*Disclosure: I have not received compensation for this post. These views are solely my own.
As I sit here gathering my thoughts on a topic I am very passionate about my baby cries for another feed. Without thinking I pick him up and unsnap my top and latch him on to nurse. For me this is every day life. When I go to leave the house I simply grab the diaper bag and go. If the baby gets hungry I do the same thing, pick him up, unsnap my top, and latch. It comes so naturally to me that I do not pay attention to the people around me. I don't see the stares or if anyone gawks. I am simply feeding my baby because he is hungry.
When I became a mother 2 years ago I had no idea what a controversial subject breastfeeding in public was. I just knew that I was going to breastfeed my baby and would do whatever it takes to make sure he is getting breastmilk. Now, that does not mean I am against formula. It is our CHOICE as women to feed our babies the way we choose. If your baby is fed and happy then you go mama! I just knew that I felt very strongly about my son having breastmilk. I have a very supportive husband that knew what breastfeeding means to me and has helped me even through the tough first three months of engagement, having latch problems, and thrush. I have had to use a nipple shield, use lanolin, used Amorini(silver disks to help heal nipples), coconut oil, and many other products to help me get through some tough nursing moments. At first my husband felt that I needed to cover up while nursing our first son. He felt that people would be looking at me. We quickly came to the realization that our son HATED having his head covered when he was nursing so that ended abruptly and we focused solely on getting him fed.
I am thankful that in almost 2 years of my breastfeeding journey (with no end in site) I have never had someone approach me to cover or go elsewhere. I have had stares, and the quick glances then they realize what I am doing and turn away. I have had quite a few negative comments on my Facebook and even someone message me to tell me my breastfeeding pictures on MY page make them uncomfortable (I so gently told them that if they are uncomfortable that they can feel free to unfriend me. That's the beauty if Facebook). And many times I have had my breastfeeding photos reported; too bad Facebook supports breastfeeding.
I am aware we are all entitled to our opinions. For instance, I believe in extended breastfeeding and allowing the child to decide when they want to self wean and Priscilla is more comfortable weaning around age one. While she feels this way, she also knows that it is a women's choice and she doesn't shame them just because an older child nursing makes her uncomfortable. I will NEVER understand people that feel it is ok to SHAME a women for feeding her baby, especially other moms. We should be building each other up not putting each other down! Being a mom is hard enough! If you don't like it LOOK AWAY! Is it really that difficult?
About 6 months into breastfeeding Lex I decided I wanted to become an advocate for breastfeeding. I wanted to help other moms feel comfortable to nurse their baby wherever they need to regardless of Americas stigma towards it. Humans have sexualized a women's body so much that they can not look past what breasts are naturally needed for. And then there are those people that compare breastfeeding to urinating in public. Really?!?! Yes please, let's compare peeing to a baby feeding. How in the world does that even make sense? It doesn't! Oh! And my personal favorite: "Can't you just go to a bathroom?" Someone on my Facebook so kindly told me if I had to feed my baby I could go to a restroom. Really?!?! Please tell me how you take your sandwich and go chow down while sitting on the Oh so sanity toilet. Why should my baby have too??
In our society breastfeeding will never be normalized until a women walks down the street and no one bats an eye. If you go to other countries it is so normal you can just walk down the street and people don't even notice. That is why I do what I do. The more people see a nursing mom, the more it will hopefully become normal. That is the goal. Whether you are seeing a moms breastfeeding pictures on social media, or a nursing baby as you are shopping at the mall. The more we come together as breastfeeding moms the more it will become normal. We need to step out of the shadows and conquer the fear of someone jugging us or someone saying something. And if they do then you know our job isn't done and breastfeeding isn't normal yet and that should just motivate you more to feed your baby when they are hungry when ever, where ever that is.
So here's to you mom! Whether you nurse in public covered or uncovered, formula feed, or pump and bottle feed, stop at age one or stop at age 5. It is Your body. It is Your choice. However you feel comfortable don't let societies skewed views decide for you! You do what makes you feel comfortable. Stand up for yourself and for your babies right! Because if we don't, this shaming of moms will never end.
I challenge you the next time you see a mom nursing in public, smile at her. Tell her she is doing a good job. If you see a mom bottle-feeding in public, whether formula or breastmilk, tell her good job for making sure her baby is fed and happy. See a mom using a cover? Tell her you got this and that she is brave and strong. Lift each other up whether you are a mom, a dad, or an instant by stander. I challenge you to end the Stigma.
I knew when I sat down to write this that it may be all over the place. But I hope my passion shows through. I hope that a new mom reads this and she has the strength and will power to nurse her new bundle of joy at home or in public. I hope she sees that she has a tribe of other moms standing behind her that have been where she is. Because you do mama. You have an army behind you. You are strong. You got this. Your body. Your choice.
Have a yummy day!
Photo credit in order of appearance: Bianca Cordova Photography, Samantha Wagaman Photography, Photography by Crystyn, Samantha Wagaman Photography, Bianca Cordova Photography