>> Wednesday, August 12, 2009
*disclaimer - this post is going to be about public breastfeeding. If you don't like public breastfeeding or you don't want to read about it, then stop here.*
Photo from Chim Chim's Photostream on Flickr
Breastfeeding in public. It sure is debatable isn't it? I guess when you get down to it nearly everything about breastfeeding is open for debate. Where you feed your baby, how often you feed him, how long you are going to breastfeed, the list goes on. It really surprises, hmm no that's not even the word. Nothing regarding breastfeeding surprises me any more.
Let's talk history. Do you realize humanity wouldn't have even survived as long as it has, if it weren't for breastfeeding? For ages if a mother died during childbirth a wet nurse was brought in to feed the baby. Oh the horror! Someone else coming in and breastfeeding a child that wasn't their own! Can't imagine anyone doing that these days? Ahh someone did. You can read Baby Moses' story here. It's 6 months later and he is still being cross-nursed. His dad sure knows the importance of breastfeeding.
Did you know the bottle wasn't even invented until the late 1800's? Did you know that "formula" was only invented to be used in extreme cases - when a wet-nurse couldn't be found. It was never intended to be used the way it is being used today. But someone saw the opportunity to make a buck and now formula is being toted as a great alternative to breastfeeding your child.
Nothing is as good as breastmilk - don't be fooled.
So what is my point you ask? My point is, not always has breastfeeding been such a thing that you need to go do that in private. It's not everywhere that women are told "use a little modesty" or "cover that up". Breastfeeding is normal!! Yesterday on twitter I offended someone by being the lactivist that I am. I don't mean to offend. I also know that you can't "hear" me talk. You don't know the tone I am using, all you can do is read and guess. Tone says a lot.
Yesterday I was pretty mild - I wasn't even riled up. ;) Others were yes, and you know what, I feel they have every right to be. The offending message wasn't just about having some modesty while you are breastfeeding in public. Yes, I completely get that these comments were not directed right at me personally. But I do breastfeed in public and who's to say that next time they won't be directed at me. What's even more offensive is the fact that the guy said he wouldn't care if she was breastfeeding in public if she was "hot". Oh yeah, that makes all the difference in the world (sarcasm here folks).
What's offensive to me is that people see breasts everywhere. You see them on magazine covers, in magazine ads, on music covers, on TV commercials (breasts barely covered by an arm). You see more breast in some low cut tops, and in bikini tops that you ever would when someone is breastfeeding their child. But the minute someone sees a baby at the breast, eating, it's all "have some class", "use a cover", "be a little modest".
I take great offense at being called "fat, ugly hippies" just because I am breastfeeding my child wherever he is hungry. What I look like has absolutely nothing to do with feeding my child.
I take offense at someone saying to a breastfeeding mom "go do that in private" or "go do that in back". As if that is something rude. Breastfeeding is not rude...it's food! People eat in public all the time. As a person that has issues with watching/hearing people eat I would love to tell some people to go do that in private. Can you imagine the backlash?! But somehow because a baby is breastfeeding (eating when he is hungry) it is ok for anyone to tell that mom to go do that in private?? I don't think so! Why shouldn't a breastfeeding mother be allowed to enjoy the same activity that everyone else is? Be it watching a baseball game, enjoying a meal out with her family, going to the movies, worshiping in church? In all of those activities there should be enough going on that you don't have to sit and stare at her feeding her child. You can um I don't know actually watch the baseball game or movie. You could enjoy a conversation with the person you are having dinner with, oh or you could actually pay attention to what the Pastor has to say this Sunday. You don't have to stare at her - look away. How hard is that? Why should a breastfeeding mother have to cover up or go do that in private when it is you that has the problem not looking?? (I'm using the word you in a general term here).
The majority of breastfeeding moms are decent/modest. We don't all sit down and wait til everyone is watching and then "whip them out". Most of us, even if we don't use a cover (and I get some people are more comfortable using one. That's fine!) are only pulling up our shirts just enough to get the baby latched on and trying to keep that breast from being fully exposed when we are in public. I know for me personally trying to use a cover is like a circus act. E can't stand them and he never could. Even as a tiny baby he would try to wiggle out of them. (Who can blame him really? Ever tried eating with a blanket over your head?) I would be trying to keep the cover covering, holding my shirt down because he's going to pop off, and holding my breast so he can get a proper latch. I'm sure you can see the issue here - I do not have enough hands. The problem is that even though many of us are being modest, that isn't enough. People want us to cover up with a blanket or go into a "special" nursing room or even the bathroom. When all we are doing is feeding our babies, nothing more. We aren't shoving our breasts in your face.
Babies give off a lot of clues they are hungry - the biggest being crying. So you hear the cries, you see a mom pick up her baby and start fumbling with her shirt. You know exactly what is going to happen. ( I promise she doesn't have a bottle warming up in her bra.) So if you are going to be offended by the mere fact she is going to feed her child - then look away! Don't continue to stare and then give her dirty looks, make rude comments, suggest she cover up or go elsewhere. She isn't the one with the problem. Obviously if she would be more comfortable using a cover she would be using it. If she would be more comfortable breastfeeding in private she would have picked up the baby and went looking for a nursing room. She's comfortable, if you aren't - don't look.
I honestly don't mean to offend people with my lactivism. I am just very passionate about breastfeeding of all babies, everywhere and anywhere.
Video made & posted by BabyREADY