I didn’t mean to become a breastfeeding advocate. You might not know that I AM a breastfeeding advocate. I haven’t posted pictures of myself breastfeeding. I haven’t attended a nurse-in. (Where women congregate in a particular space in a particular time to, among other things, breastfeed their babies. Usually in response to a negative comment about breastfeeding.) I may not be loud about it, but I am definitely an accidental breastfeeding advocate.
The reason I felt like I should write this post (finally) is the recent video of Alyssa Milano on Wendy Williams. Click HERE to watch. I’m not embedding it here because it shows more skin than I’m comfortable having here in this space.
NOT Alyssa’s breastfeeding photos.
The photo of Miley Cyrus in suspenders.
In the video, Wendy says it’s okay to show a picture of a woman scantily clad, standing provocatively. NOT okay to show a woman breastfeeding, showing way less boob.
The thing is that I like nursing covers. I like nursing in little, private rooms. There is something peaceful to me about the retreat when I have a small baby, the ability to excuse myself and got sit in a back room alone with the fresh smell of baby and the quiet sounds of nursing.
But that is how I like it. I do NOT retreat or cover because I have to or because it’s the right way women should breastfeed. Sometimes in these conversations, I think people underestimate how strongly I feel that women should be allowed to breastfeed anytime, anywhere. They don’t see me posting photos or flipping up my shirt in the middle of a room, so they assume that I’m on the “it’s something that should be done in private” team.
Can I clue you in on something? I’M TOTALLY ON TEAM BREASTFEED WHEREVER, WHENEVER, HOWEVER.
I didn’t mean to be on this team. As I said, I’m an accidental breastfeeding advocate in this way. The strength in my position comes from the intense reaction I see people having against women breastfeeding in public spaces.
This seems to be the same reason Alyssa Milano became outspoken. She posted a photo and there was a loud reaction. A surprising one. And so here she is, advocating breastfeeding and being heralded as an advocate. I bet she didn’t have a baby and think she would be an activist. She moved into the role because posting a photo she thought was natural evoked a negative response.
Google it. From pools to locker rooms to restaurants to dressing rooms to malls— women are daily being asked to stop breastfeeding or cover up in public. I’ve had comments telling me I’m gross for a photo that looked like I might be breastfeeding. (I wasn’t. But it would have been okay if I had been.)
As I said, I’m pro covering up. That’s my choice. But it should be a CHOICE.
I have definitely found myself in a public situation where somehow the cover fell out of my bag and I had a hungry, squirming, crying infant. What do you do?
Many people would say I should go to a bathroom stall.
An alley. (This was seriously suggested to a mom in a mall.)
Under a blanket. (Because moms everywhere carry blankets in their purses.)
But you don’t always have those options. And some of those options are unsafe. (Right, dark alley?) Or gross. (Mmmm. Public bathroom for lunch!) Or might have unsafe temperatures. (Heyyyyyy, hot car in Houston summers!) Sometimes even I, who would prefer for my own self to be in a private area, nursed as best I could in a public space without flashing everyone.
I don’t know of one mom who wants to flash her boobs in the mall. Or in a restaurant. Or in a store. (Maybe I’m hanging out in the wrong crowds?) Breastfeeding moms are not a bunch of exhibitionists trying to show cleavage. We are trying to feed babies and that involves our boobs.
Even if a mom isn’t using a cover, often what you see if you look at a breastfeeding mom (and WHY ARE YOU LOOKING AT A BREASTFEEDING MOM ANYWAY?!) is less than you would see if you were looking at posters in a mall. Or in your Facebook feed during summer break. Or in any given set of commercials on TV. Walking through the greeting card aisle in Target you will see more. Moving through the checkout line at Walmart you will see more.
I don’t talk about this much for a few reasons.
ONE. I feel like a lot of other people are talking about it, so sometimes I forget that other voices are needed. Here’s my voice! I’m adding it into the mix.
TWO. I know many women who didn’t or couldn’t breastfeed and sometimes these conversations make them feel ashamed or uncomfortable. Many women who advocate breastfeeding unwittingly alienate women who don’t. I LOVE YOU, moms who don’t or didn’t breastfeed. My mom stopped when I was six weeks old, not gaining enough. I think I’m pretty much okay. High five to all moms everywhere who love their kids and are keeping them fed and alive!
THREE. Breasts make people uncomfortable. I don’t like being uncomfortable on my blog.
And this last reason is the reason I’m speaking up. I FEEL LIKE THIS CONVERSATION SHOULDN’T BE UNCOMFORTABLE. It boils down to this: babies need food. Sometimes that food comes in the form of breasts. Food is a basic necessity and trumps your desire to not feel uncomfortable when a mom is breastfeeding outside a store or in a restaurant or while walking along or in the post office or in a box or out of the box or with socks or with a fox. #NormalizeBreastfeeding shouldn’t need to be a hashtag.
You may not like it. You may feel weird. You may not understand.
BUT BABIES NEED TO EAT SO LET BREASTFEEDING MOMS BREASTFEED.
If people weren’t being outraged, there wouldn’t be nurse-ins. There wouldn’t be a need for lactivists or for me to write this blog post at all.
It would be ho-hum. We wouldn’t notice the mom breastfeeding because IT’S TOTALLY NORMAL AND NATURAL.
But it’s not ho-hum. This post will probably cause a reaction.
AND THAT’S THE REASON I HAVE TO WRITE IT.
I’m an accidental breastfeeding advocate because of the reaction against breastfeeding. I won’t talk about it much (or ever) again on the blog. But it needed to be said. All of this needs to be said. Maybe one day it won’t! But until then…
Let moms feed their babies.
Just walk on by because it’s normal.
Don’t look if you don’t like it.
Babies need to eat.
Want to know how it’s not always so easy to breastfeed your babies? Read my Confessions of a Breastfeeding Mom.
Want to know what nursing cover I like? I have this one. Want to know what books helped me with breastfeeding? This one and this one. (<-These links are all affiliate links, which means I get a commission for recommending products if you purchase them at no extra cost to you.)
Want to read more about this because you can’t get enough of breastfeeding stuff? I LOVED this common sense post.