When I first became pregnant, I was filled with joy like any other new mother. My thoughts were filled with all of the wonderful possibilities new motherhood would bring to my life. The last thought to ever enter my mind was that some of the choices I’d make concerning my baby would be upsetting to others or even controversial in some circles. The main decision I am speaking of is not something trendy or radical. Instead, it was my decision to feed my baby naturally that seems to cause a stir in some places. I first came to realize this the time I took my first child out to dinner with my family at an upscale restaurant. I had been taken with a feeling of pride about breastfeeding which had been instilled in me through sessions with my doula and members of my local breastfeeding group. Although I had discussed the possibility of running into people who were offended by breastfeeding, I never really thought that I would run into any of them. My way of thinking left me ill prepared for when I man at the next table over from me made a comment about my breasting being vulgar and how I should be doing it in a more appropriate location.
After hearing the man make his rude comments, my emotions ran the gamut. I was shocked, embarrassed, frustrated and saddened. I was saddened by the fact that it is a reality that there are people who live in our country who are still so entrenched in the idea that breasts are to be sexualized. They are rude to a mother feeding her child, which is a natural act mothers have been doing since the beginning of man, and should be respected by all. It is not enough to have this right of motherhood protected by law. We need to strive to spread awareness to all people so that they will come to embrace the act of breastfeeding as the natural, normal act that it is.
The only way to get more people to accept breastfeeding in all locations and make life easier on mothers is to get the word out. We as mothers cannot stand by and be silent on this issue. We need to speak out. Doing this does not mean that mothers need to engage in radical acts of activism. There are several easy ways in which we can be activists and make breastfeeding a norm in this country. One of the easy we can do this is by simply breastfeeding in any place we are at. Mothers should not opt to hide away in bathrooms or dark corners. Instead, women should breast freed with pride. When more women do this, the act will be more accepted by all.
Joining in and taking part in local breastfeeding groups is a form of activism for breastfeeding. When women come together with other women and share their stories about breastfeeding with mothers with babies and those expecting babies, it become more of an acceptable act. Women who feel more supported in the form of a community are more likely to stay on track and keep breastfeeding.