Sunday, August 18, 2013

What's So Hard About Covering Up to Breastfeed in Public?

Any time a breastfeeding story comes up in the news, especially one in which a breastfeeding mom is asked to leave an area to feed her baby, I break my own rule about not reading online comments out of sheer, morbid curiosity. In real life, I'm surrounded by people who are very supportive of breastfeeding, so it interests me to read comments and questions about the appropriateness of breastfeeding in public.

Of course, there are always some unnecessarily mean people, but some sentiments that come up frequently are legitimately well-meaning. As a mom who nursed three kids in all kinds of situations, I thought I'd address a few of these:

"I totally support breastfeeding, but what's so hard about covering up to breastfeed in public?"

That's great that you support breastfeeding. I actually would love to get to the stage when we stop calling it breastfeeding, and just call it feeding. That's all it is. You're not feeding a breast, you're feeding a baby. It's babyfeeding. Should women have to cover their babies to feed them in public? That sounds a little silly, doesn't it?

But to answer your question, there are several reasons why moms might not cover up in public:

1) It actually is hard to cover up and feed a baby at the same time. Especially when you're a new mom, and you're trying to wrangle a squishy baby into a comfortable position where they can latch on correctly. Even with my third baby, keeping a cover over my shoulder while latching on wasn't easy. And really, the only time one would "need" to cover up due to possible nipple exposure (if that's the reason you think moms should cover up) is during the latch-on. And balancing a blanket on your shoulder while trying to see what you're doing to get the baby latched is a big pain in the butt. Truly.

2) Some babies hate being covered. Most of the time, my babies would try to pull the cover off. I wouldn't want to eat with a blanket over my head, would you? Especially when it's hot. Ugh, it makes me claustrophobic just thinking about it.

3) One of the benefits of breastfeeding is the eye contact between mom and baby. The location of the breast is designed to put the baby within the vision range of mom's face. Yes, you can have the same eye contact when you're bottle feeding, which begs the question - would you cover up your baby's face while cradling and bottle feeding, rather than looking at your baby and smiling at him/her at regular intervals? That would be silly.

4) When I was nursing, I actually felt like using a cover drew more attention to what I was doing. Uncovered, most of the time, it just looked like I had a baby cradled in my arms, sleeping. No breast could be seen once baby was latched. Nothing screams, "Hey, I'm breastfeeding over here!" like a draping a blanket over your shoulder while awkwardly trying to get your baby into a comfortable breastfeeding position.

5) Covering up implies that there's something inappropriate about feeding a baby. There's not. It's feeding a baby. That's it.

"I breastfed all my babies, but I never did it in public. Why don't women just pump if they're going out?"

That's great that you breastfed all your babies. That's also great if you were able to pump and that your baby took a bottle. Not all moms can pump successfully. Not all babies will take a bottle. After working at it for a while, I could pump, but my babies never took a bottle. That wasn't for lack of trying - they just wouldn't. I'm sure if their lives depended on it, and if I wasn't around for a long time, they would eventually take one, but having a baby is hard enough. I wasn't about to go through that much unnecessary effort so that I could bottle feed in public.

I've known some women who couldn't get anything from pumping. Some women can't relax enough with a machine hooked up to their body to get a letdown. Totally understandable.

But the real answer to this question is, they shouldn't have to. Think about what you're suggesting: that a mother skip a feeding to pump, or pump regularly enough to have the extra milk to pump outside of a feeding, then find a way to keep the milk cold in transport, then find a way to warm up the milk once she is where she's going, then feed the baby with the bottled milk, then deal with the leakage or discomfort of the full breasts she has from feeding with the bottle instead of the breast for that feeding, and then wash and sterilize the bottle afterward--all instead of just taking her baby with her and feeding the ready-to-go milk she has on hand in her own body?

Doesn't that seem a little ridiculous?

Most women who successfully pump have a system and a routine for it, and usually it's because they're away from their babies for a certain amount of time on a regular basis. More power to them. I've known lot of working, pumping moms, and I think they're amazing.

But the idea of pumping just to go out in public with your baby, when your breasts are right there with you, is goofy to me. How long have breast pumps been around? How long have humans been feeding babies? When did we get to the mindset that feeding babies in public is better done with machinery and accessories than with mom?

"I don't mind if moms breastfeed in public, as long as they do it modestly. Especially if there are kids or teens around."

That's great that you don't mind if moms breastfeed in public. But let's discuss the modesty idea. I hope you have the same feelings about modesty when you see a woman in a bathing suit, or a low-cut top, because 99% of the time, that's all you can see of a woman's breast when she breastfeeds.

Granted, there might be a couple of seconds of nipple showing. If you really don't want to see that, pay close attention to moms with babies. Here are the cues that a mom is getting ready to breastfeed:

1. She starts to lift her shirt or adjust her bra.

There you go. As soon as you see that starting to happen, look away. If you're really concerned about your children seeing a woman breastfeeding, take that cue to show them something in the other direction.

But really, if kids are going to have any exposure to breasts (and they already have, if you have ever taken them to the grocery store and waited at the checkout stand where they keep the magazines), isn't that the kind of exposure they should have? Don't you want your children to see what breasts are primarily for? They're getting plenty of messages on billboards, television, and other media that breasts are sexual. Seeing them used in a decidedly and awesomely unsexual way can only be good, in my opinion.

"Can't you just go to the bathroom to breastfeed?"

1) Bathrooms are gross. Would you want to eat in there?

2) Many bathrooms don't have a chair to sit in, which leaves Mom with the option of sitting on the floor (yuck) or on the toilet (double yuck).

3) If a mom wants privacy to nurse because she feels more comfortable that way, that's great. I'm a big fan of having lounge areas for nursing moms. But it should be for her comfort, not for yours. When I was nursing, I occasionally removed myself to nurse because it was too loud or I wanted a little space, but the times I removed myself because of my worries about other people, I felt exiled. When a mom feels that she needs to hide to breastfeed, the message is that there's something shameful or wrong with what she's doing. And that's not right.


Along with the presumably well-meaning comments, I've also seen a few more, ahem, "strongly-worded" sentiments I'd like to address:

"Breastfeeding is totally natural, but so is going to the bathroom / having sex, and people don't do that in public."

Going to the bathroom is gross, stinky, and unsanitary to do in public, which is why we don't do it. Feeding a baby is none of those things. Sex is an incredibly private, intimate act. Feeding a baby can be intimate in that it's a bonding experience between baby and mom, but it's more of a holding hands kind of intimacy--not something that needs to be confined to the privacy of a bedroom or home. The comparisons are apples and oranges.

"If you want to breastfeed, that's fine, but I don't want to / shouldn't have to see it."

