"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." Benjamin Franklin
As I sat one night in my masters public health ethics, policy, and law class the topic of breastfeeding in public was brought up. Our professor asked us if we thought it was OK to breastfeed in public. With a mix of people in my class, different ages, some with kids, some without kids, some who don't even want kids, our answers were all different. As a daughter of a mother who is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, I knew exactly how the questions should be answered, but I was shocked to hear the reaction of my fellow colleagues. If a mother needs to breastfeed in public, she should do it without any question, point blank. If a mother is out in public and needs to breastfeed her baby and doesn't want to cover up, she should be able to do it without questioning. Most importantly, no mother should ever be directed to the bathroom to feed. This was the problem we had in class. A lot of my colleagues believed that a mother should be covered up in public and those who were mothers agreed. It's sad that we live in a society today where wearing a "bralette" out in public is completely acceptable, but feeding a hungry baby is not. I may only be 23-years-young, but I still can't get over how much we over-sexualize the breasts and not look at them for what they really were meant to do. As I sat in class arguing I realized one thing, you are never too old or too young to learn something new or look at a situation differently. Though it is ultimately a mother's preference on how she wants to breastfeed, covered or uncovered, no one should have the right to scold a mother for doing her job.
Education is key. If we continue to teach others about the powers of breastfeeding, then maybe we can all live in a world where breastfeeding is the norm again and mothers don't get directed to the bathroom to feed.
Ronya Nassar is from Allentown, Pa., She is an Outreach Specialist with the Allentown Health Bureau and a Master of Public Health student at East Stroudsburg University. Her passions of public health are nutrition and physical activity advocacy. You can read other blog posts by Ronya at http://ronyanassar001.wordpress.com