It’s a funny idea that breastfeeding needs normalising. After all, it is one of the most natural things we can do as women. Unfortunately, it is the case that in our strange, modern society we need to normalise breastfeeding as much as possible!
Normalising the act of feeding a baby isn’t just down to nursing mothers, it’s down to everyone, whether you’re in possession of a set of boobs or not! Making an effort to normalise breastfeeding will help mothers to feel comfortable, confident and like the superstars they are.
Breastfeeding is a legally protected right. You can do it anywhere you please, so long as you’re not putting yourself or anyone else in danger. What that means is that so long as you’re not scaling the side of a building or sitting on top of a telephone mast nobody has any right to tell you to stop or give you a funny look for feeding your child!
Here are five ways that you can normalise breastfeeding whether you’re a boobing mum or just an average Joe going about your daily life…
5 Ways To Normalise Breastfeeding
1. Talk to Someone While They’re Feeding
Whilst this isn’t appropriate in all situations (please use your common sense!) it’s something that has always made me feel accepted. When someone feels comfy chatting away as I feed I immediately feel more at ease.
I’m a chatty person and it might not be up everyone’s street but if I’m feeding in a coffee shop and someone asks about my baby or even asks if they can use the seat next to me, it goes a long way to making me comfortable and helps to normalise breastfeeding for everyone around.
2. Feed Wherever, However You Want To
If you are a breastfeeding mum the law is on your side and you can breastfeed anywhere you feel comfortable doing so.
You can also feed however you want, whether that be in a private or secluded space, with a cover on or not! I am someone who feels comfortable plopping a boob out just about anywhere and any time and lord help anyone who tells me I can’t.
The more we feed in public, the more normal it will become. Fact!
3. Talk About Breastfeeding To Your Children
Whether you are a man or a woman, have breastfed or never plan to, discussing breastfeeding with your children is one of the only sure-fire ways to help normalise it in the long term.
Since starting my breastfeeding journey I have had a few children ask me what I’m doing and I love that! Children don’t see anything dirty or voyeuristic about it, they’re just fascinated that your baby is getting milk that way. It’s a healthy discussion to have with them at any age and will help to teach them that a) breastfeeding is a normal physical activity and b) breasts aren’t just for sex.
These aren’t things that you need to tell them outright. By simply being open, honest and forthcoming with the next generation we will hopefully help remove the stigma around breastfeeding and even increase breastfeeding rates too.
4. Be Honest About How Hard It Is
One of the things that no one ever told me before I had my baby is that breastfeeding is bloody difficult! I’ve met and spoken to so many women who tried to breastfeed but were very quickly put off because it didn’t work straight away or their baby didn’t latch immediately.
Educating people about the science of breastfeeding and helping to get to the bottom of any pain or issues they’re having is essential, but these things should be discussed before a woman gives birth.
It shouldn’t only be a discussion that we have when shit hits the fan. If we talk about the amazing, empowering and satisfying sides of breastfeeding and explain that they often go hand in hand with some more tough moments, then we immediately normalise the whole process of breastfeeding.
There is a feeling among many that if we discuss the harder areas then women will be put off trying. I’d argue that by normalising the struggles so many mums go through, we will help everyone feel less alone and encourage them to seek help and support in their breastfeeding journey. If we don’t do this, we wind up with women who feel that they’ve failed at the first hurdle.
5. Don’t Be a Creep About It
My least favourite thing is when people see my boy feeding and turn around and tell me that he’ll definitely ‘be a boob man’ when he grows up. I mean, think about how gross it is to say that about a little baby!
Comments like that simply serve to make breastfeeding something sexual, dirty and creepy. It implies that breastfeeding a baby will make them boob obsessed later in life. I have even heard awful people comment that breastfeeding baby boys is ‘disgusting’ and will turn them into rapists.
That is obviously an extreme case of someone with a sick mind, but it’s an expression of something that a lot of people seem to feel, particularly when it comes to feeding toddlers and children.
Breastfeeding is a lot of things but it is not sexual. So whether it’s making comments about the babies, creepy fantasies or snide remarks, just don’t.
The sooner people stop sexualising breastfeeding and realise that breasts can be seen in more ways than one, the sooner we will succeed in normalising breastfeeding and we can get on with feeding our children in peace!
If you are a breastfeeding mum or planning your breastfeeding journey, check out all the places you can get breastfeeding support here!