Last week I was at the swimming pool with my kids. I sat on our blanket and nursed my little one. The almost three-year-old girl from the blanket next to us watched and said: "Look what your baby is doing!" And I said, "Yes, he drinks milk." And the little girl looked at me as if I was kidding her and shouted: "No milk coming out!". Oh, it does, and she became thoughtful and said shortly after: "I was a baby as well once, if I drank milk there too?
Breastfeeding builds society!
For me, breastfeeding in public is social education. Especially kindergarten children in my environment who don't have any siblings are really surprised that babies are fed at the breast. I also find the public image of the nursing mother very important for teenagers and young adults in order to create normality. You don't have to withdraw to breastfeed!
Breastfeeding is not a no-go!
Again and again I get to know young mothers who feel uncomfortable breastfeeding in public. One big aspect is certainly that there is a real risk of stupid sayings.
Again and again you can read news on social media that breastfeeding mothers were asked to leave the bistro, the bus or a café because they were breastfeeding their baby or toddler. This can happen, but in fact I personally have only received positive feedback and have no friends who have had negative experiences.
A strong defense against insecurity is to be armed with knowledge. Here are a few facts about breastfeeding that should encourage you to breastfeed in public.
- breast milk adapts to every need of the child. Be it antibodies, minerals, messengers, etc. Breastmilk adapts to every age and knows whether a disease is approaching before we know it. This works in such a way that receptors around the nipple break down the child's spittle and thus assemble the breast milk.
- breast milk is a full meal. Contrary to some people's opinion, breast milk does not become water, not even after six months. Some uninformed pediatricians may say that, but it is not true. In fact, breast milk has more than twice as many kilocalories per 100 grams as 100 grams of carrot mash.
- You can also breastfeed with only one breast. The milk quantity adapts to the demand. If there is a problem with one breast, the other breast can take over the complete production.
- In summer you don't have to add water to your breast milk. Breastmilk is perfectly sufficient for a fully breastfed infant even in the hottest summer. On the contrary, water fills the baby's stomach without nourishing it.
- breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS, protects against overweight and diabetes, protects the kidneys and is not cariogenic. Galactose, which contains lactose, is particularly good for brain development.
- breastfeeding releases hormones that help us mothers get by with less sleep and relax.
- breastfeeding reduces the mother's risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer.
Many people feel a longing when they see intimate mother-child relationships. Some express it and say something like: "Ohh, he/she seems to be fine." Others also react with the opposite reaction, because perhaps their own deficiency is so great that they have no other reaction in their repertoire. That's a pity, but it doesn't help to breastfeed your own child at home or not at all.
Legal regulations on breastfeeding in public
In England there is a law for the protection of breastfeeding which explicitly allows and protects breastfeeding in public.
In Germany there is no such law. However, the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency regards a ban on breastfeeding as discrimination based on sex. Young mothers may not be discriminated against because of pregnancy or maternity, not even with reference to domestic law.
Since when breastfeeding is less accepted in public is an interesting question. Why don't you ask your mothers and grandmothers what it was like in their time and what they know about the subject?
- translated from German
Babywearing consultant, sleep expert, lactation consultant