Normalizing Breastfeeding

Normalizing breastfeeding is about supporting moms and creating a better society. So many people are offended and evn violent when it comes to moms breastfeeding in public, but breastfeeding is the way it's always been done. formula only came on the scene in 1980. By making it more public and normal moms can do what they wish for their children without having to fear harassment or shaming.
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There has been so much controversy about breastfeeding; whether you should, where you should do it, for how long you should be, and even whether you should be covering up. I’m truly floored at all of the people that feel like they are in a place to decide how someone else feeds their children, and all of the minor details that go with it.
I’m thankful to say that up until this time, I have never had any dirty looks, rude comments or harassment on the topic, however we attended a brand new church this last Sunday and all that changed. Our smallest is teething and had been up all night crying and fussing the night before, so we didn’t want to leave him at the nursery.
We chose to take him into church with us, and when he got sleepy, I nursed him. I was very discreet and made sure that no one in the very crowded church could see anything. But the moment I laid him on my arm and started adjusting my shirt, the older guy next to me freaked. He made a big deal out of the issue the entire way through church with dirty looks, annoyed sounds and comments to his partner. I was shocked.
Normalizing breastfeeding is about supporting moms and creating a better society. So many people are offended and evn violent when it comes to moms breastfeeding in public, but breastfeeding is the way it's always been done. formula only came on the scene in 1980. By making it more public and normal moms can do what they wish for their children without having to fear harassment or shaming.
Photo by Tanja Heffner on Unsplash
“If a multinational company developed a product that was a nutritionally balanced and delicious food, a wonder drug that both prevented and treated disease, cost almost nothing to produce and could be delivered in quantities controlled by the consumers’ needs, the very announcement of their find would send their shares rocketing to the top of the stock market. The scientists who developed the product would win prizes and the wealth and influence of everyone involved would increase dramatically. Women have been producing such a miraculous substance, breastmilk, since the beginning of human existence.” Gabrielle Palmer
Breastfeeding has always been a very normal thing. You see in famous artwork, you see it in old pictures, and women used to be an example to others of what to expect as a mother and what was natural. Did you know that formula didn’t have its heyday until 1980? So what did mothers do to feed their children before that? Well, they nursed. It was normal and in fact, was expected.
If a mother died in childbirth or for some reason couldn’t nurse, the services of a wet nurse were employed. Wet nursing is when someone else breastfeeds your child. Wet nursing was very common all through history when a mother couldn’t nurse her own child until the 1800s when the feeding bottle was invented.
At this point in time, mothers were having to go back to work to help support their families and so alternative milks and containers were being used to feed babies. 1/3 of all babies were dying or getting very sick and so the medical industry started focusing on treating infants being given an alternative milk.

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In 1980 women being in the workforce had been at an all-time high, with a draw towards encouraging mothers to put babies in daycare during the day and into cribs in the other room at night. Nurseries were even created in hospitals because it was believed that nurses could take better care of babies than their mothers. Slowly breastfeeding and bonding have been disappearing in favor of more freedom for mothers.
“Currently, infant formula-feeding is widely practiced in the United States and appears to contribute to the development of several common childhood illnesses, including atopy, diabetes mellitus, and childhood obesity” (The Journal of Perinatal Education).
Normalizing breastfeeding is about supporting moms and creating a better society. So many people are offended and evn violent when it comes to moms breastfeeding in public, but breastfeeding is the way it's always been done. formula only came on the scene in 1980. By making it more public and normal moms can do what they wish for their children without having to fear harassment or shaming.
Photo by Leandro Cesar Santana on Unsplash
My opinion is that anybody offended by breastfeeding is staring too hard.” David Allen
It’s interesting that we’ve gone from expecting women to breastfeed to being offended and offensive about it. Everyday we see breasts on billboards, in magazines, walking down the catwalk at fashion shows, and even on our trips to the grocery stores as women are much more open about their bodies and willing to show them off.
You never see anyone tell them to put them away or cover them up. There isn’t a big controversy going on currently about women showing too much cleavage in public, in fact, it’s encouraged by society in the way people react to them. But some really harsh words, rude behavior and even physical violence is being perpetrated against women breastfeeding and making an effort to cover up.
When it comes down to it, if you don’t like a television show, you turn it off. If you don’t like the food at a particular restaurant, you stop visiting it. If you don’t like the people or teaching at a church, you no longer attend. Why would people go out of their way to view a woman breastfeeding if it offends them so?
A friend of mine was breastfeeding in the backseat of her car in the parking lot while her family was eating out one evening, and an older couple came through the parking lot to their car, actively looked into the backseat of her car to view her and then made all sorts of rude comments about doing that someplace private so other people do’t have to watch. What does it take for people to make their own decisions about their lives without receiving harassment for it?
Normalizing breastfeeding is about supporting moms and creating a better society. So many people are offended and evn violent when it comes to moms breastfeeding in public, but breastfeeding is the way it's always been done. formula only came on the scene in 1980. By making it more public and normal moms can do what they wish for their children without having to fear harassment or shaming.
Photo by Dave Clubb on Unsplash

