Parenting is difficult, and there are always people who think they know better. This becomes clear in any parenting-related topics where many commentators do not shy away from shaming others for sleep-training their babies "the wrong way" or introducing solid food at the "wrong time."
One of the most discussed topics is breastfeeding versus using formula. While mothers who choose formula are accused of being lazy and "taking the easy way out," mothers who choose to breastfeed sometimes get picked on as well.
Ashley Kaidel, who is an lactivist, in other words an advocate for breastfeeding, has shared her breastfeeding experience on Facebook. A clip of her staring down a judgmental woman quickly went viral.
The Mother Advocates For The Right To Breastfeed In Public
"Earlier today I posted this picture of my son and I breastfeeding uncovered in a public restaurant," she wrote on Facebook back in 2015, and the topic is equally relevant until this day.
"In the picture, it appears I'm staring off into the distance. In reality, I'm staring into the eyes of a woman staring at me. She is looking at me with disgust and shaking her head with judgment in an attempt to shame me and indirectly tell me without words that I am wrong and need to cover myself."
"Let me make my reasoning clear on why I post pictures of my son and I publicly breastfeeding uncovered," she continued. "I don't mean to say 'Everyone should breastfeed without a cover. Show the world your boobs!' If a mother is more comfortable covering herself because SHE feels better doing so, then I totally support that."
Through her post, Kaidel wanted to encourage women who need to breastfeed in public and at the same time challenge judgemental people.
"Number one, breastfeeding mothers are protected under law to breastfeed anyway, anyhow, and anywhere they're allowed to be in all circumstances otherwise. Number two, you should not ever feel shamed, belittled, embarrassed or wrong for feeding your baby the way nature intended," she explained.
If You Are Not Comfortable, Look Away
She wishes to normalize breastfeeding and take away the shame surrounding it, and she hopes she can inspire narrow-minded people to change their opinion.
"I do this for the person that has the mentality 'Boobs are to be covered. They're for your husband's eyes only. They're intimate. It's a personal/private thing to feed your baby. Cover up out of respect. My kids don't need to see that. Walk out of the room,' and any other derogatory, close-minded comments and sentiments alike."
Kaidel means that breasts' primary purpose is to feed babies. She stated that: "There is nothing weird about this and there's no difference in me feeding my baby with my breast than you feeding yourself with a spoon."
"Secondly, it is exponentially unfair and selfish to ask a mother and baby to exclude themselves from a table or event or gathering because you're for some reason uncomfortable with how she feeds her child. No person should be isolated and shunned because they're eating, especially when you yourself are eating while ridiculing how someone else is eating."
Kaidel suggests that if you are a sensitive person, you should simply look away if someone near you needs to breastfeed. It is not the mother and child who should have to leave the table.
She means that other children will benefit from seeing breastfeeding since they will then understand that it is a normal way to feed an infant.
"So again, I don't post this for attention," she concluded. "I don't post this because I think everyone should nurse uncovered. I post this to give mamas encouragement. And to encourage others to make breastfeeding mothers feel accepted and supported; not alienated, ridiculed and judged."
So Which Option Is Best?
Experts agree with Kaidel that breastfeeding has the most benefits. Not only does it create a strong bond between mother and child, but breast milk is known to be the healthiest option for the baby.
However, in some cases, breastfeeding is not possible due to medical reasons and it is essential to remember that it does not make these mothers "bad moms".
Bottle feeding is a great option that has been used for hundreds of years, so it is far from a new trend. Today the bottles are refined and hygienic and the formulas are safe and healthy.
So to say that one option is better than the other is wrong. The right choice is to listen to the doctors and lactation consultants because each mother and child has different needs.