This post is more about questioning ourselves as human beings rather than just the art of breastfeeding. Questioning the world we live, the media, society and our minds. After all we are the ones who choose to frown upon something as natural as a mother nursing her infant. With the law change you would assume that everyone would be more comfortable with the subject. The new equality law states that it is sex discrimination to treat a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding, in public or private. Service providers who deal with the public daily must not discriminate or victimise these women. I sat down with a group of mums and one charming dad to find out their experiences with public breastfeeding.
"My breasts are just like an extra pair of hands that I use to nurse my son."
Society and the media have sexualised breasts, which yes, I’m sure all men, women and definitely myself can agree they can be very appealing to the eye. However let's not to take away from the first function of these beautiful breasts. Most babies are fully dependant on them for food and drink after birth. One of our mothers state "My breasts are just like an extra pair of hands that I use to nurse my son.” Back in cave men times seeing women breastfeed everywhere was completely normal. You would have grown up seeing family members and constantly been around new borns. Perhaps going back to this more relaxed way of living is just what society needs. On people's reaction to her nursing our mum also stated "I’ve always felt comfortable breastfeeding, it’s more other people that have had the issue." If our feeding mothers feel comfortable, who are we to have a problem? We've all seen them before and children are fully aware and should be taught about the function of breasts.
BREAST IS BEST
"There is a big emphasis on breast is best. Formula companies even state it on their packaging and it is scientifically proven. I think there is a lot of culture pressure to breastfeed too." Mummy No.2 explains that 'Breast is best' which is why most mums decide to take this natural route.
So if we all agree that breast is actually best then why is it still seen as a taboo subject? Breast milk has been proven to be the best milk for babies. Breast milk offers vitamins and nutrients for babies and is filled with disease-fighting substances that protect the young from illness.
WHAT CAN GO WRONG?
Although breast milk is the preferred method for feeding new borns it isn’t as simple as deciding to do so. Some mothers struggle to breastfeed or make the hard decision to switch to formula quite early on due to complications. Here are some new mothers may face:
Wrong latch – Babies lower lips need to be on the outside of the areola. If this isn’t achieved properly it can be painful for the mother.
Post-birth stiffness – Sometimes babies can have stiffness in the neck and jaw area caused from birth. This is more common in assisted deliveries.
Wrong position – Babies must be in the right position for them to latch onto the breasts. Cushions can be used to achieve the easiest position for you and your baby.
Tongue tie - This restricts the movement of the tongue and may cause a speech impediment.
HOW THIS FEELS
‘I had a complicated birth and my daughter had tongue-tie. I felt like I was being judged by my boyfriends mum for not finding it easy to breastfeed. She would watch while I was feeding and discuss my milk flow with friends.’
Despite the difficulties that can occur when deciding to breast feed once in the hang of things it does create a special bond between a mother and baby.
‘I already felt vulnerable after finding it so hard to breastfeed so if someone made me feel uncomfortable in public I would feel quite upset but be sure to stick up for myself. People don’t know where to look and that’s okay – I felt the same before I was a mother.’
OUT IN PUBLIC
Although these mothers are aware of the law they all mutually agreed they would feel embarrassed and ashamed if someone told them to stop breastfeeding while out in public. Mummy No.4 Kacy 28, speaks on an incident she endured when getting unpleasant looks while in the park with her husband.
‘He was an older man, I don’t know if that’s why I thought ‘I don’t blame him.’ I was lucky my husband is more vocal than me and said something to him. I was embarrassed and stupidly stopped breastfeeding. It’s a shame because breastfeeding is so natural and shouldn’t be made into a big deal when done discreetly.’
Some people think that mothers should go to ‘quiet’ areas in public to nurse their baby. Which is not always practical for mothers on busy days out with babies. Mummy No.5 Lisa 33 "When I was out shopping I used to go into coffee shops and get a table in a corner somewhere. I soon realised I was spending a fortune on coffees, which isn’t fare on me. He will feed every two hours. People don’t realise how demanding babies are. When he is hungry we will all know about it. Where do you want me to go?"
I am not a mother but I am a woman with a platform who wants to shed light on issues like these. It may not occur to you how these mums are feeling at the time but being a new mother can be daunting enough without extra pressures. If you a see mum breastfeeding continue your day, don't stare, don't pull faces and definitely do not make them feel uncomfortable. You are watching a mother nurse her new born child who will one day grow up and be you - not literally of course but you were once that small child that needed to be nursed. How would you feel if your own mother was made to feel uncomfortable for keeping you alive?
*DROP THE STIGMA IN 2017, DROPS MIC*
I hope new mums, experienced mums and future mums enjoyed this post. If you did please share, like and comment your thoughts and experiences.
Thank you so much for reading.
Shay RS x
Read my last post F is for Family here x