Let’s bitch about breastfeeding in public. This is a sensitive subject for many and as a non-mom, about to become a mom in three weeks, I need to get my non-breastfeeding opinion out there for the record. Here’s my stance: just cover the boob please … that’s all. I know it’s natural and I know that the stigmas attached to breastfeeding are pretty irrational and I probably subscribe to most of them – I am a product of my Western upbringing – but come on moms. Help me out here! I was with my husband in Harrods the other day – in the food section – and a woman was sitting on the edge of one of the freezers, boob in full view, breastfeeding her baby. It was gross and I was appalled. I subscribe to the philosophy: “If you don’t like it don’t look” but in the food court of all places. Is that even hygienic – what if ‘leaky breast’ happens all over the place? What if the baby vomits milk on things or people? It’s not like Harrods lacks the facilities – they are quite beautiful in fact.
To a baby, a breast is merely a source of nourishment and comfort yet a breast to a man is an object of eroticism and sexuality – and perhaps that is why breastfeeding is an uncomfortable scene for people to witness. The ambiguity of the breast is uncomfortable. I know that I am not at all at ease with the thought of half of London city being made privy to my baby suckling on my breast, never mind me watching somebody else do it. In spite of the fact that breastfeeding is completely natural; just as I would not walk around with half my shirt off, I have no intention of sharing my breast with passers by. The feminist in me says “let the moms do what they want” but that voice is quelled by my discomfort. I guess that for me, it’s all about being discreet and sensible and doing what’s best for me and my baby whilst considering the people around me.
Point of Interest: In 2007 the Single Equality Bill was expanded by the British government to include an anti-discrimination law regarding the rights of breastfeeding mothers: allowing nursing mothers of children up to a year old to breastfeed their babies ‘discreetly’ in any public place – irrespective of the misgivings of restaurant managers or the possible embarrassment of other diners. According to the new act, restaurants, cafes and shops which try to ban breastfeeding of mothers subscribing to the above criteria will face court action and fines of up to £2,500. (Sources: Thisislondon.co.uk and Timesonline.co.uk)