“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy. I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.” Art Williams

I think this is another reason why so many women are choosing formula or pumping over breastfeeding these days. You no longer see women breastfeeding in your lifetime anymore. Most are so scared of the backlash that they no longer do it in public. However, that leaves many women, like me, married and pregnant never having seen it in action, scared of all of the horror stories from friends and strangers about breastfeeding.

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I didn’t know how to do it, I’d never seen it, though I wanted what was best for my children, and felt like it wasn’t going to be possible before I’d ever even had a chance. It doesn’t help that doctors and hospitals push formula on women, too many even telling them incorrect information from the beginning. For instance, many women are told that since they didn’t start creating their own milk on day one or two after giving birth, they needed to give them formula so the babies didn’t starve.
Most women simply have no support or instruction in breastfeeding, and therefore they give up when it gets hard and never push through to the good part, leaving lots of women feeling guilty or as if they failed. Maybe if breastfeeding were more public and women had more support, there would be more strong, healthy, well-balanced individuals in society, and motherhood wouldn’t have the bad rap that’s it has developed.
Normalizing breastfeeding is about supporting moms and creating a better society. So many people are offended and evn violent when it comes to moms breastfeeding in public, but breastfeeding is the way it's always been done. formula only came on the scene in 1980. By making it more public and normal moms can do what they wish for their children without having to fear harassment or shaming.
Photo by Dave Clubb on Unsplash
“It is the lucky child who still breastfeeds past two years old.” Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop
Finally, if breastfeeding itself wasn’t a subject for violence and harassment, what about the women who breastfeed their children past 6 months or a year? I am proudly one of those moms, not because I’m better then anyone, but simply due to the fact that I have a very close relationship with my oldest son that I feel like I can contribute in part to our extended breastfeeding.
I was the lucky recipient of some of this harassment when my oldest was just 10 months old. I guess I did see some of this harassment before this last weekend…. What happened was that I went to visit family when my oldest was still a baby and went to spend a day with my dad and my stepmother. Within seconds of entering their home I said that I needed to feed him and asked if I could go upstairs for a bit.
My stepmother jumped on it and said, “You’re not one of THOSE people are you, that breastfeed until their children are 5?” My son was 10 months old! Thankfully, shock didn’t rob me of my senses and I let her know that we were planning on nursing until he graduated high school, because it would be awkward after that stopping to nurse him between college classes. Over the course of the day, I was informed at how awesome she was many times, because she stopped nursing extremely early with both of her kids.
Honestly, breastmilk is so incredible that it continues to provide nutrients to your child, adapted to their age and specific needs, until you decide to no longer nurse, even if that’s 5 years old. I gave my child immunities and brain expanding nutrients until he was 3 years old, and only stopped because I had a major breast yeast infection during pregnancy and it was no longer possible.

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Instead of shaming mothers, trying to decide for them what’s best for their children, and letting personal naivety and ignorance, much less a general disrespect get in the way, we should be supporting them. Breastmilk is widely known for its amazing qualities for infants. Mothers aren’t trying to offend you or flash you, in fact, most every one of them is nervous and scared of people attacking them.
They are just trying to provide for their babies and give them what they personally feel is best. No one should have to hide in the bathroom, as if they are doing something shameful, to feed their babies. Let’s work on making it more acceptable and public, and supporting moms in any way that they decide to care for their children.
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Normalizing breastfeeding is about supporting moms and creating a better society. So many people are offended and evn violent when it comes to moms breastfeeding in public, but breastfeeding is the way it's always been done. formula only came on the scene in 1980. By making it more public and normal moms can do what they wish for their children without having to fear harassment or shaming.
 


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