Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Has this breastfeeding 'debate' been overblown?

I've been living half under a rock lately and have only caught glimpses of the apparently raging debate about public breastfeeding on social media (Twitter, Facebook and a couple of blogs). 
I suspect it's been overblown. 
Women who are tired of a lack of support for breastfeeding, including doing so in public, have answered back at their perceived critics. 
Which is like waving a red flag at a media that seems forever itching to paint women as irrational and reactionary shrews, always with a bee in our bonnets over something. And bingo, a war of words is born. 
So I'm going to add some of my words to the war.
* I breastfeed in public and while have had a few awkward moments, have never been stigmatised. For which I'm grateful. I've even nursed at the local pool and no one batted an eye, as far as I could tell. 
* However should anyone feel offended by me doing so, tough luck. You don't like it, look away. 
* Breastfeeding is an inherently discreet exercise. After a brief and essentially unavoidable flash of skin the baby's head covers any 'scary' bits. I don't dispute claims some mothers flaunt themselves but really cannot believe this happens much at all, let alone at alarming levels. I've never seen it. 
* Having said all that, these days I often do go somewhere private to feed. Not because I'm uncomfortable, but because it doesn't take long for babies to become enormous stickybeaks. My daughter has the sense - unlike some in the community, it seems - to realise there are far more interesting things to look at than my boobs, and so we find a place where she can focus on the job at hand. 

If people are uncomfortable with mothers breastfeeding in public, fair enough. They probably can't help it. But they need to learn to live with it. And asking us to 'calm down, all we want is for you to be discreet' is unfair because it implies we are irrational (which we aren't) and that we are deliberately indiscreet (which, in my experience, we aren't). 

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