Free Press Journal

Stop mom-shaming those wanting to breastfeed 



Even as the World Breastfeeding Week is being observed year after year, shaming of women who feed their infants in public continues brazenly. It is strange that men can urinate in public but women cannot feed in public! Even as we are in 2016, feeding in public is frowned upon, targeted and shamed. Women are compelled to leave home post delivery, whatever be the reason. And the baby does feel hungry. And no, rushing back home to sit behind closed walls is not an option, reports IANS.

The theme that is to be observed this year globally to mark the breastfeeding week (August 1-7) is about how breastfeeding is a key element in getting us to think about how to value our wellbeing from the start of life. And, more importantly, on how to respect each other and care for the world we share. Nursing in public is stigmatised the world over, as much in India, which is overly conservative.

With breastfeeding considered “gross”, the concept of nursing rooms for moms in public places also continues to be a dream. Being able to get out of home following birth is incredibly important for women as they are likely to suffer post-natal depression. And so please, it is not appropriate to confront, ridicule, scoff at, harass, or mistreat a woman who is breastfeeding.

Indian women, while feeding in public, do not bare their breast. It is certainly unacceptable in a country that brags of moral policing and cultural vigilantism. The breastfeeding mothers do “cover up” fearing lashes but several mothers feel that the child is put to a lot of discomfort. How would it be like to eat all covered up, under a blanket?

To put things into perspective, Brock Smith from Florida was filmed by his wife eating at a restaurant under a blanket — something many babies are forced to do when being publicly breastfed, in order not to upset onlookers.

Public places with nursing rooms in India are not in plenty. And a few that are blessed with such rooms, mostly remain unused. The stigma attached to feeding anywhere outside home has demoralised women to a great extent as they hesitate to satiate the hunger pangs of their infants once they step out, even as it is proven time and again that breast milk is the best.