Then don't look. And I don't mean that in a snarky way. You really don't have to watch a mom breastfeed. (See cues in third question above.) Just look the other way and move on.

"Women who breastfeed in public are just trying to get attention / make a statement."

Actually, 99% of women who feed their babies in public are just trying to feed their babies. Having been around hundreds of women who breastfeed, including dozens at a recent La Leche League conference, I can attest to the fact that most women are very matter-of-fact about feeding their babies.

I've known one mom who exposed much more breast for much longer than any other moms I've known, but she was raised in Africa, so that explains it. I've known of one other mom (don't know her personally) who sounds like she has some exhibition issues and takes the opportunity to show more breast than necessary any old time she can. That's by far an exception, and not the norm. Most breastfeeding mothers don't "let it all hang out." They do what they need to do to feed their babies, no more, no less.

"This isn't a village in Africa. It's culturally inappropriate to bare your breasts in public here."

I'm curious about what this says about villages in Africa, or other places where breasts are common sights. Why is it culturally inappropriate here? I don't necessarily think it should be, I just want to walk through the reasoning for our cultural views of breasts. Is it because our society views breasts as primarily sexual in nature? Are African breasts not sexual in nature as well? Would you shield your eyes from a National Geographic magazine showing bare-breasted women in Africa? Would you hide that from your children? If so, why? Are African women inappropriate? Is there some kind of fear that if we start accepting breastfeeding in public without freaking out about covering up, women will eventually start walking around bare-breasted all the time? Lots of questions pop up from this statement that are worth examining.

I personally think it should be culturally appropriate for women to bare a breast for a brief second in order to latch a baby on, no matter where in the world they are. There's nothing sexual or inappropriate in that act. I think it should be way more culturally appropriate than, say, going to Hooters. Our priorities are a tad bit skewed when it comes to what's culturally appropriate regarding breasts. If we want to get all righteous about the appropriateness of breast exposure, let's direct our energies at movies, music videos, billboards, magazines, and other popular media. Leave moms who are trying to feed their babies out of it.

And if you really don't want to see a woman feed her baby in public, don't look. Don't make her feel ashamed, don't exile her to the bathroom, don't make erroneous assumptions about her motives, don't compare feeding her baby to defecating, don't make hypocritical cultural statements, don't make it harder to do than it already is. Just don't look. It really is that simple.

7/13/14 - Hi all! I wrote a follow-up to this post, addressing some of the concerns and opinions voiced in the comments section. Find it here.  - Annie



467 comments:

  1. BEAUTIFUL!!! Thank you for such a diplomatically expressed essay.

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  2. I'm tempted to print off several copies of this and carry it with me when I go to restaurants and see people reacting negatively to breast-feeding. Very well said!

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  3. Kids gotta eat! People who can't handle it need therapy.

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  4. I absolutely love this! I will be giving it to my hospital breastfeeding class.

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  5. +10. Yeah,though I'm a guy, IMHO this ahould be an editorial/commentary in every paper in the land, and if a book comes of it, incorporated in all schools at some level. The cultural taboo about breastfeeding is in fact malicious and backward-thinking. Onward!

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    1. Leave it to a man to butt in to women's territory, women's business, and scold women because many do not want to show their breasts with men around. How about you spending a little time getting men to dislplay their testicles and penises? Stop saying the cultural taboo for breastfeeding is malicious and backward thinking!! Who you calling backiward anyway???? You know what is backward, you and your male gender protecting and hiding anything about the penis and testicles, but you have the nerve to say that we females are backward and malicious. How dare you!!!!

      I am not a troll. I am a female who is tired of men always jumping into the discussions about women's bodies, that they don't know a darn thing about. You are a man!! Why don't you start up a blog about penis implants, circumcision, shaving hairy balls, premature ejaculation,etc. 8-24-13

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    2. Anonymous - Your boobs have one function. To feed babies. I don't see why a man supporting women is offensive to you. More power to you, David and Annie!

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    3. Men look at breasts as sexual objects in this country and there is no getting around that. I, as a woman, would appreciate some modesty from breast feeding mothers. I had a sister in law that just let it all hang out where ever she was and she could have been much more discreet about it. The article says "being modest makes women feel like what they're doing is dirty." Really? I am embarrassed when a woman has her entire breast exposed and men are leering at her. In my day a woman tried not to put on a show when she was breast feeding.

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    4. Anonymous, you clearly read his response wrong. The man, in fact, was saying SOCIETY is backward-thinking, treating breastfeeding as a cultural taboo. You also clearly have issues with the penis. I hope you can work that out. If it werent for many penises of your ancestors past, you wouldn't be here, complaining about them.

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    5. Wow you didn't understand anything he said ... He is on our side.

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    6. Wow Anonymous... what the actual fuck is your problem?

      Thank you sir for supporting my right to breastfeed. Apparently Anonymous isn't very bright.

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    7. Anonymous, are you crazy?
      If not, I think you should reread the article and the comment that David wrote. He nowhere said WOMEN are backwards thinking, he said thinking that breastfeeding is obscene, is backwards thinking. Calm down.

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    8. LOL, That Anon doesn't know how to read. And she even quoted the exact sentence she misread. Priceless!

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    9. Anonymous,
      The guy is in SUPPORT of the article. Obviously you didn't read his comment all the way, you scanned it and picked up on what you perceived to be negative.

      David, we need more people like you.

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    10. Whoa, calm down, Anonymous! This is an issue that affects all of society because it is only as a society as a whole that we can create long lasting policies and attitudes that prevent discrimination against breastfeeding women. This is not just "women's business;" it's everyone's business. I, for one, am grateful to men like David who actively support women's rights. Also, if you took a second to read what he wrote, you would notice that he in no way says anything to demean females or even comment on women's bodies. He just says that there should be no taboo against breastfeeding--ergo, that women should have the freedoms to do whatever they need to do with their breasts when the feed their children.

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    11. Being supportive of women breastfeeding is a beautiful thing. Thank you for that.
      www.facebook.com/projectbreastfeeding

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    12. Lol oh wow. Calm it on down!

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    13. Anonymous, I'm reading your ridiculous comment while feeding my 3rd baby. I'll be thinking of you when I whip the tit out and feed my baby in public next time we're in that situation. You ridiculous old coot.

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    14. I think a number of you are misunderstanding Anonymous's "misunderstanding." She is AGAINST breastfeeding in public, and is criticizing David for a) supporting the article, but more for b) being a man and holding an opinion on this issue. Anonymous is, in short, a bit of an idiot. But don't misunderstand... she's not on "our" side.

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    15. Really? You really compared a part of the body God gave us to nourish a life with a perfect food, with a penis? Do you go around exposing your vagina? Why would you want a man to expose his penis and testicles? And what the heck does any of that have to do with nourishing a baby? Um, that would be, nothing.

