Monday, May 10, 2010

The True Purpose of Breasts, by Bethany Morton

You may recall the story of Old Country Buffet harassing and calling the police on a breastfeeding mother (here).  That mother, Bethany Morton, has written the following essay on the true purpose of breasts, and has been kind enough to share with us!  Enjoy, and you can also check out the "Boycott Old Country Buffet" facebook page (here)

The True Purpose of Breasts, by Bethany Morton

At nearly any beach, park, or mall, women and teen girls can be seen flaunting their bodies in revealing clothing. Billboards, commercials, and advertisements are covered with half-naked women in order to sell a product or promote an album or movie. This creates an undeniable double standard and needs to be changed. Nursing mothers should not be confined to rooms, cars or worst of all bathrooms stalls, nor should babies be forced to eat with blankets over their heads. Those who feel uncomfortable with breasts being used for their intended purposes should simply not look. It is my belief that women should be allowed and encouraged to breast feed their children whenever and wherever necessary without feeling like if they are committing a lewd or criminal act.

One problem with the negative reaction towards breast feeding in public is that numerous studies prove that breastfeeding is the most beneficial form of feeding for both mother and baby. Breast milk contains many bio-factors such as AA, DHA, zinc, and iron that promote healthy brain and bone development, aid in digestion, and boost the baby’s immune system. Breastfeeding helps to prevent postpartum depression in the mother, helps her body to heal better after birth, and promotes a closer bond between mother and child. However, if women are made to feel like they are doing something wrong by breast feeding their children, they will be less likely to give children the best start possible. Many people argue that they are not opposed to breastfeeding, but just think the mother should do it privately, using comments such as: “Why not feed before you leave home?” “Just put a blanket on,” “Can't you go do that in bathroom?” “Why not pump before you go out in public?” and “I don't want my children seeing your breasts.” All of these are ignorant excuses made by people who think the nursing mother should put the worries of the general public before the needs of her child. Each of the above arguments can be easily and soundly refuted.

First, feeding or pumping before going into public is not as easy as it may seem. Babies need to eat when they are hungry. Even if a mother feeds before leaving home, the baby will get hungry later and must be fed. Breast milk is more nutritious than formula, so it is absorbed faster by the baby, resulting in the baby’s need to eat more frequently. Those with a “just pump” philosophy have most likely never operated a breast pump. The pumps are merciless and painful and are about 400 times less efficient than a baby. A pump may produce about 2-4 ounces of milk in a 30 minute period while a baby could get 8 to 12 ounces in the same amount of time. Another issues with the pumping theory is that babies who are breastfed will usually not accept a bottle from their mother, if they even drink from it all. Since not going out in public is not an option, if a mother is out in public and her child needs to eat, she has no choice but to breastfeed wherever she is.  

Those who make comments about using blankets or a bathroom must consider how they’d feel breathing in stale air while feeling hot and uncomfortable. And since adults in their right frame of mind would never willingly take their lunch into a bathroom stall, they should not insist that a baby be confined to a dirty stall with urine and fecal matter and disgusting smells In addition, using a blanket is not easy either. Most babies do not like using a blanket, and instead they push off the blanket, unlatch from the mother, or start crying.  I've personally discovered that a huge fight with a blanket is a lot more obvious and distracting than nursing discreetly. When nursing is done properly, very little, if any, of the mother’s breast can be seen, making the breastfeeding unobvious. 

This leads to what I believe to be the most ridiculously flawed argument of them all: "I do not want my children to see your breasts.” The solution for this is impossible, as mothers would need to confine their children to a room, home school them, take away any form of media (including TV, magazines, and internet), and never let them go the mall or the beach.  More cleavage is shown there than any mother shows while feeding her child. As a parent, I have learned that it is much easier and less harmful for a child to see breasts being used for their natural purpose than it is to have to explain why a woman’s breasts are falling out of her shirt.

In America, breasts have been so severely misused that seeing them used for something other than sex is offensive to the general population. Strip clubs, porn magazines and wet t-shirt contests are all not only legal but glorified In most states, breastfeeding in public is legal but discouraged. Restaurants like Hooters are popular but a woman feeding her child in a restaurant is a disgrace.

