2013 is a time to stop worrying about judging other parents and start supporting their choices. Its time to end the debate about whether or not mothers can or should be able to feed in public. Or from a bottle. Or in high traffic areas as opposed to ‘out of the way’. Or while standing on their head, for that matter.
Unless you’ve been away camping deep in the Flinders Ranges, you will have heard about David Koch’s comments on Sunrise about what he believes is appropriate when a mother chooses to breastfeed in public. If you did miss it, you can watch the segment here. But, basically, while discussing the recent case of a mother who was asked to leave the side of a public pool as her breastfeeding was offending other people in the area (details here and here), he said that while he fully supports a woman’s right to breastfeed in public, he believes that it needs to be done discreetly and out of the way. If possible, turned towards a wall. Cue the collective cries of outrage from the breastfeeding sympathisers, and just as loud calls of support from those who wholeheartedly agree.
I recently shared on the Baby Hints & Tips facebook page about my own first hand exposure to some of the nonsense that is levelled at mothers who choose to feed their babies in public. While sitting next to a playground that was being enjoyed by my two eldest children, I had found the only seat in the shade, which was the wall of the garden which lined the walkway next to the playground. It was my daughter’s feed time and I decided to let my boys continue to play while I breastfed her – win-win as far as I was concerned. While I sat there, minding my own business I might add, a man walked past and decided to let everyone within earshot know how “disgusting” it was and informed me that “there are rooms for that.” Now, while I wasn’t using a cover, I had lifted my shirt, so the top of my breast was covered. The nappy bag was next to me, so my side was covered. And I was holding my daughter’s hand, so the side of my breast was covered. There was nothing exposed.
So what really is the issue here?
For some reason, the idea of breastfeeding hits a nerve with some people, and because of that they want us to hide away out of sight. Or, if they’re feeling really generous, insist we cover up regardless of how hot it is under there or the fact that it prevents our babies from making eye contact with us. Is it the possibility of exposure? Or is it the desexualisation of the breasts that hits a nerve. Whatever the reason, I have one message for all those represented by the man that I encountered the other day: enough.
Enough of the assumptions that you get to decide how women feed their children.
Enough of the expectations that breastfeeding mothers will hide in a corner, just so you don’t feel uncomfortable.
Enough of the debate.
It’s 2013. Let’s finally move forward.
We’d love to hear what you have to say about the topic, as well as your own experience of feeding in public (breast or bottle)
If you live in Sydney and are interested in participating in the Nurse-in being organised for Monday morning outside the Channel 7 studios, there is more information here