OMG that baby is eating her breast!

November 30, 2010 · 19 comments

Oh my God!

Oh. My. God.

Last night I came across another article blasting mothers for breastfeeding, uncovered, in public.[1] It invokes all the usual arguments: breastfeeding is natural, but so is defecating, and no one wants people to do that wherever they want; mothers should schedule feedings so baby doesn’t need to eat while you’re out, and if they do, just pack a bottle of breastmilk; private businesses should be able to dictate who may patronize them, and if they don’t want breastfeeding mothers, they shouldn’t be forced to; and breastfeeding mothers don’t care how other people feel about them breastfeeding in public.

Well, we can agree on the last one. I don’t care what other people think of my breastfeeding in public. While I don’t mean this in a militant, fem-bitch, “let me show the world my breasts and the public be damned” sort of way (as it is often taken when breastfeeding mothers make this statement), I do mean that I don’t care. My obligation as a mother is to my child, not to those who choose to gather and comment on my parenting (either positive or negative).

And to me, this obligation extends beyond the need of my children to eat. As a mother, I have to help my children find their moral compass and define their values. I want to teach my children how to determine their values through study and reflection, and also how to live them — by acting on them . . . even in public . . . even when it’s not a popular view. If I can’t demonstrate this to my children, how can I expect them to do it themselves?

I want my children to have confidence in their decisions, to stand up to bullies, and also to be the ones who defend others from bullies. So that’s how I live. I believe breastfeeding is normal. I believe my body is functional and useful. I believe women and children are important members of society. I believe I should respond to the needs of my children, wherever I am, so that’s what I do — whether others approve or not.

There is peer pressure our entire lives to look a certain way and to behave a certain way. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone thinks their way is the way it should be done. If we listen to all the other voices, we’ll be pulled in every direction and never be able to make choices for ourselves. I don’t want that for my children, so I won’t allow it for myself. My obligation to take care of my children extends beyond nurturing their bodies. It extends to shaping their morals, developing their values, and giving them the confidence and courage to live those values in the face of degradation and ridicule.

Our children are watching. They see our actions and notice if they change from one setting to another. I don’t wish to offend people who are squeamish about breastfeeding in public, but my breasts are not sex toys and my child needs to eat. If I believe it, I must act on it. If I cover up, go to a restroom, hide in a corner, or bring a bottle to feed my child in front of other people, I deny my values to the public and demonstrate to my children that denial is an appropriate thing to do. But it’s not. So I breastfeed, uncovered, in public, because my body is functional and my child is hungry. And it is not something I will allow myself to be ashamed of.

[1] Facebook Reawakens The Lactivist Monster, http://hotair.com/greenroom/archives/2010/11/29/facebook-reawakens-the-lactivist-monster/

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nikki December 4, 0200

“and also to be the ones who defend bullies from others.” Did you perhaps mean “to be the ones who defend others from bullies”? I guess either way, we should come to the defense of both the bullied and the bulliers who are probably suffering themselves. Great article. :)

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2 SunRa November 30, 2010

Awesome photo and awesome post! I am so glad there is so much chatter about breastfeeding in public. It is shameful that women would be subjected to the oppression of their natural motherliness the way they are in this country.

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3 Catherine November 30, 2010

lol to that pic – I would totally shop there! :) I’m on my fourth breastfeeding baby, and have logged a lot of hours of nursing in public. There are those who are simply uncomfortable with anyone nursing around them, covered or not, and that is just silly in my opinion. I generally use a light blanket or more recently, a nursing cover. I’m just wondering what is wrong with using a cover? I do for my personal modestly and comfort, but also because I assume that it will make others more comfortable.

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4 Suchada @ Mama Eve November 30, 2010

Great question Catherine! I actually own a nursing cover and I’ve used it with both my children — mostly with my first when he had difficulty latching and we had to use a nipple shield, and latching was a long, awkward process. I used it less when I became a proficient breastfeeder, and now not at all. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with covering up when breastfeeding, if that’s what you and your baby are comfortable with. But as someone who still wears a bikini, and who finds a nursing cover a bother, and who has a baby who is distracted by a nursing cover, I want to encourage mothers who are in a similar position but feel intimidated by those who say it’s wrong to breastfeed without a cover.

PhD in Parenting has a fantastic post (http://www.phdinparenting.com/2010/01/27/covering-up-is-a-feminist-issue/)on the subject that made me see the issue in a whole new light.

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5 Regan November 30, 2010

Love it Suchada! You probably already know I agree 0! I gave up on using a cover after about two months because I found it cumbersome and too hot (it was July in Ridgecrest- need I say more?), but I don’t have a problem with people who want to use one. Personally I just can’t do a cover- Zach would never let me use one anyhow. I have to remind myself sometimes that it’s normal to nurse a toddler too. When I nurse Zach in public I sometimes get stares or comments asking me how old he is. I am pretty lucky that my family and friends are very supportive of breastfeeding, but I can only imagine how hard it is for a woman who has little support to read articles like the one you linked. I’m glad there are people like you who are vocal advocates of our rights as mothers so they can gain some perspective on the issue!

