Breastfeeding in Public Places
For women who are nursing, the art of breastfeeding in public is frought with anxiety, scrutiny, criticism, and isolation. More often than not, a woman chooses not to feed her baby in a public setting because of the risk of embarrassing others. It is the most natural thing in the world to feed a hungry baby, yet our over sexualized culture screams the message, "Breasts are not for feeding! They are for the pleasure of men's eyes only!" and suppresses a woman's instinct to instantly satisfy her baby, no matter where she is. It's high time this crazy mix up gets straightened out.
It is a woman's legal right to nurse wherever she is!
Breasts were designed for feeding babies. Yes of course there are other uses we are all familiar with, but their primary function is for nursing a baby. The world doesn't balk at a scantily-clad woman on the front of a magazine- airbrushed with perfect skin and cleavage. The marketing falsely advertises that women's breasts look a certain way and no one bats an eyelash (well, mostly no one- I do).
Since when have boobs been allowed everywhere but on a mom and in a baby's mouth? You are at a Super Bowl party and everyone is riveted to the screen during the commercials. Victoria Secret ad comes on and no one looks away embarrassed right? You sit on the couch to nurse and no one will sit next to you.
The discomfort people have with breasts have nothing to do with you or your baby. It is solely THEIR problem, not yours. It could be that they are uncomfortable with their own sexuality, or have removed sex and women's bodies so much from reproduction, that they can't imagine that the two are intricately linked. This frequently happens in male minds that are submerged in pornography. Women are objects to be lusted after. The whole concept of sex, babymaking, and reproduction is lost.
Breastfeeding in the news
In the recent news, articles have popped up about public breastfeeding- many of which are in favor of the mother. It's about time. You can check out these links below if you are feeling the need for encouragement or empowerment.
Time Magazine: Are you Mom Enough?
This article caused quite the stir with the public, as a woman is shown nursing her preschooler. This article doesn't necessarily just address the art of nursing in public places, but as you can see from the droves of media attention, people are still uncomfortable viewing a woman feeding her child with her breasts.
Staging a nurse - in
These women bonded together and proved a point outside a security office where a woman was told she must nurse outside. The message is clear: "Don't mess with my breasts!"
The Breastfeeding Blog
- The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog: Breastfeeding in the news
Support and Community for Breastfeeding Families
Wear your powers!
Even if you are not actively nursing, you can show your support for the rights of mothers to nurse by wearing your beliefs. Tee-shirts from CafePress are made for both men and women. Feed the movement to remind America that breasts are for feeding, not just for ogling.
Phrases to practice when people comment, balk, or stare
Practice at home so you are ready for that rude waiter, security guard, or random shopper who feels it is their right to tell you how and when you should nurse your baby.
- "I'm sorry, is this your first time seeing a boob?"
- "Would you scrutinize me if I were giving him a bottle?"
- "Stop taking out your issues with sexuality out on my baby."
- "Get a good look now, because I'm sure you won't see any on the magazine rack you're about to pass by."
- "Is it as good as the porn you watched yesterday? Probably not huh?"
- "How would you like it if I told you to go eat outside because the way you eat is gross?"
- "My boobs are allowed anywhere. Back off."
Find clothes that help you feel confident
There are plenty of places that sell clothing and bras designed for a mother to easily nurse. Shirts with little peekaboo openings, bras with quick straps, nursing covers, and other items are available at places like Motherhood Maternity. Do not feel you need anything special to wear unless it makes you feel more comfortable.
If you are fine unhooking your shirt and baring the skin, you and your baby are entitled to do what is necessary to feed comfortably. Remember, you are the one who is in the throes of caring for a small child. What anybody else thinks is their issue, not yours. You have enough to worry about without being relegated to some stinky bathroom stall to nurse on the toilet.
Take internal inventory
If you are unsure about nursing in public, take a good look at the reason why. For many women, it is an issue of modesty, and that is a perfectly acceptable reason to choose not to nurse. However, if you at all flinch at the notion because of the reactions of other people, encourage yourself to find places of support and empowerment, so you and your baby aren't put in the difficult position of not being able to nurse whenever the situation arises.
You are a superhero for growing a baby, birthing a baby, and nursing that baby. Wear it proudly!
About the author
Julie DeNeen is a freelance writer and mom to three beautiful children. She nursed her first two children for one year each, and subsequently nursed her third for two years. Eden was born with a serious heart defect requiring surgery at 6 days old. Due to this illness, Eden and Julie had to learn the dance of breastfeeding when Eden was six weeks old. Julie advocates for breastfeeding women proudly by wearing her I MAKE MILK teeshirt whenever she can.