Wednesday, April 19, 2006

For the Uninitiated

Unless you've nursed a baby yourself, it's hard to understand the challenges nursing mothers face. Even when you have nursed a baby, all babies are different and present different challenges. My daughter was a natural-born nurser and never had any trouble breastfeeding, though she steadfastly refused to drink from a bottle. As an experienced breatfeeding mom, I didn't expect to have any problems nursing my second, but my son has had difficulties nursing since he was born. I think we have finally determined the cause of his problems (tongue-tie) and hope we'll soon get that resolved for him.

I'm going to address a comment I received here point-by-point. It's clear to me that many folks just do not understand the nursing process, how to mind their own damn bidness, or that breastfeeding is a baby's basic human right, that should not be restricted because the thought of a baby getting food from his mama's breast makes some people squeamish.

"I think FM was right."
Well, from the phone call I received Wednesday, it appears not even the folks at Fred Meyer thought they were right. So there.

"You should have been more discreet if this caused so many complaints."
No, people should mind their own business. It's my breast that was incidentally (NOT intentionally) exposed, mostly due to the fact that my son was crying. It's clear that those of you who have never breastfed (or even seen a live baby breastfeed) don't really understand the process. Mama unlatches her bra, lifts her shirt, and brings Baby to her breast. Typically, depending on the finesse of Mama and age of Baby, the breast will be exposed for a brief second or two between shirt lifting and Baby latching on. Once Baby is latched on, his head covers Mama's breast. A crying Baby, however, pulls away from the breast, exposing (gasp!) Mama's nipple at the very moment his cries are calling attention to the scene. This is what happened to me at Fred Meyer. So the self-absorbed people who complained to management about my "indiscretion" were complaining about a mother who was trying desperately to feed her crying baby.

"The world does not revolve around you."
No, it does not. I haven't asked the world to revolve around me. All I wanted to do was feed my baby in peace. It seems to me the people who believe the world revolves around them are the ones who complain to store management when they see a mother nursing her baby. Complaining about a baby eating??? How much more self-absorbed can you get?

"It's THEIR property, not public property. They have a right to do what they did."
Actually, as the aide to my state legislator put it, Fred Meyer created a public place by inviting the public to congregate there. And as I have already noted, Fred Meyer has admitted, to me and everyone else who wrote in support, that those managers were indeed wrong.

"Perhaps you should not go to Freddy's anymore until your chlidren are a bit more grown."
So, if Fred Meyer happened to be my only choice for groceries I should not grocery shop until my son stops nursing? I nursed my first 'til she was 14 months old and plan to nurse my son at least as long. That's a long time to go without groceries. Thankfully, Fred Meyer is not my only choice. I'll put in a plug here for New Seasons, where I have been shopping and nursing in peace for the last couple weeks. I always prefer shopping there, it's just located a few miles further away from my home than the Gateway FM, so slightly less convenient.

"Couldn't you have gone to your car?"
Couldn't the people who found the sight of a baby breastfeeding so offensive just have averted their eyes? Wouldn't that have been easier than a mother negotiating a busy parking lot with her flighty toddler and bawling baby? What if it had been pouring rain, freezing cold, or scorching hot outside?

"Carried a baby bottle of breast milk?"
Again, clearly the poster has no idea what's involved. Pumping breastmilk is extremely inefficient. It takes me 30 minutes to pump three ounces of milk, not nearly enough to satisfy my son at his age, whereas 15 minutes of nursing typically does. Pumping is also uncomfortable and can lead to mastitis. Besides the time involved in actually pumping, there's also the need to wash and sterilize the pump, bottles, and containers for storage. From an ecological stand point, there's also the materials and energy used to make pumps and the energy required to keep expressed milk cool or frozen during storage and to heat it up for use. Why go through all that when I'm walking around with the perfect food for my baby, at the perfect temperature, in the perfect delivery system? Just so people who don't seem to get that none of us would be here if it weren't for mother's milk coming from mother's breasts won't make themselves uncomfortable?


harpyr said...


Beautiful response!

adymommy said...

Very nice. You are a wonderful person for taking this all "in stride" and responding they way you do. I want to rant at them myself and it didn't even happen to me.

sz said...

I am so sorry this happened to you. I will soon be breastfeeding my second child, and I am sure there will come a time to nurse at fred's (I nursed everywhere else in the world last time around!)

I have sent them a letter and I thank you for taking the time and effort to further the rights of us moms!!!

BTW I think the person who made these comments clearly is a fool!

yellowdog granny said...

brenda needs to walk in your shoes...all i have to say about that lengthy diatribe...
i garantee you that there are more offensive things shown in movies, tv shows, sports and life in general that a woman nursing a baby..want to talk about obscene or about a nation's youth getting shot and maimed in iraq every day..? that's obscene..
don't tuck the titty away's what the Goddess designed them for..

