McK in n ey 1 Marissa McKinney Mrs. Schmitt AP Language and Composition 14 February 2019 Breastfeeding is the Breast Way to Go Screaming and crying in the middle of the mall, a newborn infant alerts the mother to his hunger. Looking around anxiously, the mother debates on which situation will receive more backlash: having her baby scream in front of a crowd of people, or receiving disgusted looks while breastfeeding. Knowing her child will not stop crying, the mother decides to feed her baby. Although she does not want to make those around her uncomfortable, she knows feeding her baby comes first. Many women who breastfeed often face the same problem: the debate over breastfeeding in public. Women continue to fight for the right to breastfeed in public without receiving disgusting looks or requests to leave. In today’s society, many people frown upon breastfeeding in public and do not approve of it. In fact, public breastfeeding has become a viral controversy throughout the world. Although many people in the United States consider public breastfeeding disgusting and inappropriate, society should accept it as merely a method of feeding an infant and stop judging women who choose to feed in public. Breastfeeding, the act of a mother feeding her baby from her breasts, has existed as long as humans have. Before the invention of infant formula and bottle feeding, breastfeeding was the only source of food and nutrition for infants (“Breastfeeding in Public”). However, some women could not lactate, meaning their breasts could not produce milk. Some women had to hire a wet nurse, a woman who breastfeeds for women who cannot produce milk. Wet nursingMcK in n ey 2 fixed the issue for a while, but eventually, women would need formula (Stevens et al. 34). In the 18th century, scientists started to experiment with different animals’ milk and breast milk to figure out which ingredients would make the healthiest formula. After multiple tests, scientists decided to make a formula with cow’s milk and wheat. The market for formula started booming after the invention of evaporated and condensed milk (Stevens et al. 36). Infant formula started to become more and more popular as time went on, and breastfeeding rates steadily decreased over the years. As breastfeeding rates started to decrease, bottle feeding started to become the “normal” way of feeding an infant. The invention of infant formula dealt the biggest blow to public breastfeeding; however, women starting to become involved in the workplace also played a significant role. The Civil War and World War II brought a change to the involvement of females workforce. After World War II, almost all women worked in either a factory or other workplaces (McCall). Before the Civil War, most people expected women to stay at home and take care of the children, as well as do housework. Because women never really had any reason to leave the house, breastfeeding in public did not become an issue until women started working. Women began to feel like they had more freedom and started to venture out more in their daily lives (McCall). As women started to go into public more, they had no choice but to breastfeed in public. Infants usually eat on a very precise schedule and require feeding every 3 or so hours (Acker 477). Since breastfeeding rates went down and bottle feeding became the normal way of feeding, seeing women breastfeed in public became abnormal to most people. This occurrence marked the beginning of the struggle for women who breastfeed in public even though many facts have shown the undeniable benefits of breastfeeding.McK in n ey 3 Over the years, many people have debated over whether or not breastfeeding, or bottle feeding is healthier for infants. Some people still argue over the advantages of each method, but many tests have proven breastfeeding the best source of nutrition for babies. Breastfeeding has countless benefits. “Studies suggest breastfed babies gain healthier immune systems, a better balance of sugar, fats, and proteins, and face a lower risk of SIDs. They’re also less likely to develop allergies and struggle with obesity later in life” (Wise). Breastfeeding not only benefits babies but also benefits mothers as well. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer for the mother. One of the most important benefits of breastfeeding to mothers is the connection it forms between the mother and the baby. Kendra Arnold, a breastfeeding mother, explains: “There is nothing like it. There is a sense of love and a feeling like he needs me.” Breastfeeding not only benefits a child healthwise but also saves a lot of money in the long run. Many mothers often choose to breastfeed because of the outrageous price of infant formula. In order for women to breastfeed, they only have to buy a breastfeeding pump rather than buy formula every week. Most insurances even cover breastfeeding pumps (“Breastfeeding Saves Money”). According to Breastfeeding Magazine , “the average mother can save approximately $1500 in the first year of their baby’s life just by providing breast milk instead of purchasing formula.” Studies have also shown that parents who breastfeed their children save money on healthcare expenses as well. Breastfeeding helps improve a baby's immune system and ultimately results in fewer trips to the doctor’s office. Even today, many mothers choose to breastfeed because of all the benefits it provides (“Breastfeeding Saves Money”). Although many things have changed since the 20th century, women still have a difficult time breastfeeding in public.McK in n ey 4 Today, governments have passed many laws to protect women who breastfeed in public. For a while, breastfeeding rates started to diminish because women would start breastfeeding and then stop a couple of