While I have always promoted breastfeeding in my own personal way, I never wanted to become a lactation activist. Read on to learn why I am now the Reluctant Lactivist.
I just heard your interview on Dori Monson.I breastfed babies back in the early 80's and never once hesitated to feed them when and where they needed it. 20+ years ago, if they needed it we sat on a bench at the mall, at a table in a restaurant, at church, sporting events....etc. I would have been shocked and appalled if anyone had ever commented to me about it. I admire your tenacity and support you 100%.It is totally possible to breastfeed without exposing ones breast, but I do know that when baby is fussy, your hands may be trying to contain a toddler that breastfeeding is not exactly a gracious activity and that we can accidently "flash" momentarily. I wish the public would just get over itself about the whole topic.It is simply and naturally feeding a baby. That's all.
To drive the point home on the matter, may I suggest a public demonstration at a more up scale store? The women's jewelry department at Nordstroms perhaps?
At least Nordstrom provides a wonderful comfy room with sofas and such for a mom to breastfeed. These rooms were available even back in 1981. I used them often.What does Fred Meyer provide? Probably just an unsanitary bathroom. Would you like to eat your lunch in there? I wouldn't and neither would my babies.
Maybe that is the answer. Chris, if Fred Meyers would have provided you with a private nursing area, would you have used it?
I totally disagree with what you're doing!!!!!! Fred Meyer does have dressing rooms that they can and would have let you use to breastfeed your baby had you asked instead of seating yourself right in front of the cashiers and customers. Breastfeeding is a personal thing bewteen a mother and child not for the public to have to see. Have you ever heard of using a receiving blanket to cover yourself? You could also try to go out around your babies feeding schedule this way you won't have to have this sort of thing happen or even go out to your car. Have a little respect for others and yourself!!! BTW I too breastfed both my babies and I had no problem covering up and making it as discret as possible in order for my boys to feed.
To the last commenter - shame on you. How could you, as a former breastfeeding mom, not support other breastfeeding moms? You make breastfeeding sound like having sex, not eating. I'm really confounded by that attitude. How long did you breastfeed those babies? Six weeks? Do you go someplace where nobody can see you every time you eat?Sorry, I'm getting a little worked up here, but this is ridiculous. Our society's values are so messed up when people are offended by a baby eating.On the other hand, people are never going to GET comfortable with seeing a nursing woman unless women nurse in public on a regular basis. There was an excellent editorial about this in Mothering magazine a few months ago. I have to admit, before I had my kids, I didn't quite know what to do when I was around a nursing mom. My husband was the same way, although now it doesn't phase him in the least because he sees breasts in a whole new light after being around two years of constant nursing.However, just because it makes you a little bit uncomfortable is no reason to persecute moms and babies. I agree with a previous commenter - why isn't anyone asking about the BABY being uncomfortable? And Chris just shouldn't have had to drag her daughter out of the play area and off to a dressing room or out to the car, her son screaming all the while (because when babies decide they want to nurse, they want to do it NOW), so that some uptight people who were too lazy to look away wouldn't be offended by a baby eating lunch.As long as women continue to feel a sense of shame about the God-given function of their breasts, babies are going to continue being deprived of the nourishment that nature intended. Shame on everyone who thinks this is okay.
Dear Reluctant Lactivist - I know exactly what you're going through.My son is just over 2 years old and he still nurses on a regular basis. And I nurse in public - any time and any place that he gets the 'urge.' I TRY not to give in any time he wants it but distraction only works to a certain extent. That being said, there are times when we just HAVE to sit and nurse or else a melt down will ensue. I've gotten dirty looks from a lot of people when I nurse my son. Even in craft stores where mostly women shop, when I've sat in back corners ('cause I WILL NOT nurse in a bathroom, that's just gross!), or back tables or any other mroe secluded area. But you know what? Screw 'em all. Mothers have the right to breastfeed in public, Oregon law or not. If others are offended, too bad. I don't care what others think, my son is first and foremost in my life and takes precedent over any onlookers. Everyone IS entitled to their own opinion whether they agree or not. What NO ONE is entitled to do is to make others feel bad about what they believe in.You keep nursing your baby in public if that's what works for you. I don't think I could do what you're doing and more power to you for doing it. I admire you for having that strength.And to those who can't handle it, in the words of my 2 year old: Walk Away.
