Breastfeeding has been an integral part of civilization since the beginning of time. Only in America, which has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the developed world, is breastfeeding still considered a controversial topic.
Our hyper-sexualized, highly immodest society has a media which celebrates celebrities of Hollywood who compete against one another to arrive at award programs with the least amount of clothing. American women parade beaches and boardwalks in bikinis that are essentially bras and panties, and attend weddings, funerals, and even their jobs in thigh-high dresses and skirts topped with low-cut, breast-exposing blouses. Case in point: consider the fashion stunt pop singer Rihanna pulled at the CFDA Awards back in June. The singer wore a sheer, sparkly, see-through Adam Selman gown that bore nearly all.
Because of this over-sexualization, breastfeeding is perceived to also be a sexual act. This could not be further from the truth. Contrary to what is presented to us in the entertainment world, breasts were intrinsically designed to feed hungry mouths; not plaster billboards, TV ads, and magazines to attract an audience to a particular product or location. Breastfeeding is not sexual, but is simply a method of feeding an infant.
The only purpose immodest attire serves is for vanity and shock value. Breastfeeding mothers’ purpose is to provide essential food and nourishment to their babies. There is no agenda, no attempt to shame mothers who choose to formula feed, and no ulterior motive, as they are doing something that which in accordance with what their bodies are designed to do: giving life (through the birthing process) and sustaining it (through breastfeeding).
There are those who view breastfeeding in public as such a terribly vulgar act, and some have the audacity to suggest that breastfeeding mothers feed their babies in the restroom. There is nothing normal or acceptable about a human being being told to eat their meal in a room which exists only to serve individuals who need to relieve themselves.
Despite the fact that breastfeeding is natural and should be publicly accepted, some common questions and arguments persist.
If doing what is natural in public is acceptable, then why isn’t public urination acceptable? This argument is an illogical one. It is apples to oranges and ludicrous to compare the way an infant eats to the elimination of human waste. Just as it is unreasonable to eat in a place designed to relieve, it is unreasonable to compare human secretion to human excretion.
Why not plan your trips out around your baby’s feeding schedule? Breast milk is not like synthetic formula. Breastfed babies cannot be overfed and usually eat on demand. It is unrealistic to suggest that mother and baby should be confined to the house if they are not on a set schedule. There is no set schedule when it comes to infants. Additionally, skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby plays as significant a role–physiologically and psychologically–as the nutrition the baby receives.
She could at least have the decency to cover up! Whether a mother chooses to provide coverage over the breast from which her baby is nursing is her prerogative. Can you imagine how enjoyable your meal would be if you were blindfolded? A baby’s sight, discoveries, and stimulation should not be restricted simply because there are adults who are only adjusted to breasts being used in sexual context, not in its biological context.
Why doesn’t she just formula feed? Again, a new mother’s decision to breastfeed or formula feed (or both) is her decision to make. However, formula has always been nutritionally inferior to breast milk, which is why health experts refer to it as an alternative. Not only is synthetic formula nutritionally deficient, popular brands such as Similac and Enfamil contain harmful toxins. Perhaps one of the most disturbing active ingredients contained in formula is cupric sulfate, a chemical compound which functions as a pesticide, herbicide, and fungicide. This particular chemical compound is used to kill algae, fungus, bacteria, and weeds.
While copper, in this context, is an essential element to all living things, copper and cupric sulfate have different chemical properties. One is a benefit to humans, and the other is a detriment. Ingredient labels on all products are listed in descending order sorted by predominance of weight. On popular formula brand label, sugars, oil, salts, acids, and fungicide (cupric sulfate) are weighted the heaviest. As an insult, vitamins were listed lastly as an afterthought. The best way to tell whether you are purchasing a good, quality product or not is to read the ingredients label. If you are shopping for, say, grape juice, and the first ingredient listed is not grape juice, then it is most likely not composed of actual grape juice. The same concept is applicable to baby formula. Thankfully, there are alternatives which are free of toxins in the case of mothers who are unable to produce their milk sufficiently.
Breast milk is always best. Critics of breastfeeding mothers who juggle sharing their bodies with their babies post-birth, in addition to various other everyday life events, selfishly neglect to realize that their lives cannot be confined to their living quarters simply because they risk offending onlookers.
Breastfeeding, in American culture, should be the norm. At the very least, it should be more acceptable to breastfeed publicly than it is to wear risqué clothing. The former serves a purpose; the latter serves for naught.