I am a mother, and for a mother, nothing is more painful than seeing her child cry due to hunger, but unfortunately in India when a mother feeds her child, it offends some people. Breastfeeding is nothing but a simple process, wherein a child is consuming its mother’s milk. Every mammal feeds its little ones through breast milk because it is the necessity for the young one.
Recently, a Malayalam magazine, Grihalakshmi, published a photograph of a model, breastfeeding a newborn and looking directly into the camera.
In no time did the people get offended:
For a mother, the whole world collapses, when she is unable to feed her child. It does not matter to her, where she is because for any mother feeding her child is always the topmost priority. To breastfeed a child, you need to be at peace mentally and also in a comfortable surrounding. Being a mother, I can understand how uncomfortable it can get to feed your child in public spaces.
In India, we barely have any room in common areas, where women can peacefully sit and breastfeed their children. A few malls have a couple of sofas, but I doubt their comfort level as most of them are located in the washrooms. Some malls do have a baby care room but what about rest of the places? Where would a woman go if suddenly she has to feed her child? These days a lot of women are living in a nuclear family, wherein there is nobody to help and therefore she herself has to step out. Sometimes it may happen that her baby is hungry and she needs to feed her baby but alas… the poor mother is flooded with thoughts about what people will think than just feeding her baby.
Just because you feel awkward because breasts, in general, are connected with sexuality, you force the poor mother, who is lactating, and her child for whom breast-milk is a source of nourishment to move to uncomfortable places such as a washroom, or any secluded place. There are different superstitions surrounding breastfeeding in public but why do people forget that by following them you are depriving a helpless child of food.
When as an adult you cannot stay without food when you are hungry, how do you expect a small helpless child to stay hungry just because they are in a public place?
Women from impoverished backgrounds have always fed their children in the open but how many times have you seen a woman breastfeeding in a restaurant? Usually, a lot of mothers are uncomfortable with unnecessary attention in the public gaze, they prefer to carry milk in small bottles for their children (either pre-pumped or formula milk).
Would you eat artificially-made vegetables and food just because someone is disgusted by watching you eat?
I think its high time that we break this old taboo of breastfeeding in public and give space to both the mother and her baby. After all feeding time is the best time to bond with the baby.