Countless ingredients, some yet to be discovered, perfect nourishment and comfort for the child, and life saving processes for the mother; No one can question the benefits derived from, not just breast milk, but the act of breastfeeding. Yet it seems every day there is a new story about a mother being harassed and humiliated trying to do so. So often, these people claim to be 100% pro-breastfeeding but say that the act should only be done in one's home, that their teenagers or husbands should not be exposed to it, or question how they could possibly find a way to explain what the mother and baby are doing to their children. Some even reduce it to the equivalent of using the bathroom! In their opinion, breastfeeding should be covered, hidden, and/or secluded. They claim to be 100% for breastfeeding but fail to estimate the damages society incurs by NOT seeing a mother feed her baby as nature intended. How will other women, very possibly including their daughters and granddaughters, learn to breastfeed if they aren’t exposed to it? How will their sons best learn to support the breastfeeding women in their life if they have never encountered it before?
Years ago formula was either too expensive or too dangerous to risk. Breast pumps were scarce and not known about like they are today. These women still had to leave their homes at some point and their babies still had to be fed. Back then mothers would have been exposed to their mothers, aunts, sisters, friends, and other relatives, even their grandmothers, breastfeeding. No one would have questioned what the best action to take would be. Simply feed your baby, relieve your breasts, and move on with life. However, we can’t do that anymore, not these days; now that formula is widely considered a superior way to feed a child and breast pumps abound. Now mothers feel the need to be cautious. They become anxious, almost paranoid, waiting for someone to give them that “look” or worse, confront them. Lots of mothers are prepared for such nowadays but there are just as many who aren’t.
There are some who are more comfortable with a cover regardless of what others might think, myself included, but my 13 month old will not tolerate one. Plus, the last time I used a cover, I put my head under it and the air was so thick it was almost hard to breathe, my baby was covered in sweat and we were in a car with the AC on blast! Since then my cover has found its way to the bottom of the diaper bag, I haven’t used it since. Fortunately for myself, my 13 month old doesn’t need to eat as much. Unfortunately, when he does need to eat, he will not allow this cover; He’ll either pull it up or off or play peek-a-boo with everyone else in the room with it. If my car is parked some distance away or whatever reasons permitting, I refuse to reduce my son to getting his nourishment and comfort within the confines of a bathroom. A lot of times when we go out, I do not plan on it and when we do plan on going out, I usually cannot find the time to pump my milk. Some women do not respond to a pump whatsoever, I do, but it takes me about 45 awkward and somewhat painful minutes to pump 1 5oz. bottle which defeats the purpose since my son will not take a bottle, even when he was younger, and he will not drink my milk from a sippy cup although he does drink other beverages from a sippy cup now. Even at this stage, my breasts become uncomfortably full going just a few hours without feeding him.
Most women breastfeed their babies discreetly, from a glance you wouldn’t be able to tell that they were doing anything more than holding their child, and when something does end up getting exposed, it is temporary and usually minimal, doubtfully the result of her trying to catch some attention. Even if a person is more comfortable using a cover or going somewhere more private, let’s make them feel welcomed if it isn’t working out for them and instead of insulting the mother, regardless of of the age of the child, how about we praise what an amazingly awesome job she is doing? This way, children will grow up acknowledging breastfeeding as the normal way to feed a baby. It will then impact others to believe likewise and ensure mother and baby's health and create a supportive society which will then encourage other mothers to feel comfortable to at least try breastfeeding and that alone would produce healthier generations.