“I support breastfeeding. But…” – A list of common rhetoric.

Supportive PartnerYesterday I saw a meme about a conversation a mother had with her 4 year old over breastfeeding her younger daughter. The comments on the post were…..well, very discouraging.  “I support breastfeeding. But…..” followed by a host of excuses. If there is ever a ‘but’ after “I support”, then you don’t support it. Period.  If your support was true, it wouldn’t need any modifiers. There always seems to be a core list of ‘buts’ that people use to mask their conditional support. I’ll try, as feeble an attempt it may be, to dispel these common modifiers through my own experiences.

“Use a cover!” – Ummm, no. My children do not like covers. They are hot little creatures that sweat and a cover compounds that. Have you ever seen a mother attempting to cover a child that doesn’t want to be covered while nursing? Yeah, little flailing limbs that draw about 1,000% more attention than the act of nursing without a cover ever would. Covers are not an option for us.

“We’re trying to eat here.” – And so is my child. We eat at the table, my child eats at the table. It’s simple really. Should I deprive my child of food because you yourself are eating? That seems illogical. You’re also making my wife uncomfortable, so please swivel your head the other way and focus on your own table and family.

“I don’t want my kids seeing that!” – What, how nature works? What breasts are really meant for? A special bond between a mother and child? If anything, kids SHOULD see this. If anything, a child will think NOTHING more of a nursing mother other than she is feeding her child. Children do not see a problem with that, adults that think their children shouldn’t see it do.

“That child should be on regular milk.”  – Regular milk? You mean pumped breast milk from another species of mammal designed specifically for their own offspring? Because that sounds like what nature intended to be natural and regular. The only milk I’ll ever classify as regular is the milk that my wife produces for my child with her own body.

“If they’re old enough to ask for it, they’re too old for it.” – By this logic a child should never be breastfed because they ask for it no sooner than they are born. A lot of children sign it by 6 months and most can ask for it verbally at 1 year. AAP and WHO recommends it until at least 2 years old. This is a completely flawed argument. Humans have evolved this special ability called speech, and a child being able to ask for it, whether through crying, signing or verbiage, makes it much simpler on the child and mom.

“I don’t just pull my stuff out in public. That’s all these mothers want to do.” – You figured them out. There is this whole sorority of nursing moms that get their jollies on flashing their breasts in public. Nursing is legal exhibitionism don’t you know. The last thing any mother (and their partner for that matter) wants is a stranger staring at her breasts while she feeds her child. And honestly, as much breastfeeding and nursing as I’ve seen (not just from my wife but from the plethora of parenting related events, conventions, rallies, etc. that I have attended) I rarely see that much actual boob. And as a side note, your ‘stuff’ cannot nourish and sustain an infant’s life; so until it can, it stays in your pants.

“Can’t you pump and use bottles?” – Doesn’t work that way. It can, but most of the time it doesn’t. Most babies have difficulty transitioning from bottle to breast and latch is greatly affected. Some moms, no matter the grade of pump, just won’t produce milk with one. Only the baby stimulating the breast will work. And then there’s the working moms. Moms that spend the day away from their child (my wife falls into this category). When they are home; they are nursing. Plain and simple. That is their bonding time. They pump all day and can’t wait for their little one to latch on and have that reconnecting moment.

There is a good chance that mother had a hard time getting to the point she is currently at in her nursing relationship. It may be her first time being comfortable enough to publicly nurse. She may have overcome a great struggle to even breastfeed in the first place. Also, the nourishment and hunger of my child will always trump your argument. Every. Time. So the next time you are slightly uncomfortable around a nursing mother, you might to think twice before reaching into your bag of worn out rhetoric.

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9 thoughts on ““I support breastfeeding. But…” – A list of common rhetoric.

  1. YES! I especially love the last part… that’s pretty much my response whenever someone says “but peeing/pooping/masturbation are “natural,” so why can’t I do that in public? Um… because none of those actions involve nourishing a child, that’s why.

