“While You Were Judging” – The Public Breastfeeding Debate

by Tiffany Barbuzano

We’ve all seen the posts doing the rounds on social media about breastfeeding in public. Alyssa Milano being the latest celeb to #normalizebreastfeeding after an altercation with Wendy Williams on her talk show. So here is mine. Is it the best opinion? Nope. Is it the only opinion? Hell, no! Is it what’s best for me and my little guy? Yes!

While you were judging… I breastfed my little boy. Under the steely gaze of your judginess, I fed my baby. I’m passionate about breast feeding… I adore breastfeeding my littlest. It’s the most special of times for me, during my crazy, busy days, every couple of hours, I HAVE to stop, take a deep breath and spend time… precious, precious time, just the two of us. That in itself should be reason enough for any one to breastfeed.

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Here’s the kicker… he’s 13 months old – cue the gasping, the shocked, open mouthed stare, the slight crinkling of the nose, as you try and hide the judgy disgust.

13 months… SIS…

We’ve gone from 0 -3 months: “I really hope you’re breastfeeding” to 6 months: “You’ve done so well, you can so stop now”. Then at 9-11 months: “Stop! Stop it! He will be too attached” (hey?) 12 months is: “Oh, you’re going to breast feed him in grade 1, at first break, aren’t you, you’re one of THOSE, aren’t you?” One of what exactly? A mom who tried desperately to feed little guy No 1? And failed? Who swore blind that should she be lucky enough to have a second, she’d move heaven and earth to feed him? Yup, I’m totes “one of those”.

Cue the questions.

“Isn’t he too old”? Um, are you too old for food?

“Doesn’t he bite you?” – Um, do you take a bite of your O.J or your cappuccino? Or do you drink it? AND if he did – the possibility exists – I’d deal with it, thanks.

“When are you going to stop”? Um… When we decide to, but seeing as though we’re throwing opinions around, when are you going to mind your own business?

“It’s more for you than for him, isn’t it”? Um…Of course, I, very selfishly, am giving him the best nutritional advantage I can, MILK, specifically tailor made to suit his needs, packed with antibodies, in attempt to satisfy some strange need you seem to think I have – I’m the worst mom, EVER.

And then we ramp it up a bit – I feed him in (gasp, shock, horror…) IN PUBLIC! Like, every time he is hungry, or upset, or unhappy or happy or bored or tired- I FEED HIM! With my actual boob, in front of actual people. So, Mr and Mrs McJudgy, here’s the next bit of my story, because I know the pseudo accepting “I’m all for breastfeeding, as long as you cover up” is coming – he hates being covered, as in – he will cut me if I even attempt to cover his downy little head when I feed him. So in an attempt to preserve my nipples, I have stopped doing it. After all, I don’t eat with something over my head (although when I smash cheese cake in face I sometimes feel like I should). Oh, what’s that? I can feed him in the toilet? Sure, come with us, I’ll whip out my boob in the stinky, dirty toilet, while you eat your sarmie, sitting on the floor in front of us, ok?

We “mom’s like that”, have a name for it, this concept of feeding our babies while shopping, or at Home Affairs, or on the beach or on a flight to Cape Town – you know, when we are basically just living – It’s called N.I.P (nursing in public). And when we do it for the first time, we post about it and have fellow M.L.T (moms like that) congratulate us and send cyber high fives! Do you see the absurdity in this yet? That women, the world over, feel scared or ashamed to feed their children in public when they are hungry, all because of judgy people, who have sexualised our boobs and have forgotten the real reason for having boobs in the first place – FOR FEEDING BABIES.

So, while you were staring at me (if you ask me, THAT’S creepy, why are you staring?) and judging here’s what I did…

I fed my hungry baby. I responded to his cries and he knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is safe, secure and above all, not hungry anymore. While you were judging, I gave my baby a pretty magical elixir, shielding him from grubby germs, hanging around, and waiting to make him ill.

AND I let a little girl, sitting at another table, know that breast feeding your baby is natural and normal, that one day, should she decide to have children of her own, she will remember seeing me feeding my boy and think it’s natural and normal. I let the pregnant lady behind you see, that if your baby is hungry, you feed it. (And I get a good dose of serotonin to the brain every time I feed him, so I’m totes chilled, as she will be).

I reminded the old couple walking past of their first years with their own babies. I let my eldest boy know that Mom will do anything and everything to keep her boys happy, fed, safe and secure. And I let my husband know that all the sleepless nights and teary days are worth it because I want the very best for our boys.

I help up a silent three fingered salute (you’ve seen the Hunger games, haven’t you?) to other breastfeeding Mom’s in solidarity. Solidarity of bleeding nipples, leaky boobs, low supply, watching drunk friends party and not eating curry and above all in solidarity against the Mc Judgy’s of the world.

And I did all of this while you glared at me over the rim of your coffee cup.
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Tiffany Jones Barbuzano is a Mom, wife, actress, writer, imagination addict and believer in dreams. She can hang washing, do homework, hold a baby, cook dinner and breastfeed all while singing Shaun the Sheep. Well, there was that one time at least.  She pours a mean glass of vino. She’s a passionate advocate of making informed choices and is a tart for talent and ability. She is in awe of her two boys and cannot wait to see how they will change the world. Follow her on Twitter here or Instagram there, where she may or may not accept your follow request.