EIC column: breastfeeding, natural part of infancy
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When it comes to breastfeeding, for an infant that is just meal time. Breasts are a natural part of the human body and the process of growth and development. Not always does the human body need to be portrayed as a sexual object. It is 2016 and the world has become accepting of most things, but yet still remains squeamish when it comes to a woman breastfeeding in public, no matter how discreetly she does so. The problem is not that woman are being too provocative, the problem is that society’s view of the human body remains primal.
Breastfeeding is the number one way in which a child receives the needed nutrition for development and growth. It is the one and only food which provides all the necessary nutrients in the proper portions to help prevent against diseases, such as diabetes and cancer, and infections. Along with that it helps the baby gain weight and have a higher IQ score later in life.
Despite numerous and in depth studies that prove that breastfeeding is the healthiest option for both mother and newborn, over half of the general public is uncomfortable with public breastfeeding. According to Babytalk magazine, 57 percent of the public is uncomfortable. They say things like, “take the baby home,” “do it in the bathroom,” or “just give them formula.” However, when a baby has to eat, they have to eat.
After a mom gives birth, her life is not over, the world does not stop. She must still grocery shop, go to the doctors for routine checkups for both her and the child. And breastfeeding is one of the most convenient ways to feed the child. As a new mother, one must worry about so many things and one of the biggest ones being germs. When a mother breastfeeds, she does not need to worry about the milk being the wrong temperature or not clean enough for the child to consume. This helps ensure that the baby will be healthier for longer.However, if a mother is asked to go to the bathroom to feed, she then again has to worry about germs. It is not sanitary for a woman to feed in the bathroom, just as a grown adult would not dream of eating.
Not only does breastfeeding help the child, it helps the mother. If she goes too long without feeding the child or the milk is not expressed, breasts can become tender and sore. Often this lack of lactation causes inflammation of the breasts and the mother can suffer from mastitis. It is tiring and very inconvenient for a mother to return home every time the child needs to eat. Most mothers cover up, and it just appears to be a child sleeping under a blanket. There is nothing sexual about that.
Many take the argument that public breastfeeding is indecent exposure. This is because society has created this view of a woman’s breast as a symbol of sexuality and not one of motherhood. Breasts have become one of the most popular ways to sell a product. Advertisers have used breasts to market products including, but not limited to: lingerie, perfumes, cars, clothes and shoes. Those that argue against public breastfeeding often point this out to show how breasts are sexual. However, they are just a part of the human body which has been overly sexualized. Opponents say it is indecent exposure because it could arouse a man who views breasts differently.
The longer women retreat to their homes, or hide in the bathroom to feed a screaming hungry baby, the longer it will take for society to accept that breasts are not sexual. Breasts are key factor in all aspects of a child development. They are the source of food for a child for at least six months. It also helps them form a healthy attachment with the mother for good emotional development. Breastfeeding is important and should not be kept in quiet corners where a woman feel ashamed, just because society views her body as a sexual object.