Please Can We Stop Shaming Breastfeeding Mothers
Just yesterday, one day after International Women's Day, a Melbourne woman was ordered to leave the County Court as she breastfed her baby, quietly, with a cover on her. The woman was there to support victims of alleged child sexual abuse by a female teacher, she was asked to leave because 'breastfeeding may be a distraction to the jury.'
I (Pinky) feel sad and angry that any woman should be humiliated and shamed for simply feeding her baby - wherever she is.
Each time a woman is excluded from living her life because she dares to breastfeed and this becomes a public issue, another new mother will decide to stay home, to remain isolated because she is anxious about being shamed.
Breastfeeding is challenging for a lot of women, mothers need support, not humiliation.
In so many places breastfeeding women are shamed either through ignorance or downright stupidity. Women have been asked to leave swimming pools, cafes and even school sports events where they have been watching an older child participate and their baby has needed a feed.
And in case you think it is only men who feel 'offended' by seeing a woman feed her baby (the normal function of breasts!), think again. Shaming can come from other women - like a US ‘parenting expert’ who shared her opinion in a video about ‘Extreme Breastfeeding’ (I will not share and give this person attention).
The criteria for ‘extreme’ was breastfeeding, uncovered, in public. According to this woman, if there is no private space to breastfeed, a woman should consider others and turn her body away while she breastfeeds. Apparently ‘flaunting breastfeeding’ is shaming mums who aren’t breastfeeding, it may be offensive to elderly people, people from other cultures and heaven forbid – children! Of course, this parenting expert claimed she supported breastfeeding.
Sorry lady, just NO!
Regardless of your own comfort level about how YOU breastfed (covered or uncovered) if you only support other women to breastfeed on your terms, you don’t support breastfeeding.
We need to stop shaming breastfeeding women because:
A baby’s right to feed trumps any adult’s discomfort (or hang-ups) about breasts and nipples. You have the choice to look or look away if you see a woman feeding her baby. If it bothers you, don’t look. And please keep your mouth shut.
Other people’s discomfort is not the responsibility of any mother feeding her baby. Many women struggle to breastfeed at all. This may be a mother’s first foray outside her home and her first time breastfeeding in public. It’s a steep learning curve to manage a wriggling, crying baby and squirting breasts as you adjust your clothing, let alone having to consider every random onlooker’s potential offence at your baby eating.
The more normal it is to see babies breastfeeding, the more normal breastfeeding will become. Breastfeeding is a learned art, we need to see it to do it – it’s much more difficult to learn to breastfeed if you have never seen a baby breastfeeding. And as for children seeing breastfeeding, how lovely would it be for them to view breastfeeding as the normal function of breasts?
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Follow Boobie Bikkies on Instagram, share a photo of you breastfeeding, and use the hastag #whereareyoufeedingtoday . We choose a winner each month who wins a Boobie Foods Starter Pack (rrp $$85). Let's help normalise breastfeeding and support other mums to feel more confident by sharing how breastfeeding mums can live their normal lives with a baby along too.
Breasts are normal. Breasts make milk for babies. Feeding your baby from breasts is normal. Breasts are portable, babies are portable. Mothers need to live their lives without fearing that they might be criticized for doing something shameful by breastfeeding their baby.
Breastfeeding mothers don’t get out of bed in the morning and think, now where can I flaunt my breasts today? Most mothers are so overwhelmed with sleep deprivation and the responsibility of meeting their babies’ needs, they don’t have the energy to plan how to get their boobs out to scare small children or shame mothers who aren’t breastfeeding.
Baby Steps to Breastfeeding in public
If you are a breastfeeding mother, feeling daunted by the prospect of going out with your breastfed baby, here are some steps to help you feel more confident:
Practice in front of the mirror: If you are anxious about baring your boobs or your wobbly bits (often new mums are more self- conscious about mummy tummies), try breastfeeding in front of a mirror – which clothes do you feel most comfortable wearing?
Pull your top up: There are all sorts of fancy feeding tops and ‘hooter hiders’ but you don’t need special ‘breastfeeding’ clothes. Instead of unbuttoning a shirt or pulling clothing open from the top to feed, wear a loose top or tee-shirt that can be pulled up: baby will cover your mummy tummy and most of your breast will be covered by your top.
Keep baby focused: If your baby is easily distracted and whips his head around to look at every noise, leaving your boobs dangling, try wearing a baby safe necklace (check out Pinky’s Boobie Beads.) This can keep baby focused on feeding and give him something to play with as you enjoy a chat with friends after feeding.
Take a friend: If you feel you need some moral support, take a supportive friend with you the first few times you venture out. If you notice someone staring, try to imagine it’s a look of respect and admiration for the awesome job you are doing and carry on feeding your baby.
Remember, what other people think of you is none of your business – If they don’t want to see you breastfeeding, they can put a blanket over THEIR head!