Breastfeeding is a natural bodily function. That, however, does not make breastfeeding easy, painless, or in some cases, even possible; which is why access to a lactation consultant is such a valuable resource for women who want to breastfeed. So when the men of a county finance committee attempted to reject state funds to allow for two new ‘breastfeeding peer consultants’ at the local health department on the basis that breastfeeding is easy-peasy, their female colleague took it upon herself to shut them down–and shut them down she did.
One of the men on the Jackson County, Michigan committee noted that his ancestors had been able to breastfeed without help from a lactation consultant, and another added that he didn’t think taxpayer money should be used to provide for assistance in performing a “basic human function”. All that sounds like some pretty big talk from a bunch of guys who have never and will never attempt to wedge their boob into the mouth of a screaming baby. No wonder guys keep comparing public breastfeeding to whipping their dick out in public, if they think nursing a newborn is as easy as taking a leak.
But county commissioner Sarah Brightner took over the microphone to interrupt the mansplaining for a moment, and it is every bit as awesome as you would hope a woman explaining boobs to a roomful of middle-aged men would be:
“Because sometimes as a new mom if you didn’t go to any educational classes and all you did was get knocked up by your husband and pop out a kid you don’t necessarily know what’s happening with your boob, and it’s nice to have support.”
Brightner went on to mention the potential breastfeeding complications of engorgement (“Hey, my boob’s hard!”) and bad latches (“It hurts when the baby’s nursing!”). And either her explanation of what actual breastfeeding is like made these old dudes see the light, or they were too terrified of the prospect of more breastfeeding horror stories, because they voted unanimously to approve funding for the new consultants. Victory!
Breastfeeding is natural, but is also extremely difficult, and extremely not for everyone. For those who do want to make a go of it, there are a lot of misconceptions and social barriers to overcome, not the least of which is that giving birth should magically turn you into a beautiful milk-spewing fountain that can instantly and painlessly satiate a ravenous newborn. It takes people like Commissioner Brightner to break into the mansplainer conversation and shut those outdated ideas down. Breastfeeding is never going to be easy for a brand-new mom, but with help (and some shifts in social attitude), it can at least be easier.
(Image: Sean Prior / Getty)