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Why is Breastfeeding in Public [Still] so Controversial?

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Breastfeeding, the most natural way of feeding a newborn, is still controversial in society. In our modern society, that is often much more open-minded, who is this?

Despite its numerous health benefits for both mother and child, it continues to draw negative reactions from certain quarters. A trending Reddit thread has a lot of individuals posting their theories as to why breastfeeding is still so controversial. Let’s review.

Some Men’s Attitudes Towards Breastfeeding

I was surprised to see that one of the significant reasons why breastfeeding is still controversial is the attitude of men toward it. Men, including bosses, husbands, and even brothers, often get weird or uncomfortable about it, especially in public places.

Theories included that some men may feel embarrassed seeing a woman breastfeeding, while others may be jealous or feel neglected by their partner’s attention toward the child.

  • One mom on the thread got a lot of support after being shamed by her own brother at a restaurant for feeding her crying 2-month-old baby- telling her how “disgusting” it was to nurse in front of a bunch of people eating.
  • Another woman reports being surprised when her good friend was scolded by her own husband for breastfeeding at a kid’s birthday party.

Most people agreed that these men (and any women with similar attitudes) have no business telling a breastfeeding mom what to do- particularly in the US, where breastfeeding in public is legal. Ultimately, this type of shaming discourages them from breastfeeding their children.

Continued Objectification of Breasts

The continued objectification of breasts is another reason why breastfeeding is still controversial. Breasts are often seen as objects for pleasure rather than a natural part of a woman’s body for feeding babies. This view has been perpetuated by the media, advertising, and more sinister industries.

As a result, women who breastfeed in public may face negative reactions from some individuals who view the act as indecent or inappropriate. This often results in comments like “cover-up” or “go do that somewhere else.”

Lack of Support from Healthcare Providers

Another reason why breastfeeding is still controversial is the lack of support from healthcare providers. While many medical professionals acknowledge the health benefits of breastfeeding, they may not always provide the necessary support and information to mothers who choose to breastfeed.

In some cases, healthcare providers may be quick to promote the use of formula over breastfeeding when a mom is struggling and just needs some extra support. Of course, fed is best- but the mom’s wishes should be supported.

This happened to me with my first baby when she struggled to latch. They mentioned formula many times even when I was adamant that we’d figure it out; And we did, no thanks to them.

This lack of support can make breastfeeding difficult for mothers, leading to negative attitudes toward breastfeeding.

Lack of Paid Maternity Leave

The lack of paid maternity leave is another factor contributing to the breastfeeding controversy. Many women are forced to return to work soon after giving birth, making it difficult to establish a successful breastfeeding routine and requiring an extensive pumping routine.

Without paid maternity leave, women may not have the time or resources to breastfeed their children properly, which can lead to feelings of guilt or failure. The lack of support for breastfeeding mothers in the workplace can also contribute to negative attitudes toward breastfeeding.

Redditors reported lots of drama at their workplace due to bosses that refused to accommodate their pumping schedule or co-workers messing with their pumped milk in the fridge. While women are legally allowed to pump in a private room (not a bathroom), unfortunately, it is still common in some offices and industries.

Cultural and Religious Beliefs

Cultural and religious beliefs can also contribute to the controversy surrounding breastfeeding. In some cultures, breastfeeding is seen as an intimate activity that should only be performed in private, while in others, it may be viewed as a duty or obligation.

Religious beliefs may also influence a mother’s decision to breastfeed, as some religions promote the importance of breastfeeding for both mother and child. However, certain religious customs may also make it difficult for mothers to breastfeed in public or receive breastfeeding support.

Read more about the original Reddit thread here.

Breastfeeding Women Need Support: Not Ridicule

In conclusion, despite its numerous health benefits for both mother and child, breastfeeding is still a controversial topic in society. The negative attitudes towards breastfeeding can be attributed to several factors, including men’s attitudes towards breastfeeding, the continued sexualization of breasts, lack of support from healthcare providers, the lack of paid maternity leave, and cultural and religious beliefs.

To normalize breastfeeding and eliminate the controversy surrounding it, there needs to be more education and awareness about the importance of breastfeeding. Healthcare providers must provide adequate support and information to mothers who choose to breastfeed, while employers should provide paid maternity leave and support for breastfeeding mothers in the workplace. Furthermore, cultural and religious beliefs need to be respected, but not at the expense of a mother’s right to breastfeed her child.

What barriers have you seen for breastfeeding moms?

This post was originally published on Mom Blog Life.

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