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I recently saw pictures of a mother breastfeeding her two toddlers during a photo shoot. I saw the article in a few different places including Huffington Post and Buzzfeed. They are beautiful pictures and I am glad that 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 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.
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.
I also noticed something else on some of these articles though. 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. Nurse on mamas!