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.
Good for the manager of the Fred Meyer for asking her to put her boob away or cover the child up. It is a place of business. Show some damned decency.
Ooh, anonymous strikes again!! Do any of these people have children? Decency is feeding a hungry baby. They can not wait. They let you know by screaming. The problem is that people like "anonymous" think breastfeeding is indecent. Why exactly is it indecent, anonymous? Do you think people should put their bottles away too. If not, why not? The result is the same-- feeding a hungry baby--unless, of course the bottle contains formula and then it is not as healthy or easily digestable as breastmilk, but is a sometimes necessary substitute.
Just thought I'd give you the heads up to one particular source of these anons.http://community.livejournal.com/pdx_cf/9977.html
Holy cow! I read that thread on livejournal--what a bunch of hateful people. They don't just hate breastfeeding, they hate kids. Not everyone loves babies, but I don't usually hear such venom displayed. I could almost picture their shriveled, black hearts as I read sentences like these: "[There was a thing on yahoo about breastfeeding and I started a thread about putting their damned tits away or doing it out of sight, and people started the replies of "If you don't like it, don't look! No one's forcing you!"I said "Um. Scuze me? No one's forcing you to haul out your saggy blue-veined tit in public and latch some ugly little sprog onto it either."]"Oy...
P.S. I got my letter to the editor published in The Oregonian today!!
Scarlett, I loved your letter. Thanks so much for writing it!!!
I don't think anyone said breastfeeding is indecent, rather I applaud you for doing it. But just try to cover up. I know it's hard to think of anything other than your new child, but TRY to think of others sometimes. Try to extend some of that courtesy you keep talking about. Think about others, for once, and that perhaps, when they are eating or drinking, they don't want to see a naked breast. Regardless of what it's being used for. We're not saying it's indecent to breastfeed, just that it can be shocking to see such a thing when it's unexpected.I do my best to think of others when I'm in public. If I think someone might be offended by swearing, I'll do my best not to. If I'm in a church, I'll make sure I'm dressed appropriately. I try to think of others and not just myself.Again - breastfeeding in public is your right. Of course you should be allowed to do so. Just attempt to cover-up - show us that you're trying. It's easy - simply show some courtesy and you will receive some in return.
Yes, Rebecca, lots of people say it's indecent, gross, and should not be done in public. (See the many comments here on this blog!) Some people don't care how much or how little flesh is exposed. The sight of a baby sucking on his mother's breast disgusts them. While most every breastfeeding woman I know (and I happen to know many!) nurses as discreetly as she can manage in public, we do so primarily for OUR comfort, not that of strangers. I don't like strangers looking at my breasts, but maintaining my modesty is less important to me than my baby's comfort. I am not covering him with a blanket--he wants to look at my face and I want to look at his while he nurses. I wish, when my son is having trouble latching on and my breast is therefore temporarily exposed despite my efforts to keep it covered, that people would offer me the courtesy of averting their eyes. That's what a polite person does; polite people don't demand that I worry more about the psychological comfort levels of grownups around me than the physical comfort of my baby. Good for you that you're so concerned about other people's feelings. Too bad for the babies of people like you, though, who stifle under blankets, missing precious moments to bond with their momma, in the service of the comfort of grownups who pervert in their own screwed up minds an act as wholesome--that is healthy AND decent--as breastfeeding. There are lots of things that are "shocking to see when unexpected"--but if you saw moms nursing everyday it would no longer be so shocking. I hope by the time my daughter is ready to have children, nursing in public will have become a NON-issue!
