They are beautiful pictures and I am glad the mother felt confident enough to share them. But I cringed as I clicked on the comments. I always do, whenever I see any article about breastfeeding.
Because I know there will be the usual negative comments. We need to normalize breastfeeding for this reason.
We get it you breastfeed why do you have to share a picture of it?
I am really sick of seeing it everywhere. Women need to get off their high horses about breastfeeding.
Why are these women posting these photos, this is exhibitionism.
This is gross, that child is too old!
This is messed up, nobody wants to see your boobs. I think it should be private like going to the restroom or giving birth!
I'm so sick of these moms using their breasts to get attention.
I'm all for breastfeeding and women's advocacy. I breastfed my baby, too. However, I am not one to flop my boobs and advertise what I'm doing just so I can educate the world.
To me when a child over 2 yrs is nursing it isn't about the child's health, it's all about mom and her needs.
It's fine to breastfeed and a beautiful thing but I think it should be done in a discreet way.
And on and on.. this is a small sampling, but these are actual comments. And, it's always the same ones on any breastfeeding article.
Why do we need to normalize breastfeeding?
This is why. I was talking about it with my mother the other day and mentioned that before my daughter was born I had never seen another woman breastfeed. Nope, never. I was squeamish about it. I couldn't imagine it myself.
I am glad I got over it, and went on to have a successful breastfeeding relationship with two children. Now imagine if I had seen it before I had babies myself? It would have been normal, I would not have been squeamish, and I may not have had the initial resentment and stress over it I had.
Normalizing breastfeeding helps all the mothers who want to breastfeed but have no idea how. It's to help all the mothers that are scared that they will be shamed for feeding their baby in public.
Besides having never seen a woman breastfeed, many women have not seen anyone breastfeed while pregnant, or tandem nurse (nurse two babies/children at once).
We need to show that this can be normal as well. While breastfeeding is becoming more accepted there is still a tendency to hide it once our babies are over a certain age. I am guilty of this myself. I ended up breastfeeding all three of my babies longer than the established norm, and I didn't tell anyone in my daily life about it.
How to normalize breastfeeding
Normalizing breastfeeding also helps the people leaving these comments who think breastfeeding is 'intimate' or 'private'.
Maybe the more they see it the less it will bother them. To insinuate that breastfeeding should be private means you have an issue with breasts. And, I am just guessing here, but I think the issue is that you see breasts sexually, and seeing a baby there confuses you and makes you feel uncomfortable.
But it shouldn't.. breasts were made for feeding babies. They are not a sexual organ, no it's not the same as giving birth, or going to the bathroom, or having sex. All suggestions seen on breastfeeding articles. Your hands and your neck or your feet can be sexual too. Do we hide those?
We need to erase years of programming that tells us breasts are sexual in nature only, that breasts are okay for selling items and in advertising, but should not be seen feeding babies. We need to show that feeding our babies using our breasts is normal. If you don't want to see it, don't look! It's that simple.
I hear people ask "what will I tell my children if they see it." How about you tell them it's a mother feeding her baby? Why do children need to learn right off that breasts are something that should be hidden?
Let me tell you my four year old daughter doesn't think anything of me breastfeeding except that I am feeding my baby. Again, it will become normal if we let it.
And, when I see comments saying that a mother breastfeeding past a certain age is doing it for herself or for selfish reasons? Hahaha.. I guarantee you whoever utters those words has never breastfed a toddler.
A few more ways to help normalize breastfeeding:
Talk about it. You don’t need to hide your breastfeeding and everything that goes along with it. I had my first baby in 2012 and I felt weird breastfeeding around family and friends. I didn’t talk about the trouble I was having with hardly anyone. Luckily things have changed a lot since then. It is more normal than ever now and I got more comfortable breastfeeding with each baby I had.
Get help with breastfeeding. After giving birth I was so lucky to have a good lactation team around me, I probably would not have succeeded otherwise.
Support the right to breastfeed anywhere and everywhere. There are laws protecting this now, thank goodness.
The pictures of celebrities breastfeeding and mothers taking pictures of themselves inspired me to write this article in response to negative comments I still see.
But I also see something else, many defenders of the movement to normalize breastfeeding, and many supporters.
I see it more on certain publications than others. Either way, I am happy that it is becoming more normal and an entire generation will be raised thinking it's the norm. We need to feel empowered to feed our babies whenever and wherever.