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  6. Pounds of Chocolates to you Annie for your wonderful writings...

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  7. Go Annie!!! After nursing my three babies (including the adopted one!) and occasionally under extenuating circumstances other peoples' babies I totally appreciate this. Incidentally all women bear their breasts all day every day unless they have had a mastectomy. I think the issue arises when BARING a breast. (Sorry, the latent English teacher in me rears its ugly head.)

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    1. Oh, my gosh, I had already gone back and fixed one "bear" to "bare." Thanks for the heads up - I found two more! Sheesh. The latent English teacher in me is hanging her head in shame. :)

      I also nursed a couple of other babies under extenuating circumstances, and also pumped for my adopted nephew while I was nursing my second. These breasts are veterans, man.

      Thanks, Anonymous (I'm trying to guess if you're someone I know based on your comment. I think I know, but I'm not sure.)

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    2. Yes, I am someone you know. :-) I just don't actually spend that much time online so I don't have a registration/username/profile/or whatever it is that is so nifty that lets you recognize me. :-) LC

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    3. Ha! I thought it was you, LC. Thanks for the comment. :)

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  8. Fantastic, Ms. Annie. It's always seemed odd to me that seeing a man's nipples is completely okay, but a woman's is not. Every pediatrician in the land should have a copy of this to share with their nursing moms.

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  9. Not to mention it's ILLEGAL to go to the bathroom or have sex in public. I can't stand when people compare the two.

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    1. I know! The first time I heard that comparison, I felt my brain melt a little.

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  10. This is wonderful. I only nursed my first two for a couple months each, partially because of the culturally ingrained shame I felt while nursing in public. The covers are so inconvenient and I always felt like I was smothering my baby when their sweaty heads/red faces emerged from underneath. Yet I didn't have the guts uncover and nurse freely. This time I do. This time I won't let the disapproving stares of the ignorant get to me. When #3 arrives, I will be feeding my baby whenever and wherever baby wants. And if someone sees the back of my baby's head and gasps in horror, that's their problem, not ours.

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  11. What angers me and drives me bananas, is the fact that these breastfeeding promoters are males have the nerve to scold women because they do not want their breasts visible.
    I keep telling you females of the world that this movement consists of female and males who just want to see breasts everywhere. WTF?
    These people should spend some time trying to help the sick, homeless, and needy people, while they are worrying about us females showing breasts. This is not even worth the effort they are putting into it !!
    Get men to show their some penises and testicles. (Pam in the Valley) 8/2013

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    1. In all ur comments it really just sounds like u hate supporting women and want to see penis' everywhere

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    2. Unless where you come from breastfeeding consists of showing off your vagina, why would you compare this to testicles? Breast are made for feeding not for sexual amusements.

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    3. It's not about showing breasts, it's just about being able to use them to feed a baby in public. No breast "shown" to anyone except the baby. Someone may see her breast, but not because she was showing it to them. Even when a woman is breastfeeding, people shouldn't be able to, as you say, "see breasts everywhere". The male genitals have completely different functions, so your point is lost. Women who don't want to feed in public don't have to, and should not be scolded, but a woman who doesn't want to hide to feed shouldn't have to or be scolded either.

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  12. AMEN! Thanks for writing this. I wish I was more brave and didn't feel so pressured to cover up with my stupid nursing cover - it can be such a pain and causes me anxiety. Hopefully one day nursing in public will be more normal - I've heard of lots of people giving up on nursing because they feel like they can't go anywhere for more than an hour - and that's sad.

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  13. I am pro-breastfeeding (or pro baby feeding in your words) I nursed my baby for 7 months and I covered up with a light nursing cover. My reason? I didn't feel it was my place to show that off to children whose mothers may not be ready to explain the situation. Some of my family were anti-breastfeeding and I made them uncomfortable, so I felt the cover gave them a good way to just tell their children I was trying to let baby nap. In general, I knew it made many people uncomfortable, really.
    Now my baby is two and I'm not ready to think about explaining these things to her yet either.
    Just today I saw a woman holding her breast while feeding her baby and recently saw a woman just straight whip out her boob before baby was even ready. Or the ladies that lift their shirts exposing stomach to chest. It's those that seem to try drawing attention to it that make it not so much a beautiful thing.

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    1. With respect, if more mothers explained what was happening, then maybe this whole discussion wouldn't need to happen. The fact that it's referred to as"the situation" is where the problem is. It's not a "situation", it's a natural way to feed your child. Children should not be protected from seeing a woman feeding her child in public.

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    2. Ivy, my sentiments exactly. It is not necessary to expose your entire torso to feed your baby. And using a light cloth to cradle your baby thus covering your breast AFTER the baby has latched on is not a big deal. No matter what you do BREASTS ARE SEXUAL OBJECTS in this country. Acting like they are not is ridiculous. So ladies please try not to just flop your breast out, for everyone to see, when it is just not necessary to feed your baby properly. There's no way I can keep my teenage son from staring. And he was breast fed.

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    3. not to mention, most children say "Oh." and move on. the only thing it makes it difficult to explain is why we are drinking cow's milk.

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    4. Ivy, you ever thought that maybe they're not doing this for attention or to show off, maybe they're tired and simply don't care what you or anyone else thinks. They are just trying to feed their baby.

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    5. My daughter hates being covered up. Even in the hospital. Most people don't notice or don't care. Maybe we are more lax in Massachusetts. Honestly the only negative comment I even had was from my Mother in law. But she hates everything I do lol.

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    6. I agree with you Ivy B. Private space for baby feeding should be demanded to be made available everywhere instead. With the increasing number of women interested in breastfeeding rather than bottle feeding. This demand can be possible.

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    7. I don't understand "Not being ready to explain the situation.". She's feeding a baby. The end. It isn't sexual. It doesn't fall in the category of "the birds and the bees". Chances are, your child won't even notice if you don't draw attention to it, and if they do, say this:
      "Mommy, what is that lady doing?"
      "Feeding her baby."
      "Oh."

      Easy Peasy

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    8. What does it matter HOW a mother goes about preparing to feed? So what if she lifts her shirt, or 'whips it right out'... she's still doing it for the purpose of feeding her child, not amusing herself. I SUCK at breastfeeding. I have saggy arse boobs from weight loss that are awkward to get a latch on, and don't fit into traditional nursing bras. But I'm damn proud that my 5 month old is EBF and thriving. I literally pull down my tank top and sports bra and 'whip it out', and have to prop my boob with my hand in order for my LO to feed, wherever we may be when she is hungry. I'll be damned if I would let someone shame me out of feeding my kid the only way I know how.

