Anyone who finds breastfeeding even remotely sexual has probably never done it.
Intimate, bonding, comforting — yes. But sexual? Breastfeeding moms know the truth: the moment your nipple becomes a source of food for a hungry mouth, breasts are no longer even really breasts. They're just flesh bottles that happen to be attached to your body.
Anyway, a mom from Austin, Texas, recently shared a photo on Instagram to try to put the matter to rest.
This feels scary to share but also liberating and necessary. #liberating because it's real and feeling like you have to hide parts of yourself out of shame isn't fun. Sure, some people might want to compare nursing a child to sex and say some things are best to stay behind closed doors but they aren't the same thing (thank god!). Which brings me to why it's #necessary . Raise your hand 🤚🏻🤚🏼🤚🏽🤚🏾🤚🏿 if you grew up seeing babies being fed in the way that is biologically normal and expected? I didn't. Ever. Not at all. I have vague memories of my mother nursing my youngest sister as a newborn once or twice but that's it. I only ever saw babies being fed with bottles. This is a problem. Public health concern. How are women expected to grow up and give their babes this optimal nutrition if all they ever saw growing up was babies being bottle fed? So this photo is necessary because it normalizes what is...well, normal. Not only that, but it normalizes the world breastfeeding weaning age which is 3-6 years old. That is when children naturally wean from the breast. Of course, as they get older they are not nursing as much as when they are young. Something such as a breastfeeding relationship isn't something that can (or should) be severed over night. It's a slow, steady process that both mother and child should be involved in, like any other relationship. This isn't meant to shame those who formula feed. It's meant to raise awareness on the importance of breastfeeding. Promoting health isn't shaming something else. It's promoting health. The WHO predicts over 800,000 lives could be saved from breastfeeding. So that's why it's necessary. #breasfeeding #bręastisbęst #continuumconcept #toddlerbreastfeeding #heis3 #attachmentparenting #skintoskin #naturalhealth #crunchymama #biology #normalizebreastfeeding #normalizeit
"This feels scary to share but also liberating and necessary," Chantel Quick, a doula, gynecological teaching associate, and blogger at Earth Based Mom wrote in the post.
"Sure, some people might want to compare nursing a child to sex and say some things are best to stay behind closed doors but they aren't the same thing (thank god!)."
The picture, which shows a nude Quick breastfeeding her equally nude child, was shared by PopSugar Thursday, where it has since been shared more than 1,700 times. In Quick's original Instagram post, she writes that she shared the photo to raise awareness of the importance of breastfeeding.
"How are women expected to grow up and give their babes this optimal nutrition if all they ever saw growing up was babies being bottle fed? So this photo is necessary because it normalizes what is... well, normal," Quick wrote.
The World Health Organization and the Canadian Paediatric Society both recommend that women breastfeed their children exclusively until they're six months old, plus continued breastfeeding (on top of other food) until age two and beyond.
But many moms still report feeling shamed for breastfeeding. A recent study of moms who felt judged for their parenting choices found that breastfeeding versus bottle feeding was one of the most frequent topics of criticism. Another mom recently made headlines for saying that shaming a breastfeeding mom is a form of sexual harassment.
"Motherhood is so fucking fierce. What could be more perverse than asking a woman to feel shame for nurturing an innocent life in the way she was biologically designed to do?" Diana Channing wrote on Instagram last month.
Shame Goes Both Ways
"This isn't meant to shame those who formula feed," Quick wrote on Instagram.
"It's meant to raise awareness on the importance of breastfeeding. Promoting health isn't shaming something else. It's promoting health."
But, because it seems women can't win no matter how they feed their babies, mothers who don't breastfeed are often stigmatized. A U.S. non-profit recently launched a "fed is best" campaign to support mothers whether they feed their babies with breast milk, formula, or a combination of both.
Quick, who is also a women's health coach, has shared several of her own breastfeeding photos on the Instagram and Facebook accounts associated with her blog.
The responses to her nude Instagram photo were positive, with other moms thanking her for her bravery.
"This is also something I was thinking about the other day when my 8yr old nephew was chatting to me while I was breastfeeding," one commenter wrote.
"For a moment I thought maybe he shouldn't see and then I realised no, it's not sexual and it's not inappropriate and it's important for him to know that."
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