If you’ve ever had to breastfeed your baby whilst trying to eat your dinner as they simultaneously flail their arms about knocking said dinner out of your hand, then you will know that breastfeeding is far from glamorous. However, it is a totally natural process that is proven to be nutritionally the best thing for your baby. But breast or bottle, if you and your baby are happy then all is good. This is not a debate about that.
Lately, I have stumbled across quite a few women who seem to think there is something strange, odd and even sexual about breastfeeding. So much so that it has actually stopped them from even trying to breastfeed. Recently I had a conversation with another mother about breastfeeding. She asked me, “You did it for ages didn’t you?” I told her that I breastfed for 18 months, that I had only intended on doing it for 6 but it worked for us and so I carried on. All fine, but then she said with a disgusted look on her face “I just find it all a bit weird”.
She isn’t the first person to have said this to me, the idea that our breasts are sexual objects, and therefore that it is a strange thing for our babies to feed from them is a sadly common opinion it seems. But how have we got to this state of mind? Our breasts are after all there for the purpose of feeding our babies. So why are we seeming to find it so alien?
It is none of my business whether another mother breastfeeds or not. If for some reason they can’t or choose not then that’s their choice to make. But I want to try and get to the bottom of why some mothers are choosing not to breastfeed purely because they think it is strange or weird, even unnatural. When it is in fact the most natural thing in the world.
Breastfeeding is the best thing you can feed your baby, we know this. I won’t rehash too much of the same old stuff, it is tailored specifically for your own baby and contains antibodies that help fight off viruses, bacteria, and lowers the risk of asthma and allergies along with so much more.
So why when mother’s know this to be the case, are some of them still choosing to bottle feed when they can physically breastfeed due to this idea that is it strange and makes them feel uncomfortable? I wonder if it has something to do with our view of our bodies? Women are so often portrayed as sex objects, the most important thing being that they are beautiful and attractive. Our bodies are to be looked at and to be pleasing to men. We are so far away from our animalistic ways that we have forgotten that actually these two things on our chest weren’t actually put there to be found sexy by men, but to feed our children. It seems to be that we can only now see our breasts as sexual objects, therefore it is seen by some as strange to have our babies feeding from them.
As a mother who breastfed I can assure you there is NOTHING sexual about feeding a baby, that very thought is absolutely absurd to me. Having a guy grab a boob in a sexual way and having a baby feed from your breast are two very separate things. And they can be both! Did Joe suddenly go off me because my boobs were being used to feed our baby? No of course not!
Are we really so ridiculously inhibited that we can’t relax a bit about a basic human bodily function? Isn’t it strange that in a world where posters of bikini clad women are plastered around stations and streets and thought of as normal, but a mother breastfeeding their child in a shopping centre is the thing that’s apparently “too sexual”.
I totally support women who decide to breast or bottle feed their babies. But when that decision has been made because of some frankly ludicrous view that it is in any way sexual to do so, that’s when I do have to ask why?!
Then there are people who think it’s OK to feed for a short while, but it’s weird to do “extended breastfeeding”. Some have the view that it is some how “incestuous” to feed a baby over about 6 months, let alone a year. I can tell you, trying to breastfeed an 18 month old wriggly child who also wants to kick you in the face is about as far away from something sexual as you can get. And there is so much research that shows extended breastfeeding actually has great benefits for the child such as increased immunity and brain development, as well as still being a fantastic source of nutrients.
I don’t know when this view started to become so popular, or why I have come across so many people with it recently, but above all I find it saddening. Why are we as females feeling this way? These are our bodies, they grow our babies, birth our babies, and are then made to feed our babies. Let’s just get over this absolutely ridiculous view that breastfeeding is sexual, and become a little more at ease with our bodies. Our amazing bodies that create life and can then provide them with all the nutrients they need for their whole first year! That’s something to be admired, not frowned at surely?