Usually, what prompts most of my blog posts are topics I’ve seen online in news feeds that I have felt the brunt of or have a strong opinion on. There are other things I would love to blog about, I promise. I’ve got two ideas in the works that have absolutely nothing to do with anything I’ve come across online that has provoked me into publicly standing my ground on a specific topic. But today, in the wake of a photo of a mother breastfeeding that will hopefully go viral due to the lack of consideration from some insensitive, yet over sensitive male, I feel the need to voice my opinion on the topic of nursing in public.
The simplest way I can think of to express my opinion is this…give moms a break people. Seriously. Breast feeding….hell, feeding babies in general, is sometimes no easy task.
I was lucky enough not to have issues at all with my first baby who suffered no nipple confusion and made an easy transition from breastmilk to formula after 8 weeks of struggling to supply a constant source of nutrients and failing. There is nothing easy about breast pumping in a public bathroom at a truck brokerage. NOTHING.
My second baby was a struggle. A huge struggle. She refused every type of bottle we gave her at all times. She cluster fed like a maniac. If you don’t know what cluster feed means, to put it simply, they eat whenever they want for multiple times over the course of an hour or two. It can drive a mother to complete exhaustion, especially when done over the course of an evening. With Mady, I became very accustomed to operating on four to five hours of sleep and having no real choice in the matter.
I made the mistake of going out with a friend once just for a few hours. In the time I was gone, Mady became hungry, furious and refused to take a bottle from my husband regardless of how hard he tried to coax her into taking one. He called me up at the restaurant my friend and I were eating at and I could hear her screaming in the background. My night was over.
Mady also suffered from reflux so her ability to take large amounts of breastmilk at a time to keep her content was limited. Too much would upset her stomach and we’d have a whole new realm of problems at our doorstep.
Anyone who would have looked at Mady as an infant would have no idea as to the numerous hurdles we faced when she was first born. With her not taking bottles, cluster feeding, suffering from reflux and our inability to get on WIC because we were just over the guidelines by a few dollars, breastfeeding was the only option I had for sustaining my daughter.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I enjoy breastfeeding. There’s something very rewarding about knowing that you’re providing sustenance for the life you’ve worked to bring into the world. But it’s not always a bonding experience. It’s not always beautiful. Sometimes it’s draining and the anxiety over whether or not you’re producing enough, the disappointment that comes with only being able to pump a measly six ounces every five to six hours is disheartening.
I would have loved to switch to formula at some point but everything we gave Mady upset her stomach and putting two children through daycare while paying off college loans and a mortgage leaves your pockets very empty.
Take into account all of that stress, all of those feeding issues….and add in overly critical opinions from outsiders.
I remember sitting in a performance review after working for a year and getting the “opportunity” to listen to my co-workers sound off on my performance. Yes, that’s right. Co-workers were given the reins to voice their anonymous opinions on me. I don’t find it a very good practice as more often than not, I’ve seen little constructive criticism come out of this approach. But, that’s unrelated to the topic at hand. The only bit of this that pertains to the way I chose to feed my child was when someone decided to speak up about how inconvenient they found my “mommy time” to be.
There were no nursing rooms or pumping rooms in the facility I worked in, so what I had to do was either hole up in a closet in the basement or close and lock my office door, putting up a sign to let people know I was indisposed.
I was within my legal rights to pump at work. I did it twice, maybe three times a day – once in the morning, once at my lunch break and once in the afternoon. The second time was always a hit or miss as I often times wasn’t able to take lunch.
I was furious with this statement. So much so that I looked up my legal rights as a mother and almost took it to HR. By the time this all had happened, however, my daughter was one and was in the process of transitioning to whole milk. The data was collected months prior to my review and was no longer relevant once the actual review took place. So I left it alone.
But really…there I was, exercising my legal rights, providing sustenance to my daughter the only way she would comfortably take it, facing disappointment when I wasn’t able to pump enough, taking supplements to try to increase my supply, watching what I was eating to make sure that it was bland and would not irritate her reflux…and getting criticized for it.
This mother whose post will hopefully go viral was treated so grossly unfairly. A man took a picture of her feeding and posted it on Facebook, condemning her for “whipping it out” in public and asking for the groups opinion on whether or not they felt she should cover up.
Imagine being that mom who comes across that post. There your picture is…you’re providing your child who hates being covered and will fight and refuse to feed if you do cover them with the nutrition they need to survive. The person who is snapping a picture of you knows nothing about your situation or the fun little “quirks” your child has when it comes to feeding….and not only are they making you feel humiliated beyond belief by posting your picture without your permission, but others are commenting on it as well, condemning you for being a mother. There’s a whole bunch of cyber bullying going on right there and being started by an adult, no less.
Like moms don’t have it hard enough.
When our children are born, we face a knowledge that is terrifying. And I’m not talking about having to care for a life and losing who you are to be there for that life. I’m talking about looking at that tiny human being and knowing, without a doubt, that you would willingly die for them…no hesitation at all. It’s a terrifying thought. All your life you selfishly go along, putting yourself first, taking care of yourself…and in a heartbeat, you no longer exist for you and you’re completely okay with it.
You wipe butts, watch them sleep while the fear of SIDS looms over your shoulder, clean up their vomit without flinching, say goodbye to that perfectly flat tummy which may get flat in time but may always bear the marks of childbirth, sit with them at night because they can’t go to sleep without you right there next to them, jeopardize your job to pick them up from school or go home with them because they’re sick, put up with cracked and sore nipples from feeding, constantly question yourself, constantly let yourself down – Moms are so impossibly hard on themselves.
So, why is it that people feel the need to make it harder? Why is it that people cannot be sympathetic or understanding?
That man could have easily got up and left if he found a mother feeding her child unappetizing. Instead, he chose to publicly humiliate and ridicule her.
The person upset about my “mommy time” could have come to me and asked if they could have helped with anything. They could have taken a moment to listen and understand my situation instead of seeing it as something that inconvenienced them.
I saw another post…and this one is so painfully accurate that it hurts. It was a picture of a woman breastfeeding next to a picture of some Hollywood elite whose fashionable, thousand dollar outfit did nothing to cover her. Her outfit was socially acceptable, even raved about. And yet people flinch at something far more beautiful – a mother nursing her child.
Performers flaunt themselves as much as possible and what they do is called “edgy” and “fashionable.” Mom’s feed their children and it’s called inappropriate and disgusting. There’s something very backwards about this.
Seriously people…give moms a break. If you see a woman nursing her child and your children are around, take it as an opportunity to educate them. And if it upsets you that much…walk the hell away and leave it alone. Shelter your children from something that has been natural since the beginning of time. Shelter yourself from something that has been natural since the beginning of time.
It sickens me that this man was far too sensitive to see a woman breastfeeding…and yet had zero sensitivity when it came to publicly shaming her.