Breastfeeding: An Issue For All Women by Maureen Eich VanWalleghan

Everyday I make the rounds on my “news reading” cycle—which includes checking Facebook (FB) to see what articles friends have posted; what’s come up on my FB newsfeed from liked pages; reading from both left and right wing news outlets; The Skimm; Huffpost and finishing off at CNN. I don’t read everything, just an article here and there that grabs my attention. I am reading headlines. What are reporters—and by proxy—people thinking about on any given day?

Breastfeeding grabs my attention. Yesterday, breastfeeding grabbed my attention when I saw the word breast pump in a headline on CNN. Who cares about breast pumps or breastfeeding if you don’t have a baby on the hip? My daughter is nine years old now. Frankly, I was not successful at breastfeeding—she never latched, which could have been connected to her pyloric stenosis, but who cares? My daughter is happy, healthy and well beyond the breastfeeding stage. So why do I care about breastfeeding, still?

Breastfeeding is a women’s issue…

Let me say that again. Breastfeeding is a women’s issue.

It doesn’t matter if you are or were a stay-at-home mom or a working mom; if you did breastfeed or didn’t; liked breastfeeding or didn’t; were successful or were unsuccessful at it; or if your kids are long since removed from the breast…none of that matters. Why? Breastfeeding is about the body public. Breastfeeding hits on so may things about who owns a woman’s body. It’s hard to believe our society is still having a conversation—no, an argument about who owns a woman’s body, and who decides when and where and how that woman’s body will be used.

In case you’re worried about whether this post will lead into a pro-choice stance or some statement about feminism, or turn into a treatise on the pro-life front—I am not heading down those paths today, because everyone believes what they believe and no one seems to be able to meet in the middle. No, today I am going to pose just one question…

Who owns your body when you become a mother?

Not your kids as seen from the CNN headline: “Delta prohibits carry-on breast pump, apologizes later.” Really? REALLY? Frankly, it’s just mind boggling that breastfeeding is even an issue still; that a breast pump must be considered a medical device (see above article) to be permit in carryon luggage; that in 2015 breast milk, or breast pumps—for some people, who are in positions of authority and don’t know their own policies—could be considered hazardous or scary. Maybe I am misplacing my outrage, but when it’s not acceptable to show or see a woman breastfeeding or that breastfeeding paraphilia can, at times, not be permitted in the cabin of a plane—but it’s okay to show breasts barely covered in mainstream advertising everywhere—something seems wrong to me.

This situation with airlines and the breast of mothers will evaporate till the next mother brings it up again and a slow news day permits some coverage.

Can’t we as women do better than that? I know moms can be a tired lot. I am tired at times. But somehow we, women—who are beyond breastfeeding—need to come forward about this issue. It is our voice that will impact the policy/news makers to move this issue beyond just “uppity, blah, blah, blah”—fill in the blank—new mothers.

I want this issue to be non issue when my daughter has her own baby and becomes a mother, or when my future son-in-law becomes a father. I want to laugh in the future about how archaic we are right now about breastfeeding, breast milk and breast pumps. Wouldn’t that be nice?

When you become a mom, your kids own your body. Like it or not, every mother intrinsically knows this. So why are we, as mothers, still letting people in positions of authority dictate what is acceptable for our children? If a woman wants to breastfeed there should be no obstacles in her way from anyone, any place or anything. When do women have the final say about their bodies?

There are a lot of examples floating around the web about women fighting the powers that be on this issue, but it’s all of us who are past that stage in our own child rearing journey that need to jump on the band wagon and support this cause.

I think the only folks who can comment about a woman’s body are her kids: hug me, feed me, love me, squeeze me; or as my daughter likes to say: “you’re my pillow, Mama.” Exactly. Right now is the moment to put kids first. Please consider liking FB page Boobs on Board as a way to push this issue forward especially if you no longer have breastfeeding age children.