7.30.2010

why moms breastfeed in public, part 1

here's the deal. i've breastfed in church services, in grocery stores [while shopping for groceries], in malls, at numerous restaurants, at bookstores, in coffee shops, in the ocean, at a river, at a park ... the list goes on and on. for me, breastfeeding is - a few very important key words - natural, normal and innocent. so to cover up something that in a perfect world would be an everyday thing, seems silly. besides, breastfeeding my son is more than just for nourishment. i breastfeed my son because it is a parenting philosophy, a bonding experience, an illness-kicker, and a way to comfort, play, and love. a lifestyle.

river nursing at a starbucks


river nursing in the ocean

although i've never received direct criticism from someone telling me to cover up or go to the restroom, i'm sure i've gotten cold looks behind my back and whispers sharing opinions about my "indecency." let me make it clear that when i breastfeed, i don't just pull my shirt down and pop out the boob. i make a point to breastfeed discretely. and this is how most women breastfeed in public. however, despite there being less boob shown than one would see in a bikini at the pool, for some reason there is still an unnecessary debate about public breastfeeding, and many people are quick to offer their solutions, which are often times ignorant and inconvenient. 

solution #1: just stay at home
this is by far the stupidest, most selfish "solution" to the "problem" of public breastfeeding i've ever heard - and i have heard it, many times. i mean, it is so stupid that i'm not even going to go far into it. does one actually expect a new mother to spend all her time at home, never to leave the house, for fear that her baby may become hungry and she might have to *gasp* breastfeed in public?

solution #2: go out after or before baby needs to eat
this is one that i can understand, and that obviously is suggested by the child-less, or at least formula-feeding parents. the world health organization recommends feeding an infant under six months of age on demand; that is, not having the child on any sort of feeding schedule, but feeding whenever the child is hungry. a normal breastfeeding baby will have meals and snacks. this means that he may go a few minutes between feedings, or a few hours. this means he will eat for twenty minutes here, three minutes there. in other words, you can't always guess when the baby is going to be hungry and want to eat. even if a mother was feeding on schedule, it's just plain inconvenient. can you imagine trying to plan things around an infant who needs to eat every two or three hours? how would anyone get anything done?

of course, there are still mothers who breastfeed their older children in public, like myself. the main reason i do? we have practiced attachment parenting and ecological breastfeeding since river was born. he is not used to being told he can't nurse - and when he wants to nurse, he wants to nurse. i can try to distract him, but if he's hungry, it simply doesn't work. he would much rather breastfeed than eat solid foods - and that's okay with me. i'm not going to deny my child something he needs because it makes a few people uncomfortable [if they can even tell i'm breastfeeding].

solution #3: go to the restroom
i can't write as good of a response as posted here, so please follow that link. in short, this solution is disgusting. i remember when i was a kid, my mom would tell me to put my toothbrush in the cabinet and not out on the counter, because whenever the toilet was flushed, airborne nasties could spread and land on surfaces, and studies have shown traces of e. coli and other bacteria on toothbrushes left out. gross! here's a commercial that shows a simple but eye-opening perspective of a child eating in a bathroom.

solution #4: pump a bottle
ah, easier said than done! when river was teeny tiny, i pumped a few bottles and took them when we went out, but pumping was never easy for me and was always painful, so i decided to just get used to breastfeeding in public. more importantly, if a breastfeeding mom takes a bottle [or supplements with formula] every time she goes somewhere, her body will start to lessen her supply of milk, and may cause her to accidentally wean her baby before he is ready. stimulating your milk supply can be very difficult.

i'm leaving solution #5 for another post - because it may seem like the easiest, most rational solution, but there is so much more to it than one would think.

-click here to read why moms breastfeed in public, part 2-

2 comments:

  1. I feel just like you do about this. I do it all the time, and I don't cover up. I just don't feel the desire to and am able to be fairly discreet about it, anyway. People notice sometimes, but rarely seem to have a problem. Now that my Anna is getting bigger, I am curious to see if I get some uncomfortable looks! People need to see babies nursing in public in order for our societal beliefs to change. And babies need to eat and be comforted! We can't not nurse them just because we're in public.

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  2. I really appreciate this post and have run into some negativity on breastfeeding in public myself though I always try to be discrete.

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