Does My Choice To Breastfeed Bother You?

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The Hope to Breastfeed

“I hope I can breastfeed with this pregnancy but I’m not sure. I think people are pretty tolerant about it nowadays, right?”

My friend recently asked me this question and for advice considering that she is pregnant with Baby Number Two. She was like almost all of my friends who could not breastfeed with her first baby for various reasons, none to do with a lack of interest or motivation to breastfeed. Not wanting to discourage her, I generally tried to be as positive about my breastfeeding experience as possible. However, I think at the time I was breastfeeding, it probably came across more like constant whining and complaining. She would see me whipping open my top at weird times, while a screaming child tried to pull my clothes off. I hope I was able to allow her to see the benefits of breastfeeding, yet be honest with her too.

People Are Less Tolerant About It Than You Think

I thought back to the many times where people stared at me while I tried to feed my child, would leave the room, or ask, “Do you really need to do that right now?” Some of the time I heard it from my own family, who I would’ve thought would be kinder about it. After a few months of breastfeeding, I’d get questions like, “When are you going to stop that?” I remember crying after I was out at a beer tasting and had a little sample cup in my hand, listening to a stranger saying, “You shouldn’t be drinking that if you are breastfeeding.”

I often consider where the misconceptions and the general mean-spiritedness connected with breastfeeding comes from. We all were created by parents at some point and I feel that we should have a certain level of familiarity with the human body because of that. We understand what the human body can do and the purpose of our body parts. They go beyond a simple function to become something that creates and nurtures life.

It’s Not About You

If I’m feeding my baby, I am not trying to bother you. It’s not about you—my baby has to eat right now and will be very loud and upset if I wait to leave the room for your convenience or if I put a cover over her on a hot day. I created this child and make sacrifices for this child such as not sleeping anymore! I work hard and feel that I deserve to make decisions about whether I want to sample a beer or not. I understand if breastfeeding wasn’t for you, but I do ask that you respect how I choose to take care of my child.

If people understood all the benefits of breastfeeding, I think they would tear down the barriers to it and raise up mothers. It would provide them the opportunity to breastfeed without having to worry about fitting it into their work schedule or worrying about what other people will think.

Many women do not know how to get started with breastfeeding and so they give up since it is really not intuitive most of the time. If women had universal breastfeeding support, mothers could nurture their child and devote their attention to bonding and providing optimal nutrition to their baby, which will provide increased positive outcomes for our future citizens. I think if we can all learn to accept each other, no matter what decision a mother makes, we would all feel supported in this parenting journey.

For more tips on breastfeeding, click here.

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Kristen Scharf
Kristen Scharf is originally from Dayton and attended the University of Dayton for her Bachelor's and Master's degrees (Go Flyers!). She came to Columbus after she got married in 2015. As a native Daytonian, her inspiration for writing for the Columbus Moms Blog comes from Erma Bombeck. She is a licensed school counselor and Certified Orton-Gillingham Practitioner (CALP) who is currently at home with her toddler and doing literacy tutoring in the evenings. She is proud to be an Army wife. She enjoys taking her family out around Columbus so her daughter can play with eating utensils in the wild and eat all the varieties of mac n cheese in Columbus. Her current Mom Fantasy is for her daughter to consistently call her "Mama" instead of "Elmo" or "Dada".

4 COMMENTS

  1. What a great article lm 56 years old and a male things have changed about the way some look at breast feeding over the years. I think it was more acceptable in the past then now for many reasons the time has change.
    Personaly i have no problem with it and was rased as it to be a very normal part of life . Moms do not care what others think it is your baby .

  2. Thank you Kristen! Talking about this issue is the best way to dispel confusion and judgement surrounding breastfeeding. I’m so glad you committed to making the healthiest decision for your daughter–you gave her the best start possible!

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