Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Mom's Milk Anywhere held its first gathering of World Breastfeeding Week at K&F Coffeehouse this morning and KATU-News was there. I'm thrilled to see this issue getting so much press coverage this week (the Oregonian plans to run stories in both its Living and Business sections as well) and hope that it will help persuade more people that breastfeeding in public is a perfectly normal and decent thing to do!


susan birdwell said...

As a mom who nursed her children, I totally believe in breastfeeding and did it in public but NOT as I see mothers doing today, exposing the breast. I and all my friends just layed a baby blanket over our shoulders and had NO trouble feeding our children anywhere we chose. Everyone knew we were breastfeeding but we respected our privacy and that of the public. It is another sign of young people today who think the world revolves around them and their actions and they don't care how their actions affect others. It is about respect of others and keeping breastfeeding personal, between you and your child, NOT you and the world. This is not a third world country with different modesty standards. We don't need to see your breast to support you in your important role of breastfeeding.

Andrea C said...

Oh please.....that's all I'll say to the above comment.

I just read the Oregonian article. I was shocked to read something positive about breastfeeding. And absolutely appalled that MY Fred Meyers treated you that way!

My 17 month old son just weaned last month. I nursed him everywhere and anytime he needed it. Sometimes with a blanket and sometimes without.

I'm so thankful that nursing moms have the law on our side, I just wish the rest of country would back us up! It's a boob people....and we are feeding a baby. There is nothing indecent about a baby latching on in public.

Nursing IS about you and your child...which is why we shouldn't give a rip about what others think. I would never let my child scream in hunger just to appease someone else's sense of discretion. And I hope it only becomes more commonplace because I would love my kids to grow up in a world where they saw more breasts being nursed than exposed sexually on tv or in magazines.

Good for you Chris for bringing this front and center! I'm sorry about your negative experience at Fred Meyers. Rest assured though...when my next baby is here I will be nursing him on that same bench :-).

Lily said...

Hey Chris,

I saw your story on KATU last night and in the paper this morning.

I just wanted to encourage you for standing up for this. My kids are now well past breastfeeding (7 and 10) but I fully support where you stand.

For me the biggest humiliation wth breastfeeding was being asked by my in-laws to leave the room when feeding my (first) newborn son, saying it made them "uncomfortable". Their extended family were all formula-feeders, and they just couldn't understand why formula wasn't "good enough" for my son when it had been good enough for all their children. Go figure.I was lucky enough to have a mom who is quite strong-willed about breastfeeding to support me.

I nursed in all kinds of places. As any nursing mother knows, when a baby wants it, there's no telling them "wait 5 minutes so I can find a more discreet place". I was never approached with a complaint about it, but that's not saying your experience couldn't have been mine. Easily.

I'm offended by seeing a 13 year old girl bending over in her low-rise jeans and showing her thong undies for the whole world to see. I wonder, "Who let that girl out of the house like that?"

We are all offended by different things, but nursing should not be one of them. It's been going on as long as there have been babies on earth, much, MUCH longer than low-rise jeans and thong undies on adolescents.

I thank you for being brave enough to stand up and make a difference about this.


cara said...

Where are all of these exposed breasts that people keep referring to? I really can honestly say that I have never seen a mom nursing in public who has her breast "exposed". I see young teenage girls and grown women more exposed (from their choice of clothing) than I have ever been while nursing in public! Just because many of us do not use a blanket to "cover up" while we nurse our children does not mean that we are "exposing" our breasts. (By the way, have you ever tried to nurse a toddler with a blanket? Give me a break!) It can be done "discreetly" without the use of a blanket thank you very much. While many women feel more comfortable using a blanket while nursing in public, it was not something I have ever wanted to do or feel that I need to do. I feel no shame about feeding my daughter in public- to me covering up with a blanket would be showing that I feel shame. I also have to wonder why people, who are so "offended" by breastfeeding in public, feel SO compelled to look?

We are a culture that is in need of a serious overhaul. Breasts are for feeding babies. It is time to take back our breasts from the sexual realm and stand up for their true purpose. It is the optimal nutrition for babies. Every reputable health organization in the world recommends breastfeeding for AT LEAST a year. The only way to normalize breastfeeding and to fight the misconceptions about it is to bring it back into the public sphere.

