THE BLOG

In Defense of the 'Brelfie'

05/29/2015 01:28 pm ET | Updated May 29, 2016
Jennifer Brenan

I'll admit when I first heard the word "brelfie," my first reaction was, what is a brelfie? I am not really a fan of selfies, so taking a brelfie sounded just as bad to me. But, I am here to tell you the brelfie is here to stay -- and that's a good thing.

So, what is a brelfie? It's a breastfeeding selfie. Yes, that's right, a mom takes a selfie of herself while breastfeeding. Brelfie's have been all over the media recently. With actresses such as Alyssa Milano and supermodels posting their brelfies, you are bound to see lots of discussion on the subject.

Breastfeeding mothers have felt embarrassed, ashamed and have been harassed for feeding in public. The movement to normalize breastfeeding and the brelfie began as ways to support breastfeeding mothers and let breastfeeding be seen in a normal light. Because, you know, feeding your baby is normal. And, how else can you normalize something other than letting people see it?

Now I am hearing that bottle-feeding mothers feel that they are being shamed by all the brelfie posting. They have dubbed the pressure to breastfeed "bressure," and they are fighting back against the brelfie.

But, I have to ask: Why? Is anyone upset at seeing women take bottle-feeding pictures with their babies? No, I don't think so. And what about the pressure on breastfeeding women to conform to what society deems acceptable? We are handed formula as we leave the hospital and told to use covers and only breastfeed modestly. Please...

Anytime a picture of a mother breastfeeding is posted, or an article about a breastfeeding in public incident is written, you will see the comments. I mentioned them already in my article about shaming mothers for feeding their babies.

I saw some recently in regards to the Elle Nicole Trunfio breastfeeding cover.

We are sick of it, we are sick of hearing about breastfeeding.

We are sick of seeing it, why do you have to shove it in our faces?

It is intimate and should be kept behind closed doors.

It's not modest or decent to breastfeed uncovered or take brelfies.

Think of the people around you and be considerate.

We get it, you can breastfeed so you think you are superior, you don't need to flaunt it.

And of course, the age-old, she's just doing it for attention.

Well these comments, these thoughts, they are the exact reason that brelfies are needed. You may not believe these thoughts and words affect mothers, but they do.

We all know now that breastfeeding is the biological norm, and recommended by all medical associations, but change does not happen overnight. It is so important to show women every where that breastfeeding is normal, there is no reason to feel ashamed or uncomfortable feeding your baby in public. You do not have to cover up. We are not taking brelfies for attention. We are taking them to establish breastfeeding as a normal part of taking care of a baby.

When I was preparing to give birth to my first baby a little over three years ago, I can tell you that I had never seen a mother breastfeed in person. If someone was breastfeeding in public around me, they were probably covered up.

I was so scared to breastfeed. I had no idea what it looked like or how to do it. And, I struggled. My daughter was in the NICU, I had to pump and I hated breastfeeding in those first weeks. I had no idea what I was doing, and I felt so self conscious to use my breasts in the way they were biologically intended!

Imagine if I had been exposed to breastfeeding beforehand and knew what it looked like. How much more confident I might have been. We have been seeing babies fed by bottles for years. I breastfed my first baby with a cover, all the time. Now, with my second baby... not so much. I also take brelfies now. My formerly private self is out to show that feeding my baby is normal and it can be seen.

I've also heard people insinuate that brelfies will be embarrassing to the child later in life or that there is something improper about it. No. Again, it is no different than feeding your baby a bottle and taking a picture. It is feeding a baby. The over-sexualization of breasts in our society has caused these feelings, but they are not rooted in the reality of the act of breastfeeding.

Women need to see this. They need to see breastfeeding so they know how to do it. Children need to see it so they know it is normal. We need the support. And the shaming has to end. We know that breastfeeding is here to stay, and with that comes the brelfie. I think the public better get used to it.

This post originally appeared on Breastfeeding Needs. You can find Jennifer on Facebook and Twitter.