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Breastfeeding on the toilet and social media: yay or nay?

Last week a photo of a mom breastfeeding on the toilet went viral on the Internet. Pictured was a mom using the bathroom while her little girl was standing and nursing. An open cabinet showed a mess of toiletries strewn about, likely the work of said little girl just moments prior while mom tried to catch a moment to take care of business. The caption of the Instagram photo read, “This is motherhood and it ain’t always pretty. What’s your #momtruth? #motherhood #motherhoodaintpretty #tmi #confessionsofamom #ididthat #iamnotsorry”

Cue Internet freakout. One of the biggest responses was what the mom was doing wasn’t sanitary and nursing in a bathroom was dirty and not fair to her child.

I found that logic pretty funny, considering that the criticism women most often get when they are nursing in public is that they should go do it in a bathroom because it’s private, involves bodily fluids, and people shouldn’t be forced to see it. Seems hypocritical, doesn’t it?

I’ll be honest: I don’t think what the mom was doing was wrong in any way. Any parent of a baby or toddler knows that stealing a few precious moments to do something as basic as peeing can be tough and some days, nearly impossible. If her little girl wanted to nurse and that was the place it happened to be, so be it. Let’s be real—most kitchen sinks and sponges are dirtier than most bathrooms, anyway.

However, I think this picture raises a bigger issue: did this need to be posted on the Internet for all eternity and for everyone to see?

It seems these days that every milestone in life is shared on social media, and parenting is no exception. So many newborns have their photos and stats on the Internet even before they’ve been here for a few hours. Babies are cute and parents love to share, especially with family and friends who live far away, so you might say, “What’s the harm?”

I do think there’s such a thing as too much and that it can result in harm. Just because it can be shared, doesn’t mean it should be. For example, I know I am a lot more conservative than most parents when it comes to what I deem acceptable to put out on social media, but I just don’t think photos of toilet training, baths, and photos with nudity in any way should be out there to be liked, favorited, or commented on—whether the child is a few months old or a few years old. My guiding mantra is, “How would I feel if my mom posted this of me years ago, and now it pops up when a potential future boss is doing an Internet search of me?”

Same thing for this mother. She wanted to make a statement that motherhood has its days that just aren’t glamorous. I could not agree more. I also think photos of women who breastfeed are lovely and can show how beautiful breastfeeding can be. But now whenever anyone searches her, there’s a picture of her on the toilet. Was it worth it to make that statement?

At the end of the day, I don’t think this photo is about breastfeeding. I think the bigger issue is that as a society, we’ve come to a point where we share it all. We can show solidarity and support and that we belong to the sisterhood of motherhood without compromising our children and ourselves. Still take those adorable photos of baby bottoms and potty training successes, but consider keeping them for your own private photo albums. Your child may thank you one day.

Editor’s note: The mom mentioned followed up with an article in the Huffington Post yesterday.

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About Dr. Jennifer Lincoln, Bundoo OB/GYN

Dr. Jennifer Lincoln is a board-certified generalist obstetrician/gynecologist and attending physician in Portland, Oregon. She primarily works on labor and delivery has recently been certified as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.

Comments

  1. I agree 100%!!! What ever happened to privacy?!? I don’t see anything wrong with what this mother is doing, but was it really necessary to post it on social media? When that little girl grows up, I have a feeling she might not be very happy knowing this photo went viral because her mother posted it on the internet.

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