Chris –Until the American public is ready to see women walking around topless, nursing in public without the slightest attempt to cover up will never become a non-issue.And yes, a few people are apparently disgusted by breastfeeding in general. I’m not one of them and the majority of the anti-breastfeeding in public comments on this blog have not been of this opinion – they simply wanted to see some attempt on the mother’s behalf to cover-up or find a less obvious location.Good for you that you want to see your child’s face when breastfeeding. You have that opportunity at home. Unless you’re only outlet for breastfeeding is in public, you should have more than enough time to bond at home.It's when self-righteous mothers get on their soapboxes and feel the need to push this in everyone's face that it becomes an issue. I wouldn't have even felt the need to write or talk about this were it not for the few mothers who seem to think the world suddenly revolves around them and their children. You know what - while your world revolves around your child (and it should to a degree) - the rest of the world shouldn't feel shamed into thinking it's inappropriate to feel uncomfortable seeing a naked breast at a restaurant.And again and again, you feel the need to contort my feelings into something “perverted”. It has nothing to do with that. It has to do with exposing a part of your body that is never exposed in public (with the exception of a select locations) in very public places, like restaurants, coffee shops and grocery stores. And in those select locations where one might see nudity, one typically knows what they’re about to see before going in.If you’re making the majority of people uncomfortable, why not at least try to do something other than telling us to avert our eyes and that we’re perverted? Maybe try to find a more secluded space if you can’t seem to breastfeed without lifting up your top.Again, all I’m saying is that in order for you to see any courtesy on this subject, you need to try to think of others and extend some of that courtesy to us.
As I mentioned in another comment in a previous post...I breastfed for 17 months and I fully support nursing in public without covering up. There are so many people like Rebecca here who apparently support breastfeeding, but with conditions only. And that's their right. Fortunately for those of us breastfeeding, we also have rights. And those rights clearly state that we may breastfeed in public, in any fashion.I get so tired of people thinking we don't think of anyone other than ourselves or our child. Of course we think of other people! We are mothers after all. But when it comes to simply feeding our child, we really don't see HOW feeding them is an issue so we don't worry about it. I've lived in Portland for 15 years and I can count on 2 hands how many women I've seen nursing in public. Either I've never noticed...or sadly...it's not that common. So I can't figure out where all these women exposing their boobs are? Lastly...I breastfed my son in public many times. I never intentionally exposed my breast. If you happened to by staring at me at the right angle at the precise moment my son unlatched and turned his head and you saw a glimpse of skin. Than that is your problem not mine. If you weren't staring so hard you wouldn't have noticed a single thing. There are bigger things to feel disgusted about. Like child pornography. Priorities people, priorities.Love the blog!
Who cares if you see an unexpected or unwanted bare breast! What harm is actually going to come from that? I have seen my share of completely unexpected, totally unwanted, oblivious to the fact, ass crack in my life time and I don't feel as if I've been harmed in any way. You wont hear about people complaining to the manager at Fred Meyer expecting that the manager will actually go over and ask those people to cover up. Maybe we should instate public dress codes for the nation? Make people cover up so that no one will be offended? It isn't healthier to wear pants so that they don't fully cover your bum.And yet, why is it that people have such a problem and actually go to the effort to stop mother's from doing something that is such a natural, healthy, decent, devoted, couragess, selfless thing as breastfeeding their child? "Just attempt to cover up-show us that you are trying." WE ARE TRYING!!!!! Seriously, how many times have you actually been assulted with a bare breast because a mother is breastfeeding her child? And how many times have you seen more cleavage than you would care to see because of what someone is wearing? People keep on suggesting blankets? What is it with blankets? It is more combersome and alerting when a mother who is going to breastfeed throws a blanket or a tent or what ever over her child to feed them. Its like a big red flag saying "I'm going to breastfeed my baby. Please don't look at me, although it will be very hard not too because I am attempting to hide myself and my squirming child under this blanket" What if its a scorching hot day? You want me to cover up with a blanket? It is a very rare instance where the mother is actually trying to parade or shove their breastfeeding into other people's faces. All this has been said before, and yet people just aren't listening.
