Why Breastfeeding In Public Is Okay

A life 2022

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Why Breastfeeding In Public Is Okay
Why Breastfeeding In Public Is Okay

Video: Why Breastfeeding In Public Is Okay

Video: Agree to Disagree: Is Breastfeeding In Public Okay? 2022, November

Campaigns in support of public feeding happen in the world on a regular basis, and from August 1 to August 7, Breastfeeding Week is celebrated in the world. Sometimes the reason for actions is situations in which women, faced with open condemnation or aggression, declare their rights. Sometimes - positive examples of celebrity or suddenly collecting many likes photos of open public feeding. But in both cases, the question is posed: how decent is it to breastfeed in public?


In the West, the right of women to feed in public places is legally established: the corresponding anti-discrimination laws are in force in most countries of Europe, Great Britain, Australia, the USA and Canada. This means that a person who condemns or interferes with public breastfeeding may be brought to justice and, most likely, the court will take a decision not in his favor. Russia is one of those countries where breastfeeding in public places is not regulated by law in any way. On the one hand, this means that no one can forbid a woman to breastfeed her baby in a restaurant, park or shopping center. On the other hand, in the event of censure, remarks or sidelong glances, Russian women have no opportunity to rely on the letter of the law to prove to those around them that they are not doing anything “indecent” and are not violating any administrative rules of conduct in public places.

In fairness, it should be noted that even in countries where the right to public feeding is reflected in the law, unpleasant incidents occur regularly. A nursing mother may be asked to go out or cover her breasts with a napkin so as not to annoy other guests of an expensive hotel, and politicians make strange statements, equating breastfeeding in a public place with exhibitionism.

Most often, it is these stories that become the reason for the next protest rallies, where dozens of mothers come out, ready to breastfeed even at the sight of reporters' cameras. Unsurprisingly, opponents of public feeding are only more offended by this behavior, and in the course of the debate they take an even tougher stance, demanding "keep personal - personal" and "respect the rights of others not to see someone else's naked breasts." Nevertheless, in Western countries, the majority of respondents say that they are not annoyed by the sight of women breastfeeding in public. For example, according to statistics from the British The Independent, 77% of respondents consider public breastfeeding acceptable. The British show the lowest level of tolerance for feeding in a restaurant - there it does not irritate 59% of the respondents, but 84% are ready to "allow" women to feed peacefully on the beach.

The Debate.org portal shows results similar in percentage. When asked whether public breastfeeding is decent, 64% of the respondents answered in the affirmative. Curiously, most commentators who oppose public breastfeeding suggest that mothers use a breast pump and bottle feed their baby. The option of using a diaper or a special cape was called acceptable only by some opponents of public feeding.


Feeding isn't just about eating. It is also a way to calm the child, support him, give him attention

In general, the position of those who condemn public feeding boils down to several arguments. Opponents of public feeding believe that this is indecent: in the process of feeding a woman publicly bares her breasts, which violates generally accepted norms of behavior. They also believe that public exposure of the breast can provoke sexual violence against a woman, they say that it can be unpleasant for others who do not want to see small children next to them and observe their physiological processes.Those who oppose public feeding say it is an "intimate process," a "sacrament" and something that should only happen at home and behind closed doors, and also believe that it violates the boundaries of others.

Organizations that support breastfeeding note that even in the most developed countries, women have a hard time precisely because of the possible reluctance of their opponents to admit that breastfeeding is a natural process in which there is no obscene connotation, and the female breast, like itself a nursing woman is not always a sexual object for those around her. They advocate the demarginalization of public feeding, emphasizing that the presence of a child at the mother's breast is the most normal state for him. La Leche League encourages women to maintain dignity and remember that every mother who breastfeeds calmly in public becomes a breastfeeding ambassador.

The organization also highlights several points in its newsletters. First, breastfeeding is recommended by the WHO: pediatricians are encouraged to support the intention of mothers to breastfeed up to two years of age, and children under 6 months are shown to receive exclusively breast milk as food. This is a natural mechanism laid down by nature, and the benefits of this method of feeding babies have been widely proven scientifically. It is also scientifically proven that the use of "breast substitutes" (bottles, pacifiers) can adversely affect lactation and become a threat to the preservation of natural feeding.

Second, feeding is not just about eating. It is also a way to calm the child down, to support him, to give him attention. In the first months of life, an exclusively breastfed infant has a natural need to breastfeed frequently: the interval between breastfeeding can be from 10 to 40 minutes - and this is the norm. In an infant, deprived of the opportunity to attach to the breast, the level of cortisol rises sharply, he does not find his usual way of calming down and experiences severe stress and physical suffering. Thirdly, it is convenient for the mother, since the child is calm on the breast (or quickly calms down), does not experience stress, does not cry and does not attract the attention of others. In addition, mothers with unsteady lactation (this period most often lasts the first 3-5 months after the birth of the child) may have frequent rushes of milk. In this case, it is physically necessary to attach the baby to the breast: if this is not done, there is a serious risk of milk stagnation or inflammation.


However, even if you know that the majority is on your side, in such a delicate matter, sometimes one condemning remark or not too approving glance may be enough. The situation is aggravated by the fact that the European region, which statistically belongs to Russia, has one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding duration in the world. Attitudes towards public feeding are calibrated by two factors: the average duration of breastfeeding (the longer it is, the more relaxed public feeding is perceived) and the general level of tolerance and openness. Europe has a high level of tolerance, but very short feeding times - on average 1-3 months, depending on the country. Scandinavia stands out: there the duration is longer, since mothers are entitled to long paid parental leave, so many feed longer.

