Normalizing Breastfeeding as a Right of Mother and Child
Normalizing breastfeeding is vital, because the child has the right to be fed and the mother the right to do so without fear, guilt or shame.
Breastfeeding is the most appropriate feeding method for a baby and an important element in the formation of attachment. However, despite its many benefits, many people still view it with judgment and stigma. Normalizing breastfeeding is a task for all of us, and we must help to break down the psychological barriers that prevent us from seeing it as the natural function that it really is.
We’ve become a denaturalized society that has distanced us from our origins and our essential needs. We’re driven to give priority to independence, productivity and self-demand in every area of our lives. However, human warmth, contact and mutual support are essential, especially at the beginning of motherhood, which is such a delicate stage.
Babies need their mother’s affection, care, and protection. And women need society’s support and understanding. We must normalize breastfeeding because the child has the right to be cared for and fed, and the woman has the right to feed her baby without fear, guilt, or shame.
Breast milk is the best possible food for the baby. Its benefits are innumerable, as it strengthens the baby’s immune system, protects them from illness and provides them with all the nutrients they need. WHO recommends that breastfeeding should be the sole source of nutrition for the first six months of life.
From this point on, you can introduce other foods progressively and appropriately. However, breastfeeding should be maintained until at least two years of age. This recommendation isn’t an imposition or a rigid limit. There’s no need to stop breastfeeding when the child reaches this age. A gradual weaning off breast milk at the time when mother and child feel ready is much more beneficial.
The choice of nutrition that each child will follow is a mother’s personal choice, and all are equally valid. There are several reasons why sometimes breastfeeding can’t be implemented, and choosing to use formula milk is a perfectly legitimate decision, as long as it isn’t motivated by public pressure.
Many mothers give up this right because they don’t have sufficient information and support, either from their family or from the health system. Support during breastfeeding is necessary to help overcome difficulties and to provide the necessary guidance and emotional support.
However, the opposite is usually the case. Breastfeeding is frowned upon by a large section of society that sees it as an impediment to the mother’s ability to function as a worker and an individual. On the other hand, the options for arbitration or settlement are clearly insufficient.
In addition to all of this, when a woman breastfeeds in public, she may receive disapproving looks and reproaches. As a result, many mothers are relegated to breastfeeding rooms (if there are any) or directly to the toilets whenever they wish to feed their baby. At other times, they’re forced to cover their child with a cloth while they’re breastfeeding.
A lack of support, and social pressure, can lead many women to give up this wonderful right that’s so necessary for them and their babies. Breastfeeding not only provides food, but also affection, protection, and security.
That’s why normalizing breastfeeding is so important, and it’s something that many famous or influential women are beginning to address. Visibility is the first step, because if we don’t talk about something, then it doesn’t have a voice.
Remember that your baby has the right to be fed whenever he or she needs it. You shouldn’t need to endure shame or mockery. You don’t have to hide or conceal it. Just imagine if someone confined you to eat in the bathroom or with a cloth on your head!
So, get informed, chat to your doctors or breastfeeding support groups, and get together with other mothers. Don’t hide. Breastfeeding is a natural, necessary, and beneficial act. The unnatural ones are those who see it differently, and look at it with disdain.