Whether you personally choose and are able to breastfeed, or not, it's pretty common to see it everywhere: out in public, on social media, on television shows (occasionally), and even in the news. Sometimes it is portrayed in a positive light and other times, well, not so much. Sometimes it is portrayed correctly and then, of course, there are numerous times when the portrayal of breastfeeding misses the mark. Thankfully, there are times when TV got breastfeeding totally right, and the importance of highlighting breastfeeding positively and accurately cannot be understated. As the controversy surrounding breastfeeding in public continues to spark debate and heated conversation, I'd argue that now more than ever the media needs to highlight breastfeeding in an attempt to de-stigmatize and de-sexualize a normal and natural act. After all, an estimated 16.4% of women breastfeed exclusively for at least 6 months, so it's time that we see more media representation of a choice so many mothers are making. Who knows, maybe that number would grow if we could turn on our televisions and see positive representations of breastfeeding on the regular.
With my daughter, I chose and was able to breastfeed. Luckily for me, I had a supportive group of friends and family who helped me to understand breastfeeding and would stick up for me when I needed to feed my daughter, no matter where we were. While I did breastfeed in public, I often tried to find a place slightly more private. I felt the most comfortable when I was somewhere discreet, and I can't help but think my need for privacy stemmed from the constant sexualization of breastfeeding, which media has, no doubt, perpetuated. And of course, and unfortunately, there are women who don't have the support system with which I was blessed, and don't receive the encouragement necessary to successfully breastfeed for an extended period of time. If those women were able to turn on the television and see themselves in main characters, perhaps they wouldn't feel so alone and, in turn, feel like they could tackle breastfeeding, even if they don't have a support system to assist them.
So, while the media has a way to go, it can be helpful to look back and see the times when television actually got it right when it came to breastfeeding. Is every example completely perfect? No, but it's a start, so I'll take it.
The Time Ross And Company Tried Breastmilk Themselves
For some, the thought of tasting breast milk can be a little off-putting or even "gross." 'll be honest, I never tried my breast milk so I, personally, don't know what it tastes like. However, trying breast milk shouldn't be a big deal. Ross, from Friends couldn't seem to wrap his mind around the idea of tasting breast milk, but his ex-wife's partner didn't have a problem and neither did his friends. In fact, everyone around was so cavalier about the entire situation, that he eventually caved and tried it and, yep, it wasn't a big deal at all. Because it isn't. Almond milk, coconut milk, and dairy milk all taste different- but each is delicious. Why not breast milk?
The Time Pam From 'The Office' Needed A Little Help
Just because breastfeeding is a natural thing, doesn't mean it's not something that takes time to learn or master or even feel comfortable doing. Many people that I know, including myself, have had to utilize outside help to get the hang of breastfeeding and become successful at it. Breastfeeding can be hard. Breastfeeding takes a lot of persistence.
That was honestly (and hilariously) depicted by The Office, when Pam struggled to get her newborn to latch. As soon as the lactation consultant left the room, Pam was unable to replicate the steps and feed her baby. She grew frustrated and even started to doubt herself. However, she stuck with it (in the span of an episode, so please keep in mind it might take much longer than 1/2 an hour to get the hang of breastfeeding) and, eventually, she was able to get her newborn to latch.
The Time Big Bird From 'Sesame Street' Learned About Breastfeeding
Knowing facts about breastfeeding is an absolute must, especially if you are planning on doing so with your own child. Sometimes, though, the facts we learn from television shows or movies are not entirely truthful. Nor are they always positive when they discuss them. A scene from Sesame Street in the 1970's, however, discussed accurate simple facts about breastfeeding to help children understand what their mothers were doing with their younger siblings.