weeks later. Some women cannot deal with the stress of worrying about how they will make others feel. All countries have different ideas on public breastfeeding and its management. The United States is one of the last countries to pass laws to protect public breastfeeding. Most countries have laws that pertain to the whole country, but the United States has different laws in every state (Komodiki E et al.). “Recently, Idaho and Utah signed bills into law permitting public nursing. With this act, the US is now up to speed with the UK and Australia where it has been legal since 2010 and 1984, respectively” (Archambault). As of July 2018, all 50 states have passed laws to protect public breastfeeding (Archambault). All of the states have different laws and circumstances, but all states have passed some sort of law to allow women to breastfeed in any private or public location. Even though all the states have passed laws to protect women who breastfeed in public, social norms still prevent some people from accepting public breastfeeding. Even today, people still give breastfeeding mothers disgusted looks in public. Carol Butrum, a local nurse at St. Vincent Westside Crossing, has many experiences of the public’s reprehensible behavior. Below Butrum describes her experience with public breastfeeding: Breastfeeding was definitely not an easy experience for me and the social negativity did not help whatsoever. I breastfed all of my children, but I had the most trouble with public breastfeeding with my youngest child. Eighteen years ago, there were few laws protecting women who breastfeed in public, which madeMcK in n ey 5 it so much more challenging. On one occasion, while breastfeeding at a local restaurant, my server asked me if I could go to the bathroom to breastfeed. I did not understand what the big deal was; I was even completely covered up. There have been many circumstances where I was either asked to cover myself up or even leave a public place. I cannot even count on two hands how many disgusted looks I had received from breastfeeding in public. Unfortunately, many women let the judgments of bystanders affect them, and some even stop breastfeeding. Our society will never see the beauty of breastfeeding like breastfeeding mothers. I believe all women should be able to breastfeed in the public sphere without judgment or ridicule. Many women suffer some of the same experiences as Mrs. Butrum. Societies constantly see the negativity in public breastfeeding instead of the beauty of it. Many people in the United States disapprove of breastfeeding in public and believe women should only breastfeed in private. Many scientists have performed studies in order to evaluate the overall opinion on public breastfeeding. Michele Acker completed a study involving 106 undergraduates and 80 older adults; all of the participants lived in the midwestern United States. In his study, he showed all of the participants' pictures of females breastfeeding in public locations and private locations. After showing the participants the photos, Acker asked each person several different questions: These questions were summed into three separate scales: Positive evaluations (How much do you approve of what this person is doing?; How much do you like this person), Negative feelings (How offensive is this person’s behavior?; HowMcK in n ey 6 uncomfortable does this make you feel?) and Normalcy (How normal do you think this person’s behavior is?; How socially appropriate do you think this person is?). (Acker 481) The results from his study are shown below: Fig. 1. The chart above shows that more people had negative responses toward public breastfeeding than they did positive responses. According to the chart, people consider private breastfeeding more normal than public breastfeeding (Acker 482). Although many consider private breastfeeding more normal, sometimes mothers face challenges and have no choice but to breastfeed in public. Unfortunately, infants must eat many times a day and mothers cannot wholly control when their child needs his/her next meal. While many places designate a spot for mothers to breastfeed their child, mothers still struggle with embarrassment and disgusted looks from others. DespiteMcK in n ey 7 the numerous facts proving breastfeeding the best source of nutrition for an infant, people still have trouble accepting public breastfeeding. Some people might claim that public breastfeeding exposes too much and believe women should have to breastfeed in private. Before World War II, people considered breasts an object necessary for providing nutrition and food to an infant. The period after World War II marked the beginning of breast becoming sexualized (“Breastfeeding in Public”). Around the time, Marilyn Monroe became a very popular star. Due to Monroe’s good looks and curves, many males became attracted to Monroe and her body. The invention of Playboy magazines, featuring Marilyn Monroe, also had a huge impact on societies (Bentley). Societies started to associate breasts with sexual activity and disregarded their primary function. Due to social norms within a society, many citizens often feel uncomfortable and awkward around breastfeeding mothers. With breasts becoming hypersexualized, many people started to become disgusted of the idea of breastfeeding. Instead of viewing breasts as sexual objects, more people need to see breasts for their primary function. According to Merriam-Webster, breasts can be defined as “either of the pair of mammary glands extending from the front of the chest in pubescent and adult human females and some other mammals.” Instead of portraying breasts as sexual organs, societies should show them as their true form: mammary glands. As stated earlier, in ancient times, breastfeeding