Breastfeeding is no easy task for all mothers, there is dedication, time, patience and pain, mixed with the never ending debate of breastfeeding in public and why you shouldn’t breastfeed past a certain age. Then there’s the whole you can’t eat this or that while breastfeeding and, oh, that breastfeeding will ruin your relationship. For me, there was no debate about whether I would breastfeed my son. I wanted him to be strictly breastfed for the first six months. To me, it was vital based on everything I read and from speaking with lactation consultants. However, his weight, my not producing enough milk and going back to work played a major role in having to implement formula into my breastfeeding routine. I felt like a failure.
No one could have prepared me for sore breasts and the tightening pain that comes with your breasts getting full and in need of being expressed. Or the fact that you must eat a decent diet and consume so much liquid that you’re going to the bathroom almost every hour on the hour. Add to this clogged ducts, sore nipples and accidental wet shirts.
To make matters worse, in addition to all the stress breastfeeding can have on a mother due to the above mentioned, mothers are facing backlash when breastfeeding their beloved babes in public. Women are being cursed at, stared at with looks of disgust and offense along with being asked to leave, as if they’ve done something wrong. What is disgusting about breastfeeding? Why are onlookers so offended? And, why in 2018 is the matter of breastfeeding in public still a big taboo?
I remember discussing these events with a friend who was also pregnant. Maybe because we were soon-to-be mothers, we just could not wrap our minds around a nursing mother being harassed for feeding her baby. Do onlookers know that a mother is passing antibodies to her baby and that those antibodies will help her baby fight off possible viruses and bacteria and lowers her baby’s risk of having respiratory illnesses, asthma and allergies?
We know that “sex sells” and because of this, society often views a woman’s body as nothing more than a sensual object consequently when a woman’s breast is exposed during nursing it is considered indecent and folks are offended. ‘Cover up,’ some say. ‘Don’t cover up,’ others will say. I say to each mother their own. Let a mother feed, nurture and bond with her baby in peace.
Reading about incidences of harassment for breastfeeding and requests of mothers to leave a premise made me want to read the North Carolina breastfeeding law(s) so that I could know my rights and the rights of other nursing mothers.
Mother’s should be aware that they are not in violation of indecent exposure as many offended onlookers claim. Author David Allen was quoted “My opinion is that anybody offended by breastfeeding is staring too hard.” To the onlooker, It’s just a mother, feeding her little one the way that God intended, what’s there to stare at?
“O, thou with a beautiful face , may the child reared on your milk , attain a long life, like the gods made immortal with drinks of nectar.” – Sushruta
Cassie Murphy is a soon to be mother of her second child.