Breasts: Babies' Perfect Meal Dispensers or Sexual Playthings?

I'm feeling a little brave today, which could be a good thing or a bad thing. We'll see. In honor of World Breastfeeding Week I wanted to discuss something that may turn some folks off: the multipurpose breast!

I can't tell you the number of times I have spoken with a pregnant woman about what she is planning to do after her baby is born, breastmilk or formula, and she sheepishly tells me she wants to give her baby breastmilk but ONLY by bottle. Now, I have no problem with that. To each her own. Do you boo, but the sheepishness always lets me know there is something more there we need to unpack.

After some poking and prodding, quite a few have shared they are uncomfortable with the idea of a baby sucking on their breast. They see their breasts as solely sexual. So to have their child on their breast seems incestuous to them.

Again, I am not judging, I just think it's something we don't talk about openly, honestly, or often enough. So many women are feeling this way and silently wrestling with it because we aren't talking about it.

You all already know what a fantastic job society has done in objectifying women and their bodies. There are some awesome documentaries that cover the topic far better than I can (check out Sexy Baby, America the Beautiful, and Girl Model on Netflix.) But I would be remiss not to at least shine a light on it and how it's affecting women's ability to breastfeed. So many of the images we are fed would lead us to believe our bodies are entirely for the viewing pleasure and sexual satisfaction of men. Hips, thighs, and especially breasts are used by advertisers to sell totally unrelated products to the masses. But how many of us have ever seen breasts or women's bodies in general shown as strong or nurturing without a hint of sensuality mixed in?

Breasts are multifunctional; they are both utilitarian and sexual. They serve as both a way to nurture babies and provide pleasure to you and your partner. We don't seem to struggle with the dualism of any other body part. We accept that a mouth is for eating, talking, and kissing. And not just sensual or romantic kisses, but also kisses on babies' cheeks and kids skinned knees. Why are breast any different?

I don't have the answers. But I hope this post gets women asking questions and talking about this too often avoided topic.

What are you thoughts?

Kendra TolbertComment