Rimli Bhattacharya Shares her Story on Breastfeeding in Public
“Please use a cover, you see its public, though you are in a ladies’ compartment, its visible, you should be more modest, I mean to be more discreet. You cannot be an attention seeker; do you get my point?” I get that remark in the ladies’ first-class compartment in the famous overcrowded Mumbai local feeding my toddler; she was six months and was on my feed.
I even got similar comments feeding my baby at a pediatrician’s chamber waiting for my turn, my baby wailed and I had no choice other than removing my maternity bra and breastfeed my toddler since that was her only feed. “Can’t you go and feed in the breastfeeding room?” “But the room is dingy and occupied, my baby will be claustrophobic. Hey, you listen why do you need to stare at my breast woman, I am feeding my daughter and you go feed your husband/lover at night”, I replied.
Attention seeker. Whore! Huh, since no one has the guts to say that on my face and I know they mean it.
Breastfeeding need not be conceited
Breastfeeding need not be conceited, people who rant and use medical dictions on how crass it looks while feeding a kid in public but the fact is breastfeeding is in direct opposition with narcissism. The baby needs the feed rather than people making tawdry leading the breastfeeders feel uncomfortable or nervous. “Oh, please don’t look at me, I am breastfeeding” Self-pity, huh, what about “Please look at me! I’m breastfeeding!” Well, I actually did that struggling to figure out and with a feel of a loser getting anxiety attacks that my body is failing to me and the newborn baby.
I struggled to feed my daughter for months while my breasts were full of milk enough to feed a hundred babies. The milk oozed in spite of using double layered breast pads. “Hey cover yourself, milk is leaking” “So what do I do, please tell me, my baby is at home and I am a working mother, hope this answers your question”. At office meetings, there were glares from all genders when I worked on presentations in the boardroom all the while my milk oozing in spite of the breast pads.
My baby was two months when I joined my work as my leaves were exhausted and I could not afford a pay cut.
I had no option but to run to the washroom, pump out the milk and let it flow into the wash basin rather than the baby whose only feed was my milk. “Hush hush, we can see it’s all leaked, use a cover, men are there, you know we wish you all good but people will take a different meaning and see bosses are out so they might think you are seeking attention”. “Oh really, can I ask those men what did their wives do when they delivered or did they jail her at home till her milk dried, please do me a favor, you better keep a watch on my milk while I continue making my reports, eh”.
Breastfeeding is hard
Parenting is difficult, one cannot even decipher how hard breastfeeding is; how much work it takes and how much anxiety, fear and sadness it can bring out. It can lead to postpartum depression. It’s like mind fucking when mothers get through but are equally rewarding to get a feel of being loved by your own baby. Until the next thing knocks you down and brings you through a whole new struggle. You may feel being lost; you may miss your juicy gossips which you enjoyed with your friends, you may vomit on the floor and even forget if it is night or day. Stop feeling like a poo, but be proud of the fact that you are fertile and your breasts are full of milk. It’s unlikely that a new parent is thinking about them.
Oh yes, there are exceptions as well but look at the statistics. It may be just 5% though our society is brainwashed that breasts are sexual objects to be sucked my men, to be groped, to be squeezed, the larger your breasts the sexier you are.
So, nothing wrong with women when we get all offended seeing a mother nourishing and comforting a child in public. “Omg! Look at her flashing her breasts and feeding her child in public! Bloody bitch, attention seeker!” But that’s an actually garbled thought. So, guess who is actually warped here?
Breastfeeding in public is not a self-centered act
Breastfeeding in public should not be conceited or thought to be a self-centered act. You are placing the child before anything else, you are nursing your baby. You are an adult.So, you can wait, look away, deal with some discomfort, but people can’t. It’s actually indicative of a totally biased society that other people can’t put children’s needs first. Where we can’t just say, “Oh that baby is crying and needs the mother right now so I will just show some understanding and allow them the space to do their jobs.”
Hey, do you know society, there are women who are dry, whose lactating glands refuse to produce milk and their babies are given a top feed from a feeding bottle, so that is fucking ok, I guess?
Have you ever thought the trauma that mother faces, she gets a remark “You couldn’t even feed your own child, your breasts are dry”, so that statement contradicts, so see how biased our society is – who do we blame now? When she feeds the baby from a feeder in public the same masses will react “What’s her problem, why can’t she feed from her body?” I see, there you are contradicting yourself.
Yes, I am wet, I am a lactating mother with an odor of raw milk, but I won’t cover up if a man can see my breasts, suck them, grope them, why can’t my baby be given her feed in public. No ways I won’t cover up. If that bothers please cover you up and be a hermit. Just let me sit here and feed my child and smell my new mom body odor like a stale fish and be embarrassed that I look like an ogre. My eyes bloodshot red and swollen from not sleeping last night because this baby stayed latched from sun down to sun up. You want me to feed in private? Oh, my goodness, please just fuck off. I will be an attention seeker, like me or leave me. Problem solved.
I have courage, I can share my photos of feeding my baby in public I have much right to share my breastfeeding photos as you have to share your boring food photos and honeymoon trips.
We breastfeed in public because we have a right to be in public. Our children have a human right to eat and be comforted wherever they are. It would be really nice if you could for once lend me a helping hand, comfort me with kind words, pass me my flask, pick up the pacifier my baby just threw to the floor or just turn your head and mind your own fucking business just as I do when I see those goddamn high heel females carrying their baby in kangaroo bags and ensuring their makeups are on and they are flashy and no less than a model.
So just know this: You have a right to feed your baby in public, enjoy your motherhood, there are people who struggle to have babies, there are cases where lactating glands are dry, so motherhood and feeding is a privilege and honor.
“When you hold a child to your breast to nurse, the curve of the little head echoes exactly the curve of the breast it suckles, as though this new person truly mirrors the flesh from which it sprang.”
– Diana Gabaldon, Dragonfly in Amber
Rimli Bhattacharya is a First class gold medalist in Mechanical Engineering from National Institute of Technology, an MBA in supply chain management and is engaged with a corporate sector. She writes for Several magazines, Times of India, Engineering Journals, Blog spots and is also an Indian Classical Dancer. She is based out of Mumbai. Rimli has been awarded a Star Blogger by team Bonobology for her essay “Running a solo Marathon”.
The views expressed are author’s own.