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    9. Wait, let me get this straight. You're really saying that women who are feeding their babies ought to cover up and hide what their doing *in order to facilitate easier LYING for other parents*? For real? How about instead of doing that, we just feed our babies. And then we'll give those same parents who haven't gotten around to explaining the basics of human anatomy and infant care to their children an easy conversation starter.

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    10. I believe that lying to children about what a mother may be doing with her child under a cover is setting them up to be judgmental of and uncomfortable around breastfeeding Mothers as adults. When we (parents) make big deals out of something than it becomes a big deal to our children. If we simply explain what is happening (that mother is feeding her baby) and move on, then so will our kids. They will also grow up learning what breasts are for and not be shocked when they see babies eating. Why continue to raise another generation to be uneducated and misinformed? I'd much rather change the way our country looks at breastfeeding and I think that starts with how we raise/teach our children.

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    11. When I had my son, I nursed him in front of my 4yo nephew. He'd never seen a baby nursing before so he was naturally curious. I told him my body makes milk for the baby, and the baby drinks it from my boobies so i don't have to buy and wash bottles. After a while he ignored it, because it became normal. When my nephew's baby brother was born 6 months later, he was nursed and big brother didn't bat an eye. My son is now 2yo, has been weaned for 5 months, and when he sees his 18mo cousin nursing he proudly tells me "Baby eat num nums." He even commented on a nursing baby at IHOP a couple weeks ago, saying that the baby was hungry and eating. It is as natural to them as seeing a baby cuddled, because they've exposed and had it explained. Yes in some settings I've been discreet out of respect for some older people at my church but more often than not I've been "scolded" for covering the poor baby up so he couldn't see! It really irks me when moms are made to feel like they have to hide their nursing baby, yet the same mom can where a plunging neckline with a pushup bra that displays 60%+ of both breasts, which can incite lustful leering from mn with no tact. We might was well be forced to wear burqas until our babies are weaned!

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    12. *been exposed. Gotta love smart phones! ;)

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    13. I have failed at nursing one child and successfully nursed his three younger brothers. I have never, ever been able to nurse one of them without holding my breast. That makes it seriously difficult to cover up. The fact that I have to hold my breast in order to keep my baby latched on somehow is offensive? I'd love to have been one of those moms who doesn't have to do that because frankly it would be nice to have that hand free, but that just isn't how my body is made. I was also never able to successfully use a cover, it was too stressful for both myself and the baby and just made me feel like I had a huge "nursing baby" sign on. Despite that fact I have even had people come up to me and stroke the baby's head while they were nursing without even realizing what was going on. I agree with Rai, there is nothing to explain. It's simple, that baby is eating. And no, none of mine would take a bottle either.
      And to the anonymous poster who said breasts are sexual objects in this country, that is a cultural issue that we absolutely can address for the health of future generations. I have no interest in just letting things in this world remain the same simply because that's how they are right now.

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  14. With respect, a little sensitivity to your surroundings isn't too much to ask of any person. If you're sitting in the middle of a restaurant where many people are eating, I don't think it's too much to ask that you either use a light scarf or excuse yourself. I think women should be allowed to publicly breastfeed anywhere, and I agree that a public restroom is not an appealing location. That aside, a little modesty and respect for others is admirable. We don't live in the dark ages. There are many products available to make discreet feeding easy and comfortable. (shrug)

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    1. I should not have to use a "product" to feed my baby to make you happy. All my kids ages 4-14 know what breastfeeding is. I breastfed in Ethiopia with a whole bunch of boys and men around and guess what: NONE OF THEM STARED. They respected my body and my baby enough to know I was feeding a baby. We need to catch back up to developing nations who respect women and babies enough to not think there is anything remotely wrong or weird to feed them with a breast, in public, at a table, in a restaurant. ANYWHERE.

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    2. So, I am in this tiny minority of women who totally supports public breastfeeding but I literally will not go to a dining establishment with a parent and his or her baby if the baby will be eating (either bottle or breast) because there is literally nothing grosser than trying to eat while the baby is spitting up milk. However, since I am the person with that issue, I just avoid the situation altogether. I think people should take responsibility for avoiding situations that make them uncomfortable. In my case, I hate watching babies eat. Therefore I avoid eating babies. It's no one's responsibility but my own.

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    3. "I avoid eating babies." Hahaha. Me, too. Me, too.

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    4. Haha! Good one, Anonymous. :) And to the other Anonymous, that's an interesting quirk. I've never met someone who was totally averse to watching babies eat in general.

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    5. There are 3 anonymouses on this comment thread. I'm #3(the silly one - :) ), but in all seriousness, I'm in total agreement with you, Annie Reneau. I've spent 22 months nursing my two, and although I actually always try to stay covered, there've been a few times when it's been totally impossible. Babies are precious, and when a boob is obviously the most nutritious choice and the best for bonding, we, as a society, need to be a LOT more encouraging to that end. It really is as easy as looking away if it bothers you. Now walking by a larger than life size picture of a woman wearing barely anything in a totally seductive pose plastered to a Victoria's Secret window display in the mall, that offends me. But there's nothing more natural than trying to simultaneously nourish and love a baby.

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  15. I LOVE this! lots of things I feel as a first time babyfeeding mum - I don't have a problem but find myself hiding if I think or know someone around me doesn't agree or like it.
    Thank you for putting it in words!

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  16. If you're too inept to know how to use a covering so that your baby will breast feed, you shouldn't have a baby. A light covering will not prevent a baby from breast feeding. All these rights are getting out of control. Men find breast sexual. Like it or not, that's the way it is. I don't want my 14 yr old son watching you pull your breast out in public. You respect men, and men will respect you. Fair? chadrushhh@aol

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    1. "If you are too inept to know how to use a covering so that your baby will breast feed, you shouldn't have a baby."

      Please, tell me all about how you used a covering to breastfeed your baby. And how you managed to always keep the baby covered, no matter how much they pulled at the covering or how much your other kids pulled at it. I would love to hear how you did this, since you obviously have children.

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    2. Is it really so much to ask that your 14 year old son understand that though breasts are indeed, soft, bouncy and fun to touch, they also are used to feed babies? Men find women sexual. Like it or not, that's the way it is. That doesn't mean we cover them up. Oh wait...

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    3. There was a time, I'm ashamed to say, that I would have agreed with you. But now, having spent 22 months breastfeeding my two children, I know that there are times it's IMPOSSIBLE to stay covered. And I'm certainly not inept.

