I tweeted recently that I always feel like I should talk about The Issues,™ but I felt like I always muck things up. So I’m gonna try this out, and I’ll admit it will be
a bit ranty. I swear to Pete, though, if anyone gets their panties in a twist I’m gonna go all Bobby Knight on this bizness and toss my chair, capisce? So here is your formal disclaimer: This post is not, in any way, shape, or form demeaning, degrading, “bashing,” or otherwise putting down formula feeding mothers. This post is about the commonly held views on breastfeeding in general, breastfeeding in public, and societal norms when it comes to boobs. I could not care less if you feed your child formula. As long as your child receives age-appropriate, nutritious foods when s/he is hungry, I’m cool with how s/he is fed. Aright?
People have been breastfeeding their children since the dawn of motherfuckin’ time. Boobs? They were made to feed babies. Prudish queenly women breastfed their babes out the tops of corsets and frilly frocks for hundreds of years during the most sexually repressed era in history. So when people try to tell me that breastfeeding your child is somehow a sexual act and should be hidden, I’m thinking, it’s 20-fucking-13. Not 1013. Bitches got tits to feed kids. Yes, boobs are so much fun in the bedroom with your significant other. But sexuality is not innate. Some people think earlobes are sexy as hell. Personally, I think they’re nasty. I’m not gonna go around wearing ear muffs just to keep you from lusting after my ears, mkay?
The same goes for when I breastfeed my (future) child. I will not cover up my breast just because you think it’s sexy. If you can still find some sort of sexual pleasure in looking at a saggy milk balloon with a 10 pound little person attached to it, well sir or madam, you’ve got more issues than I. And I’m not about to cater to your every whim. The kiddos come first, and I really don’t care about your opinion on the matter. If you want to cover, more power to ya. Do what makes you most comfortable and I’ll do the same.
And when I say I won’t cover, I mean I’m not going to go out of my way to attach an extra bit of fabric to my body to hide what nature made my body to do. Not at my house, not in public, not anywhere. Discretion is subjective. What I find discrete, you might not. I personally see teeny boppers at the mall who show more skin than most nursing moms and you don’t see people asking them to leave. A nursing mom’s main objective is to feed her child. Not to give you a peep show. If we’re out to dinner and surprise! my kid gets hungry? Well, that’s probably because it’s fucking dinner time. Keep your eyes on mine or on your plate, not on my boob. And if you offer me a place to “get more comfortable?” Oh buddy, watch out. Breastfeeding is a protected right in the vast majority of the United States as well as the Western world. In Indiana specifically, a mother may breastfeed her child anywhere she is otherwise legally permitted to be. This is regardless of whether she covers herself or not. It is illegal to ask a breastfeeding mother to move or leave the premises. Breastfeeding mothers are also exempt from public indecency laws. So if you tell me to move or to leave, you’re breaking the law and I’m going to call your ass on it. I will not be bullied.
There are some people who can’t seem to understand the fact that breastfeeding is eating. It’s not at all like pooping, peeing, masturbating or having sex in public. You take “breast” out of it and you’re all pissed off at a mom feeding her baby. It’s not indecent, it’s not depraved, it’s not a “special moment” between mom and baby. If you eating a cheeseburger is not a special moment between you and your plate, neither is breastfeeding. Neither should be private events.
There is no age limit for breastfeeding. Breast milk does not suddenly become devoid of all nutrition. In fact, as the nursling ages, breast milk changes to be more suitable to the child’s needs. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for a full two years. They recommend breastfeeding exclusively for six months, breast milk as the main source of nutrition for at least the first year, and complimentary, age appropriate foods after the six month mark. So don’t tell a mom her child is “too old” to breastfeed. There is no such thing. Kids will naturally wean when they are ready, usually around age 4, but sometimes later and sometimes sooner. Breastfeeding never stops being beneficial, and as long as both mom and baby are happy, butt the fuck out. If you don’t want to nurse your toddler, don’t. But it isn’t up to you to decide what works for another family.
Along the same lines, there is no reason to wean when your child gets teeth, when they start crawling or walking, or when they can ask for it. Infants ask to nurse. They just ask in another way. That’s like saying you’re too old for apples if you can ask for them. It doesn’t make any sense. You should probably also refrain from telling a mom to pump and put the milk in a cup, not just because it makes you look like an asshole but also because a lot of moms don’t respond well to pumps. Pumps don’t work the way babies do, so while a mama might be perfectly capable of nursing her child, she might not get any milk at all out with a pump. That shouldn’t exclude her from going places with her child. Get over your damn self and respect that a mamas gotta do what a mamas gotta do.
Some moms like to take photos of their nurslings and post them to Facebook and other social media. If this isn’t your cup of tea, scroll on. She’s not asking for your opinion. She doesn’t want you to comment that you don’t understand why people take these types of photos or why they post them. Obviously, she wanted a photo to remember that fleeting stage in her life. If that’s not something you want to remember, don’t do it.
Some moms tandem nurse. (Some even tri-andem nurse.) This means they nurse more than one child at a time, often children of different ages. Sometimes they even do it in public. If this bothers you, see above. No, I’ll reiterate- that mom is feeding her children. She’s not asking your opinion or your permission. She’s not putting on a show. Her babies need to eat, and she’s going to feed them whenever and wherever she needs to.
Some moms talk about breastfeeding a lot. They’re not doing this to make you feel inferior. They’re not shoving their beliefs down your throat. If a mom posts about the benefits of breast milk, it’s not to make you feel bad for feeding your child formula. It’s to inform people. The same goes for if a mom posts about the risks of formula. It’s not to make you feel bad. If it was me, I’d want to be fully informed about what I’m feeding my child. And personally I think formula feeding moms should be the ones on the front lines calling for better formula for their babies. If talking about breastfeeding makes you uncomfortable, don’t do it. Don’t comment on a Facebook status all “woe is me” because someone dared to make a post about breastfeeding that had nothing to do with you. You have free will. Scroll on.
Some moms use donor milk and some moms donate milk. This is not gross. (Nothing about breastfeeding or breast milk is gross, y’all.) This is actually recommended by most medical organizations for moms who can not breastfeed. You don’t have to get milk from a milk bank. You can get booby milk from your neighbor or some lady across the country. Most diseases are not present in breast milk and most diseases can not be transferred via breast milk. Obviously as a mom, it’s up to you to discern the best candidate for donor milk if that’s the avenue you choose to wander down. Request STD screens, diet restrictions, whatever you want. It’s your baby. Just know that donor milk is a viable option if you can not breastfeed or pump. And remember that the pumping mama is most likely feeding her own baby that same milk. Chances are really good she’s not going to purposely give your child something that could harm him.
So what do we take from this? Breastfeeding is biologically normal. It’s how humans are supposed to be fed from birth. Breast milk is the most appropriate food available for infants. Breastfeeding, however, is not always the best possible way for a mom to feed her baby. In those instances, we’ve got donor milk and we’ve got formula. And thank goodness for that. Because lawd knows back in the day they lost many a baby to malnutrition and starvation.
But for goodness sake, stop telling moms to cover up. Stop telling moms to move or leave. Stop acting like your opinion on when, where, and how a mom nurses her child actually matters to that mom. If all else fails, remember the old saying: If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all. You feed your kids the way that makes sense for you, and I’ll feed mine the way it makes sense for me.
Bottom line- boobs can be fun and sexy. They can also be food, comfort, and contentment for a baby or a toddler. Their purpose is defined by their owner, not by anyone else, and your boobs’ purpose might be different from mine. And that’s perfectly fine.