Breastfeeding – The "Controversy" About a Baby's Diet

It’s been a while since I have offended everyone on earth, so I figured I would take a moment to remedy that fact.

**Warning, this post is about breastfeeding.  It may contain words like “breast”, “boob”, “nipple”, and “sexual”.  If that makes you queasy or don’t want your kids reading it, then take appropriate actions to protect yourself and your family from my verbal barrage**

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While Henry is 98% breastfed, he does enjoy the occasional smoothie with the rest of us.

So apparently August is National Breastfeeding month.  The powers that be have decided that August is the month that we will start to make a stink about some people’s “issues” with public breastfeeding.

I have breastfed all five of my children with varying degrees of success.  I nursed my girls for at least a year and I cried when my milk dried up when Spencer and Jack were each six months old.  Henry is 9 months old and we are still going strong (BTW, I’m pretty sure Excedrin was the culprit.  Now I take Ibuprofen when I have a headache and drink a soda when I need caffeine).  I am ALL for breastfeeding.  I feed my babies on demand (I also feed myself on demand so that should come as no surprise).  With that disclaimer out of the way I will get on with the rest of my opinion on this highly charged subject.

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He also enjoys the occasional cookie (courtesy of his big brothers).

Evidently, a lot of women are being harassed lately for breastfeeding in public and are staging breastfeeding sit-ins to protest.  There are a lot of things that bug me about this whole movement.  I’ll give you a combined numbered and bulleted list for your reading pleasure.

  1. I hate it that a small, vocal minority are making SUCH a stink over something that MOST people don’t even think twice about.  I have nursed all five of my babies in public with varying degrees of coverage and not once has anyone stared, pointed, or looked at me like I was indecent.  Once I was asked what I was doing by a five year old child who saw Spencer’s feet sticking out of the nursing cover.  As an only child she had never seen (nor apparently even heard of) moms making milk for their babies.  I explained what I was doing and that was the end of it.  Yet, even though it has never happened to me it clearly happens!  If nursing in public was universally offensive then IT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED TO ME.  This means that a very small percentage of the population are making ALL of the stink.
  2. At a time when grocery stores and hospitals are locking up formula like controlled substances, telling mom’s that they can’t breastfeed in public is kind of counterproductive.
  3. It really bugs me that a “movement” has to be done in the first place.  I whole-heartedly support breastfeeding moms and the fact that in 2013 we STILL have people who are offended by a perfectly natural process is seriously troubling.
    • We live in a highly sexualized culture that promotes showing ample quantities of skin from women (and children) of all ages and yet when some women show that skin in a non-sexual way, people seem to think it’s inappropriate.  I think THAT is the biggest reason why it is an issue.  People are offended by the non-sexual nature of breastfeeding.  Some men are weirded out by the fact that breasts can be used for something OTHER than their viewing pleasure and there are some prudish women who think that just because breasts CAN be used in a sexual way, that they ALWAYS are.  My mom told me how her mother-in-law (from her first marriage) made her sit in a corner in another room when she tried to breastfeed my older sister back in the 70’s, like she was in time-out or something!  Weirdos.  All of them.
  4. Anyone who has nursed their baby knows that sometimes feeding just can’t wait until you get home.
    • For me, being successful in breastfeeding meant that I needed to nurse on demand.  That means whenever and where ever the baby demands it!  I refuse to put my milk supply in jeopardy because someone doesn’t like what I’m doing.  I don’t like what lot of people do but I don’t make a stink about it (instead I rant about it online).
    • Babies nurse for reasons OTHER than nutrition!  Sometimes an overtired baby can only be calmed by being nursed.  Would you rather have me nurse next to you in the checkout line or listen to my baby scream?
    • Sometimes MOMS need to nurse.  What would make you more uncomfortable: having me nurse at the table next to you in the restaurant or seeing two wet circles the size of oranges suddenly appear on the front of my shirt.  I can tell you which I think is more indecent.
  5. I am highly annoyed by women who refuse to be discreet (see I told you I would offend everyone).  It seems as if they are doing it to make a statement, not because they can’t use a cover.
    • As I said before, I have nursed all of my babies in public with varying degrees of coverage.  In general I tend to cover up.  Why?  Because I don’t want people seeing my boobs!
    • Yes, I know that some babies don’t like covers and will rip them off… those same babies are the one’s who get distracted so easily that they will stop nursing and turn around at any and every sound and leave your nipple hanging out where everyone can see it.  If you know your baby is sleepy and/or you know he won’t leave you hanging (literally) then go ahead and nurse without a cover.  I don’t care.  But if he will, then use a cover that he can’t pull off.  I made this one and it’s wonderful!
    • Take your audience in to account!  Yes, sometimes it IS inappropriate to nurse uncovered… in the middle of your church’s worship service comes to mind.  At my church a mother’s lounge with is provided for us so I usually sit in there to feed Henry during Sacrament meeting, I cover up in Sunday School and Relief Society (but I stay in the room with everyone else).  I NEVER nurse at church without my cover unless I am in the mother’s lounge where the men generally won’t wander.  I don’t cover up at home with my family or when in the exclusive company of women.  I DO cover up when my father-in-law or my friend’s husbands drop by (cause that’s just weird).  In the Target checkout line I will hold Henry in a way and situate my clothing so it looks like I’m just holding a sleeping baby… I also keep a firm hold on him so that if he gets distracted and pulls off I can instantly cover up any exposed areas.  I wear clothing that keeps my belly covered even when I lift up my shirt.  When I nurse in the car I just nurse as if I were at home.  No, I don’t always use a dedicated nursing cover but I AM discreet.  Very few people would even be able to tell I am nursing unless they were staring.
    • Pulling down the top of your tank top is not discreet… neither is bearing your midriff.  But I’m kind of a stickler for that for all women, not just breastfeeding ones.
  6. It really bothers me that some people pretend that anyone who is uncomfortable with you whipping it out is an intolerant prude. We DO live in a highly sexualized culture.  If we lived with the aboriginal tribes of Australia I wouldn’t think twice about walking around topless, but we don’t.
    • Every time I bring a new baby home I have to retrain my children (boys and girls alike) to divert their eyes.  It’s a little strange when mom’s boobs are hanging out several times a day and they have to be reminded not to stare (and I have to remind my toddlers not to touch).  After a few weeks it’s no big deal.  If this can happen within the walls of my own home then it is not surprising to me in the slightest that other people can be taken aback when they see it in public.
    • Don’t make it harder for them by drawing attention to yourself (I certainly don’t have the time nor the inclination to “retrain” every person I come in contact with).  You don’t have to take any abuse, and you should certainly defend yourself if you are asked to leave for breastfeeding, but if you choose not to be discreet then you can hardly be surprised when people get uncomfortable.
  7. I understand and agree that nursing in public is not immodest however saying that you should be allowed to show your breasts to nurse because “just look at all of the skimpy tops all of these other girls are wearing” and “pornography is everywhere” is equating breastfeeding to immodesty and pornography.  It’s NOT the same thing!  People are offended by public breastfeeding because it’s NOT sexual.  I get that you are trying to call out the hypocrisy of the mindset, but comparing the two is dishonest and a disservice to breastfeeding moms everywhere.
  8. As soon as you start to stage sit-ins, you start to get on my nerves.  You will never change the stinker by making a bigger stink.  Grandiose statements aimed at the ignorant and easily offended is not nearly as effective as constant and firm education and proving to them that THEY are the problem, not you.
  9. Lastly, I’m not going to tell you how long you should breastfeed for.  I’m certainly not going to foist my thoughts on 3 year old breastfeeding on you because it’s none of my business.  That being said, there is a HUGE difference between nursing your infant in public and nursing your pre-schooler in public.  For heaven’s sake give your three year old a cracker and wait until you get home.