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    4. That's probably the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Because I can't wrestle my baby to stay covered up while nursing, I'm "inept"? BS. I guess feeding my child, meeting their needs, makes me uncapable and CLEARLY, I shouldn't reproduce. Is it really that hard to say to your kids "she's feeding her baby."" No wonder more and more moms are formula feeding their children. Makes me sad that kiddos are missing out on the very best nutrition because of idiots like you opening your mouth. End rant.

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    5. if you're too inept to explain to your 14 year old son that breasts are for more than just sex, then you probably shouldn't have had him.

      A light covering won't stop a baby from breastfeeding, providing the baby is, in fact, a lifeless doll that has no problem with having it's face covered (something which we are all naturally inclined to avoid - since we like to breathe)

      Men find breasts sexual, yep. Not sure what your point is though. I could name plenty of body parts on men I find sexual, some on display some usually not. What are you worried about? That normalising breastfeeding will result is an erection hysteria?

      I don't respect a gender, I respect a person, man or woman, when they deserve it.

      Finally, about "all these rights are getting out of control" - I may take this opportunity to apologise to you on behalf of all nursing mothers and their nurslings for wanting rights, and in fact anyone who has ever whipped their tit out in the hope of nourishing an infant. It's super unfortunate that you feel a certain sense of titty anarchy, and we can only hope that in the future, breasts are confined to the topless model and soft porn shoots where they belong.

      My kindest regards to your 14 year old son, for may he develop more of an open mind than the one you were blessed with.

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    6. So I'm assuming you cover his eyes when you walk past Victoria's Secret? Or disallow trips to the beach, or even coed swimming? I assure you, he sees nothing more from my breastfeeding than he does in those situations.

      *My* 14yo son, on the other hand, appreciates that human babies drink human milk from human breasts, and he glances the other way when it's time for baby sister to eat. He's gotten an eyeful on numerous occasions over the past two years, sure, because babies are wriggly and squirmy sometimes, and thr breast is "hanging out" while we get situated. But it is decidedly a non-issue. I'm sure he still sees the sexual side of breasts, but I am happy that he is getting this perspective up close, as it were.

      And if he saw your 14yo staring at me/sister while she's nursing, I'm pretty sure he'd call your kid out on it.

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    7. Im really hoping this is actually the 14 year old son commenting. because thats exactly what it sounds like.

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    8. "Cuz everybody knows new mothers are exhibitionists..."
      Haha, yes, because I completely base all of my parenting decisions on what makes everyone else around me comfortable. That's the entire reason I had kids in the first place, in fact.
      If you're 14 year old wants to stare at me breastfeeding then fine. Maybe he'll remember that baby the next time he oggles another woman's breasts and perhaps the message will come across that they're not just fun bags for men's entertainment.

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  17. I love your blog :-) Thanks for writing this one, I couldn't agree more. I'm a new mom and have been fortunate enough to be able to nurse my baby and hope to get her to her 1st birthday without ever having to give formula... she's 8 months old next week so I think we'll make it!

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  18. Thank you for posting this.. I get so tired of explaining these things over and over again. The one thing that I would stress even more than you did is that it needs to become culturally normal for women to breastfeed in public, for children and adults to understand that this is normal. It cannot be hidden or considered shameful. It is sad that women feel shamed by their own family members. I have been there. In my case it was not for breastfeeding, but for breastfeeding longer than 6 months. Nothing was ever said overtly but I knew the thoughts behind the things that were said. It is not about encouraging women to expose themselves, it is about making it possible for women to feed their babies without shame. I make a point of making sure my children understand that this is normal so that they will be supportive of their future wives and little sister when they are older. I hope my daughter (6 weeks old) will live in a world where this isn't even a conversation because it is normal. The other thing I want to say is that as a labor and delivery nurse it seems to me that about 75% of my patients fear that they are not going to be able to nurse their babies. For some reason our culture has not only put out that breastfeeding is shameful, they have decreed that breastfeeding is difficult and only a few are ever going to be successful. When I ask women about why they were unable to breastfeed in the past by and large the reasons they give let me know that their fear of not being successful was in part to blame for their problems. Of course I don't tell them this, their experience of it is valid and telling them that they could have been successful if they had done xyz is not helpful and just adds to the mommy guilt we all carry with us anyway. I do try to give them information to help them succeed this time, and especially encourage women to find a support group like la leche league and to go to a lactation consultant regularly after the birth of her child even if she thinks things are going well. This way the lactation consultant can give encouragement and also catch any potential problems before they become real problems. With breastfeeding I think too many women try to do it on their own because it is natural and should therefore be easy, and by the time they go to the lactation consultant for help with an issue it is really difficult to correct the problem. Part of the problem of making breastfeeding shameful in our culture is that women feel they can't talk to others about it and indeed even if they did most of our mothers and grandmothers came from a time when the majority of women used formula so the knowledge and wisdom that is usually there for women to tap into has disappeared. This makes the job of lactation consultants and la leche league leaders all the more important. Normalizing breastfeeding in our culture will help with so many problems. Thanks again for your post.

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    1. Such an excellent comment. I think this is so true: "With breastfeeding I think too many women try to do it on their own because it is natural and should therefore be easy, and by the time they go to the lactation consultant for help with an issue it is really difficult to correct the problem."

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    2. I was unsuccessful at nursing with my oldest for a laundry list of reasons and yes, waiting too long to get help was among those, I'm sure. I am proud to say though, that I nursed my second, despite having to actually do breast compressions to keep him interested long enough to eat for the first two months of his life. He weaned at 25 months. I nursed number 3 for 16 months and number 4 for 15 months. I always tell women that it's worth a try even if it didn't work out the last time.

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  19. This is so fantastically put! Thank you! Each and every person has their own idea of what modesty/discretion/respect looks like, and all I can do is be true to my own convictions. I am responsible for myself, not the reactions of others. I HOPE my children see nursing mothers, often!
    Personally, I'm always thankful to see a man supportive of women bfing babies however they are comfortable!

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    1. Yes, modesty is totally subjective. It's actually funny that I find myself arguing against the idea of modesty, because I'm actually a very modest person myself and teach my children the importance of being modest as well. I just see breastfeeding as something separate from traditional ideas of modesty.

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    2. I am in the same place as you. I actually told my husband that it isn't my boob being seen, but my belly or lower back!!! I am more concerned about my imperfections being seen than a little nip. My older son screamed and cried the first time I tried to nurse his brother in public while covered!!! He yelled don't cover Caleb, Mommy! So , I use a cover to make sure my belly 7s covered, not my baby or boob!

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  20. I agree with 90% of what was said here, but there is always that 1 person that person that ruins it for all. I have seen it before, just let it all hang out. When done with care there is nothing to see, but someone just lets it fly. also for those who are "gifted" there may be a little more to hide.

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  21. I breastfed both of my babies, my oldest almost 34 years ago, never had one negative comment,I fed them when ever they were hungry and no one noticed what I was doing!

