About ten minutes later, with a fussy hungry baby, just as fussy and hungry me found the said room in some hidden away corridor. There was no one in there. It was furnished with generic seats and a few side tables, plus curtains in case mommy wants to hide even more, which I found silly. We were already inside a room; there's no further need to hide! After a while, as the silence began to bother me, I started thinking, "If some bad person entered this place, I could get robbed, or raped and killed and no one would know."
With that thought, I figured I should not be hiding away when I was just feeding my child. So I packed up baby and off we went back to dinner. I've never used breastfeeding rooms to nurse since then. I only go in there to change my kids' diapers. But if I needed to feed my kids, I fed them whenever and wherever I can find a place to sit.
|While with friends.|
|At a café.|
I do think that a special room is needed by nursing moms to express milk. So I will join the push for pumping stations at the workplace. Working moms who are stuck at the office for 8-14 hours need a clean and quiet place to express and store their milk. I, for one, just expressed milk at my desk (no pumping room at the place I used to work, so moms either put a curtain around their cubicle or went to the clinic). I put a nursing cover on, attached the pump to my boob, and continued working! People would pass by my desk, talk to me even, and they never realized what was going on under my "shawl."
As for breastfeeding rooms at malls and other public places, I dunno. I don't think they're necessary. I think they're part of the reason why breastfeeding is considered taboo and shameful. For me, breastfeeding rooms are kinda like the veil or hijab or burqa. These are pieces of clothing designed to keep a woman modest and to protect her from the eyes of evil men. So when a woman breastfeeds in public, she's considered immodest, displaying her wares to the poor men who can't control their sexual impulses. Women who breastfeed in public are considered shameless, even sluts (here's an example). Hence, breastfeeding rooms.
Look, I'm not saying we should ban breastfeeding rooms. A lot of women need a quiet place to feed their babies, where a fussy baby won't kick the table and knock down plates. Or some mommies are very shy. So sure, breastfeeding rooms are cool. In fact, I wrote to Power Plant Mall many times a couple of years ago requesting for a nursing room. I did this because I was changing my kid's diaper in the bathroom when an old woman started banging on the door because she needed to use the loo. In Power Plant, the changing station is the same stall as for disabled people. So I asked Power Plant to create a space where moms can change their kids' diapers in peace and breastfeed in comfort.
|Part of the email I sent to Power Plant Mall.|
But I also think that more of us breastfeeding moms should nurse out in the open. When we hide away, we tacitly agree that breastfeeding is immodest and something to be ashamed of. Breastfeeding is a natural human act! I know some people say, "Well, having sex and pooping and peeing is a natural act but I don't do it in public!" That's a stupid analogy because breastfeeding is all about EATING. If we think it's okay to eat in public, then it should be okay to breastfeed in public!
Seriously, it shouldn't be a big deal. I breastfeed in public and no one has ever made me feel bad about it. Well, I sometimes get stares, but I nurse very discreetly and then people lose interest and go back to whatever they were doing. It's not like I expose myself. I use a shawl, a scarf, a cover when I'm latching and unlatching baby so as to prevent nip slips (because we all know how offended people are by nipples!). It would be lovely, however, if women just pop out their boob! Photos like these by photographer Jade Beall are part of the effort in making breastfeeding (and a mother's body) beautiful and normal:
Okay, I get it. Natalia didn't have to post a photo of herself naked and nursing. I understand. I don't do that myself. It's the same way I don't do naked preggy shoots and then post my naked baby bump all over social media. But that's because I think nudity and pregnancy and breastfeeding is so normal. I don't feel the need to celebrate it or call attention to it. At the same time, when I see photos like the ones above, I think it's wonderful that women celebrate their new mommy bodies and the power of their bodies to feed and nurture. Apparently, not everyone thinks the way I do. And if that's the case, then perhaps it's time to stop hiding and keeping quiet.
Take the shame out of breastfeeding. Feed your baby whenever and wherever and however! We really, really do need to breastfeed in public. We have to make it so natural, so commonplace, so normal, so completely a non-issue!
Note: Mama Bean Parenting's "Do We Really Need to See It?" inspired this blog post.
More on public breastfeeding around the world in this interesting article (click here). Thanks, Ate Thania!
*Jade Beall photos from Huffington Post's "What 9 Months of Pregnancy Actually Does to a Woman's Body."
* * * * * * *
Like me on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on Instagram
Love me on Bloglovin'