Unschooling in 2015: Our Year

Children Need to See Breastfeeding

Children Need to See Breastfeeding

If you’ve ever come across an online discussion about breastfeeding then you know it can be a controversial topic! Strange I know. Something so natural as women simply using their bodies as they were intended being up for debate. Yet, it still happens. Some of the comments I have read are simply ridiculous. The one I wanted to talk about today was the belief that breastfeeding is something children shouldn’t be exposed to. I know, crazy right? Breastfeeding is meant for children! But time and time again I see comments about breastfeeding in public such as…

“I don’t want my children to see that”

“It’s not fair to force me to have to explain that to my children”

Honestly, how ridiculous. What is there to explain other than that is how babies were designed to be fed? Let’s give our children some credit here. They are perfectly capable of understanding that. And probably a lot more mature about it than some adults it would seem. But not only do I think breastfeeding is something that shouldn’t be hidden from children, I believe it’s definitely something they ought to see. Let me explain…

When I had my first baby, breastfeeding was hard. I was very fortunate to be able to breastfeed, but it definitely did not come easily for us. It started with bad attachment when the midwife in hospital grabbed my breast and my babies head and shoved them together. What an introduction! In the weeks after I remember dreading my daughter waking up to feed. I remember crying, anticipating how much it was going to hurt. I remember gripping my husbands hand as hard as I could with my sweaty hand through the pain while she latched on. I remember feeling helpless and wondering what on earth I was going to do. I remember panicking and calling my midwife after seeing blood in her mouth after a feed. Oh, it was so so hard. But the thing that made me keep on persisting was that to me, breastfeeding was normal. Thank you Mum!

Children Need to See Breastfeeding

My Mum breastfed all her kids. I remember seeing her feeding my three younger brothers, and I remember seeing my Aunties feed their children too. I’m sure I saw formula feeding as well, but I can’t remember. As a child I obviously got the idea that babies were fed from breasts. And this thought came into my head every time I thought about giving up feeding my first daughter. An alternative just didn’t seem like an option to me. Every time I thought I couldn’t possibly survive one more feed, I would think about my own Mum managing to feed all of us, and so somehow I thought I would be able to also. It would get better. Breastfeeding was normal, it was how the people I knew fed their babies, and I could do it too. And so I persisted. And I can’t explain how grateful I am that I did. For me personally, once we got over the first few months, breastfeeding was beautiful. I have gone on to feed my babies, toddlers, and children. I have fed through three pregnancies, and tandem fed three times too. I could never have imagined back then that I would make it this far, or how magical it could be. And I am so grateful I could do that for them.

For me, it’s important that my children grow up to see breastfeeding as a normal everyday thing. We can’t do that if everyone is hidden away behind closed doors to feed for fear of ‘offending’ someone. Breastfeeding is a perfectly natural and beautiful thing, and not something children need to be protected from. In a world where we are surrounded by sexualised images of women, seeing a mother breastfeeding in public is the least of our worries! I would much rather my girls see a woman nurturing her baby, than the cover of most magazines. I want my girls to know how amazing women’s bodies are. They can grow and sustain life! How awesome is that?

Children Need to See Breastfeeding

Maybe if more children grew up seeing breastfeeding all around them, then it would be seen as normal (as it should be), and we could put these ridiculous arguments to rest? Maybe more women would grow up with the confidence to try it themselves? Maybe more babies would end up being breastfed? Maybe more children would be breastfed for longer? Maybe more people would have a greater appreciation and understanding of breastfeeding? Maybe more men would have greater respect for women’s bodies? Maybe more women would know how amazing their bodies are and have a healthier self image? I don’t know, but just maybe it could make a difference.


August 5, 2015 at 4:52 pm

Yes!! Completely agree. I found that the more I saw it, the less I saw it too because it just became such a normal thing like seeing a red car or a dog you know? I found with my first, I was so self conscious and second guessing myself especially as she got older but with my second, as she got older it felt weird to think she wouldn’t still be feeding and that really showed me the power in experiencing breastfeeding, in seeing it. Love this post.

Andrea (hippyhappymama)
August 5, 2015 at 8:47 pm

Sara, my experience with Hannah was the same. Unfortunately the people around me said, “It’s okay, you don’t *need* to breastfeed” “Just give her a bottle, there’s nothing wrong with formula” “You don’t have enough milk because your breasts are too small” etc etc etc. So yes, I do believe if I had had that mental image in my mind of, this is normal and part of the process, – like I did with Blake – then I do believe I would have preserved. I had all the same engorgement issues with my next two children, but I knew how to handle it then, with my own research. When I was pregnant with Blake I realised I had never seen a woman breastfeed a baby, so I actively sought out people who were. Friends who had had babies but didn’t feed in public, I asked if I could watch them feed in private! I needed to see it, so I knew how to do it. It’s SO important. Thank you for sharing this. I am so happy that my children and yours and all of the children of our wonderful friends will grow up knowing breastfeeding just how babies are fed. Thank you!

