If there's one aspect of motherhood that will forever divide the masses, it's breastfeeding. Should women do it in public? Should they cover up? Should they do it at all? Before I 'd even left the hospital after giving birth to my son, I had everyone from nurses to friends to distant, distant relatives weigh in on how I should be feeding my newborn. That was nearly four years ago, and thanks in part to social media and awareness campaigns, breastfeeding is now more popular than ever - and just as controversial. Here are 12 stories that brought one of the most contentious parenting topics into the spotlight in 2015.
1. . #CoverUp
"If you need to breastfeed... Please cover yourself." So read a sign spotted by the women of the Breastfeeding Mama Talk support group. The women responded the same way I do whenever I see anything stupid - with a heavy dose of sarcasm.There are ample reasons moms have for not covering themselves while breastfeeding (to name a few: some babies won't eat while covered, it's too hot, they just plain don't want to), but the issue is that they shouldn't have to provide a reason in the first place. If the sight of breasts being used for their natural purpose upsets you, here's a suggestion: cover your own eyes.
2. . This Congresswoman = Mom Goals
Now this is what I call balancing life as a working mom. Argentinean politician Victoria Donda Perez made headlines in July for breastfeeding her 8-month-old during a meeting in Argentina's National Congress building. Her simple act drew both praise and criticism, but mostly it just makes me want to president so I can breastfeed my child in the oval office and really make the haters mad.
3. . Tattoo Mom
Back in June, a judge banned a new mother from breastfeeding her baby because the woman had recently gotten a tattoo. Both the judge and the child's father, who took the mom to court over custody disagreements, claimed that the baby was at risk of contracting a blood-borne disease because of her mother's tattoo. If that sounds like horse shit to you, that's because it is. It's literally never happened before, and the ruling was later thrown out after it was discovered that the judge based his decision on an internet search. No, I'm not joking: he basically just googled it. Consider this one a win for breastfeeding moms everywhere, and a loss for anyone who wants to believe that our justice system is competent.
4. . One Mom's Delta Takedown
Anyone who has ever breastfed can tell you that breastmilk is like gold - it's a precious commodity that should never, ever be wasted, but one mom had to risk just that when flying Delta earlier this month. Vanessa Urango was told over the phone that the only way she could transport her breastmilk was to buy a cooler and dry ice. Urango followed instructions, but once she got to the ticket counter the attendants there acted as if they had no knowledge of the policy and treated her like a burden. After a lengthy argument, they eventually told her she couldn't bring the cooler or ice at all, and had to risk the milk souring by carrying it onto an 8-hour flight.
"I wasted so much time and money for nothing. Thanks so much to your staff for their complete lack of compassion for a tired mom who really just wants to get home to her babies," Urango wrote in her Facebook post. Delta later apologized and sent her a $150 gift card, but I'm willing to bet she's flying Southwest next time.
5. . This Viral Stare Down
When Ashley Kaidel had the gall to breastfeed her 9-month-old while visiting a Florida restaurant, one fellow diner wasn't shy about making her distaste known, glaring openly at Kaidel "in disgust." Kaidel stood up for breastfeeding moms everywhere, staring right back (as seen in the photo) and later firing off a Facebook post that went viral. "You should not ever feel shamed, belittled, embarrassed, or wrong for feeding your baby the way nature intended," she wrote in the post. Kaidel's photo is one that inspires moms everywhere to ignore the haters and handle their business.
6. . 'United We Feed'
Whether you bottlefeed, breastfeed, or practice a combination of methods, every mom knows what it feels like to be judged for your decisions. Sometimes it can feel like there's a war among moms, but the United We Feed campaign is trying to change that by bringing moms of all types together for a unifying photo shoot. All choices deserve respect and mothers should support each other, rather than tear each other down.
7. . Alyssa Milano, Breastfeeding MVP
Alyssa Milano made waves for her vocal support of breastfeeding this year. "Everyone's fine with [Miley Cyrus'] nipples being out," the actress said in an interview back in September. "I think people are more comfortable sexualizing breasts than relating them to what they were made for, which is feeding another human." I couldn't have said it better myself. It's so refreshing to see those with a platform use Instagram for something other than hawking weight loss tea and waist trainers.
8. . That Time Donald Trump Called Breastfeeding Disgusting
Is there any group Donald Trump that doesn't hate? Not that anyone needed another reason to dislike the man, but here you go: after a lawyer requested a break from a deposition to pump breast milk, he proceeded to insult her. Elizabeth Beck told reporters that Trump pointed in her face and repeatedly called her disgusting before storming out.
Here's a recap in case you need it. Things not considered disgusting to Donald Trump: wanting to ban all Muslims from the country and saying he'd date his own daughter if she wasn't, you know, his daughter. Things that are disgusting: women who breastfeed. Honestly, he's gotta be trolling us at this point.
9. . The 'Breastfeeding = Incest' Incident
After radio host Derreck Rusch compared breastfeeding to incest, breastfeeding moms descended upon the offices of 98.9 FM for a "nurse-in" that attracted over 80 people. Rusch later saw the error of his ways and apologized, so I guess it worked?
If there's one thing Rusch learned from this, hopefully it's this: just like the Wu-tang Clan, breastfeeding moms ain't nothing to f*** with. Also, the sole purpose of breasts aren't to give others sexual pleasure, but that much should be obvious.
10. . The Nurse-In At Goodwill
Say it again: breastfeeding moms ain't nothing to f*** with. After a Goodwill employee complained about a breastfeeding mom visiting the store, moms in McMinnville, Oregon, staged a nurse-in, because screw you, that's why.
As a mom, I always love when people suggest the seemingly simple solution of not taking your kids with you to do basic, everyday tasks. It's like they truly believe that we just love being accompanied by a fidgety toddler whenever we have to run errands. Please show me where these available-all-the-time, mythical free babysitters are hiding, because I haven't been to a Target by myself in like 3 years.
11. . When Moms Banded Together And Made Everyone Cry
If you're looking for the most touching breastfeeding story of the year, look no further. After Alex Green lost his wife in a terrible accident, his 9-month-old son was left without a mother. His late wife's intention was to breastfeed their son Brody, and after sharing his story online, he received tons of breastmilk donations from sympathetic moms all over the country.
I'm not crying - you're crying. Ok, maybe we're both crying, because this is heartwarming AF. (And no, there's nothing weird about a baby drinking breast milk from someone other than it's mother, so don't even go there.)
12. . Breastfeeding At The North Pole?
2015 drew to a close with one of the most blatant attempts to go viral that I've ever seen. When Rebecca Dunbar posted a photo of herself breastfeeding on Santa's lap, I'm sure she was expecting to win the support of the breastfeeding community, but that's not what happened. While I'm all for normalizing what's natural, what exactly is the point of this? What are you advocating for, breastfeeding on the laps of strangers? Moms can breastfeed any time and anywhere, and we can do it without invading Santa's personal space just for the hell of it. Keep it moving, Rebecca - you're holding up the line.