Breastfeeding Debaucle: The Milkmaker’s Point of View

Several recent articles released by media outlets such as ABC and CNN have once again brought the breastfeeding debaucle to the forefront of the public eye.  A nursing mother was surrounded like a criminal while feeding her baby in a Target store.  This unfortunate situation led to a rally cry from other nursing mothers, who then staged a nurse in to prove the point that nursing in public is an acceptable activity.  This was followed by comments from racecar driver Kasey Kahne that were insensitive and laden with ignorance.  Kahn later apologized for his comments, but words that are spoken cannot be taken back.

The debate over breastfeeding in public flares up every year or so, and the public always responds with rage towards the naysayers and support for the breastfeeding mothers in the world.  Typically when the issue becomes inflamed my temper follows suit.  This recent series of events, however, has catapulted me straight over the edge of mere irritation into the land of the angry.  Here is my two cents on the issue: an opinion from the milk-maker’s point of view.

I was priviledged to spend 27 months of my life nursing my children.  I have been stared at and pointed at.  I have nursed my children in public restrooms and other “private” areas, and I have also nursed my children sitting in the open at a restaurant or while shopping in a store.  Now, while I wind the jerking mechanism up in my neck, let me tell it to you straight. 

Nursing a child is hard work.  Nursing mothers are up all hours of the day and night.  They rarely get a full night’s sleep for the duration of the time they breastfeed their child. 

Nobody likes to stay in any public restroom for more than just a couple of minutes- including nursing mothers and their babies.  Nobody likes to eat their dinner in a stinky, nasty, germ filled bathroom, while someone empties their bladder in the other stall.   

Nursing an infant is backbreaking work.  It is difficult to hold a baby for the duration of a feeding without leaning back on something, especially when the mother is attempting to be discreet.  Can a mother go into a public restroom and feed her child standing up while leaning back against the wall?  Yes.  But do you know how cold those tile walls are?  It is an unnecessarily uncomfortable situation.

Breastfeeding mothers don’t feed their babies in public just for the heck of it.  When a baby is hungry, the baby should be fed.  This is common sense.  It is impossible to schedule every errand around a feeding time, especially when those feeding times are coming only hours apart.  Sometimes there is no other option but to go out and do your errands and feed the baby while you are out.  But, truth be told, mothers get tired of scheduling everything around a feeding time.  They want to just live.  When they get the notion to go to the store, they want to get up and go right then- and they should be able to do that without constant scheduling around feedings simply for the benefit of other people who are strangers and grown adults.

Breastfeeding my baby is not for your benefit.  If you see a woman nursing her child in public, it is not for your benefit.  It is for the benefit of her child.  Just go on about your business and let her take care of her child. 

America is a nation of pure ignorance about some issues, and I say that in all sincerity.  We claim to be progressive and ahead of everyone else.  Yet, one trip to almost any other country in the world will reveal that we are just about the only people still crying like a baby (pun intended) over this issue. 

I have just about said my piece, but let me reduce it down to what I really mean.  I have chosen to breastfeed for the benefit of my child.  It has nothing to do with you, what you like, what you want, and what you might or might not like to see in public.  I am going to feed my child when the child is hungry.  Period.  If you don’t like it, look away.  I will not approach you and smack the chicken nugget out of your hand when you are handing it to your 6 year old son.  Please do nursing mothers the same favor.  Just let them feed their kid.  That’s all they want to do.

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