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Breastfeeding in Public: Discussing Pros and Cons

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I’m interested in breastfeeding in public for several reasons. It’s a huge topic and it always has been. I follow this teen mom, Maddie Lambert, that is a Youtuber, on Instagram and she is having to go through a court case. Breastfeeding in public became a topic of the case that it is ‘endangering and harming the child (Lambert)’. It also has affected me more personally I remember that this one time my family and I went to my aunt’s house. My little sister was hungry and exclusively breastfed. So, my mom asked where she could go to the nurse in private and my aunt told her that that wasn’t allowed in her house under any circumstances. My mom goes out to the car and my aunt follows and tells her not on her property, so we just left. We drove a good distance to get there too. Also, it interests me because it affects me personally not necessarily now but in the future. I believe that you should be able to breastfeed wherever you want to. It’s no different than an adult eating their meals. If you were hungry you would stop and eat. You wouldn’t want to eat in a bathroom stall, wait until you got home or be covered up. My mom can nurse, and you can’t even tell. The only way you know is because you hear a baby sucking. Breastfeeding in public should be allowed in society because staying at home all day negatively affects postpartum and stay at home mom’s depression and because mothers need to be a part of society without fear of judgment or worry about feeding her baby.

Let’s just start off by saying that breastfeeding in public is one hundred percent legal in Oklahoma. Oklahoma State Department of Health has legalized it and the people and places that go against the law can get in serious trouble however not everyone abides by the laws (Breastfeeding Laws). The law doesn’t protect the parents from the negative thoughts and actions of others unless they are caught. There are several court cases going on with the topic of breastfeeding in public. Hebert talks about one case and it happens all too often (Hebert). The female employee had to take medical leave during her pregnancy and planned to return to the same job and same position the next month. The mother/employee was told that she could not return to her position because it was filled, however, she was called in the next night because they needed her to fill in. During her break, she went to her car where her husband brought her the baby and she breastfed in the car. The manager somehow found out and confronted her. He told her that she is no longer needed and that she can come back after she stops breastfeeding for good. Female employees risk losing their jobs, sports, and positions basically just for being a mom. I know my mom lost her job as a Sunday school teacher just because they wouldn’t give her job back.

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Breastfeeding is not a new thing it’s been around since the beginning of time. The Bible mentions how breasts and nursing is such a blessing. Genesis 49:25 says “By the God of your father who will help you, and by the Almighty who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts and the womb” (Holman Study Bible NKJV Edition, Gen 49:25) There are many other instances where the bible talks about breastfeeding, nursing, and boobs. Every time they mentioned it is done so in a positive manner.

There are many benefits to breastfeeding and why many mothers decide to do so. Some people claim that breastfeeding is easier, more reliable and it has many more positive health benefits than that of formula-fed babies. Breastfeeding is more reliable because if the mother is producing milk then the baby has something to eat. The formula is outrageously expensive especially if you must buy special formula for your baby. Some moms chose to breastfeed because they convince. No matter where you are you can feed your baby without having to prepare a bottle. That’s especially helpful when your baby wakes up for nighttime feedings or when you are running errands longer than you had inspected. You don’t have to worry about where a bottle of the formula is located. You also don’t have to worry about if you are feeding them the correct amount. Babies will stop nursing when they are full and satisfied. You don’t have to estimate how much or little your child should eat or if they are going through a growth spurt. That means there is no wasting milk. One of the main reasons moms chose to breastfeed is because of the amazing health benefits. Your breastmilk is catered to your baby’s needs at that feeding. If the baby is sick, then the milk will have specific antibodies for them to help fight off the sickness. Breastmilk contains all the nutrients that your baby needs. According to Healthline breastfeeding may reduce the risk of disease, breastfeeding may even help mothers lose weight, and breastfed babies could potentially grow up to be smarter (Bjarnadottir). The bottom line is that there are many reasons mothers may choose to breastfeed.