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  22. fed two babies, my oldest is almost 34 years old and the youngest 32,breastfed when ever they were hungry no one noticed,never had not one comment,this was in the early 80"s when breastfeeding was not as widely practiced.Firm believer in the benefits of nursing for baby and Mom !!

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  23. LOVE this article!!!

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  24. Love this!! I'm currently nursing my 7 week old and haven't really been in public other than at friends' houses and the clinic, but I wouldn't hesitate to feed him wherever necessary. I tried the cover and immediately gave it up because I couldn't figure out how to latch him. My family and in-laws are very anti-breastfeeding and feel that it is inappropriate for the kids to see, but I just take it as an educational lesson. I do warn them that I am about to feed though if they want to leave. Also, in response to men getting involved, I am beyond thankful that my husband supports me (and our bf friends before). If we want to change public view we need men on our side to stop the perception that our breasts are made for their pleasure and viewing :-)

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  25. As a mother of five, I must say that all were breastfed ( some up to 2 years) and none were ever fed in public. No, I wasn't a hermit! However, I thought my children deserved to not be dragged anywhere I wanted to go - so their feedings came first, then we would go out until nap or another feeding time came up. If I absolutely had to feed one of them while out, I found some private place for myself and my baby to better enjoy the time. Maybe consider staying home a bit more.

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    1. Hmmm. I never considered taking the kids out of the house to say, go to the park, or to a class for one of them, or to a friend's house, etc. as being "dragged anywhere I wanted to go." If you didn't want to feed them in public, that's your choice, but I don't see the need to try to coordinate everyone's schedule around a baby needing to eat, not to mention if you're feeding on demand (which is the recommendation) there's no schedule to coordinate around.

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    2. Living in a rural area it would have been impossible to NOT feed my baby when we were out and about, short of making the poor little guy go hungry. If i lived 5 minutes from a grocery store or the doctor's office, maybe. But when its a half hour to an hour drive one way its just not feasible. Lordy, i would have loved to be able to run errands in between nursing! But, i blended my baby's needs with daily life, and guess what? Complete strangers survived being exposed to a mom feeding her baby. The world didn't end, my child is used to a variety of environments, and is a happy healthy 2 year old who does not expect HIS schedule to rule my life. :)

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    3. I never had a child with a predictable enough feeding schedule to attempt anything like that and it absolutely would not have been fair to my older children to be forced to stay home so that I could feed their baby brother on demand.

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  26. I am no breastfeeding, but just saw this post shared on Facebook and had to come over to read it. You answered these questions wonderfully and made some great points. Personally, there are situations where I am way too self conscious and had to cover up. Though it did end up being more conspicuous. Thanks for this post

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  27. Breastfeeding in our house is the cultural norm. My boys had no clue what a bottle was the first time they saw someone feed a baby with one, they weren't rude, they just asked why the baby wasn't nursing.

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  28. First I want to say that I am pro-breastfeeding. I am also an adoptive mom who doesn't have the opportunity to breast feed my baby. I am speaking from the perspective of a woman who went through 6+ years of infertility and now finally has her dream baby through adoption. When I was 'trying' to get pregnant and especially after the losses of each of my 3 babies, I had a VERY difficult time seeing a mother nurse in public. Often I was in situations where it was not possible to "just look away". As a new adoptive mom, it was also difficult for me to see mom's nursing and at that point I was (and still am) surrounded by mom's doing it because I was joining Mom Groups! I hope I never made any of them uncomfortable with strange looks etc., but I know I had some extremely emotional and sad moments knowing I would never be able to experience what I was seeing over and over right in front of me.
    I applaud you for standing up for what you believe and for fighting for women in America to be able to nurse their babies without shame or anxiety. I want that also. I would just hope you would also think about and appreciate that some individuals have very personal reasons that make it difficult for them to see and they also have a right to their feelings on the matter.

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    1. I sincerely appreciate where you are coming from. I'm assuming you're not saying women shouldn't bf in public for that reason, though. Because by the same logic, one could make the argument that we shouldn't have our babies out in public at all because there are moms who struggle with infertility, or whose babies have died, and seeing babies is painful for them. I'm not trying to diminish your feelings, just pointing out that there are a lot of very normal things that might make certain moms feel sad or hurt because of their experiences. I think it's beautiful that you got your dream baby through adoption. Congratulations. :)

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    2. I am an adoptive mom. I do NOT think that breastfeeding mothers should have to cover up because my uterus sucks. That is ridiculous. That is like saying "will mothers with biological children not take them out in public all looking the same because it is hurtful to me that none of my kids share my DNA." Sorry, not a breastfeeding mom's problem. It isn't about you. Or me. It is about THAT mom, THAT baby, and covers DO NOT WORK for some people, and they shouldn't have to.

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    3. I am not saying that mothers should not breastfeed in public because my uterus doesn't work. I am saying that it is sometimes difficult for me to see, and I have a right to feel the way I do. I am just pointing out that some people in the world might have a different reason for not wanting to see breastfeeding happening, a reason other than thinking it is wrong or shouldn't happen in public.

      Two other points I haven't seen addressed...

      1. This was brought up in a discussion between several of my breastfeeding friends....they prefer to cover up in public because of 'perverts' who go around and capture photos with their phones or other devices then use those photos for their own purposes. (Just something to consider when you are out in public)

      2. Breastfeeding is a choice (unless you don't have that choice, as in my case) and I have experienced more times than I can count other mothers 'looking down on', 'shaming', 'berating' and 'judging' me for NOT breastfeeding. I have been told I should be breastfeeding and there is just no excuse! If I can't do it myself, I should be buying milk from someone else and feeding that to my baby. These reactions and comments have come from numerous women. Most who know nothing about my situation or child. I truly wish we could ALL just raise our children the way we feel is best for our children and strangers would just butt the heck out!

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    4. I would like to kindly let you know about being able to possibly breastfeed any adopted children you have, whether you have been pregnant or not. It might not work, but it is possible. Just google breastfeeding adopted babies and read up on it, and also you can talk to your doctor. :) I recently found out about it myself and thought it was a really awesome thing. :) Congrats on your little one.

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  29. I just wonder did anyone made complains while feeding in public about getting too much attention? A few years ago, I saw a woman complained to the restaurant manager that while she was feeding uncovered, the waiter was looking at her. She will report to the police if nothing was done about it. I sometimes wonder, is that the reason why women are told to cover up to feed in public.

