It seems these days that everyone has an opinion and, unfortunately, they also feel entitled to share it with the world. Never does it feel more prevalent than when you are pregnant. Form lovely people telling you what you should or should not be doing, to strangers asking to touch your belly (or worse, touching you without even asking), being pregnant and parenting is rife with unsolicited advice and opinions.
Your choice of breast or bottle feeding seems to be one of the greatest ways to garner unwanted comments and instructions from random passersby. It seems the only way to avoid comments, stares or outright public scoldings is to never let anyone see you feeding your child – I guess you just have to pretend your baby is a superhuman who doesn't need physical sustenance...?
This Romper article explores ways in which society shames women for breastfeeding. From telling women that they shouldn’t feed in public, insisting that they should cover up when they do, or shaming parents who choose to breastfeed their children past a set number of months; there are lots of ways in which society discourages women from nursing.
The sexualization of the female body has veered our society to a place where strangers feel “uncomfortable” seeing a nursing mother and feel it is their right to condemn her for attempting to fulfill her babies needs whenever they should happen. Why is it that we live in a society where if you don’t want to watch someone breastfeeding the natural reaction isn’t to just turn your head or keep walking? I’m honestly baffled by this. Although breastfeeding is natural is can be very difficult for many mothers and the societal shaming of it needs to be something of the past.
Well, we all know that someone can receive comments and stares for whipping out a boob for a hungry baby; but it doesn’t stop there. On the other side of the spectrum there are those who condemn parents for choosing to bottle feed their child instead of giving them the sweet, sweet “liquid gold”. Although some give formula against their will, others freely choose to do so for various different, yet equally valid, reasons.
A recent CBC article explores how some feel bullied by those who would be identified as “lactivists”. Some bottle feed because they can’t breastfeed or have low milk supply, and some because they don’t want to. Either way it is not our place to judge, and it is especially not our place to bombard them with our personal opinions.
So, let’s stop the shaming – because parenting is hard! Sometimes just getting out of the house is a lot of work! Having people, especially strangers, dictate to you what you should be doing doesn’t help anyone. Regardless of your personal opinions, all parents are doing their best for their children; for some it means breastfeeding for others it means bottle feeding. The best thing we can do for each other is stop the judgement and stop the shaming.
We all want our babies to grow up happy, healthy and strong; we need to support each other. We are all stronger together.
Have you experienced this public shaming of your baby feeding method? Let me know (comment below), I love a good story!
I'm a doula and nurse who is passionate about creating happy and healthy moms, babies and families. Currently living in Guelph, Ontario while breaking into the world of business and enjoying the four beautiful (and often very crazy) boys in my life.