It is good to see the discussion about breastfeeding in the media (though also a little disappointing to see such uninformed and judgmental comments from many folks). I, for one, will be at Pioneer Courthouse Square on Saturday to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week with my 20 month old nursling, planning to "whip out the boob" to feed her.

Anonymous said...

I read the Oregonian article this morning and while I certainly respect your need, and desire to breastfeed, the fact of the matter is this: A breast is a breast whether it is feeding a child or flaunting it to entice a man. Everything about the last decade(and your campaign, it appears) is about telling everybody who does not agree with you to stuff it- to heck with discretion or modesty, I am going to do whatever I please, with no regard to the respect of anothers. Having sex or going to the bathroom are also completely natural things that people do, but prudent people not going to do them in the aisle of Fred Meyer.
What is wrong with just a little bit of discrete-ness? Just cover up.

Anonymous said...

A few weeks ago I posted my own blog. It follows...

"Musings on Motherhood, or, Behold the Mighty Breast!

Being a mother is the most incredible experience I have ever had. I have ruminated on this topic many times before, and although some may get tired of hearing it, the bottom line is this: Raising my children is the most important job I have ever had. It is also, so far, the easiest. Don't get me wrong: By "easy" I don't mean simple, or "a walk in the park". In fact, as far as the time-commitment, dedication requirement, and importance of it goes, it is the hardest job I have ever had. But, since all of my instincts tell me to do whatever is necessary to ensure my children develop healthily, decisions on raising them have so far required little or no deliberation. One of these was the decision to breastfeed.

I will never forget the first time I nursed my son in front of family and friends. It was obvious those that felt comfortable versus those that felt they were witnessing something pornographic. At the time, I was disturbed that anyone should consider the sight of a nursing baby, one of the most lovely things I have ever seen, to be offensive or even inappropriate. Contrary to popular belief, these breasts were made for nursing!

Thus it is with great enthusiasm and appreciation I applaud the "Breast-Feed or Else" article in the 6/13/06 issue of the New York Times. It goes into great detail about the EXCELLENT benefits of nursing, from reduction of the risk of cancer, allergies, countless illnesses, infections, and obesity, to an increase in IQ points for breast-fed children. Also, and this is my personal experience since the article says nothing about it and I suspect it may step on some toes, the bonds I have with my children seemed to grow exponentially the more they nursed. I remember watching them nurse and feeling so gratified at being able to provide all their nutritional needs, and make them so happy, for there is nothing more contented than a nursing baby. Scientific evidence backs this up with findings that prove breast-feeding produces endorphins that enhance the positive experience of nursing.

No doubt some people will find this subject matter unpalatable (ha, ha). The reason for this is our culture and its obsession with seeing women's breasts as exclusively sexual in nature. There is little support for women who choose to breast-feed, although things are starting to change. My former employer, for example, installed a nursing room shortly before I resigned to have my first child, and I took advantage of it whenever I'd return to visit my former coworkers. However, the hostile reactions some people show who witness the "spectacle" of a nursing mother and child in public demonstrate that we have a ways to go before American society as a whole appreciates the value of breast-feeding. The fact that the NY Times is reporting on it gives me hope. Perhaps we are closer to appreciating, encouraging and accepting this most natural human behavior."

Thus it was with great enthusiasm I read today's Oregonian article "What's A (Nursing) Mother to do?". Nurse! Obviously!

Scarlett said...

I read the Oregonian article today and just e-mailed a letter to the editor about it. I love that this issue is getting some press. I breastfed my child whereever she was hungry (why wouldn't you feed a hungry baby?) and luckily I was never scolded for it. When your child is nursing you ARE covered up. That most offensive nipple is quite completely in your child's mouth and the rest of your so-called exposed breast is covered by shirt and baby head. Really, people, this is not about trying to push beliefs on anyone or offend anyone. I always tried to be discreet, though I never used a blanket, because I didn't want people staring at my breast either. I just wanted to feed my hungry child and that's what this is about. It's about feeding hungry children. It's what breasts were made for and if it doesn't offend you to see a baby bottle-feeding in public then it shouldn't bother you to see one breast-feeding. It's an unhealthy double-standard that we'd do well to get rid of.