Like any other parental decision, there are many pros and cons. Not everyone will agree with everyone’s decision. To some people, the cons outweigh the pros. Some cons to breastfeeding are that the majority of babies that breastfeed refuse to take a bottle. So, therefore, the mom is the only one that can feed the baby. They are the only ones who can soothe and feed them. So, it makes for long days and nights for the mom. According to USA Today, most people don’t know that you must work to be successful at breastfeeding and to stick with it, and although it’s natural it doesn’t come easily for most people (Rasha). According to USA Today, you are going to have to spend a lot of time breastfeeding and/or pumping. People don’t realize how much time, effort, and energy it takes to breastfeed (Rasha). Breastfed babies tend to eat longer than formula-fed babies. Another big reason for moms that I hear all the time is that they don’t produce enough milk, or they get mastitis (inflammation of breast tissue) or any other sickness, disease, or illness. It’s just way too painful for the mom can’t because she has prescription medications. The main reason I think moms don’t breastfeed is that there is a lack of education. The fear of judgment from breastfeeding in public can make moms refuse to go out. Being a mom is hard, stressful, and exhausting and all that can play a factor in triggering postpartum depression. The definition of postpartum depression according to Medline plus “is moderate to severe depression in a woman after she has given birth. (Postpartum Depression)”

Dr. Roche has done several research experiments and surveyed a varying group of people with varying different backgrounds, ages, gender, and religions (Roche). Her tests were to see who is comfortable with breastfeeding in public, what ages, and what places. The article is about the opinions of breastfeeding in public. They took a total of 1036 adults to complete in a survey on what their thoughts, feelings, and attitudes of breastfeeding in public are. The participants were asked to give their opinions based on if they were comfortable seeing other people if they were comfortable breastfeeding in public or comfortable with their partners breastfeeding in public. This experiment was performed in various locations and to various people, races, beliefs, and geographic areas. According to this study, it concluded that women were appreciably more at ease with breastfeeding in public than that in males. The article also implies that the lack of comfort, lack of support, and judgment in the public significantly affects the length that the mother breastfeeds the baby.

In conclusion, if you chose to breastfeed over formula feed, you are not any better than those who formula feed. Likewise, those who formula feed are no better than those who breastfeed. A happy, healthy, fed baby is the best no matter what you chose to do. There is no reason to regret your decision no matter what you chose. I want readers to just accept that a baby needs to eat no matter where they are and if you don’t like it you can look away. Breastfeeding in public shouldn’t even be a topic that we should be concerned with. It is normal, it is natural, and it’s the biological function of our boobs. I just want to normalize breastfeeding in public.

Work cited

  1. Bjarnadottir, Adda. “11 benefits of breastfeeding for both mom and baby,” Healthline, 1 June 2017. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-benefits-of-breastfeeding#section6
  2. Hebert, L. Camile . “The Casual Relationship of Sex, Pregnancy, Lactation, and Breastfeeding and the meaning of ‘Because Of… Sex’ under Title Vii”. Georgetown Journal of Gender & the Law, vol. 12, no. 2, Summer 2011, pp. 119-158. Search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=62993249&site=ehost-live&scope=site.
  3. Holman Study Bible. NKJV Edition, Edited by Jeremy Howard, Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2013.
  4. Lambert, Maddie. “A Protest” YouTube, 29, May. 2019, https://youtu.be/ZKKzkO3wTMg
  5. Morgan, Amanda. “Breastfeeding Laws,” Ok.gov. 2013, https://www.ok.gov/health/Family_Health/Breastfeeding/Oklahoma_Breastfeeding_Laws/index.html. Accessed 25, Sep. 2019.
  6. “Postpartum Depression: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia”. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007215.htm.
  7. Rasha, Ali. “Things you didn’t know about breastfeeding: It takes work,” USA TODAY, 1 Aug 2019. https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/parenting/2019/08/01/breastfeeding-takes-work-and-other-things-you-didnt-know/1891597001/
  8. Roche, Andrea T., et al. “Opinions Toward Breastfeeding in Public and Appropriate Duration”. ICAN: Infant, Child, & Adolescent Nutrition, vol. 7, no. 1, Feb. 2015, pp. 44–53, doi:10.1177/1941406414566675.https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1941406414566675#articleCitationDownloadContainer

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