Rebecca -I don't think that anyone said that the majority of moms who want to nurse in public want to do so without making any attempt to cover up. Personally, I'm extremely careful to keep myself as covered as possible at all times, but I don't use a blanket because my son won't tolerate it.However, I don't think that covering up is the point. The problem is that a lot of people do feel uncomfortable when they see a mom nursing in public. I think that this is the case whether or not the baby is covered, because I've gotten looks no matter how covered I've been. Plus, there's nothing that makes me more uncomfortable than feeling like I have to be absolutely sure that everything's covered for fear of offending someone.I am not a flagrant public nurser by nature. In fact, with my daughter, I didn't nurse in public (or in front of anyone but my husband, mother or mother-in-law) unless it was absolutely unavoidable. I can't begin to tell you how stressful this was. I'd try to schedule outings around my daughter's feedings. If she cried while we were out, I'd give her a pacifier. I spent lots of time hiding in the car, huddling over and hoping nobody could see me.I don't think I ever bothered anyone while nursing my daughter, but it sure wasn't fun for me (or her). I would see or hear about moms nursing on a park bench or at a coffee shop and get really jealous. I wished I had their moxie, but I just couldn't bring myself to nurse in front of others.What I'd really like to see is for EVERYONE in our society to become comfortable with breastfeeding. After talking to several husbands of breastfeeding moms, I've discovered that the more they see it, the less uncomfortable it is. My own husband hardly notices when a friend of mine nurses in front of him due to the fact that he's seen me breastfeeding our kids daily for a year each. I don't think that asking all moms to cover up with a blanket is the answer, because the general public isn't going to get used to seeing breastfeeding if that's the norm. Cultural mores and standards of decency change over time, and I think now is a great time to start working towards a more tolerant attitude towards public breastfeeding.Think of it this way - you meet a new co-worker with a lazy eye. It's uncomfortable for you to talk to this person - which eye should you look into? Are they looking at you? Or are they looking at something on the other side of the room? It's an effort for you to talk to them, and you don't want to be rude by staring at their wayward eye, but somehow you can't help yourself. You wouldn't get mad at this person, because obviously this lazy eye is something they can't control, but it's an effort for you every time you have a conversation with them.Fast forward to a year later. You've worked with this person every day, had countless conversations with them, and seen their lazy eye a million times. Do you even notice it anymore? It's exhausting to be uncomfortable with something you see every day, and it's human nature to become desensitized to things that we see all the time. Think of all the things we see on television that would've been shocking 50 years ago (like a double bed, for instance) but today wouldn't cause anyone to bat an eye. Now, that desensitization obviously isn't a good thing when it comes to graphic sex and violence, but it certainly would help if more people would become desensitized to something that so obviously benefits society as a whole.Yes, nursing benefits everyone by helping to keep babies and moms healthier (think of some of the economic benefits to everyone, like fewer employee sick days taken to care for a sick kid resulting in lower costs for businesses and lower prices for consumers, lower health care and health insurance costs due to fewer hospitalizations, and fewer tax dollars spent on infant formula and care of sick formula-fed babies of low-income women, just to name a few).So, next time you see a mom nursing in public, whether she's covered or not, you should thank her. Thank her for helping to make you more comfortable with seeing nursing moms. Thank her for helping to keep herself and her baby healthier and lowering your health insurance costs. And realize that this is an issue that goes beyond moms wanting to nurse without making any effort to cover up. This is about our values as a society, and how we want to thank nursing moms for doing what is a very hard and not always socially acceptable job.
Everyone keeps saying, "people aren't listening". Because it's really this group of in your face crazy moms who apparently need something to do who aren't listening. I've spoken with countless moms over the last couple of days regarding this issue. And while they all say there are times when it's somewhat trying to find a place to breastfeed, they would much rather find a somewhat secluded spot and, if needed, cover their breast (while still having full eye contact with said child - and in the heat of summer no less!) than showcase their breasts. Yes, they feel uncomfortable showcasing their breast – they wouldn’t do it without child and they chose not to with child.Congrats to all moms who say they never intentionally show their breasts in public. It’s apparently not you with whom I have this issue, rather it’s the group of moms who are trying to make this an activist issue - who want to make such an extreme public display to tell us “perverts” that we’re the problem, not them. Next thing you know they’ll be fighting for a law allowing them to change their babies in restaurants (something I’ve seen way to many times).And to knittinmom – well written, but a lazy eye isn’t a breast. I agree – it is completely out of that person’s control – that person didn’t chose to have a lazy eye. But you did chose to have a baby and with that come some inconveniences. So if you have to skip Starbucks once in awhile because you have a fussy baby - that is your choice. I shouldn’t have to be subjected to something that in normal circumstances wouldn’t even be allowed.Again, it’s all about trying to show some courtesy to those of us who don’t want to see breasts while sipping our lattes or eating breakfast. You extend it and so will we.
"Think about others, for once, and that perhaps, when they are eating or drinking, they don't want to see a naked breast."I still don't understand what the big deal is about. So what? You see a breast. Get over it. Worry about something more important. Be glad that some women are choosing to provide what is the best possible nourishment for the future people of this society.
