Over the weekend, I overheard a conversation discussing the concept of mothers breastfeeding in public. The concept was referred to as being “hick” and “weird” but this is a topic that I have felt strongly about for quite some time because I seriously do not understand the stigma surrounding mothers who breastfeed their children in public.
I mean, what’s the big deal after all? Guys go to the beach shirtless, right? So what’s so upsetting about a woman exposing her nipple or her breast to provide milk for her child? I mean, as I stated previously, men can walk around showing their nipples without it being viewed as “hick” or “weird,” so really what’s the issue?
Let me answer that question for you: women’s bodies are sexualized.
Mothers who breastfeed their children in public are not doing it for attention, they are not trying to look “sexy,” they are using their bodies for a completely normal, anatomical function. Breastfeeding is natural, and although more often than not the woman’s breast is covered while she is breastfeeding, it’s still one of the most controversial topics today.
People have no trouble seeing bottle-fed babies in public, so shouldn’t breastfed-babies have the same rights?
Is a bathroom stall really the proper place to feed a child?
That being said, the fact that men, both old and young, can’t wrap their heads around the idea of a woman using her breasts in a completely nonsexual act is quite baffling. As parents, teens need to be better educated that if a woman is seen breastfeeding in public, it is to supply the baby with antibodies that strengthen the immune system, not because she would like to expose her breast in public.
With that being said, public spaces are getting better at providing accommodations for breastfeeding mothers.
For instance, the Cobo Center installed private Mamava breastfeeding pods for the highly anticipated North American International Auto Show. These private lactation stations feature ample space for strollers, benches, a fold-down changing table, an outlet to plug in a breast pump, and a lockable door.
Until we as a society begin to understand and accept women breastfeeding their children in public, the least that we can do is make proper accommodations in public spaces that don’t include a woman sitting with her infant on a public restroom toilet.