MY BREASTS ARE NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!
I’m so tired of myself and other breastfeeding mothers getting bullied by strangers, like you, over the internet, or even in public. Seriously, how is the fact I am using my breasts for the purpose they are designed for, nourishing and comforting my child, any of your business?
You claim it is “indecent exposure.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary has two definitions for “indecent exposure.” First, “indecent exposure” is defined as, “Intentional exposure of part of one’s body (as the genitals) in a place where such exposure is likely to be an offense against the generally accepted standards of decency.” This definition refers to social norms and morals. However, I am not sitting in a restaurant or walking around the park butt naked. I am fully clothed. Men go without shirts all the time, yet, you don’t say they are being indecent. The difference between male and female breasts are well developed mammary glands and fat. Is it the soft fat you are against, because both males and females have nipples and areolas?
The second definition of indecent exposure is a legal one, “The crime of showing your sexual organs to other people in public.” Legally, many states allow women to be topless in public. An article in The New York Times discusses the legality of women going topless and how the police force was instructed not to arrest topless women. You can also find a list of states that women being topless is legal, such as New York, Texas, Louisiana, California, and Oregon. For a complete list go here. Also, like hands and mouths, breasts can be used for sexual purposes, but that is not their only use, or even their primary use. You don’t ask people to wear gloves or a mask when in public. You don’t look at hands and mouths and automatically think of sex; so why pervert breasts?
In my home state of Texas, it is legal for me to be topless in public, but I personally don’t feel comfortable with that type of freedom outside of my home (probably because breasts have been over sexualized and I was ridiculed for their small size and not really developing until I was 18). To any woman that has that type of physical confidence, I salute you. So, I do wear a shirt in public, usually spaghetti straps that are loose and low enough for my son to nurse easily; because of the need for it to stretch I do have cleavage showing. My cleavage never seems to turn heads; however, when I latch my son on to my breast I have gotten negative stares and comments. My question for you is, how is my cleavage socially excepted, but when my son’s large head covers more of my breast than the spaghetti strap shirt I am wearing does, or what you would see if you were at the pool with me, how do my breasts magically become obscene?
Another complaint I have seen stated on social media is that breastfeeding in public, specifically in a restaurant, is unsanitary for everyone eating. Really!? My breasts and the nourishing milk being consumed by my child is contaminating your food? This is a preposterous idea. The only way it would be unsanitary is if I went around squirting my breastmilk in your face and on your food. However, knowing all of the amazing benefits and how I have used my milk for wound care and infection, not just on my child, but also on myself and my husband, you would most likely be reaping the benefit from my liquid gold. Trust me, my breast milk is going into my child’s mouth. It isn’t like a faucet. I’m not turning my breasts on and letting milk spew everywhere. Most nursing mothers only leak during the first few months, while she is establishing supply. During this time, we wear nursing pads in our bras, not to keep things sanitary, but to keep our shirts dry.
Also, Stranger, don’t tell me to cover with a blanket. Would you like to eat with your head under a blanket? I live in Texas and my son is a little heater, neither one of us would enjoy sweating while our skin is pressed together. Not to mention, my son hates blankets and was scared of the dark the first year of his life. He refuses to even sleep with a blanket on his legs. By the way, I’m also going to say a big fat, “NO” to nursing in the bathroom. Now that would truly be disgusting and unsanitary (poop and pee particles flying in the air when a toilet without a lid is flushed). My child has the right to eat when he is hungry, in a clean environment, just like everyone else. Just because he is a child doesn’t make him less important than you. Breastfeeding is a God-given right and protected by law. I am not going to shame my child to make you feel secure. I am not responsible for your comfort or happiness. I can only be responsible for myself and my family.
I have also seen the word “PUMP” too many times to count from anti-breastfeeding supporters like you. WE AREN’T DAIRY COWS! Pumping isn’t easy. So, I’m going to do my thing and give you a little education on breastfeeding and pumping:
- A healthy baby is always more sufficient at removing milk from the breast than a pump can ever be. The average most women can pump per SESSION, not per breast, is 1-3 ounces. Kellymom.com shows the average exclusively breastfed baby takes in 25 ozs per day between the ages of 1 month and 6 months; while the typical range of breastmilk intake is 19-30 ozs per day. It takes 15-30 minutes to accomplish one pump session. If you are Power Pumping to increase supply, it takes 1 hour. That is a lot of time attached to a pump.
