“Mammal (n): any vertebrate of the class Mammalia, having the body more or less covered with hair, nourishing the young with milk from the mammary glands, and, with the exception of the egg-laying monotremes, giving birth to live young.”
For some reason, something that is as natural and essential as can be is still a hot topic of debate.
That’s right; we’re talking breasts. Breasts and what they do, and who sees when we do it.
Folks, it is in the definition of what we are.
Why is this still a thing? It’s still all over the news. Why do people feel the need to sexualize and belittle something so completely natural, normal, and healthy that is between a mother and child and is, frankly, no one else’s concern?
As the mom to an infant, I can promise you the mixed messages are overwhelmingly abundant and so, so frustrating. On one side, everyone is insistent that you must breastfeed because it is the absolute healthiest, best option for your baby and anything less than 24-hour round-the-clock nursing-on-demand constitutes borderline child abuse. On the other side, everyone shouts about how inappropriate it is to do so anywhere where someone else can see it happening. So basically, new moms are getting the message to hole up in their homes for the duration of their time breastfeeding their children because “that thing” that they must do to be a good mom is also something shameful. Some argue, “As long as you cover up, it’s fine!” I assure you, I still got glares and tsk-tsks even when I was covering up to nurse in public, and I was shocked. I wasn’t covering because I was ashamed of feeding my kid. I was covering up because I had just had a baby and was self-conscious of literally every single part of my body, not least of all my breasts, and I couldn’t handle the idea of the stares and threat of people making comments for any reason. It happened anyway. Later, when my body failed me and I was no longer able to keep up with my son’s needs, I got glares and tsk-tsks for publicly giving him a bottle of formula. It is a never-ending cycle of judgement; damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
What this all boils down to are three very simple things:
First of all, it’s nobody else’s business how or what a baby is fed. That is entirely between Mom, her her baby, her doctor, and her partner if she has one. If it’s not your baby, it’s not your concern. If you don’t like looking at breasts being used for their primary biological purpose, then don’t look at them.
Second, the over-sexualization of breasts has to stop. Breasts did not evolve to be visual or physical sexual pleasure for anyone, though that’s a nice culturally-derived perk. Their attractive-ness comes staunchly second to what they were meant for, and that is nourishing our young. When the cultural sexual obsession with breasts has reached a point of people finding their exposure to feed babies as inappropriate, but their exposure all over dozens of magazines that can be picked up in any 7-11 acceptable, then we have a problem.
And finally, and I can’t stress this one enough… we don’t need to hear it. New moms are under so much pressure as it is. We are constantly being told what is right and what is wrong, what to do and what not to do. We are doubting every single thing we do and turn we make, because we just want what is best for our babies. Sometimes we are brimming with guilt and despair over how hard this motherhood gig is. Sometimes we are perfectly content with and immensely proud of our decisions. We’re on a constant rollercoaster of fear, joy, worry, and love. We are already feeling overwhelmed enough, and the last thing we need are unwarranted and unkind opinions in the middle of trying to feed and bond with our baby.
So on behalf of new moms everywhere: just let the babies eat, and find something else to worry about.