Jennifer Steele said...

Well. I am not a nursing mother, although I am a strong breastfeeding advocate, and I believe babies have the right to be fed when they are hungry, no matter the location. I do not believe mothers should hide, or cover up, or feel ashamed when they breastfeed in public.

But I will say: yes, breasts are for feeding babies, but at least for me, unwed and childless, breasts are also very sexual--and what is wrong with that? I am sensing from this debate that breasts have become an either/or situation. Either they are (I'm exaggarating here to make a point) mammary glands with the sole functional purpose of feeding a child, or thay are (again, exaggerating to make a point) sexual, dirty things that lead men and women into deviant behavior.

Why can't we allow our breasts to be everything they can be--and why can't it be okay for our culture to be comfortable with a little breast?

I Know that when a woman is breastfeeding it isn't a sexual act--it is a mother feeding her child, giving her child comfort, bonding with her child. And I think that people who are uncomfortable with seeing a woman breastfeed in public are uncomfortable with their own sexuality--and transferring it onto this lovely private moment between a mom and her baby, a private moment between the two of them even if she is standing in public.

So really, the root of the problem needs to be addressed here if we are to see some real change: and what a root it is. How do we get a society that is so confused about sex--is it dirty? Is it biological? Is it about love? Do we need it to love? Can we use it and abuse it? Is it bad? Is it good?--into a place where we can identify a healthy expression of our sexuality, and not be freaked out, threatened, or made to feel dirty, when we see a woman breastfeed her child? How can our own views about sex and our bodies change so that we can discern when an exposed breast is about sex (in a good way, bad way, or otherwise) and when it isn't?

Laurence said...

Hello, Chris,

That article about you and Luc in today's (Wednesday's) Oregonian really got me thinking about the subject of breast feeding. What bothers me most is that there are so many healthy things that a parent can do for a baby -- and breast feeding seems way up at the top of the list. And yet you are being discouraged from breast feeding Luc.

Why on earth should breast feeding be discouraged? On the contrary, Shelby Oppel Wood's article in The Oregonian about you and Luc opened my mind to the realization that we, as a society, should be making public places such as markets breast-feeding-friendly.

This evening when I went to my local Washington Mutual Bank branch located in my local Fred Meyer in Hillsboro, I saw the Fred Meyer store in a completely new light: Luc's light and your light. I got to thinking of all the thousands and thousands of dollars my wife, my now-25-year-old-formerly-breast-fed daughter and I have spent at various Fred Meyer branches since moving to Oregon 15 years ago.

And then I thought of you and Luc and I got to wondering what kind of reception you would receive at the Hillsboro Fred Meyer. I stood in line at Customer Service to ask my questions and find out. The Fred Meyer representative I spoke with was quite supportive of breast feeding in general and breast feeding in a case such as yours and Luc's.

On my way back home, I also did some shopping at the Hillsboro Target. I decided to ask the same questions about breast feeding there. (Unfortunately, I could not find anyone in customer service at Target as I was ready to leave the store.)

In conclusion, I think it would be a good idea for customers -- both male and female, young and old, with or without breast-feeding children, or grandchildren, to take a moment and inquire at each major store they regularly shop at to find out if they are spending their money at an establishment that is Chris-and-Luc-friendly or not.

Thank you for all you are doing in this regard.

Yaya said...

I was pleased to see the article in the Oregonian about breastfeeding. I nursed all 3 of my children and am pretty passionate about the subject. I wish everyone could have the wonderful nursing experiences that I did. The first was weaned at 16 months, the 2nd weaned himself at 14 months and the last gave up the breast on his own this past February, a month before his 3rd birthday. I even nursed 2 of my nieces a couple of mornings a week for their first year since my sister and I had nursing babies at the same time and when she returned to work part-time I babysat them. I didn't want to deal with a bottle (the boob is so much easier) and I now have a very special bond with my them. I never felt uncomfortable about nursing in public. I felt that my child's emotional and nutritional needs superceded any amount of, what I consider unwarranted, discomfort some observer might feel. I was told several times that I should be more discreet and go into the public bathroom to nurse. I responded by asking then how they would feel if people expected them to eat their lunch sitting on a dirty public toilet. Congratulations to all the mothers who make the choice to give their children the best.