If your baby is fussing and doesn't want to latch on, isn't that an indication that your baby perhaps does not want a god damn tit stuck in it's mouth?
I breastfed my daughter for 3 years and 1 1/2 years in public, I remember being really uncomfortable the first time I nursed in public but I had a best friend who showed me the ropes.. she nursed both her daughters everywhere and you could never tell that she was nursing, it looked liked snuggling! I nursed in the aisle of the Home Depot tool dept.. with many "good for you" statements from clerks, fellow shoppers, etc. My daughter was a very fussy nurser and for the anonymous person who said that maybe that it a sign that the baby does not want the "tit" in her mouth, well... most babies fuss when hungry and breastfed babies digest breastmilk so fast that they need to be fed more frequently than formula fed babies.. As a breastfeeding mother , knowing this, you would never get any errands done for the first 4 months of life if you were to stay home and nurse privately so as not to offend anyone.I encountered only one snide comment during my breastfeeding experience with my mother and ironically, I was not even nursing.. but instead had my daughter nestled into my chest, she slept so peacefully when snuggled into me, my top was not even raised! But I got a nasty comment and pointed out to the lady ( as it was always middle aged women with the judging glances) that she was sleeping not nursing and BTW so what if she was nursing! I was infuriated, my baby woke up because she was yelling at me.. also at the Gateway Fred Meyers... what is up with that place? It seems to me that people are offended by loving, connected, close baby- mother relationships more than breastfeeding because it was so obvious that I was not nursing. I wonder if these anti- nursing people ever notice that a baby bottle nipple looks just like a breast and they have that bottle just sitting on a table with all to see the nipple replica.. what if I was offended by that??? It is just as ridiculous. I am so tired of the hate.I have , through the years noticed how people look at nursing mothers and it is shocking! And often times these "offended" mothers are shopping with their daughters that have the low riders, visible thongs and tight plunging bare midriff tops! Funny, eh?I was told by my OB that I should try to nurse my daughter for as long as was good for us as my mom died of Breast cancer and bottle fed all 5 of us children..It's also a health issue, my daughter also has never in her 4 years had an ear infection, cold, flu,etc! Thanks to Breastfeeding for giving her a great start...I always quietly go up to a nursing mom and tell her how great she is for nursing her baby, it's a lonely place sometimes to nurse and it's hard to made to feel like you are doing something wrong when actually you are doing something very right! Formula is only 50 years old, breastfeeding is the longest know nutritional sourse for children in the world! I hope these horrible posters never go to Europe because it is nursing EVERYWHERE, with...YIKES!! Breasts occaisionally glimpsed! Oh my! Get over yourselves! After reading all these nasty posts , I am surprised at how people refer to the breast, it is so hateful..body issue problems maybe???!! And the hateful way that babies are refered to as well.. why all the hate? I am so sad for our society and what kind of world that I have brought my daughter into!OH! Yes, I could have bottle fed pumped breast milk.. but as many breasfeeding mom's know.. BF babies rarely take to a bottle, you have to wait 6 weeks before introducing it, it messes with your milk supply.. it is great for working mom's but stay at home moms rarely have need for it, the breast is so handy, always the right temp milk and no clean up.Thanks for listening, I just had to give my two cents! (or 100 cents!!!)
