Over the weekend, Beyonce shared pictures of herself drinking a glass of red wine with her husband Jay Z on Instagram. While the images seemed pretty innoculous to us - she's clearly just enjoying a tipple on a night off from her three kids, including newborn twins Sir and Rumi - others were quick to troll the star for being a bad mother. Why? Because either a) she's drinking AND breastfeeding, or b) she's not breastfeeding.
Before we get to the issue of breastfeeding in general, and the pressures on women to do it, let's address the first point: you can drink alcohol and breastfeed at the same time. Well, not at exactly the same time - that's a level of multi-tasking we're sure not even Gisele can manage (remember that picture of her getting her hair and make-up done while nursing her newborn?). But you can drink a glass of wine and then breastfeed - you just need to wait two to three hours for every unit consumed. As it says on the NHS website: 'If you do intend to have a social drink, you could try avoiding breastfeeding for two to three hours per unit after drinking. This allows time for the alcohol to leave your breast milk. You will need to make sure breastfeeding is established before you try this.'
So if Beyonce is - shock horror - drinking alcohol and also breastfeeding, it really isn't the big deal that everyone is quickly making it out to be. It's entirely safe, normal and her business.
Which brings me round to the next point: people taking issue with Beyonce potentially not breastfeeding. There's a lot of confusing rhetoric around 'breast is best': in one day last week there was a study saying less women than ever were doing it next to one about a woman being shamed for nursing her child in public. The message seems to be you absolutely should breastfeed, but not in public. There's also furor over how long you can do it for - if you're still breastfeeding and your child is a toddler, is that OK, or weird? It's just another thing on women's lists of ways to be the perfect mum - alongside having a happy pregnancy, snapping back into shape and juggling your career and homelife with ease.
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While many argue that breastfeeding is an essential bonding experience between a mother and child (and there is a ton of evidence to support this, and other benefits for the baby), there are countless reasons why people choose not to do it. One of them is that it can be incredibly difficult and painful for some women. Another is due to complications during the birth, especially if the baby arrives early. With so many safe alternatives available today, there really is no reason to publically shame any woman who cannot or chooses not to do it. After all, it's still her body, isn't it?
But really, the main point here is this: whether or not Beyonce is breastfeeding is really no one's business and sadly just seems to be another way trolls can find to judge her as a woman. If she was pictured leaving a gym, she'd probably get accused of neglecting the kids to get back in shape - if she was pictured eating an In n Out burger, it would be that she wasn't getting healthy post-baby. If she does have help in the form of a nanny, she's a bad mum. If she's frazzled and taking her kids to the studio or on tour with her, she's a bad mum. Women can't win. Why can't we just let Beyonce (and all mums) be?