Saturday, May 14, 2011

Guest Blog: Boobies for Babies Part Two

Breastfeeding is a very important topic to me, and I would love for the public opinions to change into a more positive way. I have two older sisters and a younger sister, and my mother breastfed all of us. Just like studies have shown, we turned out to be very healthy. None of us have had any major diseases or infections, and I thank my mother for that. I come from a family where breastfeeding was the only option, and my mother would not feed me any other way. It did not matter how sore I might make her, or how many people stared at her with disgust in public, she was going to breastfeed and make me a healthy baby.

Obviously, mothers breastfeeding their babies is a very important part in life; it can make a major impact on the baby’s future. President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on March 23rd and the Reconciliation Act of 2010 on March 30, 2010. Written into these laws is an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938; this amendment requires “an employer to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child's birth each time such employee has need to express milk.” Like stated before, bathrooms are disgusting and no place for a baby to eat. The amendment also requires the employer to provide a place, other than a bathroom stall, for the mother to express her milk. Although the employer does not have to pay the mother for these breaks, it is still a very important law. This law shows that breastfeeding is becoming a very important topic that has to require a law (Breastfeeding Laws).

Although I am happy President Obama signed these laws, I am upset by the fact that he has to. It is a terrible thought that there has to be law set in place for breastfeeding to be viewed as legal in public. A mother should be able to breastfeed her child whenever that child is hungry, whether it be at home or the shopping mall. There should be no debate over where she must go, because she should be able to sit down wherever she is and nurse her hungry baby. Although it is nice to see that forty-four states have laws allowing women to breastfeed in any public location that the law allows her to be, it should be in every single state (Breastfeeding Laws).

Although it is set in law in many states, women still get criticized in multiple places about breastfeeding their baby in public. I know too many young mothers that are too afraid to even try to breastfeed their babies because the way public makes them feel. I have seen too many people give dirty looks and make snide comments about a mother just quietly nursing her baby in public. The laws are important, but it is more important that the public’s view changes along with them. There should be a more positive outlook on women doing the right thing for their babies, instead of forcing them to give it up because of negativity.

Unfortunately, I have seen situations where a break to express milk was not provided. When my oldest sister had my first niece three years ago, she was working at the Indiana Youth Village in Vincennes, Indiana. Unfortunately, she worked twelve hour shifts, and they would not allow her to bring her breast pump in. Breast pumps are what women use to pump out milk; the milk can then be put into bags and frozen to use at a later time. If a new mother has to go very long without nursing, her breasts will be very full and sore. Since her employer did not allow her to have breaks to pump her milk, she had to switch to feeding my niece formula. Without these laws, women are discouraged from doing the right, healthy choice for their babies.

Telling a mother she cannot breastfeed her baby in public is viewed as a form of discrimination based on sex. As women fight to have equal rights, they fight for the right to breastfeed. It amazes me how many stories I hear that women were asked not to breastfeed in public. There was an incident at an Olive Garden in the town of Michigan City, Indiana where a mother was asked not to nurse her eleven-month-old baby in the public eye. After she had ordered, her baby was hungry. She did what was natural, pulled her shirt down enough for her baby to nurse and let her eat. Unfortunately, the manager approached her stating that she had numerous complaints about her being exposed and asked her to take her baby to the bathroom to feed her. You would think the manager would then have conversations with all the “women who show too much cleavage, men with sweating problems, and people with poor table manners.” Although I do not want to see that while I am trying to sit down and eat, it seems perfectly acceptable not to send them to the bathroom according to these managers (Eco Child’s Play).

Too many women are asked not to breastfeed in public because other people are complaining; when do people not complain? I am in an interracial relationship. I get looks sometimes that make me realize people still are not accepting a black man to be with a white woman. Of course, some people are offended that we are together. Does this mean that if they are not happy and uncomfortable, I have to leave the store or restaurant? Why can racists not ask an interracial couple to leave the building, but some ignorant customers can get a breastfeeding mother kicked out?

As you can tell, many new mothers experience a wide range of different problems with breastfeeding their newborn babies. Luckily, there are support groups that help new mothers overcome these problems and help them answer any questions they might have. One of the main groups is the La Leche League. If you are ever discussing support groups, this one is one you will not forget. Their mission is “to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother.” In other words, they have information on anything related to breastfeeding and they are a great source to new mothers and anyone interested in breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is a very important part of a baby’s life and can really make a difference in how their future turns out. Unfortunately, our society has changed the idea of breastfeeding into this thought that disgusts people. This natural, healthy way of feeding a child should not make someone turn their head in disgust. I understand that some people may not be comfortable around a mother breastfeeding in public because they have never been exposed to it, but this needs to change.

Our society has changed the way the woman’s body is viewed, and it is absolutely disgusting. Our breasts were made to nurture our children, not to show them off to the public for men to stare at. Breastfeeding is the best choice for a newborn baby, and mothers should not be afraid to do this in public in fear of negative attitudes toward them. They should feel comfortable to feed their children anywhere they are, and they should not be forced to go make their baby eat in a disgusting bathroom. It is time our society gets back to the way things used to be. Mothers breastfeeding their children are brave, strong women; society and public views should not take that away from them.

Check out Part One

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