Infant feeding decisions are rooted in a woman's social and cultural background and are made frequently. Despite the benefits of breastfeeding for both women and newborns, as well as government policies and laws protecting and promoting breastfeeding, public nursing remains a contentious issue. We live in an era where people love to see models in bikinis, or in outfits showing their cleavage but are embarrassed to see a woman feeding her hungry baby. We need to get this straight in our heads there "Desexualize the breast".
No one blinks an eye when breasts are plastered everywhere to advertise a bra or a magazine because, throughout time, society has transformed breasts into something other than their initial purpose (which is ok), but people have lost their primary function, which is to nourish a kid. They don't have to be sexual all of the time just because they CAN be. It is incredibly exciting for people to have their neck kissed and licked. That doesn't mean we have to wear a turtleneck all the time! This is because the neck is only sexual in certain situations. Its primary function is to keep the head from sliding off our body. People must cease perceiving breasts only as sexual objects to normalize breastfeeding. Remember that just because they CAN be used for sexual purposes does not mean they SHOULD be defined as sexual.
Why can other indigenous societies wander around topless nursing their young and males don't get sexually offended by them if they're entirely sexual? It's ludicrous to suggest that a gland designed to feed a baby is essentially sexual. It, like her eyes, hair, or any other physical attribute, may assist attract a guy to a woman. That does not imply that they are predominantly sexual.
How did people become so much obsessed with breast?
Because women's breasts — and even breastfeeding — have become sexualized, breastfeeding in public is a big concern.
As a result, numerous breastfeeding moms throughout the world are forced to deal with the worry and problems of loving and nourishing their kids outside of their own homes daily. How did this happen?
The Hyped Fashion Industry: Sex sells! Women's breasts can be seen all over the place. On TV, at the movies, in publications, on billboards, and elsewhere. Breasts have indeed become a sexualized commodity, and profit-hungry corporations will exploit them to the fullest extent possible.
Not at all a secret, pornography: Another reason why women's breasts have become sexualized in our society is the addictive and damaging nature of pornography. Others are often seen as sexual objects by porn addicts. Addiction is unfortunately on the rise as a result of easily accessible technology. What kind of world do we want to raise our children in?
Are Breasts a Sexual Organ?
Female breasts have both nutritional and sexual functions, although, during breastfeeding, they should not be considered a sexual organ. Female breasts have nutritional and sexual purposes, and unlike other primates, they develop before nursing is required during puberty. Their sexual attractiveness is based on their size, shape, and areolae, as well as their jiggling movements when unrestrained. Certain studies have found that nipple stimulation is stimulating for some women.
There is nothing erotic about breastfeeding a child. Breastfeeding is done solely to nourish and nurture her child. That's all there is to it. Breastfeeding is translated as “stillen” in German, with the proper implication of quenching, nourishing, and calming.”
How would you feel if you are asked to cover yourself up while having your food?
Just imagine you are sitting in a restaurant trying to grab some lunch after a tough day and someone interrupts you and asks you to cover yourself up or people around you start giving you those judgemental stare downs. Wouldn't you feel frustrated and kind of embarrassed? Now, this is how mothers are treated. Mothers are already over-burdened with so many responsibilities. Society wants the mother to do all the household work, run the basic errands, socialize and give attention to everyone's need. In between all of that when does a mother gets to feed the baby? If she breastfeeding her baby in a public place, between all that exhaustion, she has to face all this criticism. The baby, that poor soul, doesn't even know what is happening he is fidgeting with his mother's clothes, looking at the surrounding feeding from his mom's breasts and suddenly a cover is there and he is in complete darkness.
Let me tell you that mother is on the verge to either lose her cool or on the verge of breaking down and that innocent child doesn't even know what's wrong. He is just scared as to what suddenly happened.
Breastfeeding Moms Need More Support
Being a mother, I know all the hardships a mother has to face while raising a child. When a child comes into this newfound world, so does a mother. That woman has gone through so much pain while delivering the baby. She is still recovering from all the tears and trauma she had faced while she was in labour. But she has to first take care of the newborn who has just arrived. Her body needs rest but her babies cries won't let her sleep. She has to feed and clean the baby, and through those sleepless nights, she has to take care of herself as well. So we as human beings need to be kind and understanding. We don't need to see a mother breastfeeding in public as an embarrassment. We need to support her by appreciating her and if you can't do that all you need to do is look away and ignore them. That's all!
A Mother's Right To Breastfeed
In India, no law prohibits or penalise the act of breastfeeding in public. It is a common practice in most countries, but it varies by geography; unexpectedly, it is more generally accepted in rural areas and poor socioeconomic areas.
In the changing society, I think we need laws now to promote breastfeeding. India had always followed the trends and cultures from the western side of the globe. Still, we don't have any law with regards to breastfeeding in public areas. Unfortunately, the USA has several laws that make it mandatory for a lot of commercial building and places like malls, airports and railway stations to have a separate room for breastfeeding mothers.
In India, a lot of women due to the sheer mentality of society has to breastfeed in public bathrooms. How unhygienic is that? The place where people come to relieve themselves, you have to feed a child in there. How helpless and dejected that mother feels, can you imagine?
A baby doesn't know that he has to ask for food seeing the place. Oh! we are not at home, we are in public mama can not feed me let's keep quiet. It doesn't work like that! So we need the authorities to wake up and start to address such issues.
What can be done to make society a better place?
I have always believed that change begins at home. I think we need to first educate our younger generations. Mothers should provide an example for their older children. Moms should not be afraid to feed their children in front of them. If the older child is a girl, she can feed her doll or toy to her mother. Role modelling is the most effective way for children to learn. If mothers are comfortable breastfeeding in front of them, they will not perceive it as unusual; this should be our first move toward normalizing nursing. Mothers if you want people to look at you normally, you need to bring about the change in your mind as well, you too need to be comfortable with the act.
I believe it is time for strong role models, a new set of rules to preserve breastfeeding moms' dignity and to promote breastfeeding as a natural act. For the next generation, we need to normalize breastfeeding in public; young girls are the future mothers, and young boys are the future gentlemen; they require new moral norms, and we must include breastfeeding as a little part of their education.