I had a very interesting moment in my local Tesco supermarket. I was sitting in the café section, breastfeeding my newborn baby boy--he was about two months at this time. I had my white muslin draped over my right shoulder--long enough to cover my breast and my baby's head so I could breastfeed without receiving any funny looks. Within a couple of minutes of sitting there and my baby nursing away- an elderly woman passed by and complimented me on not having my breast out for everyone to see--as she has been in places where the women don't cover themselves and are just on show. As much as I was appreciative of the compliment, I also was a little confused of the tone of disgust to seeing so many breasts out on show but she's a woman and has a pair of them for herself!
I'm a new mother and I find breastfeeding to be the most beautiful experience you can have with your newborn child. Unfortunately, breastfeeding has a variety of mixed views and perspectives that it can cause you to become hesitant to breastfeed in public, when all you are doing is heeding to your duties as a mother and supplying nutrition for your child. I shouldn't be afraid to take out my breast to feed my own child with; breastfeeding is something that should be celebrated and praised; the fact we as women are able produce food to nourish are children with is a blessing.
I must confess, at the beginning, I found breastfeeding very daunting and scary because I have heard so many stories from mothers who have already gone through the experience of breastfeeding in public--and they were not good experiences. But as I started to breastfeed consistently, I could see this is not something to be looked down upon--all I am doing is feeding my child--if you're hungry and you happen to be outside you buy food and eat it--the same applies to a little innocent child.
There are so many benefits to breastfeeding your child throughout their first year of life--it doesn't only serve as food for the child, but it helps their emotional development, overall development of the brain and fights against cancer, obesity, diabetes, various infections and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). It also strengthens the bond between mother and baby, which is a beautiful thing to have. There are people who agree very strongly with exclusively breastfeeding and nothing more to the point of condemnation--I purely support breastfeeding to the point where it shouldn't be looked down upon when done in a public arena.
With having a four month old currently, I'm not as experienced as the millions of mothers out there that have breastfed their five or six children, but I believe that breastfeeding, especially in public should be welcomed rather than mothers receiving looks of disgust as if they are doing something ridiculously wrong.
What is the taboo with breastfeeding? Is it because a woman's breasts have been sexualized so much that to see them being used as something of nurturing effect is considered wrong? In this current time, the NHS are even encouraging breastfeeding even more than before--it benefits the child you are raising in the long run and sets them up for life. Unicef have a baby friendly initiative they are promoting and are currently raising up a campaign to change the conversation surrounding breastfeeding--this includes contacting health departments all over England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland to remove barriers in relation to breastfeeding. The barriers that breastfeeding entail are as follows:
- Lack of professional support in getting a good start with breastfeeding
- Not enough community support
-A lack of understanding about the importance of how breastfeeding aids in good health and - brain development
-Various formula milk adverts that replay which can cause a woman to second guess her breast milk production
I am all for breastfeeding and support Unicef (United Nations Children Fund) in bringing up more awareness of breastfeeding and how crucial it is in a baby's first year of life. On the other hand, I also know that there are some mothers out there who aren't able to breastfeed, or they get to a point within their child's first year where their breast milk stops. Other things like work commitments or lifestyle could also be a contributing factor too-- This is completely understandable and I do not put anyone down for putting their child on infant milk or formula--but it shouldn't be something that should be consistently pushed in our faces to cause (especially new mothers) to reconsider breastfeeding. If you are capable of breastfeeding, it is the best way to go.
With being a new mother and becoming familiar with all that it entails--breastfeeding has been the best part for me so far--and it's something that should be recognised as great gift in women that we have the ability to produce nutrition for our child that has taken nine months to be created inside of us.