Breast feeding, stretch marks, wobbley bits. Yet these are all things that happen so naturally that to try and fight them seems ridiculous.
These photos do not show anything wrong. They show a child, and some boob flesh. Less boob flesh that you see in bikini pictures. And Facebook is FULL of bikini pictures. The issue is NOT the boob flesh. It’s the child. It’s the child feeding in a way a child is designed for feed, in a way a mother is designed to feed it.
We need women to make babies, and we need babies to thrive and be healthy. Time and time again research has shown that breast feeding is the ideal. It’s not essential, it doesn’t work for everyone, but if you can and feel comfortable doing the ideal, how dare some ignorant, poorly educated, sexist people make you feel like you’re being indecent? Indecent indeed. Ridiculous.
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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!