Often I see this normal form of infant feeding and child comforting compared to farting, losing one’s bowel functions in public, pedophilia, a cry for attention, or a number of other things that are definitely not breastfeeding. So here’s a little reminder for those of you who are still confused about what breastfeeding actually is.
Breastfeeding Isn’t Secondhand Smoke
If you see someone breastfeeding and you get the heebie-jeebies or feel uncomfortable, itchy, ill, nauseous, kind of like the world might end and you will die… rest assured these are not secondhand effects caused by the sight of breastfeeding. It’s really just all in your head.
Breastfeeding Isn’t a Marriage Threat
A breast filled with milk isn’t ‘the other woman.’ Don’t waste your jealousy on a breast in public or in a photograph with a baby snuggled up to its feminine curve.
You say “I don’t want my husband to see that!” But he surely already knows what the human body looks like. Biology is not the breaker of marriages.
Breastfeeding Isn’t The 8th Wonder of The World
It’s not one of the world’s great mysteries. It’s just how mammals are meant to develop their brains and emotions and fill their bellies when forming attachment to their mothers. You know, for building trust and security and preparing for independence…
We put this puzzle together long, long ago. It’s so simple: Kids need to be nursed, moms are made to nurse. No head-scratching necessary.
Breastfeeding Isn’t Ebola
I know, you heard it’s full of Roundup and environmental toxins and two glasses of Chardonnay and probably parasitic bacteria from a sushi lunch that went directly from mom’s esophagus to her breast ducts.
When you see breastfeeding happening in your community pool, you gasp and complain to the lifeguard that the water’s been contaminated. When you notice it happening in a restaurant, you gag because the possibility of its smell (which you imagine to be curdy and sour like bad body odor) wafting over your dining area compels you to complain to the manager that “this is no place for that.”
Really though, you musn’t worry, suspected hypochondriac! Breastfeeding won’t kill you. It actually won’t even hurt you. In fact, if squirted directly in your eye it’ll clear up whatever gunk you’ve got in there. Can’t say the same for Ebola…
Breastfeeding Isn’t a Striptease
You want a breastfeeding woman to cover up when breastfeeding because it’s ‘tasteless,’ ‘trashy,’ ‘inappropriate,’ ‘showy.’
You noticed her, that shirt pushed to the side, with a focused intention in her own touch that resulted in this exposure. You then experienced the culturally-trained reflex of female objectification:
‘She’s showing her body to us all,’ you think to yourself (because you cannot fathom that a visible part of a woman’s body isn’t always ‘to’ or ‘for’ others).
‘I didn’t ask to see this!’ (because you fail to make this connection with the everyday sights of bikini model billboards and magazine covers of underwear-clad celebrities).
‘She’s feeding a baby so I can’t objectify her, now I don’t know what to do with myself, don’t know how to respond to these sex breasts selling something I can’t buy!’
Look or don’t. But don’t blame the woman for your own entitlement to her uncovered nursing breast as some kind of special show, for your position of acting like her breasts owe something to you. Like an explanation, an apology, or another kind of gratification.
It’s her right to remain in control of her body as she sees fit. I mean like her actual right, not a metaphor or a hypothetical scenario. It’s a right she had not in reaction to your opinion, but one that pre-existed it.
Also note: sharing a breastfeeding photo isn’t ‘asking for it’ either. It’s an attempt to normalize respect for a mother’s body and it does even you a big favor, confused friend.
Breastfeeding Isn’t Using The Bathroom
Defecating is a form of excreting waste. Feces is a waste product. It leaves the colon to enter the toilet (or the base of a carefully-selected tree if one is camping), which is part of a bathroom.
Urinating is a form of excreting waste. Urine is a waste product. It leaves the urinary tract to enter the toilet, which is part of a bathroom.
Breastfeeding is a form of feeding. Breast milk is a food. Breast milk leaves the breast to enter the mouth of a baby, which isn’t part of a bathroom.
It isn’t called breast-excreting for a reason, you see.
Breastfeeding Isn’t Jury Duty
A mom perched on a bench breastfeeding isn’t a mom on a bench serving as jury. She’s thinking about her baby… how she thinks she’s doing as a mother… whether this is going to be a good day or a bad day.
She’s not forming critiques of the non-breastfeeding parents around her… indirectly judging them by doing something they’re not… preparing to sentence her peers with this silent verdict: “Guilty of failing to breastfeed.”
Breastfeeding Isn’t a Competitive Sport
A breastfeeding mom doesn’t whip out the supplemental nursing system to get a higher score for execution; this is simply what she can do for the feeding.
A breastfeeding mom doesn’t slip on her nursing shield hoping for handicap points to help boost her standing in this game; this is simply what she needs to do for the feeding.
A breastfeeding mom wearing a cover isn’t at risk of being benched by her team of nursing supporters; this is simply what she wants to do for the feeding.
Moms don’t get points, handicaps, scores, or trophies for feeding their babies.
Breastfeeding Isn’t a Menu Option
I know, you’re like “But it’s my choice, so…”
Not really. It’s the standard, the norm. One doesn’t at first make a decision to breastfeed; one can however make a decision to try the alternative, which is to not breastfeed. Formula is an option for those who want it or need it.
Breastfeeding preceded us, it was not introduced by us.
Think of variations in breast milk as what’s on a human baby’s menu. Formula is on the alternative menu (you know, the one for those with dietary restrictions or preferences).
Breastfeeding Isn’t The Holocaust
‘Nursing Nazis’ aren’t real. They’re a made-up thing, simply a derogatory term meant to turn a good cause into evil.
It might seem like breastfeeding advocates come on a bit strong at times. But let’s get real, nothing will ever come on as strong as first month postpartum letdowns and postpartum nursing contractions!
Or actual Nazis. The ones who, you know, killed people… unlike breastfeeding advocates who, uh, nourish people.
Breastfeeding Isn’t Stage Acting
You’re right, a breastfeeding mom might actively seek attention. As breastfeeding is perhaps best learned by community example, it’s the attention for this example that’s sought.
It’s primarily a demonstration for other breastfeeding mothers, and secondarily for the children they bear who will grow up having been exposed to biological normalcy.
She might rile up her peers and local media to establish a Nurse-In (protest against breastfeeding harassment) or share her personal case of mistreatment online in hopes it will go viral.
No. The stage for theatrics is really set by those who get their bras and britches in enough of a twist over breastfeeding to react with the eye-rolling, foot-stomping, condescending tones of in-person persecution and also furious online forum-commenting opposition.
(If anything, it’s a bit of a comedy in this way, you see…).