Monday, August 30, 2010

In My Own Opinion - Breastfeeding in Public

This is a topic that I am quite fascinated with - breastfeeding in public.

I had previously asked the question to the readers to provide your opinion (next time I will be sure to offer more options since it seems like these weren't quite the right fit for everyone).  It seems that more than half of the people have voted they are just fine with mothers breastfeeding in public and the rest have voted they are definitely uncomfortable when they see a mother nursing in public.  I'm happy to see that no one selected the "EWWW..." option!

In my opinion - I think breastfeeding in public is absolutely necessary and should not be viewed negatively at all.  I think this is about the most natural and best thing a mother can do for her child and the more I think about it, I am amazed and excited and overwhelmed with even the thought of being able to feed and nourish my baby with my own body!  It's extraordinary and (in Stephanie fashion) magical!

For something to be as natural as it is, I sometimes find it horrifying that we live in a country where so many people have so many negative views regarding breastfeeding in public.  I don't think I've found anyone that is completely against breastfeeding in general - but plenty of people I have talked to feel that mothers should just keep it completely private and only at home.  I also find it horrifying that in this same country we live in, we have to pass laws to protect those breastfeeding women - to prevent them from being charged with something as ridiculous as indecent exposure while feeding their child or from being thrown out of public places.

Let's be clear - I think every woman has a right to be able to feed her babies in whatever manner she chooses, whether it be breastfeeding or bottle feeding.  There are advantages to both it's also understood that breastfeeding is not always an option for all women.  To each his (or her) own....

Let's also be clear - if I'm blessed with the ability to nurse my baby on-the-way, I do not plan to be one of those women that throws inhibition to the wind and is fine with exposing myself to the world - I hope to be able to be somewhat discreet and cover myself during feeding time.  Although, I myself get a bit uncomfortable with the very 'open' method some women feed their babies in public, I can't hardly blame them.  Again, to each his own....  But let's be honest, is a breastfeeding mother really exposing more of herself than most of the advertisements that are splashed around TV or in magazines?

I'm constantly amazed at some of the negative opinions of breastfeeding in public out there.  We now live in a culture that has sexualized the breast so much, that the natural act of a woman feeding her child is such a thing that should only done in private.  We are constantly reminded that we live in this type of culture when we see regular headlines where breastfeeding mothers have been asked to leave public places.  Woman are being asked to leave malls, airplanes, restaurants, stadiums, parks, you name it!  How did we get here?

Here are just a few examples in the last few months:

Mother Harassed for Breastfeeding in OC Store

Mom Breastfeeding at Rockies Game Asked to Stop

Breastfeeding mothers stage nurse-in at Glendale McDonalds

Kentucky woman asked to leave restaurant after breastfeeding infant


Alisha said...

I'm all for BF and all that but I'm still one to say please don't flaunt yourself. Yes, i understand it is natural and women have done it for years and you aren't ashamed or embarrased, but please have the decency to cover yourself up with something!

oh and my friend Janelle just posted a cloth diaper review/breakdown.

caryl.mqt said...

I am always touched by the intimacy and tenderness between mother and child whenever I've seen breastfeeding--almost like a sacred moment, something I don't want to disturb or intrude upon. And I couldn't help but chuckle at your reflection that surely breastfeeding moms aren't exposing nearly as much as what we see on TV and in advertising--how about what we see walking down the street in front of us, and not just women's breasts but "cheeks" of both sexes? I'd much rather see women breastfeeding in public any day!!! :-)

Tenacious V said...

Last month my son and I were the picture subjects for a feature on breastfeeding for our local paper. I did it without hesitation. And, lo and behold, when the paper came out, we were on THE FRONT PAGE, next to the masthead, in all our breastfeeding glory. Now I've got absolutely no compunction about breastfeeding in public. If anyone says anything to me, I can say, "Dude. It's nothing that hasn't been on the front of 120,000 newspapers!"

Stephanie said...

V: I love it - that is about as perfect as a comeback can be!

Caryl: I completely agree - you can show people barely dressed, but the second you put a baby to the breast, then it isn't acceptable.

Alisha: Thanks for the blog suggestion!! Love it!


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