What Is The Point Of Brelfies?

27/02/2015 10:46 | Updated 20 May 2015


As stupid made-up words go, brelfie pretty much tops the list. A silly word for, in my opinion, an equally silly craze of breastfeeding selfies.

And before anyone flings the text books at me, I've been breastfeeding for the last eight years and am still feeding my two-year-old. None of my kids have ever had so much as a sip of formula. And yeah, I'm kind of proud of that - not that I would ever say so in public. Although I kind of just did. Sorry. But it was just to make the point that I am most definitely pro-boob. Breastfeeding, when possible, is hugely beneficial to baby, mum and the environment. I'm just not convinced about the benefits of brelfies.

For a start, it makes it look like breastfeeding is something extraordinary, worthy of public recognition and attention, when it fact it's just a completely natural, expected, physiological response to giving birth. Women have been breastfeeding since the invention of periods, without making a huge social media song and dance about it. Until now.

Rather than normalising breastfeeding, as brelfie advocates claim, these images only stir up bitching and controversy as evidenced on Twitter. And all this does is detract from the far more important issues surrounding breastfeeding, including the health benefits for all concerned and the need for more support for those who want it. It's these things that should be up for discussion, not the rights of women to bare their baby clad boobs on the internet.

The only way to normalise breastfeeding is to treat it like the quiet, gentle and normal activity that it is. Not to try and score points, or likes, on social platforms. Brelfies just make breastfeeding women appear militant, anti-choice and in your face which of course only fuels the division and derision that already exists.

Just as a bumper sticker declaring: ''don't follow me, follow Jesus,'' is unlikely to have the desired effect, I don't see how sharing endless belfies is likely to increase the UK's dire rates of breastfeeding.

I'm not saying that women should hide away when breastfeeding, quite the opposite. Breastfeeding in public is both necessary and vital - at least if you plan on leaving the house at any point during your baby's formative months or years. Brelfies on the other hand are completely unnecessary. They serve no purpose to the child who is feeding, only to the lactating mother.

And while I wouldn't go so far as to call it ''naked exhibitionism'', I've never found it necessary to get naked while breastfeeding, the practice does smack of showing off. After all, what is the purpose of posting a photo on Facebook, other than to garner attention? I don't see bottle-feeding mums plastering their pages with ''look, my baby has a teat in its mouth'' photos, and personally I don't feel the need to prove I am breastfeeding with a nipple picture. Just as I don't feel the need to share what the rest of my family are having for dinner.

Like most parents, my computer is stuffed full of jpegs of my children, including breastfeeding pictures; from newborns engulfed in a planet-sized areola to toddlers clinging to a saggy balloon. I treasure these pictures and they may even break my heart in years to come. But that's exactly why I would never dream of sharing them on social media. They are personal mementoes, keepsakes of special, exhausting, and also mundane moments. They are not sexual, or revealing. They are just private.

It's not that I'm embarrassed, of course I'm not. My pendulum, silicon-free mammaries have nurtured three children and for that I'm extremely grateful, but I don't feel the need to share the evidence on the internet, because I can't see the point. No-one would benefit. And I don't want to run the risk of causing pain to anyone who hasn't been so fortunate.


There's nothing worse than a braying, gloating, bore, especially a parenting one - even if that's not the intention.


So while I will continue to breastfeed in public whenever necessary, I won't go out of my way to make sure everyone knows about it. The only time a boob should be shoved in someone's face, is when that person is on the receiving end.

What do you think about mums sharing their breastfeeding selfies?

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