My solution would be to be pleasant, discreet, and ignore the occasional idiot who gets upset at what you are doing even if you ARE fully covered.   There is no reasoning with those fools.

Is everyone thoroughly upset?

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. Cari Osborne says:

    This is such a cultural issue. Living in Europe, no one thinks twice about nursing in public and no one covers up. I don’t think they’re immodest about it either, they just do what needs to be done. I figure if God designed it this way then that’s how he wants it. I agree about appropriateness of situations but when in Rome…I don’t cover up now unless in an area where I cannot be discreet.

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    1. Absolutely! There are some issues that the US is just so weird about (like basically anything related to food). I still think MOST people don’t care about it in the slightest but a vocal minority are ruining it for everyone.

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  2. Love this! Especially that you, yourself eat on demand. That made me laugh! I nursed my baby for the first time in Relief Society a few weeks ago. I’d never done it before and then I thought, it doesn’t really matter. I moved to the back, pulled out my cover and went to it. I also did it in Sacrament meeting (near the back of the chapel on the side) right before my baby’s blessing so that she would be pleasant for her blessing. I’d never done that before and have only seen two other people ever do that. (Obviously I used a cover!) I thought I would cover up at home since I have three sons, but I don’t and it’s not a big deal now. I don’t want it to be a “secret” for them. I cover up in front of almost everyone else except for my mom or sister sometimes. It’s not that I’m uncomfortable, I just don’t want to make them uncomfortable.

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    1. Honestly the only reason why I go to the mother’s lounge is so that Henry doesn’t get distracted :)

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  3. Alecia Street says:

    I am approaching Caleb’s first birthday and I have breastfed him since birth. I have always been scared to nurse in public because of the stigma. To make matters worse, I work full time in a male dominated company, so lugging around my pump and having to explain the two breaks I need each day has made me anxious numerous times. That being said, I wouldn’t change a thing that I’ve done and am so proud of myself for giving my son the best start, healthwise.

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    1. That’s awesome that you have been so successful! It’s really hard to keep it up when you have to pump. I’m sorry about your coworkers :( Hopefully you have enlightened them a little.

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  4. Sandy Naugle says:

    AMEN! You took the words right out of my mouth! I’m generally an agreeable person, but this is one of my pet peeves! I feel like the people who do sit-ins are purposely trying to show off their boobs, using their babies to get themselves attention, and TRYING to make people feel uncomfortable! I don’t get it. I’d go on, but suffice it to say, that I agree with every word you said! :) The only other point I have is that I don’t really want my kids, especially if I had older boys, to see those who openly breastfeed with total boobal exposure. A little discretion is important.

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  5. Heather B says:

    Excellent post! I breastfed 7 children for a sum total of 14+ years, so obviously I’m a big breastfeeding proponent. I loved every single word of this and agree completely! Awesome post!!!!!!!

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