When an infant is born they have basic needs that must be met to ensure they develop correctly; one of these needs is nutrient rich foods. Regardless of economic status, there is an obligation a mother has to her baby and nature has provided them with the most inexpensive solution through breastfeeding since the mother would be the one the food money would be spent on so she could produce the milk. At birth, babies have a very weak immune system and it can take quite a while for it to fully develop. The best way to ensure they are being protected from pathogens around them is through the consumption of breast milk because when a baby is first born and for most of its development they are inseparable from their mother and subsequently encounter the same germs throughout the day. The mother’s body will have been fighting off these germs since their body first detected them while the baby does not have the capability to do so until they receive the necessary bacteria to prevent sickness from their mother’s milk. Baby formula can also do this but not to the extent of breast milk because it is a synthetic substitution for all babies instead of for specifically one belonging to a specific mother. This is the most convenient form of feeding a mother and child can experience. There is no preparation so the feeding session will be done quicker and the baby will be consoled faster. There is also no worry of bottle temperature because breast milk is kept at body temperature. There is no risk of burns if the formula is too hot and no risk of undissolved formula if the bottle is too cold.
While this is a good option based on decreased pricing and time, it is also one of the important ways mother and child can bond. When a baby is born one of the first things the doctor will do is place them in their mother’s arms so they can participate in kangaroo care, or skin to skin care. This helps to soothe the baby and keep them close to their mother’s heartbeat which is a familiar and safe sound to them. When breastfeeding, the baby and mother have a close connection to one another which babies often want. Breastfeeding also has a benefit of reducing acid reflux that bottle feeding often causes; this too helps with keeping the baby soothed instead of irritated. Air often gets trapped in the bottles and they offer less resistance when drank from so there is more risk of overfeeding and choking which is unhealthy for them. While bottle feeding is a great option for those who choose to do so, it should not be treated as the only appropriate solution in a public setting.
The main reason breastfeeding in public it seen as wrong or inappropriate is because of media and society’s fetishizing of women and their breasts. Breasts are a natural part of a female mammal’s anatomy and are present for the sole purpose of feeding their young. Too often immature men and women will forget this and see breastfeeding as an excuse for a mother to be bare-chested and believe this to be a provoking sexual display. People have come to shame mothers for doing their job of providing food for their child and in many shopping malls there are specific rooms designated for breastfeeding. This may seem like a good idea in theory until a mother sees these rooms. Most of them are essentially converted closets with a chair or inside of bathrooms. This is a clear representation of discrimination to a group of people seen as “other” which is seen in society as wrong but it perpetuated in this way. Because of this public breastfeeding should not be regulated.
Controlling a mother’s ability to feed their child how they choose in public can set a precedent for society to control how others eat as well if enough people back it. Many mothers feel the need to place blankets over their baby as they feed them as a way of privacy but this can be uncomfortable as it may be hot under or get in the way. It is not common to see adults in public eat under a cover or in isolation but a baby is supposed to do so. Eating should not be seen as an inappropriate action when it is one of the most important aspects for preserving life.
Breastfeeding isn’t only beneficially to infants but also necessary for the mothers. When a woman gives birth they begin to produce milk to satisfy their child’s appetite, this can cause her breasts to engorge and can be very painful if the milk is not drained. If the milk builds up for long periods of time the nipples may become infected and medical care maybe be needed. There is a possibility of the woman’s milk supply being affected by not having regular feeding which can cause the mother to be unable to feed their baby as much as they need. If more people understood this maybe this topic would not be debated as much. When someone is in pain they tend to do whatever it takes to stop it, so this should be seen as no different. A ,other should not have to endure that discomfort because they do not want to offend anyone that may see her feed her child. She should be allowed to feed them without worry especially because it is a necessity. Men are allowed to take their shirts off in public because of high temperatures around them without the threat or implication of indecent exposure. Removing clothes for comfort is not a necessity and should be more discussed than it is because that is what indecent exposure is; not wearing clothes where one is expected to do so. Breastfeeding is one of the most primitive forms of eating and was not seen as a problem in early human history since its purpose was widely understood.
Those who are against women breastfeeding in public may argue that it is indecent to expose a woman’s breasts in public settings. They claim that it sets an inappropriate example for young children to see a woman openly display her body, this may cause confusions on their sexuality or questions and curiosity about seeing them more. Parents want to protect their young children from seeing too much at a young age. They point out that public indecency is illegal, therefore breastfeeding in public should also be illegal. However, when women have no choice but to breastfeed in public, they do so discreetly because they do not wish to draw attention to themselves. Most breastfeeding women do their best to maintain their modesty when in public so no one sees anything that would be deemed as inappropriate. Some mothers agree with the masses and opt to bottle feed anyway and use a breast pump so their baby still receives the nutrients without having to directly breastfeed.
With indecent exposure as an excuse to ridicule women it can lead to young girls and women to feel shame about their bodies. It can cause feelings of objectification and the idea that men will constantly be staring at their bodies and see it as nothing more than something to be desired. This is a feeling that many women already have to deal with especially with the saying of “boys will be boys” whenever a woman is showing “too much” and they engage in inappropriate behavior as a result. Banning public breastfeeding only fuels that ideology. Women should not have to feel uncomfortable for having to feed their child and wonder if they will catch someone staring at them or worse. The clothing choices women make, their physical appearances, and actions are scrutinized constantly and if inexcusable things happen to them they are blamed for provoking who ever did it; breastfeeding should not be treated as a provokable action.
To help rid society of its ignorance, we should allow women to breastfeed their babies wherever they want or need to. Allowing women to breastfeed in public would save time that bottle preparation or breastfeeding room hunts would waste as well as keep mother and child happy and healthy. Additionally, breastfeeding is perfectly natural and has been in practice since the first mammals were created. This is a beautiful component of a developing life and should be seen as such instead of being seen as wrong. In a world that is becoming more and more sensitive, making modest breastfeeding in public illegal could become a slippery slope of unnecessary and ridiculous laws regarding our basic needs.