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  30. I breastfeed in front of my two year old stepson as often as I need to. We've explained to him one time that this is how baby eats , and he never needed anymore explanation. He loves to watch us and share in the smiles and cuddling when I feed my daughter, and it's never been difficult for him to understand that it's natural and accept it. I've had to explain to many other people's children why I'm breastfeeding and I've never run into problems with children being scared, nervous or anything but a little bit curious. Its not difficult for children to accept breastfeeding , it's parents that have a problem. I agree with everything in this article. Thank you for writing it .

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  31. As far as i know, men are easily aroused visually by the curves and breast of women. Children and teen have curiosity over the difference in body structure of men and women. So exposing ones breast which is one of women's private part and expecting everyone to look away is not going to happen. Baby feeding is never a wrong thing. But I would say it is a private intimate and pure moment between the mom and the baby. Many articles and authors were encouraging this. It is not a good idea. If you are telling that exposing breast in public is not a fault during feeding then, is exposing the breast itself is not a fault? Can girls and women just go topless like that thinking that men and children will understand those breast were mend for baby feeding only? No way. If women are feeling shy to expose their breast before giving birth why not after giving birth? You are just going to unintentionally creating an opportunity for unknown bunch of men around you to have a good look at one of your private body part for FREE.

    How would you give a solution for this situation: A young mom (22 years old) want to feed her baby. She is surrounded by only guys at that moment. Do you think she can feed comfortably and do you expect all men to look at it in a sacred way?

    My suggestion is: Dear moms, please fight for your right in the right way. Demand for all the public places (restaurants, train station, shopping complex, malls, recreational parks and etc) to build rooms for baby feeding. DEMAND IT AND YOU WILL HAVE A BETTER ENVIRONMENT WITH PRIVATE SPACE TO BABY FEED OUTDOOR.

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    1. I think it's a reasonable argument to say that the reason for ONLY arousal at seeing breasts and for the continued curiosity of children and teens is that not enough kids are brought up seeing breastfeeding. It is entirely possible to separate the sexual function of breasts and the nourishing function of breasts. My husband is a perfect example. He was raised with breastfeeding being totally normal. He doesn't bat an eye when a woman breastfeeds. It's a totally different thing than exposing a breast for the heck of it.

      And I'm not convinced of breastfeeding being a private, intimate act. I nursed three babies to three years old. Bonding, yes. Intimate, meh. As I said in the article, it's more of a holding hands kind of intimacy. I feel like calling it "private" and "intimate" automatically equates it with sexuality. It makes it a much bigger deal than it is.

      Personally, I would usually turn away or cover up to get latched on or keep a blanket near my breast in case my baby decided to pop on and off (which happened frequently). I do think there is a place for a bit of discreetness when it comes to breastfeeding in front of others. But I don't think it's necessary to go to great lengths to make sure no breast is ever ever seen.

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    2. fighting for rights. Fight for your rights we hear this generation and the word "demand" is everywhere, but Paul did not say that, rather to be defrauded than to offend and cause stumbling in others. fighting, demanding, thinking only of their own comfort. a generation whose 'their' rights are most important in the world, who reckon "demanding" is the better way and the higher road to a life well lived.

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    3. Actually, in Canada it is perfectly legal for women and girls to go topless anywhere that men are permitted to go topless. There you go.

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    4. In New York it's also legal for women to go topless because anything else would be discrimination. Some municipalities have created laws against anyone going topless though generally they're only used against streakers/flashers/etc. which is why you rarely hear of women being arrested for feeding in public.
      Go to: http://gotopless.org/topless-laws if you'd like to see a breakdown of the laws.

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    5. I find a man's shoulders and biceps to be sexually arousing. Therefore, instead of curbing my own desires and showing self-discipline and restraint, all men need to wear sleeves that extent to at least the elbow. If they want to wear short sleeves, or go sleeveless, they need to do so in a private area.

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  32. I don't get what there even is to explain? I feed my 3 month old around my 2.5 year old all the time (and had things gone differently, that 2.5 year old might still have been nursing himself, but my milk dried up when pregnant, so he weaned at that time, which is fine, but it also would have been fine if he had continued wanting to nurse after baby was here).

    When he sees me start to get settled, "feed _baby's name__ milk?" "yes, sweetie, I'm feeding ___ her milk".

    If I had not had another child after him, and we were out in public...
    "what's that, mommy?"
    "that lady is feeding her baby, sweetie"
    "oh, feed baby?"
    "yes, that's right"
    "ok"

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  33. Im loving this article. Why should we have to do what society tells us when it's natural

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    1. hum.... always pushing against the boundaries of social norms...."why should we" ? ... "why should we" ...?

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  34. Absolutely wonderful. Thank you so much for this.

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  35. I was thoroughly enjoying this article until you said "she was raised in Africa, so that explains it."
    NO. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.

    I resent this and the following African paragraph and I can't get myself to ignore it.

    Africa is a CONTINENT. Not one place/country.
    Just like different areas in the U.S or more accurately, different countries may share different views about this, so do the views vary within the continent of Africa.

    NO. A breast is NOT a common sight in "Africa." A breast might be a common sight in whatever country or village you learned about on National Geographic. But in many countries in West Africa, for example, if your breast was "common sight," you'd probably be arrested among other things.
    Please don't just throw media-perpetuated, inaccurate, ignorant views of "Africa" in here to validate your (true and very well versed) point. It's hurtful.

    No love lost. Sure it wasn't intentional. Thank you for the rest.

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    1. You are absolutely right. No, not intentional at all. To be honest, I was taking that question word-for-word ("This isn't a village in Africa . . .) from a comment on another article and answering it in the way that I thought someone coming from that viewpoint might understand it best. But you're right, it does perpetuate narrow, inaccurate views of Africa, and that's not fair. Thank you for pointing it out.

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  36. When LO was born, I was so embarrassed about my body and scared of someone seeing any part of it that I would use a cover in my own home if anyone other than my husband was there! If we were in public and she got hungry, I'd take her to the car and feed her there. My husband is the one who encouraged me to just feed her when she's hungry and not to worry about what anyone around us thought. His words were, "Is she hungry? Yes. Are you able to feed her safely? Yes. Do you really care more about what some random person you're never going to see again thinks than feeding your daughter?" Now, the only place I wear a cover is at church and that's only if I remember to throw it in the diaper bag. If she gets hungry, she eats. If someone is offended by me caring for my child in the best way I am able, then they clearly have too much time on their hands and should find a new hobby other than harassing new moms. We're already tapped out enough.

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  37. What's to explain? All that has to be said in response to a child's inquiry is, "the baby is eating." My kids think bottle feeding an infant is weird and funny, but I wouldn't want ask someone to cover up their bottle-drinking baby just because I don't want to deal with explaining it.
    Also, I think sticking a baby under a blanket invites more questions from kids. "What's the baby doing?" "Can I see it?" "Is it sleeping?" Etc.

