Breastfeeding bashing creates discussion for new moms, activists

Breastfeeding bashing creates discussion for new moms, activists

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - From the beginning of time, it was the only way to feed babies and young infants.

In America, breastfeeding in public is a top concern for many nursing mothers. With fewer women breastfeeding and even fewer seen feeding in public, the sight of a woman nursing her child may be viewed as odd or unusual.

Anisa Alvarado is a mother of four,  including her two week old daughter, Eva. Alvarado prefers to breastfeed. She says she wishes she could do it without the intimidating glares and negative comments from bystanders.

A few bystanders passing Alvarado while she breastfeeds in Uptown Columbus says they're all for mothers breastfeeding, but would prefer if she would cover up.

"Well I've been told to go to another area away from people, in a bathroom which is disgusting. I've also been told that the milk is nasty, that nasty milk, feed that baby somewhere else; it's rude," said Alvarado.

Although Alvarado sometimes receives negative comments she says she's found a way to deal with the backlash.

"Mostly I would just ignore it or just say my child's hungry, my child's comes first. So, wherever we are that's where she's going to eat," said Alvarado.

Pumping breast milk is an option for some women but Alvarado says not for her.

"I feel like if you can eat anywhere you want to why shouldn't my child be able to," said Alvarado.

Experts credit American culture for over-sexualizing images of women and breast.

Amanda Walker who is a group leader at La Leche League of Columbus, an organization that promotes and supports breastfeeding, says things like bikini's or walking in the mall shopping for bras isn't a big deal to people.

"They've seen this for a long period of time but they haven't seen breastfeeding," Walker said.

Walker says the invention of bottles and formula are the primary reason breastfeeding has become taboo.

"In the past in the united states breastfeeding was a non-issue, many years ago before we had formula breastfeeding was just a normal thing and because it was so normal everyone did it, nobody thought anything of it," Amanda said. "Once formula came into use there was less and less breast feeding it fell out of favor."

Walker says La Leche League supports the women's right to breastfeed anywhere she's comfortable and the baby's right to feed when they are hungry.

The state of Georgia allows a mother to breastfeed her baby in any location where the mother and baby are otherwise authorized to be.  In Alabama mothers are allowed to breastfeed in any public or private location.

Under the Federal Law the Affordable Care Act requires employers to provide daily unpaid break time for mothers to pump breast milk in a private location other than a bathroom.

Although laws are in place, mothers like Alvarado continue to get backlash for something as natural as feeding a hungry baby.   Alvarado says she  did not breastfeed with her first two children.

She says it was support groups like La Leche League that gave her the strength and courage to breastfeed her two youngest and now she's  giving that same support to other new moms.

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