I have never breastfed in public. Not because I don’t think breastfeeding should be done in public, because that’s not the case. I’m just not personally comfortable doing it, but I firmly believe that the mother has the absolute right to feed her child anywhere she is legally allowed to be. In fact, within the past decade or so, almost all states have passed laws protecting that right, forbidding anyone from harassing, embarrassing, or trying to remove a nursing mother from a location she and her infant are otherwise allowed to be, regardless of whether that location is private or public.

Thankfully. Because a baby needs to eat. And feeding a baby is in no way considered indecent exposure, as most states recognize that and have adopted laws explaining breastfeeding is not in any way indecent.  Women who choose to bottle-feed are not asked to feed their baby in a germ-infested bathroom or asked to hide. I mean, women walk around with their boobs hanging out of their shirts all the time, and that’s ok.  It’s so hypocritical to portray women as mere sexual objects in movies, advertisements, and television shows, but it’s taboo for women to use breasts as they were intended: to feed our babies.

Quite the double standard.

Well Portland, Maine, is launching a campaign to raise breastfeeding awareness by placing life-sized cutouts of modestly breastfeeding mothers around the city. They also recently passed a law requiring employers to provide nursing mothers with either paid or unpaid time to pump, and requires employers to make a reasonable effort to provide a room for pumping other than a bathroom.

I think this is simply wonderful!

Before I had Nathan, I wasn’t sure if I was going to breastfeed or not. I live in an area where almost no one breastfeeds, and I have never seen anyone opening nursing in public around here. I didn’t know anything about breastfeeding, so when my OB/GYN asked if I was planning on it, I was slightly taken aback and unsure which choice I should make.

So I went home, and Paul and I did hours and hours of research.

For MONTHS.

I wanted to get absolutely as much information as possible, so I became a sponge and absorbed all the information I could find regarding breastfeeding.

And I came to the conclusion that for me and my family, breastfeeding was the best possible choice I could make.  I know that every family is different, as is every baby. Just because a choice worked for me and my family does not mean it will work for someone else’s, so I am in no way being critical of those who chose not to breastfeed. But for me, it was the only choice.

Even when my milk started to dry up when Nathan was only 5 months old and we had to put Nathan on a formula suppliment, I continued to breastfeed. I pumped numerous times a day, took milk-producing herbs, kept myself hydrated and ate lots of oatmeal. Breastfeeding helps Nathan develop antibodies to fight sickness, prevents ear infections, is gentle on his tummy and easily digestable (as opposed to formula, which caused him to have bloody bowel movements and painful gas), decreases his risk of SIDS, helps prevent obesity either as a child or as an adult, and the essential amino acids found in breastmilk promote brain development and eyesight.

I’m so happy that public awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding is spreading. Slowly but surely, Americans are finally starting to see that man-made formula is not an equal substitute for breastmilk. Formula is great when you’re out of options and the health of your child is at stake,  but it shouldn’t be a first choice. The stakes are too high when something puts your child’s health at risk, and speaking from experience, that is exactly what formula does.

You can visit http://www.llli.org for more information concerning breastfeeding.

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