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I Support Breastfeeding BUT…

“I support breastfeeding but…”

There are very few ways you can finish this sentence that will mean you do actually support breastfeeding.

For example:

download (1)“I support breastfeeding, but I didn’t breastfeed.” Is perfectly fine!

“I support breastfeeding, but my cat’s breathe smells like cat food.” Is a little unusual, but thanks for your input, Ralph.

Others statements people make can basically be summarised as:

“I support breastfeeding BUT I don’t support breastfeeding.”

You might think you support breastfeeding, BUT as soon as you put that BUT in your statement and put conditions on how other mums and bubs should breastfeed, you are not supporting breastfeeding at all.

Here are few examples and reasons why it’s not supportive.

I support breastfeeding BUT how hard is it to be discrete and use a cover?

My daughter feeding under a cover acted remarkably like a wild animal caught in a net. She would scream, flail her arms and legs, pull at the cover until the offending piece of fabric is yanked away from her and then she would resume feeding. Do you know what happens when a baby starts screaming suddenly in public? People look. Do you know what they would see when she launches the cover away? My completely bared breast. You know what would be better for all concerned? If I just fed her.

I support breastfeeding BUT not when they reach some arbitrary age!

Why can't she breastfeed and have solid food at the same time?
Why can’t she breastfeed and have solid food at the same time?

When they can walk, talk, have teeth, can eat solid food, ask for it, yank down their mumma’s top or scream “BOOBY” loudly in public… I don’t really understand how breastfeeding can go from being “best” one day to being “creepy and wrong” the next. You know what I find a little creepy? Adults drinking a broth made from steamed expressed breast milk and roasted beans… Weirdos. Oh wait… I drink that too… But seriously, a cow milk Cappuccino is WAY stranger than a human toddler drinking human breast milk.

I support breastfeeding BUT I don’t want to see it while I’m eating.

In Australia breastfeeding is protected by law in any place where a baby is legally allowed to be, so it’s best not to eat anywhere where a baby might be. It might be safest just to eat at home, or if you’d rather eat out just stick to venues where children are not allowed to enter. I don’t know if strip clubs serve food, but at least you know if you ate there you wouldn’t have to see a baby feeding.

I support breastfeeding BUT have some respect for others.

downloadI do have a lot of respect for others. If you want to breastfeed in public with or without a cover – I respect that. If you don’t want to feed in public at all – I respect that. If you don’t want to breastfeed at all, from birth, for any reason – I completely respect that that is your choice. It’s your body and your baby, and not mine, BUT my body is my body and not yours.

I also do understand that sometimes it can be uncomfortable when someone else breastfeeds in front of you. It is completely your choice to look away or go somewhere else – that’s perfectly fine; I respect your right to be uncomfortable.

I support breastfeeding and it’s natural BUT urinating is natural and I can’t do that in public.

So… you can’t tell the difference between drinking and urination? Remind me never to have you over for a dinner party; I’d hate to see what happens if you confuse eating with defecating.

I support breastfeeding BUT why can’t you express milk and give a bottle in public/after a certain age.

Great... Just great.
Great… Just great.

Why can’t I indeed. The other week my daughter was baby sat overnight, so I had a bit of a supply-and-no-demand issue going on… think Pamela Anderson…and I sat in the bottom of the shower desperately trying to express milk for the sole purpose of letting off some pressure! Despite my rock hard breasts full of excess milk I could barely skim 100ml off the top between the both of them.

How on earth would I have found the time between feed to express enough milk to fill a bottle to take out with me which I’d have to keep at a safe temperature until it’s time to feed my baby? Oh but then I’d be giving her a bottle at a time she’d need a feed and thanks to all that expressing my breasts would have been given the signal to produce MORE milk and she’d cry or nuzzle in for a feed and I’d whip out my bottle of expressed milk just as my breast would let down milk all over my top.

How about no?

I support breastfeeding BUT use a cover because I don’t want to have to explain it to my children.

Here’s the issue I have with this – aside from my daughter hating having a cover over her head while she’s feeding, I also have a child who sees his sister feeding often. Now if he sees someone else feeding their baby under a cover and happened to ask about why that baby is covered it’s pretty easy to say “That’s just how some babies prefer to be fed”. Not a problem! If it was his own sister, who he can clearly see is upset by the cover, I have no doubt my little dude would stick up for his baby sister and tell me not to cover her because she doesn’t like it. If I continued trying to feed her under a cover the next question coming would be “Why?” I think it would take about 3 “But why?”s to get into some scary territory regarding modesty and objectification of women’s bodies. Not a conversation I want to have with MY 5 year old.

I support breastfeeding BUT I timed feeds and only fed at home.

Let me tell you a story. When my son was about 3 months old, he fed every 2 hours during the day, and feeds could last about half an hour. I would try to either go places with feeding rooms or feed before we left and be home within my hour and a half window. I’d managed fairly well until then, but one day I’d gone for a walk, but got a bit delayed so I had a hungry, thirsty, upset baby, desperately screaming for a feed on a warm summer’s day and I didn’t have a cover or a parents room to go to. I found a public toilet and sat down on the lid and fed my baby. In that moment, looking down at him and he was looking up at me, I realised I was far more ashamed having my son see me feeding him on a toilet lid than I could ever be feeding anywhere else. So I finished up that feed once his initial hunger was satiated and I walked a couple of blocks to a park, sat down on a bench in the shade and I fed my baby openly in public for the first time.

I support breastfeeding BUT there is a time and a place.

Yes, you’re right. The time is whenever the baby is hungry and the place is wherever the baby is at the time.


So, what could people who want to support breastfeeding say instead?

“I support babies and children being fed.” 


About Rachel Stewart

Rachel is the founder of Parenting Central Australia. She is raising two children, boy and girl, with her partner.She has a background in early childhood education, but right now is content to be a stay at home mum.She is passionate about birthing rights, breastfeeding and mental health. She enjoys crafting, drinking coffee (sometimes wine) and spending a little too much time on Facebook.

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