I also live in Portland and am currently pregnant with our first baby. I cannot believe how so many people (especially women) can get upset over a woman breastfeeding her child. I plan on breastfeeding this baby as long as he or she needs and not creating some "schedule" to follow and then plan my time out in public around that schedule. I'm also not going to be shamed into covering my baby with a blanket while it's nursing like I'm doing something lude! It really saddens me to hear (on the radio today) and read comments from people that either don't support breastfeeding at all, or even worse in some ways, support breastfeeding, but not in public. How are we going to change society's view on breastfeeding if all women are hiding in the bathrooms, changing rooms, and in their cars while providing the best nourishment for their babies???!!! Breasts are not "dirty". Oh, and for those that have a problem. What's to keep you from not looking?
I was listening to the first part of the Dori Monson show today and was going to comment but couldn't stay on the phone. I am a former breastfeeding mother (3 kids for a total of almost 8 years), a former La Leche League leader and currently have a breastfeeding grandson (4 months). I breastfed my babies in many locations in public and never flashed anyone (well, except at home). Breastfeeding in public should be done discreetly and if you don't feel that is going to be possible then you should find somewhere else to do it. I support you in your breastfeeding but making other people uncomfortable is not one of your rights as a breastfeeding mother. Remember that with rights comes responsibility.Alicia
Alicia, I believe you would not be a good representative of La Leche League today, as your beliefs attach a moral and sexualized stigma to breasts that perpetuates the objectification and oppression of women at the expense of the babies they are nourishing. In short, your comments offend me and as a woman that has breastfed, I find you the worst kind of enemy - one that supports patriarchal notions of propriety that keeps women in the persistant role of being responsible for the prurient interest. Discretion is averting your eyes, not interfering with a woman that is focused on the one and only thing she should be focused on - the feeding of her child.So Alicia, your credentials don't mean squat with the nice little support the patriarchal prurient interests of the rude and inconsiderate people who would make breastfeeding and lewd behavior analogous.
Geez, Alicia, I thought LLL leaders were supposed to support nursing mothers? I wasn't "flashing" anyone...where in the world did you get that idea? From Dori Monson, the talk show asshole who lured me onto his show so that he could talk about my "flapping breasts" after he got me off the phone? I was trying to feed my upset baby. It is yours and others opinion that "breastfeeding should be done discreetly" and while I am a modest woman who does not try to expose my breasts in public, I also put the needs of my baby first. *I* didn't "make" anyone uncomfortable. People make themselves uncomfortable with their incredibly screwed up attitudes about breasts and what they're for.
I am shocked that this whole issue has come down to comfort. People are uncomfortable seeing a baby eat? What a selfish attitude. People are more concerned with being "comfortable" than with the welfare of an infant. What does that say about the state of our society? Please post if there is anything I can do. I also have a three year old and a nursing 3 month old.
I am sorry you don't like my comment. I did check the La Leche League website and they also talk about nursing discreetly, using a receiving blanket or diaper (if you are using cloth obviously) to cover things up while the baby is latching on or changing sides. I am not faulting you for nursing in public and I am not setting things back in any way. I believe that people who don't consider others' feelings are selfish and are giving breastfeeding a bad name. If you had been hassled only because you were breastfeeding in public I will be all over Fred Meyers but I heard you say that you were having trouble getting the baby to latch on because he was fussing and that people could have seen more than you probably wanted them to and I think that they have a valid point. I know that I helped to promote breastfeeding more for 8 years by nursing discreetly in public than you have by not doing so. Alicia
Insert heavy sigh here.Chris, I had this big long post drafted, responding to some of the appalling comments I've seen here. But then I realized I just wasn't saying it any better than you.So let me just say, from a fellow Oregon mom (and enthusiastic former breastfeeder) -- thanks for what you're doing. Babies and moms everywhere will be better off for it, and I'm grateful for your efforts. I'm deeply disturbed by some of the comments you've been receiving. I'm off to write my letter to Fred. Thanks again.
