Tuesday

breastfeeding mothers to busybodies who complain: GET OVER IT!

The Sevierville Mountain Press has it ALL WRONG in a recent editorial.

In the op-ed, the writer argues that public breastfeeding is "sometimes" okay, as long as the woman feeding her baby realizes that, "Breastfeeding is one of those things that can be offensive."

Wrong.

What is considered "offensive" in public has changed over the years, as we have become more enlightened as a culture. Not so many decades ago, it was considered "offensive" for an obviously pregnant woman to appear in public. Only 40 or 50 years ago, mixed-race couples were deemed an offensive sight in public. At one time, the severely disabled were kept behind closed doors so the public's sesnibilities would not be offended by the sight.

Now, of course, we realize that all of these cultural prohibitions were oppressive, ridiculous, and worked against the greater public good. The same is true of today's (decreasing, thank goodness) disapproval of women nursing their babies in public.

Breastfeeding is both a parenting necessity and a public health issue. Babies who are not breastfed are more likely to become sick with illnesses AS MINOR AS COLDS, AND AS SERIOUS AS CERTAIN CANCERS.

Additionally, (although far too few American women are made aware of this, even as we are told to lose weight, exercise more, and do our monthly self exams) breastfeeding also protects adult women AGAINST CANCERS.

Recognizing the importance of making it easier, not harder for women to breastfeed their children, many states have PASSED LAWS recognizing a woman's right to nurse her child wherever she has a right to be. Perhaps the editorial writer for the Mountain Press was unaware that Tennessee is one of those states, and nowhere my state's law does it mention the need for women to be "discreet" so as not to offend the delicate sensibilities of busybodies who have nothing better to do than worry whether they see a flash of skin while a baby is latching on or finishing up.

In the immortal words of Mr. T., I pity the fool who asks me to cover up or be more "discreet" in feeding my child. The problem is theirs, not mine, and the time has come for those folks to just get over it.

24 comments:

Ivy, the Great and Powerful said...

WORD! You have to be looking REALLY hard to catch a flash of nipple when most women are latching their babies on.

Anonymous said...

When my son was a baby (nineteen years ago), my grandfather commented that when he was a kid it was commonplace to see babies nursing in church.

Suburban Turmoil said...

I wrote a post about the Nashville Nurse In last week at the Nashville Scene blog- You'd be amazed at some of the comments.

Here's the link:

http://www.nashvillescene.com/blog/
pitw/archives/00001216.shtml#comments

Anonymous said...

I guess it becomes wrong when either the mother starts clanging her breasts together like on a National Geographic film or when a man in his mid-60's comes over and starts sucking milk from her vacant breast.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with being low key when breast feeding? It's good taste. Most people don't want to see an engorged breast anymore than they want to see someone's behind peaking out of thier jeans. Nursing is an important part of caring for a baby, but there is no need for mothers to flaunt it. That's more about thier ego and need for attention than the actual act.

jon said...

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dewi said...

Anonymous # 2

Never in all my years of working with thousands of nursing mothers have had had I met one woman who has an interest or intention in "flaunting" her breasts while nursing. It takes most new moms a lot of practice before they feel comfortable nursing in public.

Why would you write something so stupid and attach sexual innuendo to breastfeeding a child in public... All they want to do is feed their child.

katie S. said...

I agree with Dewi. My husband and I are both very shy, rarely find us in bathing suits in public! And we got to the point where we are very comfortable breastfeeding in public. I am sure most people prefer breastfeeding in public to a screaming child. A little nursing takes the edge off for everyone. We are one of the few cultures who view it so oddly. Its pretty shameful.

Anonymous said...

I was born and raised in France. So nursing my babies (in the late 60ies)to me was the obvious thing to do. When my American inlaws were visiting, however, I had to retreat in my bedroom for the feeding. One day. my mother in law followed me; she later reported to her son that she had felt "deeply moved." And to think that she had been deprived of such a gratifying experience as well as its physical benefits for mother and baby alike.

Laura Linger said...

Babies have a right to eat.

Idiots have a right to be idiots.

That's America for you.

Anonymous said...

Katie, I'm once again reminded why I love you. I hope the busybody in Mountain Press reads your response--send it to him/her!

Anonymous said...

I think the "pity the fool" attitude is what's offensive. No, wait, you are on the right track! Refuse to be mindful of others. Shove your breasts and all the latching and unlatching, along with everything else that you happen to believe you're right about, in the faces of those around you. I wonder if you'll pull your "pity the fool" routine one day and someone will show you how tough you're not? I wonder if you're baby will have fun when you do?

Anonymous said...

What, Anonymous idiot, you can`t look away? The boob is just magnetically pulling you and the horror of a nipple is scarring you for life. WAAAh, Cry me a river. Are you so freaked out by your own body?