The underlying problem is not the breastfeeding itself, but rather the fact that the breast is presented in an unflattering, and unexciting manner. Seeing breasts used for their natural purpose ruins the sex appeal. As a nursing mother, I can assure that women who breastfeed are not trying to put on a show. We are not trying to flaunt our goods or flash our breast at someone. We are simply providing our children with the best food possible. A breast is breast and its purpose is to feed a child. If this were not the case, breasts would not produce milk. I refuse to stop nursing in public, and if you don't like it, by all means please feel free to put a blanket over your own head, or eat your meal in a restroom. Breasts are for babies, and until America realizes this, the nation will have an unnecessary disgust for nursing mothers


Tracey said...

Excellent article. I do not have children and never wanted them but I would speak up for your right to breastfeed yours, wherever you chose to do it. Expecting women to sit in a nasty stall in a bathroom to feed their infant is is society's double standard. Breasts are great unless they are used for their natural function? North America has such a juvenile sexist mentality.....

Mrs. Dreamer said...

Tracey, I'm in your shoes as well. No kids and don't want them, but I'll defend every breastfeeding mother out there. During Black Friday a couple of years ago, I came across a young mother, standing in line with a cart full of stuff, calmly feeding her baby. Not a single person called her out on it, and I was glad. It's a shame people don't see it the same way mothers and those of us with some common sense do - I refuse eat in the bathroom, why should a baby and her mother?

mystic_eye_cda said...

" The pumps are merciless and painful and are about 400 times less efficient than a baby. A pump may produce about 2-4 ounces of milk in a 30 minute period while a baby could get 8 to 12 ounces in the same amount of time."

1) Pumping shouldn't be painful.
2) A "normal" amount of pumping is less than 2oz, being able to pump 4 or more oz can indicate an oversupply
3) It's pretty unlikely a breastfed baby takes 8-12oz at a time, they only eat 19-30oz per day, with 25oz seeming to be a pretty consistent amount excluding times of illness and possibly growth spurts. Remember the milk itself changes as the baby changes (whether it be that they need more calories because they are bigger, or more water because its hot outside/they are sick, whatever). So babies really don't need to change how much they drink, unlike a formula fed baby.

Anonymous said...

Interesting how there is a formula company ad underneath but I digress.

Last sentence is exactly it. America being the Western World.

kayla said...

great job, keep fighting the fight. My only issue with this essay is the statement that pumping is painful. Pumping should not be painful, your horns are not the right size or the suction is too high. A pump used properly will not cause discomfort. I would hate for women to decide against providing milk for their babies in fear of the pump.

Shevolver said...

I want this topic to keep getting more and more coverage, and I want our country to calm the heck down about non-sexualized breasts, and get excited about how profoundly beneficial nursing is. Thank you for extending the conversation. Please do not let this topic die off, and please do not stop nursing in public. I try to nurse wherever I can, whenever I can, baby-dependent. Provoke the discussion, and provoke the reality!! Go Mamas!!!

Alison said...

A bit off topic but some moms get a lot from a pump, some a "normal" amount and some a minimal amount.

I am what is called a "high volume producer" or HVP, and it's not the best thing, as I am subject to mastitis and such very easily. BUT I make 100 oz a day when I am exclusively pumping (following the birth of my last surrogate baby, for instance, so no baby around to BF directly).

I just wanted to put that out there real quick. I love the article otherwise. :)

Jillian said...

Thats awesome you produce so much milk, you should check into donating to a human milk bank !

Pam said...

My guy has weaned himself already, but we did nurse whenever and wherever. The only time I would go in the bedroom with him to nurse was when it was time for his nap. Otherwise, to those uncomfortable with it, "Get over yourself and your hang ups. I will not hide to nurse my child." And, yes, mom, that includes you.

Along with nursing in public, we also need to support mothers who choose to nurse their children past 12 months old and to educate doctors who say it is wrong. Both my step-daughters were told this.

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