Essay On Breastfeeding In Public

Imagine you’re sitting in your favorite restaurant with your family; everybody is enjoying themselves and having small conversation. When the waitress brings your food out, everything is overcooked and not as good as it usually is. Your child loudly announces, “This food is yucky! ” The owner of the restaurant overhears and comes over to your table. He tells you that you cannot degrade the restaurant, such as your child did, and kicks your whole family out. You’d feel embarrassed, confused, and angry. He had no right to kick you out; recalling the natural right of freedom of speech!

Now, back to the real world. This is relatable to when a mother is kicked out of an establishment for breastfeeding. It is the mother’s natural right to feed her baby, yet our society thinks it is unacceptable and continuously degrades mothers for breastfeeding their children in public. Mothers have been kicked out of various places for breastfeeding, including Starbucks, American Girl Stores, baseball games, courtrooms, and even churches (Chanel)! This cannot go on any longer. We need to come together as a society to support each other and give people their natural rights, as they deserve.

Women in America are uncomfortable breastfeeding in public because of the sexual image we have put on breasts(Wolf). When breastfeeding in public, women are subjugated to cover up or to do it in private. This happens for three different reasons. One being, parents don’t want their children to see a mother’s breasts, with a baby attached, and have to try to explain the situation. Another reason is some people can’t have children of their own, so they complain that seeing another breastfeed is too hard to watch. The most common reason, though, is because breastfeeding in public is what most people define as public nudity.

Even though the law clearly defines that breastfeeding is not public nudity, a lot of women are still told to cover up or to leave a business. The fear of being told these things leads women to formula feed instead of breastfeeding. Some women formula feed just because they are afraid of their baby getting hungry in public, and there being no private place to feed them. If this is the only reason a woman is formula feeding, then that shows our failure as a supportive society. Everyone should be supportive of breastfeeding, including in public, because it’s better for both the baby and the mother.

Not supporting breastfeeding is like people being okay with starving a baby and putting the mother in pain, and all of this just because we think a pair of breasts needs to stay in the bedroom. The sensitivity of breastfeeding in public is caused by the sexual image our culture has put on breasts, which brings people to believe that they are only for enhancing sexual activity(Wolf). The reason women have breasts is so they can feed their babies, but our society has turned it into something completely different. Our country has manipulated the image of the breast so much to where it’s preventing the natural cycle of breastfeeding.

This, in turn, not only hurts our babies, but their mothers too. “When we men see breasts, we tend not to think of their ability to provide sustenance, but of motorboating. “(Cornwell). This quote shows how some men feel about breasts. Not all men feel this way, but it’s safe to say a vast majority of them do. Some men were raised in other countries to where they see the breast for its actual purpose. It’s also some of the women who sexualize the breast and think that they shouldn’t be brought out in public. This society has sexualized breasts to the point that people don’t even think of them as a feeding vessel anymore, but as a play toy.

Women who are surrounded by friends and family, who have negative attitudes toward breastfeeding, are less likely to breastfeed their child(Office of the Surgeon General). “Studies of African American families in which education on breastfeeding was directed at the father found a 20% increase in breastfeeding rates, indicating that paternal influences on maternal feeding practices are critically important in early decision making about breastfeeding”(Office of the Surgeon General). This shows how important it is for a family to be supportive of breastfeeding, so their children grow up to be okay with breastfeeding their own children.

A randomized controlled trial of a two-hour parental intervention with fathers on how to be supportive of breastfeeding found a far higher rate of breastfeeding initiation among participants’ partners (74 percent) than among the partners of the controls (14 percent)”(Office of the Surgeon General). This experiment, again, shows the importance of a woman having support from those around her. The more America’s fathers are educated on breastfeeding and how to be supportive, the more women will breastfeed.

The effects of this problem are that women and their babies’ short and long-term health is negatively affected when breastfeeding is not in practice(Wolf). Mothers who don’t breastfeed after giving birth have an increased risk of premenopausal breast cancer, ovarian cancer, retained gestational weight, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome(Stuebe). A baby who is not breastfed has an increased risk of infectious morbidity including otitis media, gastroenteritis, pneumonia, childhood obesity, type 1 & 2 diabetes, leukemia and sudden infant death syndrome(Stuebe).

A study was conducted showed that infants who were introduced to complementary foods at 4 months crawled later than those who were breastfed from 4-6 months(Stuebe). These are unnecessary risks mothers are taking by not breastfeeding. There is a simple solution to all of this: breastfeed your child. America is the country who has the biggest problem with not being able to breastfeed in public. Jacqueline Wolf stated in her article, “Yet the American obsession with breasts is so unique that it is often puzzling to people from other cultures.

One of my graduate students who conducted field work in Samoa reported to me that when she told a Samoan woman that American men like to suck on women’s breasts, the Samoan was amazed. She asked my student, apparently with genuine interest and concern, “Do American men like to pretend they’re babies? ” That is how strictly Samoans define the purpose of women’s breasts. In many countries, breastfeeding in public is as mundane an activity as public conversation; no one is concerned when women use their breasts in public for their primary biological function: to feed babies”(Wolf).

This situation is unique to America because we have thought of the breast in such a way that it puzzles other countries, who see the breast to be used for its original purpose. Everyone should care about and support breastfeeding in public for many reasons. When more people support breastfeeding, anywhere and everywhere, it leads to more women to choose to breastfeed in the first place. This gives more infants and mothers in our society the health benefits that come with naturally feeding a baby.

Also, when more women choose to breastfeed, it will eventually eliminate some of the problem. If the children are around more breastfeeding mothers, then they will become accustomed to it. Parents don’t have to worry about their children seeing boobies, which they were taught were a dirty thing, and having to explain to them why there is a baby attached to them. It, also, brings everyone together as a community because not only are we getting mothers and babies, but people are supporting each other and bringing more love into the society.

There will always be opinions different than your own, but when everyone supports each other, no matter what, it builds a more positive society for the children to grow up in. There are a couple of things being done to try and resolve America’s breastfeeding problem, but some of them are more effective than others. One thing being done is the laws that are in place. There are laws in almost every state, with the exception of Idaho, that protects the right to nurse in public(Cretaz).

This is an effective solution because people try to argue that breastfeeding in public is considered public nudity, but, with the laws in place, you can rove to those people that it is, in fact, not public nudity. Some women even go as far as to keep a copy of the laws in their purse, so that they can physically show the person. The only problem with this solution is that just because it’s a law doesn’t mean people will accept it and change their opinions. There are also people who break laws all the time, therefore people will break this one. Whether it’s not allowing breastfeeding in their businesses, or being rude to the mother and criticizing her by telling her it’s not okay to breastfeed in public.

Another solution that has been put into place is an organization called Baby Cafe. Baby Cafe is a network of breastfeeding support groups. These groups are becoming more popular and are popping up all over the country. An appointment is not needed to join, all you have to do is stop by whenever you have the time(Cretaz). This is a great way to let breastfeeding mothers get together and share. They can share good and bad experiences, tips, and how they feel about breastfeeding. This helps mothers see that there are others dealing with the same hardships as them.

Not only can they share with other mothers there, but there are also trained staff. The trained staff can answer any of your questions about breastfeeding and help you with any problems you have. The best part of this support group is that there is no commitment, and an appointment is not needed to join; mothers can just stop by whenever their schedule allows. Also, stay-at-home mothers benefit because some of the Baby Cafes provide a supervised play room for the children to play in while the mother is in the support group.