Oh, Rebecca, the problem is that you aren't listening. And Chris and I aren't exactly crazy, in-you-face moms. We're simply moms who are tired of being told we're doing something wrong by feeding our kids. I've seen Chris nurse her son a gazillion times, and unless we're just sitting around the house, she's generally extremely discreet. You won't see any more breast from her than you would from a chick in a beer commercial (and usually much less) unless you're staring in the exact right spot at the exact right time at the exact right angle.As for the lazy eye comparison, you're wrong that everyone chooses to have children. And the lazy eye guy could choose to work from home, wear dark glasses or get expensive surgery to ensure that nobody felt uncomfortable talking to him. Ridiculous? Because in essence that's what you're asking nursing moms to do - stay home, cover up completely, or take on the health risks of feeding our babies formula. Just because it's socially acceptable to rag on nursing moms and not folks with lazy eyes doesn't make it right.And what about my other arguments, which you chose to ignore? About the fact that the only way to desensitize people and make them comfortable with breastfeeding is to make them see it every once in awhile? And the fact that by breastfeeding both my kids, I'm saving you money on your health insurance? Don't I deserve a tiny bit of thanks for that?You ask me not to disrespect you by showing you my breasts. Well, let me tell you, I always do my best. Even though I don't use a blanket, I've perfected the art of getting my son latched on under the cover of my shirt hem and I can usually sense when he's going to pull away so I can flip my shirt back down before he exposes me. Is that enough effort for you? Is that enough for you to give me the benefit of a doubt that I'm trying to keep myself under wraps and that I've got in mind the comfort of everyone around me? Or am I only allowed to go out with a blanket over me? And what do you say to the people who never want to see a baby breastfeeding at all, no matter how covered?I know that I'm probably never going to convince you of anything, but I really wish that you would think about some of this stuff with an open mind. I acknowledge your discomfort with seeing a bare breast and, like I said, do my best to be discreet when nursing. In return, can you acknowledge that I'm doing something that is good for society as a whole and perhaps if you do get a little flash, give me the benefit of a doubt that it was unintentional? And I will acknowledge that perhaps Chris went a bit far in calling you a pervert, but it's frustrating to no end to have people tell you that you are doing something horrible when you're just trying to do what's best for your child. We are so tired of hearing people tell us that we just want to show the world our breasts when that's not the point at all.I, personally, just want to be comfortable. And I'd like everyone else to be comfortable as well. Like I said when interviewed on the news about the purpose of MomMA, I want the sight of a woman breastfeeding to be as unsensational as seeing a mom giving her baby a bottle.
Ok, here we go. Repeat after me: No one has The Right Not to Be Offended.Some people desire not to see breasts in public. Fine. But be clear: It is your desire, not your right. It is your opinion that it is impolite, not a fact. No one is obligated to accomodate your preference about how you like to see or not see babies eat. And that doesn't make them rude or disrespectful. What it does do is it makes YOU responsible for your own need to be comfortable with how babies eat. Yes, you actually have to take responsibility for your own feelings and needs, rather than expecting complete strangers to risk their breast health and disregard their child's real hunger just so you will remain in your own personal comfort zone. Do you realize that missing a feeding by delaying it to move elsewhere or by giving a bottle, often leads to engorgement which is painful and can cause a drop in milk supply as well as health problems including mastitis? Nursing when and where necessary is a smart and healthy choice made by women who know what to do to maintain their breast health and their milk supply. It is SO much more important than a mere preference. It is so far beyond subjective definitions of "decency" or "respect". Insisting on repeatedly arguing that nursing in public is indecent or disrespectful shows a persistent and determined misunderstanding of what nursing is and how it works. How decent and respectful is it of anyone to expect their petty preferences to take priority over another person's physical well-being? That ought to be a rhetorical question. It's sad that I have to ask it.
For the record, I never called anyone a pervert. Rebecca accuses us of "not listening" and "contorting" what she's said, but here is what I said when I used the word pervert:"Too bad for the babies of people like you, though, who stifle under blankets, missing precious moments to bond with their momma, in the service of the comfort of grownups who pervert in their own screwed up minds an act as wholesome--that is healthy AND decent--as breastfeeding."I'm talking about perverting something that's wholesome, not labeling people perverts.
Oops, sorry, Chris! Didn't mean to mis-quote you. Thanks for the clarification.
What the hell is wrong with formula feedings? Children who are raised on that turn out fine.And as for the pain of breast engorgement, etc. express your damn milk into a bottle.The problem with you nazis is that you marginalise mothers and women who make alternative feeding choices.
