Without fail, when the topic of nursing in public comes up, someone will ask something like, “Well, can’t you just pump your breast milk and put it in a bottle when you’re in public?” Generally, since this topic is so fiery, the response is something like, “Why should I?”
Now, while, “Why should I?” is a perfectly valid emotional response, it does absolutely nothing to help people see our side.
The “Why should I?” response perpetuates the idea that we’re just trying to not conform for the sake of not conforming. Or that every milky mama is a lactivist eager to take up arms to fight “the good fight.” We see the question as an insult instead of an opportunity to communicate and educate.
The truth is, we COULD pump and then bottle feed, but we don’t want to. Our reasons for not wanting to though, remain severely under discussed.
So, while women’s reasons may differ slightly, here were many of mine…
Dear Everyone Who Has Ever Asked Me That Question,
Yes, I could bottle feed my expressed breast milk when I am in public, but I choose not to. I choose not to because:
- Pumping hurts me, I basically hate it.
- Nursing is easier.
- Bottles run the risk of being contaminated with spoiled milk traces, bacteria, yeast, soap residue, etc.
- Most bottles expose the baby to even more plastics.
- Keeping breast milk set for a bottle isn’t as simple as grabbing some powdered formula. Think about it?
- My diaper bag is way too full already.
- Good breast pumps and their supplies are expensive. I don’t like to waste money.
- My child gets much more gas and colic from a bottle. There are no pockets of air in my boobs.
- My child gets irritated and confused from a bottle because the sucking mechanism is so different.
- If I sit right, I get two free hands when I nurse. I get a maximum of one free hand when I bottle feed.
- I make milk at the right time of day to suit my child’s physiological needs at that time of day. To give my child the right milk, I would have to plan ahead and throw off the schedule.
- Pumping makes me feel gross.
- When I pump, I don’t get as much milk, and rarely get the hind milk my baby needs.
- My boobs keep the milk at the right temperature.
- No nutrients have a chance to change and no important enzymes get a chance to die off if I nurse directly.
- My milk will change to reflect new antibodies/defenses that get passed on to my child at exactly the right time interval for when my baby was exposed to an illness when we stick together and nurse directly.
- When I am in public, my baby often gets overstimulated and nursing keeps my baby quiet and comfortable.
- Nursing relaxes me too. It increases oxytocin and lowers my blood pressure. When I’m calm, the baby stays calm.
- If I am not calm, and my baby cries, my milk will “let down” anyway. Meaning, milk will start to be released. So, while my baby cries because he would prefer to nurse than drink from a bottle, my boobs ache and leak milk. So, then, instead of seeing nothing, but having to live with the awareness that I am breastfeeding and enjoying no baby crying, you’d have to see two wet marks on my shirt, my child having a crying fit and me stressing out.
Me, (when I was a breastfeeding mom.)
Did you nurse in public? Can you add to the list? What real reasons did you have to explain why you did not want to bottle feed your child expressed breast milk?