I recently learned that 37% of people believe breastfeeding should only occur at home or in toilet cubicles. I wonder if those same people would say the same about topless sunbathing?
I also wonder how they feel about Pamela Anderson, Paris Hilton, Miranda Kerr and others baring their breasts at parties and photo shoots. Unacceptable? Oh yes. And hurry Miranda, your inappropriate breasts are offending my eyes.
If my eldest son had been surveyed, he would have immediately ticked the box that said ‘breastfeeding should only happen at home and preferably inside a dark cupboard”. He’s always cringed when I’ve fed his younger siblings in public despite having had no complaints when he was a hungry baby himself. How quickly they forget.
Nobody can forget the hype when Kate Langbroek, breastfed on live TV during The Panel. “Publicity stunt!” cried some. “Outrageous!” cried others. “Oh please!” I cried at nobody in particular. There’s nothing contrived about breastfeeding. If only infants could follow a PR schedule. Have you met a baby? They tend to be rather spontaneous and extremely unreasonable, particularly when tired or hungry which is approximately always. Kate Langbroek was at work. Her baby was hungry. She fed him. It happens. The end. And yet people still talk about it today.
The fact she was working at all is a problem for some people who feel uncomfortable when the worlds of work and motherhood collide. They can’t compute that personal choice or financial necessity makes that collision a reality for millions of women like Kate every day. Oh look, it’s 2009.
With over a decade of breastfeeding on my CV (not consecutively and not of the same child…no Bitty in our house), there’s not a public place where I haven’t breastfed or expressed. Beaches, planes, shopping centres, parks, airports, restaurants, BBQs, offices, cafes, meetings, parties, weddings, funerals, churches, synagogues…and frankly, I couldn’t care less who was watching.
Oddly enough, I tend to prioritise my baby’s immediate needs over the Elizabethan prudishness of people who have a problem with boobs being used for their natural function. I’m zany like that.
When I’m in breastfeeding mode, my breasts are about as sexual to me as a bowl of Weet Bix. Because that’s exactly what they represent to my baby. Sustenance. Not sex.
I also find the term ‘public breastfeeding’ amusing. Those who oppose it exude a fearful, vaguely alarmed vibe, as if there are groups of marauding mothers using their babies as an excuse to flash their lactating breasts in strangers’ faces: “I know! Let’s meet at Westfield! The first person to flash their leaky nipple to 100 shoppers wins a toasted sandwich!”