There aren’t many topics in life that can turn this positive understanding girl into an angry raging, “about to lose my mind”, kind of person. Even through the election process when people would post incredibly insensitive, down right insulting, sometimes sexist, sometimes racist comments…I still didn’t bat an eye and took it all in stride. But just two days ago I came across a Facebook post that literally sent me down an angry spiral, that even now I’m still not able to get out of. The post reads as follows:
*** “Who in the hell is lactating and thinking it’s all good to put that in the work freezer, I really want to know?? Grossed out!” ***
WHAT!?! REALLY!?! The fact that this person called the act of pumping “lactating” shows how uneducated this individual is about breastfeeding. Sadly this message was posted by a woman…a middle aged mother. I was so shocked and angry by the message she posted that I deleted my response to her 4 times (Sheesh, I’m still surprised at the horrible, vulgar things that I typed to this woman…so out of character for me), before I decided I better just keep my thoughts to myself. The entire incident left me wondering when in the world did human milk become so gross to people? For god’s sake, put a picture of a breast or for that matter two fully naked breasts in front of men and even women, and “gross” is not likely going to be the word they use to describe the human breast. So if it’s not where the milk comes out of that people have a problem with…then what the heck is it??? Why is it that we’re okay with putting milk from a cow in a work refrigerator, but stick a baby bottle with human milk in there and suddenly everyone looses their appetite. I just don’t get it, and if someone could actually explain it to me, I would really appreciate it.
After the first shock wore off, my thoughts then turned to that wonderful mother, who came into work that day to provide for her family, and while doing so, took the time to lovingly express milk for her baby. I have been that woman and can tell you what a struggle it can be to find the opportunity to pump, and even worst I know how difficult and time-consuming the entire process can be. I give a lot of credit to mom’s who strictly pump their breast milk to feed their baby’s from bottles. I’ve had 5 children and I can tell you that as many times as I have pumped, the largest amount I have ever expressed from my breast is 3 ounces of milk from each side. Mind you that was after 20 to 25 minutes of pumping with a Medela Electric Pump! Pumping is hard, it takes time, and a lot of sacrifice which breastfeeding mom’s do gladly, for they know what they are doing is to the benefit of their babies. I don’t know the mom whom this person was talking about, but I know that I respect her for the wonderful choice that she is making for her baby. I know that I wish her continued success in her breastfeeding journey, I pray that god will provide her with the support that she needs to continue and that he please shield her from the uneducated commentary of people who are so obviously insensitive and clueless.
As I continue to be bothered by this “shocking” Facebook post, I’ve come to the realization that normalizing breastfeeding won’t possible until the government, health care providers, employers, and mother’s themselves, educate the public on the wonderful benefits of breastfeeding. Not only that, but we need to enforce that mistreatment of breastfeeding women, through judging, commenting or other forms of bullying…WILL NOT BE TOLERATED!!! Much like the way that society and employers have reinforced that behaviors such as racist remarks, sexual harassment, or remarks over someones sexual orientation are not acceptable, we NEED to do the same with regard to breastfeeding. The positive effects of doing so may not show right away, especially within the current adult generation, but overtime it will make breastfeeding more acceptable, and more a part of the norm for future generations.
My youngest baby just turned 2 years old, and I have breastfed her since the day that she was born. I am proud that not only did I grow this baby inside of me for 9 months, but that after that, my body (through my milk) continued to supply her with the nourishment to help her brain grow, help her develop a strong immune system, and help her grow into the beautiful, confident, precocious, smart, and adoring little girl that she is. She is two now and I have plans to have her weaned sometime in the next 6 months, or even the next year if she needs it. But even though I know that both of us are almost ready for this phase of our relationship to be over, I am still a little sad. Breastfeeding her (and my other children) has been such an honor and an accomplishment that I will always be proud of. I’ve been a mom for 17 years, and I have a lot of regrets with regard to mistakes I have made in parenting my children; breastfeeding doesn’t even come close to being one of them. Lucky for me I had the support of my family, and more importantly I have learned to focus and care more about the needs of my children, then the negative comments of those on the outside.
My message to breastfeeding mom’s is don’t get discouraged. What you are doing is one of the most wonderful, selfless, nurturing acts that a mother can offer to her children. An act so simple, so basic, so instinctive, that our babies know how to root for the breast from the minute they are laid our chests for the first time. It’s the way it was meant to be, and has been since the creation of man. I know that not all mother’s can or choose to do it and I understand. I myself was not able to nurse my 4th child much past his second month due to a health condition, so in no way do I cast judgement on those who choose or are not able to breastfeed. All I’m asking is that we show breastfeeding mother’s support and respect, as it relates to the decisions they make. Most of all we need to get rid of the taboo and disgust that come to people’s minds when they think about human milk.
I would love to hear your opinion about this topic. Have you ever experienced something like this yourself, whether it was said about you or someone else? How did you handle it?