Yesterday, when I took a bite out of my apple at the park, nobody stopped to notice.
I was hungry, so I ate. And the world didn't stop turning.
Similarly, the last time I walked through my town's busy market square, I didn't stop to consider the different foods that were being consumed by those around me. Nor did I pay any attention to the way in which people were eating...sitting down, standing up, off a plate at a cafe, or out of a wrapper...it didn't exactly score highly on my list of priorities.
And yet when our babies stop to feed, the naysayers takes note.
"Put it away!"
"I'm all for breastfeeding, but do it in private!"
"It's only polite to use a cover..."
I'm going to assume that these dear people didn't get the memo: there are, quite simply, more important things for me to be getting on with than entertaining squabbles about my baby's lunch.
I wonder, does your cow's milk cappuccino offend you in equal measures as my baby's breastfeeding? Do you only ever eat in the privacy of your own home...or, god forbid, a public bathroom? Do you enjoy eating under a blanket?
Because breastfeeding is not a spectator sport. Breastfeeding is not something I partake in with the sole intention of causing drama. Breastfeeding is, shockingly, nothing more unusual than my baby having lunch.
Far too many moms find themselves at the mercy of demeaning social commentary about the way in which we choose to feed our babies. And unfortunately, it seems that the outdated social barriers getting in between a baby and his lunch aren't the only barriers at play. Lansinoh's most recent Global Breastfeeding Survey, for instance, found that the biggest barrier to breastfeeding is a mother's own concern that breastfeeding isn't working for her baby. Considering the fact that the World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child's life, followed by continued nursing until two years of age or beyond, these results shine a sobering light on current social attitudes towards nursing.
Because for a new mom to feel confident in her choice to nurse her infant and to trust that her body is providing everything her baby needs, she needs support and not sneers. More than that, moms need access to lactation consultants, breastfeeding peer supporters and doctors who support breastfeeding. We need workplaces that support and respect our legal rights to pump in the office. We need comprehensive maternity care. New moms need a network of not-quite-so-new moms to run to at 3am, when our nipples have been held hostage by a constantly-nursing newborn and we feel like the Only Person In The World who is Still Awake.
We need support so that we can believe in ourselves. So that we can believe in our bodies. So that we can believe in our babies.
It's oh so very simple. You could even say, it's almost as simple as a baby having lunch...
Breastfeeding: Do We Really Need To See It?
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This post originally appeared on Mama Bean Parenting.