Whip That Thing Out: Why I Advocate Breastfeeding—Anytime, Anyplace!
During my pre-adolescent years I was told by my mother to “hide my breasts” and make sure I wasn’t showing too much cleavage. If I did I wouldn’t be thought of as a “good girl” and I could be labeled “hot” or “grown” by people I didn’t even know! Not wanting to sour my reputation, I covered up in fear of being looked down upon by strangers.
That was until I became a mother at 19 and made the courageous decision to breastfeed my child. I didn’t know much about breastfeeding but all the research that I found said that my baby would be healthier and as a college student this was a much more economical choice than formula. At first I would quietly go to a bathroom and sit in a stall and let him nurse around the pungent smell of a public restroom. If the restroom was too unbearable, I would go to my car and just nurse in plain view for the world to see.
After a couple of months I got tired of being inconvenienced due to society’s criminalization of breastfeeding. If we were in a restaurant, I’d place a blanket over me, latch him on and continue my conversation like nothing was happening. If I was at the mall, I’d go into a lounge (or back of a store) and take a seat and nurse my child. No longer did I have to endure the stench of a public restroom or the shame of sitting in a cold car in the winter just to feed my baby. Sure I got awkward stares but luckily (for them) no one ever approached me questioning my right to feed my baby.
Imagine my shock that in 2012 there have been two recent examples of women being publicly humiliated because of their choice to breastfeed. According to Atlanta affiliate CBS Atlanta, Dawn Holland says she was nursing her 20-month-old son in the back of an Applebee’s restaurant in Covington when the manager told her to breastfeed in the bathroom or leave. She refused and the police were called. Nevermind that the police are busy with burglaries, murders and car jackings, now they are being used to stop mothers from breastfeeding in public places!
Luckily corporate Applebee’s stepped in and apologized to the mother but the problem is that there are people who feel like it’s their responsibility to police when and where mothers can breastfeed their children. Another example of this blatant discrimination is when an American University professor couldn’t bring her sick child to daycare, she decided to bring her to class and while lecturing she breastfed the baby. Instead of applauding her decision not to cancel class, she’s now embroiled in a petty debate on if she made the right decision to feed her child or not. This is ludicrous! Breastfeeding is a natural, eco-friendly way to feed God’s most precious gift on earth—children.
Despite the recent controversy, I’m still an advocate of tastefully feeding your baby in public. We breastfeeding mothers will not be regulated to nasty, public restrooms where we have to feed our babies five feet away from someone is relieving themselves of human waste. No, we are feeding a hungry baby and in that is a sacred process that has taken place since the beginning of society. If you don’t like it, don’t look!
My MommyNoire family, what do you think? Should breastfeeding mothers have to go into bathrooms to feed their children? Or should Americans get over their demonization of breastfeeding and worry about bigger issues in society?
Words By: Franchesca Lane-Warren
Image By: Shutterstock.com