    There truly are no buts about it! You either support breastfeeding unconditionally, or you don’t. It’s pretty simple. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I recently posted something alike this on my FB based on arguments I’ve heard. It went as follows:

    1. My breastfeeding is not going to end your marriage. I’ve seen pieces where women divulge their fear of losing their husband/lover to a woman breastfeeding, simply because their breasts are out of their shirt, as if to lure men in like some sort of siren. The fact is, your relationship is probably pretty rocky to begin with if that’s a big fear of yours, and if a little cleavage peeking out over my baby’s head is the straw that breaks the camel’s back, I’m pretty sure your relationship has much deeper issues, and I ask you not to project those issues onto me just because of a little side-boob action.
    Secondly, while I’m on the matter, what’s to stop your apparently mindless, sexual, heathen from dry-humping a Victoria’s Secret poster in the mall if that’s such a big issue? Which brings me to my next point…
    2. Let’s not get the wrong idea about what breasts are made for! Because we live in a society where it’s totally okay to use your breasts to advertise cheeseburgers, bras, and beer, but we lose our freaking minds when a woman is using her breast to feed her crying, hungry baby. You know, the reason we have these fun-bags in the first place.
    3. No, pumping and packing bottles really isn’t as convenient as you’d like to think. Let me get this straight, because you’re offended by my boobs, I have to pump, find a way to keep my milk bags in a cool place in my already packed diaper bag, and somehow thaw/heat it? What do you want me to do, hold it between my thighs for 10 minutes while my hungry baby screams in my ear? No thanks.
    4. You’re a freaking adult for Pete’s sake, get over it. You’ve seen boobies, I’ve seen boobies, we’ve all seen boobies. If you’re offended seeing my booby, I have to say that the only issue here is with you, sexualizing the act of my child eating…
    5. My child is still human, and as such neither him nor I lose the rights to eating at the dinner table or eating in the park or eating in a restaurant just because you couldn’t possibly just look the other way or even leave the situation. You would rather he went hungry because you’re offended by the manner of which he eats. That’s like asking someone to leave the restaurant because you don’t like the way he sips his soup.
    6. Breastfeeding was naturalized at one point. When did we steer away from this? I couldn’t honestly say. My assumption is, well, very religious prudes, but maybe that isn’t the case. Maybe our society just wants to point fingers at everything and shield themselves from everything that’s wrong with each other instead of just asking ourselves, “Hey, why can’t I just remove myself? Even look the other way?”, “Why do I really find myself offended by that?”. Because in all actuality, you’re not offended by my breastfeeding, you’re offended because you can’t completely control everything around you and have everything just so. You’re offended that you have to take the initiative to change the situation to your liking instead of everything else just molding to your ideals. It’s not physically hurting you It’s not mentally scarring you. Why not let it be?
    7. My only issue with breastfeeding in public is pigs having a double-take and eyeing my cleavage while I’m trying to feed my kid. But really, isn’t that just more of a reason to keep doing it? No, I DON’T mean for the attention, I mean the more people see it the more desensitized they’ll become. I mean, tattoos were pretty damn taboo at some point, but any more, who doesn’t have a tattoo? It’s less and less of a shocker to see people with tattoos making your food and handling your bank accounts. So really, the more we breastfeed in public, the less of an impact it will have because it’ll just become a part of our society again.
    8. No, my breastfeeding is not like you whipping your penis out in public and urinating. First of all, that’s not urine coming out of my nipples, that’s milk and it’s actually supposed to be fed to my baby. Second, breasts aren’t actually sexual organs, vaginas are. Penises are. The only thing that makes my breasts sexual to you is perspective. The next time you compare my milk-producing breasts to your penis, I’m going to exclaim, loud enough for all to hear, “YOU FEED SEMEN/URINE TO DEFENSELESS BABIES? YOU MONSTER!”
    9. “Breastfeeding is an intimate thing between you and your baby, and it should be kept private”. An intimate thing between me and my baby, yes, I can agree with that. Kept private? Sure, build us a nursing station in your establishment and I’ll do that. No? Well then I guess if you’re all out of ideas I’ll just feed my kid here. Let me tell you, I will use a cover when I’m in someone else’ home because it’s their home, their rules. In public, I really hate it. I don’t like eating in the dark, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t like eating in the dark, and let me tell you, it’s so frustrating trying to peek my head under the cover to make sure that little squirt doesn’t delatch and start fussing and make sure both of us are comfortable. Sorry no, I make enough accommodations for my tiny poop-machine, what makes you think you’re so special I need to make this whole process convenient for you, a person I may never, ever see again?
    I’ve heard so many arguments against public breastfeeding, some so ridiculous I actually thought those blogs HAD to be satire. In the end, breastfeeding as a whole is a pretty invasive thing in itself, but then we have to add to it by making it taboo in our society. Is it just another jab at women, trying to degrade us and make an excuse to take away yet more of our rights? Is it that we live in a society that’s so quick to judge and be offended by everything anyone does?
    How about, instead of trying to put everyone down, we support each other? Support your breastfeeding mothers, let them know they aren’t alone, that they’re not the only ones taking on society. They’ll the first of many mothers to pave the way for future mothers, for mothers to have rights. To not only be recognized by society, but for the law to acknowledge that mothers have a right to do what comes naturally, especially since medical professionals all across the world support breastfeeding for years, but don’t have the legal backing to say mothers have a right to do it in the public eye, least in the USA. We need to make a change and it all starts with us.

