The debate and furor that continues to take place regarding breastfeeding babies in public astounds me. When a baby comes on the scene, breasts become the least sexy thing pretty much ever. They are milk makers; functional sources of food and of comfort. They are, at times, painful and uncomfortable, and for most women, the only reason they’re getting sucked on or bitten is because of a baby. Ask any breastfeeding mom whether she wants her breasts touched by anyone other than her baby, and you’ll likely get a middle finger wagged in your general direction. (Clearly, this is not true for everyone, and slow clap for any women who are down with recreational use of their boobs while breastfeeding.)
So why do people insist on continuing to look at this part of a woman’s body as sexual, even when there’s a baby attached to it? I mean, they would have to be viewing a woman's breast as inescapably sexual if they're outraged about its visible presence in public. No one gets upset about wrists and elbows as they go about performing the functions they're designed to do? If a boob is indecent, then it's for a reason.
This Victorian modesty is laughable in an age where nudity (especially female nudity) is the norm in pop culture. You can see women exposing more of their breasts on the covers of magazines in the grocery store than when they’re breastfeeding their infants at the local mall. Why is one acceptable and the other not? Why is it that, if you don’t agree with how those magazines objectify women, you are able to simply turn your head the other way, while you can’t do that when a woman feeds her child?
Newsflash: We nursing moms don’t care, either way. These are the things we care about.
Whether The Baby Is Getting Enough Milk
Seriously, the welfare of my baby far outweighs your snide little comments, or the way you’re currently giving me side-eye. Now pardon me while I switch sides.
Making Sure The Baby Is Latched Properly
Because the pain of an improper latch is awful, and if that baby is new, this is a real thing you need to pay attention to.
Playing With The Baby's Fingers
Because otherwise that baby will be pinching my chest or pulling on my hair. (I keep looking at that sentence and seeing "chest hair." That's not what I meant, to be clear.)
Picking The Cradle Cap Off The Baby's Scalp
Am I the only one with this obsession? I am borderline obsessive-compulsive, and the cradle cap is so great to pick at when they can’t move away!
Grabbing A Few Bites Of Our Dinner While The Baby Is Busy
I'm sorry, were you talking?
Getting The Bra-Clip (Or Sweater, Or Button) Out Of The Baby's Mouth
Is my kid the only one who likes to chew on this thing?
Making Sure The Baby Isn't Distracted By, Well, Everything
I guess this is the other solid reason for covering up: to remove any and all visible distractions from the baby’s line of sight, especially between about 4 and 10 months old (at least, that was the worst distraction zone in my experience). But generally that also involves pulling the cover away from the baby’s hand and trying to spread it back out. And let's face it, I don't know a lot of babies who love having their faces covered while they're eating. Would you?
The Conversation They're Having With Their Partner
Quiet, busy baby = opportunity for adult conversation that is sorely missing from this mom’s life.
Keeping Track Of Their Older Child
Because this is the moment your 2-year-old decides she’d like to chase after the pigeons right next to the busy road. Of course.
Checking Email/Texts/Voicemail That They Missed
Sometimes, you just gotta multitask.
Taking A Moment To Relax
Honestly, sometimes it's the only moment a mom has to sit down.
Loving On Their Baby, Plain And Simple
That’s right: This is baby bonding time, no matter where we are. Eye contact, shared smiles and giggles and cooing. Why would anyone want to shut that down?