I have no problem describing myself as a radical prolactivist and I am really encouraged to see this dialogue take place in mostly civil terms.I nursed my daughter for four years and nursed her in public whenever she was hungry in public or upset in public and nursing soothed the boo-boo or calmed her. I was as discreet as it was convenient to be -- ie, I tended to wear loose tee-shirts and unconstructed bras. that were easy to slide up. I never used a blanket, for two important reasons. One, making eye-contact with a nursing child is one of the profoundest experiences of human intimacy and expression of love that I have experienced. Two, there were also times, in parks, for example, when my daughter wanted to nurse and, at the same time, look up at a blue sky or the rustling leaves of a tree. Frankly, I never got any flack for nursing, anywhere. (Those who might have given me flack are fortunate they never encountered me.) This includes the later years, when my daughter was able to clearly state "I want 'boobie'" and bystanders might well have overheard, and when she was tall enough to walk up to me (if I was seated), pull up my teeshirt, and help herself.Once, when she was just a few months old, we were visited by an elderly uncle who is in many respects a crotchety old crank. The first time Lily needed to nurse during that visit, as we were all socializing in the living room, I hesitated. I thought about retreating to the bedroom, but then I thought, I'm just going to go for it and let the chips fall where they may. His eyebrows went up for a moment, but then he launched into some very interesting stories about being a young man, in the service, in Japan, where women nursed publically without a second thought, even if it involved exposing their breasts for a moment. As inconvenient as it may be for some people, we are at a point in our cultural revolution where the nature of the breast as a tool of nourishment, both physical and emotional, is rising to challenge the artificially sexualized breast. Some people will be made uncomfortable. Some people were also uncomfortable when African Americans didn't want to sit in the back of the bus anymore.Like I said, I'm a hardcore lactivist. I don't expect every nursing mother to be -- I don't expect her to do anything that makes HER uncomfortable. As for people who get uncomfortable seeing a flash of nipple or a little more breast than a bikini might cover, my advice is GET OVER IT.
So if I don't have kids, do I get to walk around downtown topless?
That depends. Are you planning to use your breasts to feed a child while you do? The whole point is that an accidental exposure of a breast while feeding a child is part of breasts doing what they were naturally intended to do. Walking around topless for the hell of it is about the sexualization of the breast and has nothing at all to do with breastfeeding.
Quite honestly, Anonymous, if you want to walk around topless, I would support it. I'm thinking the reaction you would get from other people might be a bit overwhelming, however.Breasts are for babies.
Well, knittinmom, I for one LOVED the lazy eye analogy. I feel really uncomfortable talking to people with a lazy eye--mye problem not theirs! And I felt uncomfortable the first few times I saw moms nursing when I was an adolescent or adult. I wasn't offended, mind you, but I really didn't know where to look. This person was still talking to me just like normal, but she was nursing at the same time. It was awkward. So I totally understand where these uncomfortable people are coming from, but it's important to realize that it's you're own discomfort that is the problem, not the actions of the other person. I nursed my daughter for nearly 3 years. In the first few months I nursed her in public a lot just because at that age they nurse pretty much all the time. If you tried to only nurse at home you would never go anywhere. After she started to be distracted by people talking and want to pop off and on to see what was going on I moved to quieter more secluded places to avoid over-exposure of my breasts and also to make sure she'd actually eat. To the credit of my family, friends and the rest of Portland who saw me during this time, I was never asked to move or cover up. Some people even went out of their way to let me know I didn't need to hide. For instance, I was at an office-warming party for my boss so there were bunches of lawyers milling around. My husband and daughter were around and as it started to get late (we were about to head home) she got cranky and asked to nurse. We happened to be in the make-shift closet where she was playing, so I nursed her there and one of the lawyers came in. When he saw me he said something to the effect of "you don't have to hide out in here..." I thought it was sweet and this was when my daughter was about 18 months, so she wasn't a newborn. That whole ridiculous story is just to show that actually a lot of people are not offended, they are not uncomfortable and they are clearly in support of breastfeeding in all its forms. While I was uncomfortable talking to a breastfeeding woman in my younger years, clearly, I am not anymore. It doesn't even phase me. If you are in support of breastfeeding, but not used to it, some discomfort is normal, but anger and offense is not normal. If you are offended it says to me that you think something about nursing is just plain wrong. I think some people will never be completely comfortable seeing someone breastfeed because they don't have children, or they aren't around children or the children they are around do not breastfeed, but they need to recognize that no one is trying to offend them or make them uncomfortable. Nursing moms are just going about their daily lives doing what they need to do.
Damn, I love intelligent women! Kudos to all you strong mommas. :)
You know what's "wrong" with formula? It is inferior. It is artificial breastmilk. If someone can not breasfeed they turn to formula. It is a second choice. Formula derived from cows milk is hard to digest for most babies, the milk globuals are larger and harder to break down. Soy formula has been linked in recent studies to early onset of puberty in girls and late onset in boys. A child who breasfeeds is less likely to become obese than a child who is raised on formula. THAT is why we breasfeed. FOR OUR CHILDREN!
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