This weekend I saw a Facebook post about a woman who was banned from a public place in Washington for breastfeeding her baby. And then today, Facebook decided to delete one of the two breastfeeding pictures on Earth Mama’s Facebook page.
I don’t consider myself a militant. Or a lactavist. I’ve always tried very hard to make a place for everyone to make their own well informed decisions. My decision has unwaveringly been that breastfeeding was the best for my babies. But now I’m mad. And I feel like it was the last straw before I donned my militancy hat. Brace yourself.
This picture is me nursing my firstborn in 1974. I breastfed my two babies for a combined total of 5 ½ years. And I can honestly say never once in that time did it ever even enter my mind that it was somehow inappropriate. When I went out of the house and my son was hungry, I fed him. If my daughter was tired and hungry, she ate and then napped. Simple.
My husband never once faltered in his support. He unfailingly helped me find a place to sit, someplace quiet if the nursling needed to sleep. There wasn't a lot of thought or planning or even, thank goodness, fear of public rejection. I never even considered an alternative. Nor did I stay sequestered because I might have to deal with a hungry baby while in the middle of the grocery store. I believe I thought that was one of the benefits of taking “lunch” along with me.
This issue has obviously been discussed time and again. People line up on one side or the other, ready to vehemently state their opinion about whether women are endowed with breasts as physical attributes that engender sexual pleasure, or as functional glands to feed their young. Aren’t they both? I have to confess that this argument confounds me, even to this day.
What are breastfeeding women supposed to do? Do they sequester themselves at home to avoid having to feed their baby in public? Do they think ahead and plan the day? Do you not leave the house until your baby is weaned? What happens if you have to run to the store for toilet paper? Hire a babysitter to give your baby a bottle in your absence?
Some people can’t handle it nursing in public, but should that be a the mother’s problem? If your husband’s squeamish friends are over, or if you’re in the Stop-n-Shop and your baby is hungry, cover yourself. But feed your baby. I suspect Mrs. Neanderthal never considered options.