Breastfeeding in public: Pros and Cons - ForumDaily
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Breastfeeding in public: Pros and Cons

Фото: Depositphotos

I gave birth to a child shortly after moving to the United States when I worked for Voice of America. According to the law, I had three months of childcare leave, but by organizing a relay from my close relatives, I managed to keep the child at home until 6 months, after which he went 4 a day (a week later) crawled into the nursery. At the last stage, the father-in-law joined, who brought with him a patient with mental disorders of a parrot, who kept shouting and tearing feathers from his neck, while they themselves left the TV on all the time. And all this in a small apartment.

So, every Friday (then I worked from Sunday to Thursday) I took a child with a stroller loaded with everything that we might need for the next ten hours, and went to the center of Washington. April was in the courtyard, the famous Japanese cherry blossomed, and playing with a five-month-old baby, spreading a rug somewhere on the lawn in front of the Congress, was very pleasant.

Of course, I had to breastfeed in the same place. So for the first year of my life my son managed to dine in the subway, on a bench under the monument to Lincoln and the Washington Monument, in the Sculpture and Botanical Gardens, in museums, galleries, in cafes, by the pools, in shops and even in the monkey. In the pavilion for large primates of the Washington Zoo, we breastfed our children with our sister - on a bench opposite a cage with a gorilla, which also fed its sucker. The monkey was deeply impressed.

I bought special T-shirts and sweatshirts designed for breastfeeding because I felt comfortable in them - the fact that they made the process less noticeable was an added bonus. In all this time, I was reprimanded only once - by a saleswoman at Macy's said they have a special room for this. I, with the child at the breast, considered clothes and did not need any special room.

It never occurred to me that others could condemn my actions. In the subway or in parks, I saw more smiles and heard compliments to my blond boy and sincere admiration for my motherhood. And when I once started to feed in the rush hour in the subway crowded with people, holding the child with one hand, and holding the handrail with the other, the passengers made room for me and even slipped the stroller to my feet.

I was then shocked by the words of the popular satirist Bill Mara, who compared breastfeeding in public places to public masturbation and suggested that women do this to boast of their fertility.

And this attitude is not exceptional in the United States. In the US media periodically articles appear about how workers restaurants or sports complex asked a woman with a baby to hide behind or go to another place. This may trigger a campaign. mass public feedingwhen dozens of mothers with babies appear in this institution in support of an offended colleague, and the result is lawsuits и management apologies .

And this is because in 49 US states the right of a woman to feed a child in a public place protected by law. Moreover, in most of these local laws it is specifically stipulated that for this purpose it can be laid bare as necessary. (The last is that self-appointed guards of morality should not cling to women when they suddenly find themselves exposed more than allowed).

Of course, I saw women who were embarrassed to do this even in the presence of girlfriends at home, and those who built a whole tent with their children. But it is their choice. Anyone who is not directly involved in this matter cannot make comments in women in this situation and demand that they go somewhere far away. I will try to explain my position, starting from the most common arguments of opponents of lactation in public.

“Why not feed the child before leaving the house?”

Baby should be applied to the chest every one and a half to two hours. And it is impossible to constantly maintain a schedule here. If a child eats every two hours for two weeks in a row, it is not a fact that on the third day he will not start asking for breast every hour. And even if you feed the child before going out, and he will not ask the mother for the next hour and a half, what can you have time for in that time? A child who screams because he is hungry is a much greater inconvenience for those around him. And also it is a big stress for mom and baby.

"Why not a bottle?"

Opponents of public feeding advise moms to squeeze the milk into a bottle and feed in public places from the bottle. But it is only in theory looks simple. Breast milk is not like a refrigerator, where it can be poured at any time. This buffet works on a different principle. It arrives, and when it becomes enough, the child already needs to be fed. If there is not much milk produced, then there may simply be no excess for the bottle. If it is, then it is an additional and costly process that requires long and unpleasant manipulations with the breast pump, which still needs to be bought. Why should a woman who is already exhausted by caring for an infant, in addition to all other duties, have to take on additional work to please the casual passer-by?

Moreover, even if she has these bottles with breast milk (some women have to express it, because there is just a lot of it) or she can feed the formula (other women who have little milk are fed both breast milk and the mixture) , you need to put your own milk somewhere. It also comes - it presses on the chest, it flows and, if you endure once or twice, it will simply disappear. And to use in public a breast pump is much less aesthetic than to feed a sweet baby. Even the outlet must be found.

“We should better hide - in the toilet, for example. Why do it so publicly and for show? ”

First, the toilet must first be found. Secondly, even in the USA there are few public restrooms in which special rooms for mothers with children are equipped. Feed sitting on the toilet? This is unhygienic and unfair to mother and child, as well as to those who stand in line for this toilet.

When I was feeding, I didn’t look for places where I would be visible from all sides, but I didn’t hide under a bush either. Why should I do this? I am as much a participant in the public space as others. I found places where it was convenient and pleasant for me to feed my baby. My favorite is the bench in the Jungle pavilion in the Botanical Garden.