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  3. I think feeding your child is a priority and anyone who wants to give you crap for it is obviously petty and ridiculous! You shouldn’t have to follow any one else’s rules for caring for your kid! -Which leads me to something I’ve genuinely been wondering about and I’d appreciate an opinion on the matter.

    I respectfully disagree with your evaluation that using ‘but’ as a qualifier means you don’t actually support the thing. That’s bad logic; it’s called a false dilemma- making people believe that they either are ALL for something or ALL against something. I feel like it’s totally appropriate to say something like the following: I support breast feeding but it might not be for everyone (whether because of health reasons, work reasons, personal choice, etc.).

    I could similarly say “I believe in true love but infidelity would end my relationship” even if I felt myself to be in a perfect relationship that could survive many hardships. That ‘but’ does not mean I don’t believe in true love. Just like the ‘but’ above doesn’t mean I don’t believe in breast feeding. It simply means that I’m going to do whatever I want without forcing other mothers to feel like that’s the ONLY choice they have and should make.

    I’m not saying this to be annoying- it’s a genuine inquiry. I’ve read many breastfeeding posts that say something similar to what you’ve said and it always seems to cross the line for me, logically speaking. I don’t know how you can maintain that you want everyone to support breast feeding but only in the way that you support it. If you mean ‘buts’ that eliminate some freedom from the act of breast feeding are bad, then I get your point completely; like being asked to wear a cover, etc. BUT if you’re saying that any person should have no ‘but’ to add to one of their beliefs, I’m not sure you can defend that idea.

    I think everything is conditional- and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I know women who wanted to breast feed and it couldn’t happen. My own mother developed an infection that meant I couldn’t be breastfed. So I’d say that I support breastfeeding but not if it’s too difficult or unhealthy for the mother to do so. It’s another qualifier, but by no means diminishes my belief that breast feeding is good.

    I’d really appreciate a comment on the matter. Perhaps I’m being too rigid in how I’m interpreting this line of thought. On the other hand, however, you and other people are making a bold claim that itself needs qualifying so that it doesn’t sound like supporting breast feeding means one universal thing and if you don’t follow that universal, you’re kicked out of the club and don’t count as a supporter. Thanks for your time!

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    • I used the ‘but’ qualifier in this article as specific to this situation and not as a general overall use. This article is meant to dispel common anti-supportive breastfeeding sayings by those that claim to support it. If you claim to support the act then none of the above retorts would even enter your mind. You can still fully support breastfeeding while adding it’s not for everyone; that’s different from saying “use a cover” or “pump and use a bottle in public”, etc. Also, I support formula / bottle mothers all the same; for whatever the reason they chose not to or are not able to breastfeed. Not being able to or not wanting to breastfeed is far removed from being unsupportive of those that chose to. I appreciated your feedback!

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  4. I really do hate the anti-breastfeeding crowd. But to be completely honest, I don’t see it much and when I do it’s from women. Most men are either in support of it–if for no reason other than they get to see boobs–or smart enough to keep their trap shut.

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