August 5, 2015 at 10:31 pm

Such a beautiful post! I am so glad that I am breastfeeding in front of my children. We have a bit of an age gap (my boys are 5&7 with a newborn too). I simple told them that my breast are where the baby got his milk. They said okay and didn’t think any more about it. I want them to grow up respecting a woman’s body and seeing it for it’s true purpose. They love to watch their little brother feeding and pat his little head. It is a beautiful bonding time for us all.

August 6, 2015 at 12:03 am

I had a very similar experience. We had trouble in the beginning as well (and our start was also a nurse shoving my poor breast into my poor baby’s face). We struggled with latch and ALL THE FEELINGS for a few months, but I dutifully pumped, sometimes like a madwoman, bc I didn’t want the formula companies and the culture to “win.” And then we traveled to my in laws’ in a tropical island with no ac and all dd wanted was to be close to mamas breast and the world righted itself and we began to nurse without the pump between us. From there on it was one of the most deeply intimate and nourishing (for both of us!) activities I’ve ever experienced. I’m so glad I persisted despite how terribly difficult it was in the beginning and I owe a lot of that to watching my mother and her friends nurse their babies way back when.

August 6, 2015 at 11:02 am

I completely agree with this post, and even though I had to supplement feed my baby with formula along with breastfeeding and I definitely got the looks in public (even with a nursing cover!), I love that you think it should be normal (because it definitely should)!

August 6, 2015 at 9:25 pm

Beautiful post, well done for persevering! So true that normalising bfing can also help mothers keep going through the tough stages

August 6, 2015 at 9:25 pm

Yes Yes yeS!! Thanks for putting this out there!! xxx

August 6, 2015 at 10:25 pm

I agree that it’s crazy that this is even up for debate. I’ve never heard of a child being offended at the sight of a breastfeeding mother.

August 7, 2015 at 9:02 am

I love your post. I loved breastfeeding my daughter! I started off having such a hard time though .and always stressing that i couldn’t make enough!. She couldn’t latch on right and i felt so bad like she was starving. TH nurses did horrible things to get her to eat . Touching her naked body with a cold wet cloth. Hearing her cry broke my heart knowing she was hungry. They finally gave her a bottle . But when the lactition came in to talk to us they discovered she had a high pallet and COULDNT latch on ! so i ended up using shield. I got to breast feed her 7 months until SHE decided she didn’t want to breastfeed anymore. I was so sad! It was such a beautiful bonding experience!!

August 7, 2015 at 11:34 am

Love this post, and you are so right. Breastfeeding my girls was such a blessing and I was sad when it ended, so bittersweet πŸ™‚

August 8, 2015 at 4:12 am

when my baby was born, I was actually nervous about how my older son would handle me whipping my boobs out and feeding his sister. Actually, he handled everything so much better than all my friends were telling me. Breast-feeding is the most natural thing and so much better for both mom and baby. Thank you so much for posting this.

August 8, 2015 at 6:55 am

Oh, I AGREE! Make normal stuff, NORMAL! I remember beautiful days when my kids were little and I would sit on the couch and the other kids would sit with me. Love the pics too.

August 14, 2015 at 10:42 pm

I was just talking with a friend about this the other day. My experience was the opposite of yours, and when I had my little girl at 20 apart from my aunty who had only given births a few months before me I don’t have any memory of seeing another woman breastfeed ever, not in the family or out or anything. HOW INSANE IS THAT? I was so shy to feed in public at first, and ran to the nearest feeding room or my car. Then I realised I was being a part of the problem and that if we all did that it would never become normal. Since then (I’m on my third baby now) I’ve fed my babies anywhere and everywhere, and I’m so proud that my kids (and other people) see that as normal to them now. L x

August 20, 2015 at 9:30 pm

Well said. It’s crazy and disturbing that people think of breastfeeding as somehow explicit or sexual, so that children need to be protected from it.
Breasts were never seen as specifically sexual until people started pushing them up with corsets. This gave women a cleavage (which doesn’t happen naturally as we all know when we remove our bras!) and the cleavage imitates the buttocks. This obviously sexualises the breasts. And it went on from there so that nowadays we feel like a failure if we can’t achieve a cleavage, we feel ashamed and embarrassed that without a bra we have no cleavage and our boobs head south. But they were only ever meant to be for feeding babies!! They’re no more sexual than our arms for example. It’s very sad.

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