Breastfeeding should be a mother’s choice

Alexia Harris

I wasn’t like most teenage mothers.

I did not want to give my daughter formula. I wanted to make sure I provided Jaelah with the best nutrition possible, which just so happened to come from my body.

For me, it was a luxury to not have to get up in the middle of the night to make a bottle; however, I did not breastfeed because of my benefits.

Studies show that breastfed babies are healthier than formula-fed babies. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, infants that are breastfed have lower rates of medical problems such as ear infections, allergies and rashes, compared to infants who are not.

A couple of weeks ago, a local radio station had listeners call in to voice their opinions about breastfeeding in public. KOMO/4 commentator Ken Schram compared breastfeeding to public urination. His network counterpart, Barbara Walters, shared the same view and commented that breastfeeding made her “queasy.”

And they’re not alone.

A national survey published in The Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that 57 percent of those polled said that women should not have the right to breastfeed in public. And 72 percent said that it was unsuitable to show a woman breastfeeding on TV programs.

I breastfed Jaelah for eight months, but some women do not get past week one, because of the initial pain.

Yes, it was extremely painful for the two weeks it took Jaelah to latch on correctly. After day one, I was ready to give up. My breasts felt like two-ton boulders.

It was also embarrassing when my body was ready to feed, but Jaelah was not around. There would be times when I would be going about my day and would look down to see two wet spots on my shirt.

But, since I worked and went to school full-time, breastfeeding was the only chance I got to spend “quality time” with Jaelah. This was the chance I got to be mommy and do something that no one else could do.

Some breastfeeding advocates believe that mothers should be able to breastfeed in both private and public locations, and approximately 40 states have breastfeeding legislation that deal with the matter in some way.

In California, women have the right to breastfeed in any location, public or private, except in the privacy of another person’s home. If she is denied this right, she has the choice to sue.

There was one time when I fed my daughter at a local store and was told by a man to “put that thing away.”

Not only was I offended, I was mad.

When I fed Jaelah, I made sure that I put a blanket over her so that everyone couldn’t see my “private parts,” but for some people, a blanket was not enough.

Infants are just as human as any adult, and just like we want to eat when we are hungry, so do they. I was not going to starve my daughter just because some random guy did not approve of my feeding methods.

If you have a problem with women and their breasts, don’t look.

Alexia Harris is a junior public relations major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].