In the past year, several stories about mothers breastfeeding in public have made it to the national media circuit. Who would have thought that infant feeding would be such a hot news topic? From movie theaters and Toys âR Us to Victoriaâs Secret stores and a Freedom Airlines flight breastfeeding moms were being told to cover up or leave.
The mothers in these stories are so often made out to be renegades when they are simply trying to meet the needs of their infant children. Breastfeeding in public places can be stressful enough for a mom. Is it necessary for a news story to come out to say âshe wasnât being discreet and was making other customers uncomfortable?â? Once the mother speaks up for herself (and others follow), the opposing party usually offers the same excuses âthere was a misunderstandingâ? or âthe employee was unfamiliar with the breastfeeding policy.â?
With all this breastfeeding news coverage, Iâve begun to wonder if these stories are helping to increase the publicâs awareness and acceptance of the importance (and normalcy) of breastfeeding or are they causing the rates to lower even more because young mothers rather abandon breastfeeding than become the next breastfeeding mother caught in the media storm.
When did breastfeeding become so taboo that is only acceptable in private? Would we still see the same attitudes towards public breastfeeding if formula feeding wasnât so commercialized as normal infant feeding?
A few years ago, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services partnered with the Ad Council in an attempt to launch a pro-breastfeeding campaign to increase breastfeeding rates, but it seemed to cause more damage than good.
Rather than educating the public about the importance of breastfeeding in a positive way one ad equated not breastfeeding your child as risky as riding a mechanically bull while pregnant. Naturally, many people were offended by the ad, and it was pulled from the air.
While any press is said to be good press, itâs hard to tell whether these types of breastfeeding stories are helping to increase awareness of breastfeeding or hinder the publicâs acceptance.