Of course the title of this post is meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek, however, unfortunately it’s a bit serious as well. One would think that something as biologically normal and natural as a child eating the food that was created by God specifically for that child would not be offensive to anyone. Of course we know that this is not the case. I am on a mission to change that. Maybe not completely, but definitely make a difference.
I work with women from all walks of life with one thing in common, we are mothers that want to give our children the best start possible. For some of us that means breastfeeding our babies. Some for a year, some for 2, some for 5. Whatever we choose to do as parents is always for nothing more than giving our children the absolute best we have to give. It saddens me that women out there are shamed into feeling like they need to hide away in order to feed their children. Go to the bathroom (gross), sit in your car, lock yourself away in a bedroom where no one is at risk of seeing part of your scandalous breasts! It’s just not right.
Breasts were created for babies, breasts not only provide the perfect food for newborns and infants, they also provide amazing supplemental nutrition for toddlers and older children, they help regulate the child’s body temperature (in some cases more effectively than an incubator), they provide immunity far superior to any vaccine on the market….and all this for free! So why is it that some people get so offended and worked up over seeing a mother simply feeding her child? I’ve heard everything from to “Breastmilk contains no nutritional value after the child is 6 months old.” to “Any woman that breastfeeds her children past 12 months is doing it for selfish reasons.” Sure, if by selfish reasons you mean because she selfishly wants to give her baby the best. If that’s the case then aren’t all parents selfish? Don’t we all want the best for our children? Besides, if you’ve ever nursed a toddler you would realize very quickly that there is nothing selfish about it. Toddlers have a tendency to be constantly on the go, even firmly latched onto Mom’s breast (ouch).
I hear people constantly say the same things over and over, “I’m 100% pro breastfeeding, but….” Well, if there is a “but” then it’s not 100% now is it? “I’m 100% pro breastfeeding, but just cover up.” Why? Many babies refuse to nurse under a cover and can you really blame them? Who wants to eat their meal under a blanket? In most cases when a woman is nursing there is nothing showing that wouldn’t be visible in a bathing suit or even a low cut top. I live in Myrtle Beach and, well, I can confidently say that I see way more breasts on a trip to the beach (or even just to Target) than I do in a La Leche Meeting with an entire room full of breastfeeding women. So if those women walking around in their itty bitty bikinis and revealing clothing aren’t being harassed into covering up, then why are breastfeeding women?
Or what about “I’m 100% pro breastfeeding, but that baby is too old.” Where exactly do people come up with these ages where a child is “too old” to breastfeed? Is it because it looks strange? Well yeah, because in our society we have been taught that breasts are sexual objects even though they are not part of the reproductive system at all. Sure they are erogenous zones, but so are your neck, stomach, lips and feet. Of course it is going to look out of place to see a 3 year old breastfeeding, because that isn’t something that is common in our society. Even though the average age range for children to self-wean, worldwide, is between the ages of 2 and 7 years old. That means if left to nurse until they are ready to stop, most children would wean themselves between 2 and 7. The age of weaning directly corresponds with the child losing their “baby teeth” or “milk teeth” and getting their adult teeth because at that point the child is physically unable to obtain a proper latch. I, for one, do not choose to parent based on society’s opinion of what I should be doing, but rather based on my own research, instincts and intuition. Thankfully I do have science on my side since both the American Association of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization recommend women to breastfeed until AT LEAST 2 years of age and continue as long as it is mutually desired by mother and child. Hmmmm…..science says breastfeeding toddlers is good, even normal. So why the fuss? Why the arbitrary age range that society has apparently adopted for when it is acceptable to breastfeed a child? Honestly, I’m not sure, but whatever the reason it needs to stop. Babies need to be left alone to eat in peach whenever, wherever and however they are comfortable without fear of ridicule.
Honestly, I’m not out to convince every woman that if they don’t breastfeed they are somehow inferior mothers. I truly believe with all my hear that mothers make decisions based on what they feel is best for their children whether it be breastmilk or formula. Heck, my first 2 children were formula fed and they are both healthy, bright, wonderful children. I am out to empower the women that do decide to breastfeed though. I want women to be able to answer their babies cries of hunger wherever they are without being embarrassed or feeling like they need to hide away so no one else gets offended. I don’t do this to make a big show of it, I am simply caring for my children and will continue to do so regardless of what society thinks about it. Because I am the only mother these 4 little boys will ever have and God has given me the most important job of raising them the absolutely best way I can. I take that responsibility very seriously and choose not to base my decisions based on what may be popular or deemed acceptable by people that are uneducated and misinformed on the topic. This is how I choose to raise my family and all I ask is that it be respected in the same way that I respect every other mother’s decisions on how to raise their families.