Let me begin by saying that I fully support any woman that breastfeeds their child. I believe that breastfeeding is beautiful and natural, however, I also acknowledge that it is challenging and requires support. I do believe that women in the US are shamed for behavior that should be viewed as a normal part of the parenting process, not just breastfeeding. I also believe that there is no reason you should not be able to or feel confident or comfortable enough to breastfeed your child in public.
That being said, what I do not understand is the new urge to post pictures or videos breastfeeding your child in order to ‘promote’ breastfeeding. I may have many critics when I say this, but I just do not understand how that is pushing for change. At what point does it cross from supporting a movement to attention seeking? I would challenge that the answer to that is when you have a staged, scripted, or professional video or photo. At that point you are not simply feeding your child – you are now intentionally putting yourself out there with the express purpose to draw attention and opinion about your behavior.
It also seems that mother’s a using breastfeeding as a way to ‘one up’ each other. There is a braggadocios tone to some of the posts that seem to say ‘look how much better of a mother I am, I continue to breastfeed my 3yr old’ and it just insights the mommy wars.
Social media has given rise to this behavior and has given mothers a larger platform to share their beliefs and support a cause. Search #Breastfeeding or #Breastfeeding in public you are directed to a page full of both positive and negative posts about breastfeeding. You are given the information about breastfeeding support groups and lactation professionals. However, you are also led to a page full of woman promoting their breastfeeding habits and why their behavior is better than that of other moms.
While I believe that there is a lot of good that the networking of breastfeeding mothers, on social media, can do for women to lend support and share the importance of breastfeeding, there is also a negative side. Social media has a tendency to attract those that are attention seeking and looking to shame other moms – which causes much more harm than the positive side could ever do!
As a society we need to realize that whatever choice a woman makes is the best decision for her, we need to respect that choice, and we do not need to force our choices on others; whether that be trying to convince them to do the same or to seek validation for the they made.