By Sofie Eriksson
My breasts and I used to have an amazing relationship; we were the best of friends. They were used for so many things: a remote control holder, cushions when sleeping on my stomach and hand warmers on a cold winter evening.
When they were on show, they could get me free entrance to a club and maybe even a gig. I rarely had to wait to be served when standing at the bar! If the puppies where on show, they got me free drinks and plenty of compliments. They gave me more than I ever gave them. For me, they were just these bouncy assets that enhanced my life.
Then something happened and suddenly my breasts gave me something they never had before. They gave me the ability to nurse a child.
I gave birth to a baby and my body changed.
My boobs were now full of love and milk and as I nursed my baby, I suddenly felt this incredible admiration for these mammary glands. I felt that through nursing I gave them something for once. I gave them back their actual purpose!
I no longer showed them off and found myself covering my breasts with great precision. Skin I would have showed in an earlier life was now banned behind the cover of a shawl. Suddenly I was worried that someone might see even the tiniest part of my breast as I nursed my baby. You see, my breasts were only allowed out when I was using them in some kind of trade, not when they sustained my child as nature intended.
I was worried I would be attacked and mistreated, as I so often had read that other breastfeeding mothers were. I was prepared for negativity, and I had my speech memorised, full of my rights. I was ready to state the reason why I would not be breastfeeding my precious baby on some toilet, stinking of piss.
Breasts are everywhere and they are praised and loved, adored and admired. Yet the second they’re used for their biological purpose they are dismissed as disgusting.
“Breastfeeding mothers are called perverted; we are called exhibitionists and sometimes we are even referred to as ‘sick’.”
During my early marathon nursing sessions, when baby slept soundly latched on to my breast, I’d entertain myself by reading the gossip sections of several of our popular newspapers. In them we are presented with boobs of all shapes and sizes described with admiration and appreciation. Boobs are everywhere and we love them.
When breasts are on show in the paparazzi, they can be described as “eye-popping and peachy” and the women who own them are wearing “cleavage-baring outfits to display their sensational fronts“.
This appreciation is a far cry from the words of anger and hate you can find in the comment section below a breastfeeding article, or even below a beautiful picture of a mother lovingly nursing her babe.
It’s not unusual to read that “breastfeeding is disgusting,” that mothers should keep it “private“. Heck, I’ve even seen comments comparing breastfeeding in public to public urination. Yes, passing bodily waste out of our genitalia is compared to a mother nurturing her baby from the milk produced in her breasts. Nutrition and waste are compared to each other, in a way only someone with a very skewed view of infant nutrition could.
When we fight back, we get called the “breastapo” or “Sanctimonious“. But please explain to me how we can normalise something that is natural, in a society that has stolen our breasts and sexualised them to a level which has left breastfeeding rendered as “unnatural” by some, if we don’t make a stand.
I recently read about a great mummy who was volunteering her time to help at an activity group for young girls. She had to bring her little one along and as such, when baby needed feeding, she discreetly did as nature intended and latched him on – no tears, no fuss.