How much the process itself is noticeable to others is more dependent on the child than on the woman. There are children who will not put up with diapers on her head and may expose her mother's breasts more than she would like. I myself have never seen women who specifically put their breasts on display, but even if it happened, I think in most cases it comes from fatigue and indiscretion. It is difficult to imagine a person who, using his own breast for two hundred and forty-fifth time to feed a baby, suddenly decided at the same time to seduce a casual visitor to a coffee shop.

Those who believe that women do this publicly to show off their breasts or fertility are making assumptions about the woman's motives. In other words, they make it up. With the same success, one can assume that a person with thick hair on his head is not just walking down the street about his business, but flaunts his hair and teases bald people. In addition, people generally do a lot to impress others: they go to the gym, to a fashionable hairdresser, buy designer clothes, expensive cars and houses. And only in the case of mothers feeding their children, who, somewhere, may even be proud of their efforts, is this for some reason condemned.

And it also surprises me, where do the opponents of public feeding of these women see? Indeed, when I myself was at this stage of my life, it seemed to me that women and babies swarmed under each bush. I was interested in this topic: how long they feed, how often, where they buy special tops and the like. But as soon as I left the world of warm milk, I also stopped seeing them. Well, some woman is sitting and holding a baby at her breast. Not interested. What makes outsiders look at her ?!

“Why do they even need to go somewhere? Would sit at home "

Doctors advise to feed the child a year, at least - three months. And the fact of having a child should not be punished by house arrest. A woman has the right to go not only to the store and places where other moms gather, such as playgrounds and parks, but where she wants and where she wants to go. Social isolation is one of the problems of mothers, which makes an already difficult time in a woman’s life difficult. Just yesterday, you are a top sales manager, whose phone is torn from customer calls, and today you are alone with a miniature creature who only knows that she is crying. Traditionally, the woman was in a circle of relatives and was not so lonely in this period as today. She even come to the park and sit on a bench so that some people were around? No, not the place?

British demographer Fred Pierce in his book drew attention to the fact that the lower the birth rate in a particular country, the more they become intolerant to children and hostile to parents. In Singapore, a country with one of the lowest birth rates in the world, Pierce did not see children in public institutions for a few days. At the same time, they actively discussed in society that it would be worth not to let parents with wheelchairs go to department stores, because they interfere with everyone there.

“But publicly breastfeeding is like having sex in public or going to the toilet. This should be a sacrament between mother and child. ”

Lactation it is not sex, not a chair or a mystery. All these comparisons the result of the imagination of the person who invented them. Allegories, metaphors, hyperboles and other literary devices cannot be grounds for depriving an entire group of people of basic human rights. In general, you can compare anything with anything, for example, the moon with cheese. But this does not mean that product quality control inspectors should be sent to the Moon.

A mother with a child has the same right to be in a restaurant or in a store, like this, without a doubt, creative person, who has what he used to paint on icons, is associated with what he does in the toilet.

I think if people were forced to have sex for 20-30 minutes every hour and a half, they would do it in public - like our closest relative, the bonobo monkey. Every person in Facebook would explain that it is impossible to hide almost a third of all time.

"But I hate to look at it or, on the contrary, it excites me"

People (and not only people) constantly evoke emotions in others - through their actions or appearance. Both an attractive young man and a beautiful girl can excite. To cause disgust is a drunkard who has soiled himself. A disabled person without legs is pitiful. Man on Porsche - envy. A fluffy cat is a delight. A man with a narrow forehead and prison tattoos is fear.

And only women who feed their babies should be responsible for the emotions of others and change their behavior in accordance with them. And they, by the way, do what appeared much earlier than alcohol, Porsche and tattoos.

“Why do you have to do this at all? There is a mixture and you can bottle. ”

The benefits of breastfeeding for the health, cognitive and emotional development of the child, and the physical and psychological recovery of a woman after pregnancy are well studied and popularized. I won’t dwell on this and overwhelm you with research results. The main thing is different: to exclusively breastfeed the child, combine it with formula milk, or feed exclusively with formula, or maybe even bring a wet nurse from the village - a decision that the mother must make with the participation of her husband, and sometimes a doctor. People on a minibus in Kyiv or tourists on the National Mall in Washington have nothing to do with this, despite the quality of the study and the size of the sample.

All my arguments generally boil down to one thing: you cannot put your own minimal discomfort (in this case, mental) above the vital needs of others. But I understand that not everyone is capable of this. Therefore, in the United States, the right of a woman to breastfeed her child and her dignity are protected by law.

The column was published in blogs on the website of the Ukrainian Voice of America Service.

The original column is published on the website of the Ukrainian service.VOA".

Text translation prepared editionNew time".

ForumDaily is not responsible for the content of blogs and may not share the views of the author. If you want to become the author of the column, send your materials to [email protected]

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