I was reading on Parent24 that 15th August is breastfeeding day. The Bump has asked Moms’ to breastfeed in public.
I am not sure how I feel about this.
For me breastfeeding started out rough and then became easier and it has been a rewarding relationship for the whole family. I do feel people think I am nuts about breastfeeding Honeybear still, and I keep getting told that his sleep issues are directly related to the fact that he is still breastfeeding. Maybe they are right, but one cannot just stop breastfeeding. It takes time. I also don’t want to just take away what is a comfort measure for my child. Would you just take away your child’s shoes because you were told his feet need to toughen up? I will stop when it is no longer good for one of us. I know I am reaching that point already, and it is ok.
I am an avid fan of breastfeeding, and in my personal experiences, I felt there is not enough support for families that choose to breastfeed. There is so little understanding of the feelings inside a new mother (and I mean new with a new-born, not necessarily first child). No one considers Dad and what he feels as he watches Mom struggle. Or the feelings he has as he watches the closeness Mom and baby share through breastfeeding.
Also, I do believe that some just cannot breastfeed, and they should not be looked down upon because they have chosen to use formula. When a mother says that she does not have enough milk, breastfeeding zealots just believe she did not try hard enough. If there are so many women who have had this problem, then I think it must be possible that some mothers just do not produce a lot of milk. I started with the milk production and leaky boobs 10 weeks before my little one arrived. I had no problems with milk supply, in fact, my milk supply depressed me because I was constantly wet until about 12 weeks after delivery.
Anyway, breastfeeding is a personal thing, and I have breastfed in public, a few times, but discreetly. I do not see the need to flaunt my boob and the fact that I am breastfeeding. Should someone ask, I will say I am breastfeeding, but I don’t publicise it for the sake of doing so. I do believe that breastfeeding should not be frowned upon and mothers and babies should be allowed to feed as they need to. However, we don’t need to throw it into people’s faces and get their back up. Which then defeats the purpose of trying to make it more acceptable.
More efforts should be made into creating proper facilities for breastfeeding to occur. I can think of a two:
Baby rooms should not be part of the toilets. Who wants to feed in a toilet? I have fed in a toilet when nothing else could be done, but it is not pleasant. Feeding rooms should be pleasant, easy to find, and have a chair, at least, that Mom can sit on. Paper towels and a basin is good too. Baby rooms can be attached, but I don’t think anyone wants to feed in the presence of a nappy bin. Also, bottle feeding Moms can also use a feeding room, so that baby is in a place that is comfortable and quiet.
Working Moms who need to breastfeed should have better facilities. The law only allows that a Mom is allowed to have two 30 minute breaks to express milk and she must not perform work hazardous to her or breastfeeding. It does not provide for a facility where Mom can express this milk, store this milk and clean her pump. Electric pumps are most efficient and being expected to express milk in a toilet does not help, especially when no electric point is available. Larger office blocks should have a central facility where a Mom can go and express milk in a comfortable environment. WHO recommends breastfeeding preferably for 2 years. How does one manage this if you are not allowed to express milk longer than 6 months? I am lucky that the office I work at allows me to do what I need to do.
There should be proper facilities available to families whether breastfeeding or not, that allow the transition of having a baby and feeding this baby. Lactation consultants are not cheap. I could not afford one so I had to struggle by myself.
Breastfeeding accessories are horrendously expensive. Just buying a decent pump that does not damage breast tissue and actually works for you is not cheap. Breast pads do not have to be the price they are. I ended up sewing my own ( and is was dirt cheap)
Feeding bras/shirts/vests….do they have to cost that much? It makes life so much easier when you have one of these items of clothing, and definitely makes feeding in public, when you have to, much easier.
I don’t think we all have to sit with exposed boobs in order to get a point across. Breastfeeding for me is more than nutrition. It is the relationship between Mom and baby and also the Dad. He learns to offer comfort in his way and maybe is motivated to create his own intimacy with baby when he sees Mom and baby together. I think that we should continue to facilitate appropriate facilities for breastfeeding. I don’t having the right to sit in a restaurant with an exposed boob is worth too much, I would rather have a comfortable place to feed my baby.