Lisa said...

i agree with you. if it offends you, avert your eyes. when i mother is getting ready to nurse, you won't see anything unless you're looking to.
way to go for sticking up for yourself!

Leiahs said...

Good response. One more reason why you might not be carrying breastmilk in a bottle: You might have a son like mine, who refuses to take a bottle. Nursing in puplic or never leaving home are our only options. I'll take nursing in public ANY day.

Thank you for taking the time to create more awareness about breastfeeding. Every little bit helps!

Chris said...

Oh, yeah. I forgot that one, Leiah! My daughter refused to take a bottle, too. My son's okay with it, but now, with two in tow, I just don't have time to I just take him with me everywhere, which is fine by me!

Chris said...

Adymommy--If you notice the chronology of my story, it took me almost two weeks to get my blog up. That's how long it took me to go from humiliation and shame to outrage, then to settle down enough to focus my outrage constructively. Believe me...I was a ranting fool for a while there!!

Sara said...

Wow okay, I understand now. thanks for being so....levelheaded about explaining the situation.

Emily said...

My baby (9mos) also won't take a bottle, no how, no way, so he gets it from the tap regardless of our location. No one has complained, yet. We don't have Meyer stores here, but we have Kroger and I may (discretely, of course) whip out the boobies there in your honor sometime very soon.

MomToTracyNSheri said...

You go girl. Well said.

I would add that it is difficult to keep breastmilk cool and to warm it when needed when you are out and about. So why do that just because there are a few losers out there who can't handle the sight of a body part for a fraction of a second?

cafemama said...

i loved this, chris, and now i have a perfect response if anyone ever says these things to me (says the woman who coolly breastfeeds her now-12-month-old during neighborhood board meetings, client meetings and conference calls). thanks for standing up like this, and for overcoming your humiliation. you rock.

Anonymous said...

Good for you! I saw your story on and I thank you for standing up for a basic human rights. Talk about real "family values".

Anonymous said...

Not only the people there shopping saw you, I bet also the guards from the cameras, as if you notice, there are cameras (close circuit system) all over the store.

I just hope that your prob gets resolved. Is it that difficult to breastfeed your child right before leaving to the store? Maybe you could do that next time? Good luck!

Terridunn said...

to you Chris on that blog I think your wrote it perfectly. Also I had the bottle problem as well none of my kids would even consider a bottle or a pacifier. Mommy was the only pacifier they were happy with and I took my nursing babies with me where ever I went so they would always have the needs met.
The last poster on here though i don't know if she is or ever has been a breastfeeder or mother but sometimes babies are hungry when you don't plan on it and even well intentioned feeding before you leave may not work. When my kis were babies and needed to nurse I enjoyed the fact that my milk was perfect for them and always the right temperature. Sometimes when we were shopping and I was not able to locate somewhere to sit and feed them when they were little it was not uncommon for me to be walking with a baby at the breast and it was pretty much impossible even if I tried to keep a blanket on to cover things up but I never heard anyone say anything about it. I did though have a few other occasions when someone commented about my breastfeeding my child and I new then there was nothing to see they were just one of those people oncomfortable with it. I usually let them know what I thought of there comments especially the person who suggested I feed my newborn son who a preemie in the restroom which I found rude as the bathroom is the last place I would want to eat myself let alone a newborn. That is way to unclean.

Anonymous said...

I think it´s great you are making a stand!! I live in Denmark ans we breastfeed our children quite happily in public. I am lucky that no one has ever said yuk that´disgusting to me or asked me to c cover up or move.. The worst i´ve had is "enjoy your food little one" or awwwwwww isn´t that lovely.. maybe it´s cos we are a little bit more openminded!! Any way go girl!!!!! Yóu are doing great!!!

Kristin said...

"Is it that difficult to breastfeed your child right before leaving to the store? Maybe you could do that next time?"

Babies are not gas tanks.

Have you ever tried to get a little kid to go pee before you leave the house on a long trip? Then you know what I'm talking about. They hafta go when they hafta go.

Similarly, babies hafta eat when they hafta eat. I don't know about you, but my family grocery trips can take up to an hour, depending on traffic in the store, whether the registers are adequately staffed and the employees are helpful, whether the kids are cranky, and on and on.

How do you communicate "tank up now, kiddo, because you won't be able to eat for the next hour or hour and a half" to a 10-month old?

They hafta eat when they hafta eat. And it makes way, way more sense to feed a baby when it has to eat than to make all sorts of labyrynthine plans to avoid feeding that baby where *gasp* someone might SEE it!