Alicia--How incredibly heartless. I nurse as discreetly as I possibly can, for *my* comfort as I do not like exposing myself in front of strangers. My concerns about modesty are outweighed, however, by the needs of my baby. He needed to eat. Should I have traipsed around a huge, busy store with my toddler and frantically hungry newborn (who had nursed merely 30 minutes before, but was hungry again nevertheless) in search of a secluded place to nurse just so people who can't be bothered to avert their eyes wouldn't make themselves uncomfortable?
Alicia,What you are saying quite exactly is that it's okay to allow people to sexualize and objectify a woman's breast, and make the act of nursing out as something lewd and indiscreet. That's offensive. You are conceding that you feel there is something inherently disgusting, sexual or immoral about a woman's breast when you say that discretion is necessary. That is nonsense and is a notion that hurts women and children. It's a concession that slaps women in the face for some nonexistent malicious or salacious display that existed ONLY in the head of the person imagining it. You are saying it is OKAY to objectify women and their breasts.As for your attempt to state that La Leche League backs you up - well bull, sister, here's a direct QUOTE from the La Leche League with regards to breastfeeding laws:The law then goes on to state that a woman has a right to breastfeed her child in public "...with as much discretion as possible." It is likely that this language is also unconstitutional and unlawful. This restrictive language requiring discretion does not promote breastfeeding, and should not be copied by other states.
Hey Chris, if you wouldn't mind, shoot me an email at email@example.com if you would - can't find your email on the blog here and have a few questions.
No, special accomodations for nursing moms, while indeed comfy, are not the answer. Nordstrom can afford to provide lounges because they charge oodles of money for their clothes. I don't want to pay an even higher premium for groceries than Freddie's already charges just so I can nurse in private. Nursing whenever and wherever is a baby's basic human right. This really isn't about ME or other moms. It's about babies, who don't want to wait while mama scurries off to the nearest nursing mother's ghetto, no matter how swankly decorated.
I just want to add my support to you. I'm nursing a 2 year old, although he's far down the road of weaning himself. He only really nurses to go to bed, but when he was littler, we nursed on demand where ever we were. I've scanned several of the comments that folks have left you - the e.coli stuff made me laugh until I realized the depths of educating that we must do about breastfeeding. Someone who really honestly believes that is in dire need of education. Someone who's just shooting his or her mouth off should stop.
As an Oregon nursing mom of a 5-month-old (today! where did time go?!?), I stand behind you 100%. I have nursed in all 3 of my local Fred Meyer stores (both of the Eugene locations and the Springfield location) and have never had anything negative said to me, but I live in hippie mecca (Eugene), so that could be why. In any case, discretion is not the issue (it's actually legal to go topless in Eugene, regardless of gender!), and I applaud you for doing your part in helping people SEE breastfeeding. I watched the video of you and your son (SO PRECIOUS!!) on the news website & while the derrierre-chapeaux who suggested we could feed our kids in a bathroom (ick!) needs to take a flying leap, the way you fed your baby on camera was fabulous - a perfect illustration of how normal and beautiful breastfeeding really is. To all of those who say breastfeeding is a private event & should be treated that way, I say pftttt. It's no more private than eating lunch with your adult child! Should my mom & I hide out in the bathroom of the cafe when we go out together for lunch, simply because she paid for my food? I'll feed my kid in the bathroom when everyone who suggests that action brings their lunch & joins me.
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