I debated for quite some time whether or not to write this post. I wondered if by writing it, I would serve the negativity that often surrounds us. Our Milky Way is a place to share advancements in maternal child health, a place to showcase our achievements; it’s not a space to create factions of us and them.
I also worried that writing this post would fulfill the expectation that mothers will be shamed for feeding our babies in public. That by nurturing our children’s needs, we will inevitably be scorned. I will say in three years and counting, I personally have not been humiliated for nursing my children in public.
I ultimately decided to share this post though, because my sisters have been humiliated, have been disgraced, have been degraded for meeting their babies’ needs whenever, wherever.
Oh, but I don’t blame him or her for this foolish mistake. No, because the “offensive” image, the one containing nudity, contained a micro pixel of bare skin. Hardly noticeable. Quite laughable in a culture where the female body is flaunted and exploited in just about every industry.
Renée responded to the anonymous reporter on her Facebook page by posting Facebook’s breastfeeding policy with #normalizebreastfeeding.
Renée’s experience is not isolated. In fact nearly every week, Google Alerts clutters my inbox with stories of discrimination against breastfeeding mothers and babies in public and online.
Each mother’s story is reminder that something must change. Too many moms shrink behind closed doors, forcefully sheltered from integrating into society. Too many moms give up their infant feeding goals for fear of being ridiculed. Society’s ignorant ideas about the female body and what is appropriate, stop too many moms from even trying to breastfeed.
This post is for the moms who consider breastfeeding, but decide not to in fear of public humiliation. This post is for the moms forced to defend themselves. It’s for the moms forced into silence; the moms with “I should have said…” afterthoughts. This post is for the moms!
While anger and bloodthirst may be part of our reaction to the humiliation of breastfeeding moms and babies, it is in our breast interest to rise above the negativity. Ignorance and hatred is often best met with love and tenderness and allows us an opportunity to promote change in a receptive manner. There’s always room for a little sarcasm though!
This practical guide on how to deal with haters is a compilation of my favorite breastfeeding comebacks from The Alpha Parent, Scary Mommy, If breastfeeding offends you, put a blanket over your head, and a few of my own. You’ll find resources to share below each exchange so that we may continue to educate.
You’re nursing in public and somebody asks, “Why don’t you try that in the restroom?”
You might respond:
“Do you eat your meals next to the toilet?”
You might also share your state’s breastfeeding laws with him or her: http://breastfeedinglaw.com/articles/lactation-and-the-law/
Somebody asks you to cover up while breastfeeding.
You might respond:
“We’re fine, thanks. But here’s a blanket to put over your head.”
“You’re welcome to look away.”
“No thank you. There is nothing offensive about breastfeeding.”
Again, you could share your state’s breastfeeding laws with him or her: http://breastfeedinglaw.com/articles/lactation-and-the-law/
You may also wish to discuss the many roles that breasts play. Here’s an article to give you some inspiration: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chantal-molnar/breastfeeding-and-feminis_b_3547679.html
With a glint of disgust, somebody asks, “You’re still nursing?”
You could say: “Of course not! My mom weaned me a long time ago.”
“Absolutely, isn’t it wonderful?”
“I was never a nurse.”
Information on full term breastfeeding: http://www.whale.to/a/extended_breastfeeding.html
Somebody says, “Isn’t (s)he a little old for that?”
“Not according to the World Health Organization or other highly regarded health organizations,” you say.
“Of course not.”
Again, direct his or her attention to full term breastfeeding: http://www.whale.to/a/extended_breastfeeding.html
“Why can’t you just put breast milk in a bottle?” somebody wonders.
“I’m much too lazy for that!” you might reply.
“My baby prefers it straight from the tap.”
Information on the differences between breastfeeding and breastmilk feeding: •http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20457676
You’re pummeled by disgusted glares.
*Smile and wave.*
Somebody claims, “Breastfeeding is gross!”
“I beg to differ. Breastfeeding is quite amazing!”
“Breasts’ primary function is to feed our children.”
“Humans are mammals. Lactation and breastfeeding are normal mammalian functions.”
“Do you find it gross that calves (any other mammalian baby) drink milk from their mothers?”
“Thank you for sharing that. Alternative infant feeding options aren’t something I’d consider.”
Information on the risks of infant formula: http://www.infactcanada.ca/pdf/14-Risks-Small.pdf
For a great guide to nursing in public, visit Jessica Martin-Weber at The Leaky Boob: http://theleakyboob.com/2014/09/were-in-public-and-my-breastfed-baby-is-hungry-now-what/