Monday, September 1, 2014

Breastfeeding in Public

My son is in his 30s so he has been weaned for a couple or more years, but I spent a huge and formative portion of my life among breastfeeding women.  I led groups in Japan and Florida and Hawaii and Missouri that promoted and supported breastfeeding.  I took a test once that made me a certified lactation instructor, but I never did anything with that.  I feel very comfortable with breastfeeding.  I used to know a lot about the subject, but these days the technical details allude me.

Still, I have opinions based on personal experience about breastfeeding in public.  Personally I tend to get grossed out by artificial breasts waved around by toddlers in the public square.  Some of the things I have seen toddlers and young children do with artificial nipples looks a bit obscene to me.  I consider the source and generally mind my own business, unlike some people do to breastfeeding mothers and their babies.  A person can hold an opinion within the confines of their mind and not express it, after all.

I hold the opinion that breasts are natural and beautiful when used to feed babies and young children.  Breastfeeding is cheap, efficient, and natural.  Breasts are so sexualized in our culture, and yet, not taboo.  They are flaunted and displayed.  It seems that being used in the way God intended is the only forbidden thing to do with breasts.  At least in the minds of some people.

I remember that when my son was about 18 months old I was flying home from Japan to see my dad who was dying.  I was seated in a smoking section of the plane and when I complained, was told that I could get off the plane (which hadn't departed yet) and catch the next flight in a few days from Japan to the States or I could sit there.  I sat and I nursed in the midst of young Marines who were smoking on that 24 hour flight.  My 18 month old wasn't about to let me cover him up.  Those Marines got an eyeful.  But, I considered that they had to be happy I didn't let the child scream the whole way.  And maybe some of them would even encourage their wives someday to breastfeed.  And at worst, it was none of their business.

I would like to encourage breastfeeding moms to go ahead and do what is natural and right.  And if some old lady is staring, it might be that she is remembering her days of nursing her own child.  And if it is that she is offended, oh well, you can't please all of the people all of the time.  Let it go. I would like to see more moms breastfeeding in public.

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