- Babies nurse when they are hungry. Nursing on demand helps establish supply. Milk has to be removed for the breasts to create more and know how much and how often to produce milk. For this to work when pumping, a mother needs to pump every time her child takes a bottle. This is difficult to do, especially if the mother isn’t in a location pumping is possible.
- Not all women respond to a pump. Lack of response can be due to stress, comfort, or physicality, such as nipple size. To find the perfect fitting flange measure the diameter of your nipple and use a flange size 2-3 mm larger. This is an issue for me. I have a 10 mm nipple diameter. The smallest flange currently made is a 15mm flange, found here. It is still too large for me. It takes me pumping for 4 hours just to produce 1 oz. That is a waste of my time, that I could otherwise use to spend time with my baby.
- Pumping is expensive. I was gifted a $200 pump, from the demand of my son’s pediatrician I purchased a medical grade pump that was another $200 at the time (the price has gone down since then and it is the number one recommended pump in my low supply group of nearly 7,000 women), plus a $70 pump that I used to be hands-free, a bottle and pump parts sterilizer, which can hold multiple size bottles and and Pura Kiki metal baby bottles, a bottle warmer, and purchased bras that allowed me nurse and hold my pump flanges in place for $60 each.
Many anti-breastfeeding supporters don’t even recommend pumping, they automatically push for formula. Let’s be honest, formula can’t come close to touching the benefits of breastmilk.
- Unlike formula, breastmilk provides natural antibodies that help your baby resist illness (my son didn’t have his first cold until he was 19 months old and it only lasted 2 days).
- Breastmilk may lower the risk of SIDS.
- Breastmilk can more easily be digested than formula, resulting in less constipation and gas.
- People who were breastfed have a reduced risk of being overweight, and of developing asthma, diabetes, high cholesterol, leukemia, and lymphoma.
- Breastfeeding helps mothers reduce their risk of breast and ovarian cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis.
Don’t get me wrong. I feel there is a time and place for formula. My son had a genuine medical need for it. He was failure to thrive from month 1 through month 4. He was born with severe lip and tongue ties, so after the 4-week mark, when my hormones were no longer controlling my milk production and he had to nurse efficiently to keep my supply up, unknowingly my supply dwindled and he was starving. Before his ties were revised he couldn’t even take a bottle of my pumped milk, we were having to use a syringe to supplement him. Once formula came into the mix we discovered he could not have dairy or soy based formula. We ended up using a homemade goat’s milk formula that his pediatrician recommended. At one point my supply was down to 4 ozs per day, but through pumping (even just for stimulation), using a SNS for supplementation delivery, and taking various galactagogue I managed to bring my supply up to around 12-15 ounces per day by the time he was 5 months old. In the end he weaned himself off formula by 11 months and besides table food, at 20 months he exclusively breastfeeds on demand.
Stranger, I am not going to become a hermit and stop living in the real world, just because part of my motherly responsibility is to provide nourishment and comfort to the special little human I created. I would never ask you to stay home just because you can only view breasts with a sexual mind.
I hope you have read this with an open mind and heart. If you can’t and haven’t learned anything, then please just turn your head, keep on scrolling, and keep your mouth shut and fingers off the keyboard. I promise, as long as you aren’t looking too long or directly in the nursing zone, you won’t see a nipple.
For more information on the benefits of nursing read my previous article.
Bonita, K., BS, IBCLC. (2016, February 3). How much expressed milk will my baby need? • KellyMom.com. Retrieved August 21, 2016, from http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/pumping/milkcalc/
Breastfeeding Longer Seems to Help Protect Against Breast Cancer. (2014, September 4). Retrieved August 21, 2016, from http://www.breastcancer.org/research-news/20130904-4
Cerini, C. (2013, August 11). Breast Milk: Proactive Immunomodulation and Mucosal Protection Against Viruses and Other Pathogens. Retrieved August 21, 2016, from http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/814970_2
Goodman, J. D. (2013, May 15). See Topless Woman? Just Move On, Police Are Told. Retrieved August 21, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/16/nyregion/a-police-roll-call-reminder-women-may-go-topless.html?_r=0
Todd, N., MD (Ed.). (2016, May 11). Breastfeeding vs. Formula Feeding. Retrieved August 21, 2016, from http://www.webmd.com/baby/breastfeeding-vs-formula-feeding#1
Topless Laws – GoTopless. (n.d.). Retrieved August 21, 2016, from http://gotopless.org/topless-laws