Get a Grip: My Breasts are Not for Your Enjoyment

I was outraged last month when I read the story of Karlesha Thurman, a 25 year old mother, who
decided to breastfeed her daughter during her college graduation ceremony.  The Internet went crazy with all kinds of negative comments about her choice to nurse her baby during the ceremony (in public). Sidebar:  If you have ever been at your college graduation, sat through one or viewed one on TV you will know that they are freaking too long and boring and you wish that you had snacks during them.  That being said, what is the problem?  Isn’t she doing what our country and many other countries encourage mothers to do? Breastfeed.  Is there anything inappropriate about this picture?

Breastfeeding is one of the most difficult decisions that I had to make when I was pregnant with my son.  I wanted too, but was unsure of whether or not I could do it.  I had heard all the horror stories about the extreme pain, sore breasts and nipples and the bleeding that could occur. So, I asked my husband did he want me to breastfeed.  His response was simply, “I would like you to try.” His response had a profound impact on me because he recognized the importance of breastfeeding our baby. He had done his research and he understood the benefits of breast milk and thought that the breast was best.  

A high risk pregnancy with complications made my delivery easy, but the outcome was that I was too weak and too sick to nurse my son.  I was told that I could pump when I got situated back in the high risk ward.  They said that they didn’t want me to nurse him because they were afraid that I would have a seizure while nursing and recommended pumping instead.  So, my baby received his first bottle by a nurse who said he needed to eat.  I was devastated.  I wanted to feed him naturally, not from a bottle.  So, I sat in my hospital room trying to force my milk to come in and pump enough just to give my son some “liquid gold” aka colostrum.  I wanted him to enjoy the taste of his mother’s milk not formula.

But, he was a fickle baby. He would go hours without eating because he refused to nurse. He would suck a bottle, but not a breast, but I was determined.  It was at his three week check-up that his pediatrician said that we needed to supplement formula into his feeding schedule. He had lost too much weight.  They were concerned.  I literally broke down in the pediatrician’s office crying.  His doctor was wonderful.  She said, “Mom, don’t let society tell you that breast feeding is all or nothing.  We want you to breast feed, but if you can’t you’re still fine.” I felt like a failure.  The only thing I had to do was give him my breast milk and nothing more and I couldn’t do that.  (I was really overreacting during this emotional postpartum filled time).  So, I decided to pump since Brennan didn’t want to latch on. I pumped all the time, but I could never produce enough to satisfy him.  

I never got the chance to really nurse my son like I wanted, but I highly support breastfeeding.  It is natural, normal and healthy for you to nurse your baby.  So, my question is if your baby has to eat, should you be limited in feeding him or her?  Should you wait until it is convenient, sit in your car or nurse on a stall in a dirty women’s room?  No, you should be allowed to feed your baby whenever and wherever you choose.  Your baby has to eat and you shouldn’t be forced to leave a place in order to make folks feel more comfortable with your decision to breastfeed. Heck, the federal government along with many states support women’s decision to breastfeed in public.  Why can’t we?

Breastfeeding is normal.  Women should not be made to feel uncomfortable by feeding their baby in public.  That is the attitude that my nephew Cam’s mother has taken.  She is absolutely all about the breast and my nephew is growing and giggling and loving every minute of his mommy’s milk.  I support it.  I encourage it and I’m happy she understands and appreciates normalized feeding even in public places.