Historically, in the Western world, the feeding process, like everything related to the birth and raising of children, was an intrafamily female affair. Among the nobility and aristocracy, the tradition of "dairy motherhood" was widespread: mothers themselves did not feed their children, for this they hired a special servant - a nurse.Until the end of the 18th century in Europe (and even longer in Russia), the work of a wet nurse was one of the most popular among women from the lower classes; this gave the feeding process a "grassroots" status - in a decent society it was impossible to feed publicly, and even if a woman chose to feed her children on her own, she did it only in a private setting.

In the 19th century, European countries gradually began to pass laws obliging mothers to feed their children on their own. At the same time, more and more educational works appeared, noting the value of mother's breast milk, opposing it to artificial substitutes, which at that time were of rather poor quality.

The situation was changed by industrialization and the partial equalization of women in rights with men. Children can now be sent to state nurseries, and this has significantly affected the length of time for breastfeeding - it has sharply decreased. Public feeding no longer caused outrageous censure, but due to the massive distribution of artificial mixtures and the fact that women needed to return to work as soon as possible, breastfeeding itself became completely unpopular.


Societal attitudes towards public feeding are highly correlated

with attitude

to the freedom of a woman to dispose of her body

Within the framework of communist ideology and the “new Soviet way of life,” the status of a woman also did not imply long, thoughtful motherhood: a woman had to return to the status of a working unit as soon as possible. All conditions were created for this: nurseries, dairy kitchens. As a result, weaning occurred at a very early age, and no alternative was proposed, since the conditions for maintaining breastfeeding and its demarginalization were not created.

The popularity of breastfeeding and a change in attitudes towards it swept the world in the 60s: the West experienced a baby boom, hippies preached naturalness and closeness to nature, travel to third world countries and former colonies became fashionable, where women fed and walked topless in public … In the Soviet Union, around the same time, a party directive was adopted to create conditions to support breastfeeding in the workplace; breastfeeding mothers with children under 1 year old had the right to reduce working hours in favor of several intervals for feeding; a nursery began to be built directly at enterprises so that women could go away to their children as needed.

The scientific experience accumulated by this time said that breast milk is by far the healthiest type of food for babies. This statement was not questioned until about the end of the 80s, when a new wave of emancipation prompted women not to give up the desire to concentrate on their careers, and the much more perfect formula for artificial feeding made it possible to reduce maternity leave to a minimum and continue working almost immediately after the birth of the child. The popularity of continuous breastfeeding began to decline, despite all efforts by WHO to actively promote it in both developing and economically successful countries.

Natural feeding in Russia today is not the norm. According to WHO statistics for 2006–2011, the average duration of exclusive breastfeeding of infants in Russia is 1 month. It is not surprising that women who only breastfeed their babies, as well as those who breastfeed for more than six months, may find it difficult to feel confident and realize that there is nothing marginal in public feeding: there are simply too few such mothers to form. " most".

A modern resident of a large city, even with a small child, has the opportunity to lead an active lifestyle: go to restaurants and cafes, attend educational classes for mothers and babies, museums, shops, city events.All-round and comfortable strollers, ergo carriers and taxis with a car seat help mothers to walk and have fun with their children - naturally, in such a situation, sooner or later, it becomes necessary to feed the child. A feature of breastfeeding is that the child feels the need to attach to the breast much more often than once every three hours, as is the case with formula feeding. Therefore, mothers who are breastfeeding cannot avoid situations when feeding takes place outside the home. Few people think that otherwise, if the feeding takes place only "behind closed doors", the woman will be obliged not to leave the house throughout the entire decree.

In Russian-speaking Internet communities for mothers, the topic “decent / indecent” and “how others react” appears regularly. In a recent post from the closed Facebook community Momshare, one of the participants asked other moms to talk about cases of sharply negative attitudes towards public breastfeeding. The post collected more than a hundred comments, in 14 of them the mothers themselves, the participants, had a negative attitude towards public feeding; about 10 women said that openly (that is, without hiding behind a diaper, scarf or a special cape) they feed publicly and did not face negative feelings, the rest (that is, about 75% of respondents) noted that they were ready to feed and feed in public, only hiding behind a diaper or a special cape, and consider this option the most convenient for themselves and others.

Indeed, the main solution for women who are not ready to face the condemnation of others, but want to be able to feed in a public place, is to hide behind a diaper or special capes, to look for a secluded corner or a feeding room. Women who breastfeed for a long time (for example, according to the covenants of the WHO - up to two years), most often try to explain to an older child that he can only get access to the breast in a private setting; Their situation is further complicated by the fact that the older the child, the higher the risk of facing misunderstanding and open expression of censure.

It is easy to see that, in general, the attitude towards public feeding in modern society is strongly correlated with the attitude towards a woman's freedom to dispose of her body, to the need to identify and defend her own boundaries. No matter how strange it may sound, the public demand to conceal the breastfeeding process has quite a lot in common with slut shaming: in either case, a woman is forced to obey externally imposed moral norms and ideas about "what is good and what is bad." … The taboo to publicly use breasts for a natural, determined by nature purpose is a sad consequence of sexual objectification: unfortunately, stripping naked in order to feed a child, a woman still risks being accused of displaying "sexual delights", although this action has nothing to do with sex, like herself on its own the chest does not. So, although women have already won the right to breasts, someone still wants to tell them how to use them correctly.

Photos: juan_aunion - stock.adobe.com, juan_aunion - stock.adobe.com, Wikimedia (1, 2)

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