Not only would I "pity the fool" that bothered me while nursing, I`d probably spray some of these ninnies with milk too and watch them melt. To all those who can`t deal with public nursing: get some real problems!

claire said...

Golly. How did anyone attach "sexual" to breast feeding? I think "anonymous' was saying that breast feeding is a good thing, but mothers who act righteous about it, rather than let it be the natural act that it is, are exhibiting ego. Seriously, do people really pay that much attention to breast feeding mothers? Or do some (not all) breast feeding mothers want to be paid attention to?

Naomi said...

Were I to actually "shove my breasts" into someone's face, they could have me charged with assault. Bad touch, and all that.

If I'm nursing my baby, and some idiot considers this to be shoving my breasts in their face, they can kiss my ass. Really.

That attitude is precisely why we need laws protecting the right of mothers to breastfeed in public. Some people don't consider it "discreet" unless it happens under a burqa.

Fortunately, I've never so much as been glared at while nursing. At least in my part of the midwest, public breastfeeding seems to attract little notice or comment. (I've seen a lot of other women nurse in public, as well.)

Leslie said...

The problem isn't that women nurse in public, it's that they DON't. If every breastfeeding mother nursed in public, everyone would get over it. In these parts (that would be East Tennessee) it is rare indeed to see a baby being nursed. Much more usual is for mom to feed expressed milk or formula while out, hide in a bathroom, or just stay at home.

Anonymous said...

I love how these conversations always jump to the mother feeding HER ego, HER needs, flaunting HER rights. Let me put it to you straight, anons--I really don't get any kind of ego boost out of nursing my child in public. Nor do I flaunt my breasts. NO nursing mothers I know flaunt it or "shove it" in anyone's face. But I'm also not willing to hide away--I spent far too much of my first child's infancy doing that. Great post Katie.

-meagan francis
http://meaganfrancis.typepad.com/blog

Anonymous said...

I'm the anonymous who dislikes the "pity the fool" attitude. You people don't get it. I agree that nursing is healthy and blah, blah, blah. My head is not turned by a nursing woman, I am not preoccupied by nipples, and I am not uncomfortable with my body (although I daresay the issue in this case would be the nursing woman's body). I don't consider nursing mothers to be shoving their breasts in my face; I was trying to make a point about offensive attitudes. So since I didn't do a good job, here it is again: When you stand up and shout from the rooftops that you're going to do what you want, when you want, where you want, and how you want, or I can by God encounter your wrath or, as in the words of dear Naomi, "kiss your ass," well to me that's more offensive than the person who looks at me sideways while my baby's latching on.

Anonymous said...

I am a different anon but I totally agree with you about that attitude thing. I dont care what Dewi and katie etc are saying....the attitude in the POSTS says it all..."pity the poor fool"....well all I can say is the first visual that ran thru my mind was that of the "poor fool" who had just been torn a new asshole having an "oops" moment with something messy. I mean, hey it would be a TOTAL accident....couldnt prove otherwise!!!!
There ARE ways to get back at in your face people that they can never prove. such as a guy I knew who was a waiter who had some real obnoxious customers. he happened to have bad gas that night so he just busied himself nearby. I mean there were like six people at that table...what were they going to do? Grill each other to rule out the possibility that it wasnt any of them? heh heh. I'd love to have Katie be a bitch next to me. then I could do silent stinkers at her or perhaps trip with a nice greasy burger in my hands or something. maybe let the nice greasy burger land on her tit or something.

Anonymous said...

Yep, you women are the first in the history of civilization to nurse babies. So, go at it! Everywhere, and flaunt what you are doing.

Arlene said...

I'm still trying to get comfortable nursing in public. I'm always worried I'll accidentally "flash" someone and they will be offended.

Leslie said...

Arlene,

A good thing to do is to practice in fron of a mirror. You'll be surprised to see how little is visible, especially if you are wearing the right kind of clothes. I have never liked nursing clothes because the openings don't seem to work for me; something that lifts from the bottom works best. Then if baby is in a blanket you can kind of fluff it up to cover anything that might show. I don't know how old your baby is, but it does get easier as both of you become more adept at the latching on business.

I never was comfortable nursing my first baby in public, although I did it; I always put a blanket over her and stopped NIP at 6 months even though I continued to nurse her until she was past two. I started out with a blanket with #2 but stopped at some point and never used one again. #5 is two now; I stopped NIP a few months ago, not because there's anything wrong with it but because that's when it currently is out of my personal comfort zone and I start feeling self-conscious.

Arlene said...

I'm working on it, going to a LLL meeting tomorrow for advice and support. If I don't chicken out. :)

DJackson said...

Did you hear that TN recently passed a law saying something like it is okay to breastfeed in public and that right is protected for children 12 months and younger. How crazy is that?