held the position of the only way to feed an infant. Without breastfeeding in earlier times, infants would not have survived. Breastfeeding will always remain a huge part of history. As societies continue to judge women who breastfeed in public, they need to stop and realize why women breastfeed. Some women even try to avoid breastfeeding in public at all costs, but sometimes itMcK in n ey 8 must happen. What should societies hold as more important? Providing a child with food that he/she needs to survive or women exposing her breasts? Today, exposure of breasts exists throughout societies, but people still make a fuss over a mother merely feeding her child. Exposure of breasts occurs in many movies, books, and even magazines. In contrast, the amount of skin shown while breastfeeding does not compare to the nudity seen on social media. Today, teenagers wear clothing that shows way more skin than any breastfeeding mother. Many parents allow their children to leave the house exposing almost all of their skin but hate on women who breastfeed in public. In reality, nudity should not be a reason people disapprove of public breastfeeding because it has become commonplace in many societies. People need to learn to distinguish the difference between breastfeeding and nudity and to show respect to all of the mothers trying to breastfeed. Some argue that breastfeeding in public may cause confusion in young children and contradict previous beliefs taught by parents. Starting at a very young age, parents teach their children to always wear clothes and to keep their private body parts covered. Parents teach their children, especially girls, modesty and the appropriate way to act in public. Some parents worry seeing a mother breastfeed a child might scar their children or change what they learned about modesty. However, a child old enough to question the process of breastfeeding can undoubtedly understand an explanation of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding, an innocent act, should not scar a child. The beautiful process of breastfeeding creates a strong bond between the mother and the child. Parents should have no problem explaining breastfeeding to their children. In conclusion, breastfeeding women should not have to deal with disgusted looks and reactions whenever forced to breastfeed in public. Providing an infant with a source of foodMcK in n ey 9 should trump bystanders’ views and opinions of public breastfeeding. Breastfeeding rates should not plummet because women feel judged by the public. Societies need to accept breastfeeding as an act of feeding an infant instead of public nudity. Societies should view breastfeeding as a beautiful process instead of an inappropriate exposure of breasts. If societies can start to treat breastfeeding women with more respect, then breastfeeding rates would increase, and more babies would be breastfed. Breastfeeding not only benefits the baby but also benefits the mother. From stronger immune systems for infants to a lower risk of breast cancer for women, breastfeeding is the best way to go, and if societies can learn to accept public breastfeeding, then more women will breastfeed.McK in n ey 1 0 Works Cited Acker, Michele. "Breast is Best…but Not Everywhere: Ambivalent Sexism and Attitudes Toward Private and Public Breastfeeding." Sex Roles , vol. 61, no. 7-8, 2009, pp. 476-490 . ProQuest , https://login.lib-proxy.usi.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.lib-proxy.us i.edu/docview/225368145?accountid=14752, doi:http://dx.doi.org.lib-pr oxy.usi.edu/10. 1007/s11199-009-9655-z. Archambault, Alex. “Breastfeeding in Public Is Now Legal in All 50 States – and People Say It's about Time.” Business Insider , 27 July 2018, www.businessinsider.com /public-breastfeeding-legal-in-50-states-2018-7?r=UK&IR=T. Accessed 20 January 2019. Bentley, Amy. “Americans Didn't Always Have a Problem With Public Breast-Feeding.” Slate Magazine , 27 May 2015, slate.com/culture/2015/05/how-public-breast-feeding-beca me-taboo-in-america.html. Accessed 20 January 2019. “Breastfeeding in Public: Overview.” Points of View: Breastfeeding in Public , July 2016, p. 1. EBSCOhost , www.statelib.lib.in.us/inspire/authenticate-eds.asp?url=http%3a%2f%2f search.ebscohost.com%2flogin.aspx%3fdirect%3dtrue%26AuthType%3dcookie%2cgeo%2curl%2cip%26geocustid%3ds8475741%26db%3dpwh%26AN%3d116567176%26site%3deds-live%26scope%3dsite. “Breastfeeding Saves Money – Cost of Breastfeeding vs Formula Feeding.” Breastfeeding-Magazine.com , 4 Aug. 2017. breastfeeding-magazine.com/saves-money .html. Accessed 20 January 2019.McK in n ey 1 1 Komodiki E, Kontogeorgou A, Papastavrou M, Volaki P, RMidw, et al. “Breastfeeding in Public: A Global Review of Different Attitudes towards It.” Journal of Neurology & Stroke , MedCrave Online, 6 Nov. 2014, medcraveonline.com/JPNC/JPNC-01-00040. Accessed 20 January 2019. McKinney, Marissa. “Re: Breastfeeding in Public Interview.” Received by Carol Butrum, 21 January 2019. McKinney, Marissa. “Re: Breastfeeding in Public Interview.” Received by Kendra Arnold, 21 January 2019. McCall, Sara. “Nursing in Public: What US Mothers Faced from Colonial Times Until Today.” Breastfeeding USA , 7 Apr. 2016, breastfeedingusa.org/content/article/nursing-public- what-us-mothers-faced-colonial-times-until. Accessed 20 January 2019. Stevens, Emily E et al. “A history of infant feeding” Journal of perinatal education vol. 18,2 (2009): 32-9. Accessed 20 January 2019. Wise, Abigail. “Why Is Breastfeeding Such A Big Deal? Its History Reveals Why It's Such An Important Issue.” Romper, 3 Oct. 2006, www.romper.com/p/why-is-breastfeeding -such-a-big-deal-its-history-reveals-why-its-such-important-issue-18107. Accessed 20 January 2019.
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