Can you imagine how much trouble moms would be in (not to mention the difficulty they'd have), if the only breastfeeding resource we had was our television? We would be totally screwed, people, because if you take a look through the meagre pickings of forward-thinking shows that have bothered to even show a woman breastfeeding onscreen, you'll see almost as many times that TV got breastfeeding totally wrong.
Sometimes this is for a laugh; the producers of Friends, for example, apparently loved the idea of grown-ass men not being able to handle seeing a woman's breast without sexualizing it. Other times it's to drive the point of someone not being of sound mind, as in the case of Lysa Arryn, in Game of Thrones. Either way, sadly, the majority of the time breastfeeding is portrayed as "not OK," leaving many a breastfeeding mother to silently (or not so silently) wish the media would do a better job portraying a completely normal, natural and healthy act.
As a mother who breastfed both children (and worked through multiple problems in order to be successful), it drives me a little crazy to see negative breastfeeding stereotypes reinforced on mainstream television programs. Why do you think there's so much push back among the general populace, when women try to normalize breastfeeding or breastfeed in public without a cover? Could we maybe aim to get some positive representation happening in the media, so our breastfeeding lives could be a tad easier? Anyone? Bueller?
Well, until that day, all we have are ridiculous portrayals of breastfeeding to hang our figurative hats on. Yes, Pam from The Office did a great job of showing just how difficult breastfeeding could be, but here are five times when TV got breastfeeding totally wrong and completely failed mothers.
Holding A Newborn To Breastfeed
I know it looks way better to hold your baby the way Rachel is in this Friends episode, but I would just like to poll all the moms out there who were able to take a moment to tuck their hair behind their ear, while trying to get a baby to latch for the first time. Why is Emma not latching? Because you're holding her the wrong way. Let's not even get started with the bazillion other positions that could have been tried before Rachel inevitably gave up.
This here is what people now associate with the phrase "extended breastfeeding," but guess what? Extended breastfeeding starts after the first year, and virtually nobody would be comfortable breastfeeding their seven-year-old (although there are YouTube videos that would have you believe otherwise).
Public Breastfeeding Reactions
While Luke's reaction to the lady breastfeeding is not inaccurate (sadly), what I think completely misses the mark is Lorelai's reaction to his complaints. She obviously supports a woman's choice to breastfeed in public, but isn't offended at all by Luke's attitude. In fact, she's smiling like it's a big joke. Ugh.
Answering The Door...While Breastfeeding
I'd like to do a quick poll: how many moms do you know of that have answered the door to a stranger while breastfeeding their newborn? What's that, none? Exactly. Never mind the fact that the baby isn't even being held in a way that they could properly breastfeed. The whole thing is kind of ridiculous.
Furthermore, can we talk about the fact that Sofia is essentially shamed by her husband for breastfeeding openly and unapologetically? I mean, if you are going to open the door while you breastfeed and sign for a package, you're obviously doing so because your kid is hungry and you don't want to force them to stop eating. Why would that upset her partner? Why should she feel shame or judgement for someone else's inability to view her breasts as anything other than sexual? This entire scene is just infuriating.
Aggressive Breastfeeding Advocates
Sigh. I don't even know where to start with this one. I've been a part of numerous mom groups over the past five years of being a mom, and never once did I see a mom who was judged for choosing not to breastfeed. (I do know that this happens, however, and am not above admitting that mothers are shamed for every decision they make these days.) The idea of women forcing another woman's baby to breastfeed from their own breasts is beyond ridiculous. I know this is comedy, but come on, The Simpsons.