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6 Julie November 30, 2010

This is an awesome post and I *LOVE* the picture! I love the pictures (especially the mom in a blue bikini on a beach) in the Nursing Our Future video from Holistic Moms Network http://www.youtube.com/user/HMNNational

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7 Carla November 30, 2010

The arguments you mention, about using the toilet, etc, are so pathetic. I really think they’re so easily refuted … it makes my blood boil that people can’t see past their own discomfort to see that a baby’s health and relationship with its mom is important. They don’t see that the fact that they’re comparing breastfeeding to using the toilet is only telling of their unnatural and unreasonable discomfort with exposed/unsexualized breasts.

This is what I had to say about it, a guest post on a friend’s blog: http://thecjshow.blogspot.com/2010/11/guest-post-whats-problem-with-seeing.html

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8 Natalia December 1, 2010

I have never used a blanket to cover up and never will, especially if it includes covering baby’s head (because I want to see my baby and I want him to see me while nursing, and covering is just ridiculous and disrespectful of a baby). Sometimes I would like to send a message when breastfeeding in public, it is interesting though that when I am doing so in a baby carrier even people looking over my shoulder often don’t notice it!

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9 Amber December 1, 2010

GREAT post!!! I love, love, LOVE the pic. I want to know where that shop is so I can give them a standing ovation! I feel your pain about the nipple shield- I hated that thing! But on the other hand, we were able to nurse because of it. I didn’t go anywhere for the first three months because to hold him and the shield and keep a blanket on my shoulder was too much to handle. The first time he nursed without it, I told my husband that I felt like there was NOTHING I couldn’t do. I was a Mama and I was using my God given ability to feed someone! It was amazing! Now, I am much more comfortable and nurse discreetly but I am still intimidated by doing it out in the open. Which is funny because all of friends would call me a “lactivist”.
You are right, whatever makes you comfortable… so this weekend, when my ‘in-loves’ come over, I think I’ll nurse with the cover and WHEN (not if!) the boy kicks it off (or pulls it off and looks at me like, “What the heck is this thing, silly Mama?”) I’ll just go with it. No one is ever really watching you as much as you think they are anyway! Thanks for the inspiration to take this next step!

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10 Suchada @ Mama Eve December 1, 2010

Whoops! I sure did. Thanks for the eagle eye! I’ll change it right now. :-)

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11 Aimee December 2, 2010

AMEN!!!!!! While I’m unlikely to bare breast in line at the grocery store (when it’s a matter of mere minutes before I could feed a child in the car–far more comfy for me–I thought nothing of sitting down at a bench at the Georgia Aquarium on a crowded holiday weekend to nurse my TWO toddlers! It’s food, they were hungry, I’m not going to be ashamed of my ability to feed them the most nutritious perfect-for-them food that ever existed. No, I’m PROUD of my ability to have done that for my children. It’s not about making a point, it’s about being a mom.

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12 Stacy December 3, 2010

Funny thing is, I totally knew this was the store Be Bye Baby in Chicago when I saw the picture!

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13 Suchada @ Mama Eve December 3, 2010

That’s awesome Stacy! I wondered what the store was. If I ever go to Chicago, I’m definitely going there. What a fun display :)

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14 Racheal December 3, 2010

Catherine – the issue isn’t with a woman using a cover… it is with a woman being told she has to. If she is doing it for herself & it doesn’t bother her or the baby, then whatever floats her boat. However a woman who struggles with a cover & baby hates it but she feels like she HAS to use it because it would be rude to those around her not to (and if she wouldn’t use it otherwise)… well, those around her need to over themselves.

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15 Racheal December 3, 2010

*get over themselves

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16 Anastasia February 16, 2011

I read this post when you first posted it and afterwards thought about my nursing habits. Typically with Piper, and especially around males, I would cover up but stay in my current settings for nursing in public or while guests were over. At home or around female family members I would usually stay uncovered. I did this because I knew that there were still some family members who were uncomfortable with public nursing and I felt it was respectful to them and their counterparts. I didn’t feel a need to change my habits or that this was applicable to me at the time.

After the birth of Keeley, my busy life didn’t always permit “covering”. I found that I wasn’t uncomfortable at all, and felt much more natural without the cover…. I wasn’t hiding anything and it felt great! People gave less intense glaring and I realized it was the action of covering up that made society feel it was something shameful. The Thanksgiving after Keeley’s birth I was at my In-laws and covered up (which was less common by this time) because of family members who aren’t kid friendly. Piper came up and was confused, she wanted to see the baby enjoy her meal and pulled down the cover. I realized just how true this article is!

I no longer try to appease others with my nursing habits, I do what is natural and feels right for my girls. So thank you, you got me thinking!

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17 Suchada @ Mama Eve February 16, 2011

You’re welcome Anastasia! I remember when we first had our babies and did playdates in the park, and we all covered up to feed our babies. I have a pretty similar story to yours. Now I just don’t care though. Amazing what chasing after two little ones all the time does to your modesty! ;)

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