The Time Piper From 'Charmed' Breastfed In Public
Unfortunately, breastfeeding in public has become a controversial topic worthy of debate and discussion. Why? Because too many people deem it a "sexual" act rather than a form of feeding for a baby from a different type of bottle. In this episode of Charmed, Piper attempts to breastfeed in public at a restaurant and is asked to leave. The sad part? It happens all too often in our world today. Why should we have to leave when we are simply providing food for our child? I'll let you decide what you believe. For me? I am simply providing the same service for my child that a restaurant does for me. I will not be going anywhere.
The Time Miranda From 'Sex And The City' Breastfed In Front Of Carrie
You have undoubtedly gotten used to your breasts being one size before becoming pregnant. Now, all of a sudden, they are growing and growing and growing. It can be a little awkward to get used to the size of your breasts, and Miranda talks candidly about it with Carrie after breastfeeding in front of her and during a conversation. It's OK to feel out-of-place in your own skin, either while you're pregnant or when you're postpartum and breastfeeding. There's definitely a "learning curve," if you will, so take it easy on yourself.
The Time Hannah From 'The Office' Unapologetically Pumps At Work
Bumping is the freakin' worst. There, I said it. The freakin worst. It's annoying and boring and breast pumps can be so very complicated. It's also so very helpful for working mothers who want to continue breastfeeding, and we honestly need to see more breast pumping depicted in the media. The Office gave it a try, and had a character named Hannah breast pump in the office, unapologetically. In fact, when Ryan continued to stare or ask her if she could do that somewhere else, she asked him what he was looking at and didn't care if he was "distracted." You do you, Hannah. You do you.
The Time Joey And Chandler Asked About Breastfeeding
There will be friends and family who know nothing about breastfeeding and will, as a result, have tons and tons of questions. Sadly, some of those questions may end up being inappropriate and you're under no obligation to tolerate them. After all, you're feeding your baby, not hosting a seminar so you can educate the ignorant masses. However, if they're being supportive and they're genuine about wanting to learn more, and you feel like facilitating that learning, it can be cool to have an open and honest conversation about breastfeeding. It sure helped Joey and Chandler learn a little more.
The Time Phil And Lil From 'Rugrats' Shared A Joyful Moment With Their Mom While Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding can serve multiple purposes, which honestly only makes the entire experience (for many) all the more pleasant. It can provide baby and mom with a personal time to bond and grow closer together, it can protect your baby with priceless antibodies and it can even lower a woman's risk of breast cancer. In Rugrats, the twins (Phil and Lil), give their mom one of the bests gifts a mom can ever receive from her children: the gift of their laughter at a moment spent together. This moment for them was a first and shared during their time breastfeeding. See, breastfeeding can not only provide nourishment and food for your baby's stomach, but also for their soul. It can provide happiness and fun and memories any mother would hold in her heart forever.
The Time Miranda From 'Grey's Anatomy' Leaked Through Her Shirt
While this particular scene does not show any breastfeeding, there is most definitely a truth buried within it. In an episode of Grey's Anatomy, Miranda is on maternity leave and at the hospital, visiting her husband. She is roped into helping Addison Montgomery Shepard. As Addison starts crying (for reasons you just have to watch the episode to know), Miranda asks her stop so she doesn't start leaking breast milk. Her pleas go unnoticed and, yep, Miranda leaks through her shirt.
I often leaked through my bras and shirts and pajamas and whatever else I was wearing at the time. One of my friends even had an instance where she got stuck in traffic on her way back from work and leaked through her bra, her shirt and the seat belt in the car! Sure, it can be a little embarrassing and definitely a little uncomfortable, but don't be ashamed of it. It happens to everyone, even the top doctors at Seattle Grace Hospital.
The Time Lorelai From 'Gilmore Girls' Refused To Shame A Woman For Breastfeeding In Public
Just because we are women with the same "equipment," does not mean that we should be the ones speaking to others for you because you are uncomfortable. If you are uncomfortable, leave. If you are uncomfortable, choose to look away an ignore it. As women, we should all stick up for one another. Each individual woman has made her own choices and no one should tell anyone else how to run her life.