There is something gravely wrong with our society that this isn't obvious, that our priorities are this out of whack.

Heather said...

I just wanted to respond to this comment left on your blog for this post:

""Not only the people there shopping saw you, I bet also the guards from the cameras, as if you notice, there are cameras (close circuit system) all over the store.

I just hope that your prob gets resolved. Is it that difficult to breastfeed your child right before leaving to the store? Maybe you could do that next time? Good luck""
ummmm, Person. Dude or Dudette. I don't think the guard has to get his jollies from watching a mom using a very utilitarian part of her body, her mammary glands, to deliver nourishment to her baby......

You know what? Since I have been a nursing mom lo these past 6 months, I have probably inadvertently shown parts of my breasts dozens of times in public. Not once did I care, because I don't think of these things as "private parts." They are MY damn breasts, and my baby's damn breasts. So they are privately owned. But they are not private parts. They are things that happen to deliver milk to my child. Do you worry about idiots getting turned on by the sight of a baby bottle? To many nursing moms, the sight of a bottle filled with artificial formula is offensive. Maybe bottle-feeding moms should have to use their bottles at home out of sight, or in their car, so they don't offend me. **rolling eyes**

God this stuff makes me mad. If you are so concerned about nobody seeing any breasts ever, go picket in front of the billboard of a woman advertising beer with her silicone filled breasts clad in a skimpy bikini top. Now, that is obscene.

Also, do you have any idea what all involves taking a toddler and infant out to a grocery store? A mom is lucky if she can get them all out the door reasonably cleaned and clothed. What if the baby is asleep before they leave? Is she supposed to wait til the baby wakes up, and then wait there to feed him, then probably need to change his diaper?

What if he isn't hungry before they leave? Do you expect a tiny human being who has been on this planet for 8 weeks, to be able to control his hunger?

Do you have any idea how exhausted this mama probably was? If you are so damned concerned about some security guard seeing this mama's mammary glands, or wish for her to feed the baby before she goes to the store, why don't you buy a plane ticket, put yourself up in a hotel, and offer to come help this mama out by either coming to the store to set up a privacy tent around her (so no wayward security guards might *gasp* see her using her mammary glands to nourish her child), or bring the mama groceries (which in other societies a mama with 2 little ones like this would never be put in this position in the first place. She would live close to, or with, other female relatives who could lend a hand and not place all the burden of care on one small exhausted mom's shoulders. But our society is nice and assbackwards that way. )

So, why don't you think before you type, ass-hat.

(um. rant over.) :)

Chris said...

Little late to say this to the ignorant person with the security guard concerns (I've been too busy with my actual life to respond to every asinine comment left here), but in fact, I DID nurse my son less than 30 minutes before we arrived at the store. Lo and behold, he was hungry again. It happens. STOP telling me how to mother my children. STOP assuming I'M an idiot. YOU clearly don't know the first thing about breastfeeding, the needs of babies, or the demands of motherhood.

Anonymous said...

Why can't you just cover up?

Every mother I know - including my good friends and my mother - were skillful enough to cover themselves up. They didn't run to their car or go into the less-than-sanitary public bathrooms, but they also didn't want to see others and they didn't want anyone to see their own naked breasts.

Yes, babies need to feed in public. And they need their mother's breastmilk. But you can do it somewhere that isn't as conspicuous. Or at least attempt to. If I see a mom trying to cover up, great. It's when a mom is sitting for ages with her breast hanging out, that gets a bit nasty. Especially in a restaurant or grocery store. It's not my kid and not my breast - and I really don't need to see it.

Anonymous said...

Well said! I wanted to add (with regard to the "bring a bottle" suggestion) that these people obviously don't understand the supply & demand process. Even if you have expressed milk with you & use that to feed your baby, your breasts will still get engorged at the usual feeding time & you'll probably start leaking everywhere. There have been several times when I've been out & about with my baby & toddler, and had to pull over to nurse because I felt the letdown & didn't want to cause a scene for a different reason. :)

And another point I wanted to make (for everyone who insists we "cover up")--I have large breasts, & any time I've attempted to use a blanket, not only does it fall right off, but it takes forever to get him latched on, which only frustrates him to the point of crying, which draws even more attention to us. Then, when I finally get him latched, we're both sweating and upset (now that we have everyone's attention) and the nursing session doesn't go well at all. Not to mention, it's dangerous to put a baby in a situation where they're rebreathing their own carbon dioxide. This is thought to be a leading cause of many stomach-sleeping related deaths in newborns. So, no, using a hooter hider or blanket is NOT a solution here. But thanks for offering up your inexperienced advice.