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  38. Thanks so much Annie, your article was beautifully written. Mothers out there who worry about nursing in public would be highly inspired. Your article touched on all the important areas. Society is so messed up when we accept people baring their breasts through their clothes but not when nourishing precious human life. I'm African and the whole village in Africa thing is actually humorous to me cos in the big African city I grew up, more and more people have western reactions to nursing in public, but they never go as far as kicking a woman out for nursing her child. I nursed my daughter here in Toronto for almost two and a half years in a walmart or at a barbecue, wherever and never cared what people thought. Knowing the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms actually guarantees my right to nurse publicly - cover or no, spurred me on. It made me mad to hear of ignorant people who asked women not to nurse in public. My toddler was always big for her age so I got extra glares when nursing her in public cos she looked four! I honestly couldn't care less. I hope to do the same and nurse even longer with my next child, if I'm blessed to have one. Thanks so much for such an inspiring article. It really warmed my heart. Our society is greatly troubled if we don't see the need for a paradigm shift in the way we see breastfeeding in public vis-a-vis people's preoccupation with sex. To the lady who said she doesn't want her 14yr-old son seeing a woman's nipple, it is your responsibility to expand your son's mind so he understands that the more important use for breasts is nourishing children, not sexual pleasure. Seriously, isn't it obvious where the misconception is? How does it make sense to anyone that between the issue of 1- nursing publicly(nourishing a child naturally) and 2-viewing breasts as only sexual, that the issue is women should not nurse publicly? Isn't it clear that the issue is people need to think outside the bedroom? It's baffling that people can be so closed-minded and unable to see the more important issue.

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  39. Thanks so much Annie, your article was beautifully written. Mothers out there who worry about nursing in public would be highly inspired. Your article touched on all the important areas. Society is so messed up when we accept people baring their breasts through their clothes but not when nourishing precious human life. I'm African and the whole village in Africa thing is actually humorous to me cos in the big African city I grew up, more and more people have western reactions to nursing in public, but they never go as far as kicking a woman out for nursing her child. I nursed my daughter here in Toronto for almost two and a half years in a walmart or at a barbecue, wherever and never cared what people thought. Knowing the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms actually guarantees my right to nurse publicly - cover or no, spurred me on. It made me mad to hear of ignorant people who asked women not to nurse in public. My toddler was always big for her age so I got extra glares when nursing her in public cos she looked four! I honestly couldn't care less. I hope to do the same and nurse even longer with my next child, if I'm blessed to have one. Thanks so much for such an inspiring article. It really warmed my heart. Our society is greatly troubled if we don't see the need for a paradigm shift in the way we see breastfeeding in public vis-a-vis people's preoccupation with sex. To the lady who said she doesn't want her 14yr-old son seeing a woman's nipple, it is your responsibility to expand your son's mind so he understands that the more important use for breasts is nourishing children, not sexual pleasure. Seriously, isn't it obvious where the misconception is? How does it make sense to anyone that between the issue of 1- nursing publicly(nourishing a child naturally) and 2-viewing breasts as only sexual, that the issue is women should not nurse publicly? Isn't it clear that the issue is people need to think outside the bedroom? It's baffling that people can be so closed-minded and unable to see the more important issue.

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    1. Exactly. The fact that breasts are seen as sexual IS the reason people need to see breastfeeding more. It is possible to separate the two functions if that's what you've always known.

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  40. You can argue all day but until public indecent exposure laws are changed, you still can't usually bare your breasts in public even if you think you are entitled to, the argument is with the laws not the general public who chooses to follow laws even when inconvenient. Take the argument to the proper party, for change to happen people will need to vote on the change.

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    1. Actually, many public indecency laws do not consider the female breast to be genitalia. And almost every state has specific laws protecting mothers' rights to breastfeed anywhere in public. (45 out of 50, if I'm not mistaken.) So the legal issue isn't really an issue.

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    2. http://breastfeedinglaw.com/

      As you will note, there are both federal and state laws protecting a woman's right to breastfeed (covered or not, her choice) in public places. This is not considered indecent exposure. In fact, a woman's nipple is not even considered in indecency laws in many states (generally the anus and genitals are included in indecency laws, and lewdness is considered by law rather than nudity in some states, such as Vermont.)

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    3. it is also not illegal to wear skimpy bathing suits.

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    4. The right to breastfeed in public is also protected in Law in the UK.

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  41. Excellent article! Funny how my friend posted the link on FB for me to see just after I left the pediatrician's office where I had been trying to nurse my 2 month old daughter under a cover but threw the cover aside because it was too difficult. Feeding my daughter who was just about to get her shots done was more important than covering what was exposed of my breast.

    I actually have to say how shocked I am at how much of an issue breastfeeding is in the US. I grew up in France where it is one of the most natural things in the world and where no one bats an eyelid. Women in France routinely go topless on the beach and no one sees it as a sexual thing... Many a time did I go to the beach with my friends as a teenager and never would I see any of my male friends leering at topless women! This is because breasts are a natural part of a woman's body, and people are brought up not to make a huge deal out of them! My mother never had to explain to me or my (male) cousin what she was doing when my brother was born - it was natural for her to feed him this way and we knew this! I'm 36 and most people I know were breastfed.

    Some of the comments on here have shocked me. So if I am inept at covering myself when I am nursing I shouldn't have a child?! We might all be wonderful parents if we had three hands, but unfortunately that's not a reality! It makes me sad to think that so many people gave up on breastfeeding early because they didn't have the support that they need to continue. I don't "whip my boob out for all to see" as some people seem to think breastfeeding women do all the time, but if I show some nipple while my daughter is latching on, so be it. Just look away.

    People really need to stop making such a big deal out of something so natural! And I would strongly advise people who are against breastfeeding in public to avoid European beaches as there are breast everywhere.

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  42. i do so strongly disagree with this article. I was never so reactive to the culture when I nursed my children and knew I did not have to prove some point to the culture. i do disagree with this what I consider in my opinion to be immature and backwards take on this.

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  43. I'm sorry, but modesty is modesty. I am not crazy about bikinis or other public breast exposure, and I certainly won't expose my own breasts. The larger your breasts, the more impossible it is to hide your private areas (and yes, to me, breasts are a private area).

    It's actually okay to cover a baby during nursing, and there are many cool nursing covers out there that don't put you in a wrestling match with your baby. Babies who are nursing are used to whatever they start with. Saying "I wouldn't want to eat under a blanket" assumes that you have a lifetime of experience eating in certain situations, and you have learned that eating under a blanket is not one of your favorite. Babies don't have that experience. If they always nurse, and many times under a blanket, they aren't thinking, "Hey! Why should I have to eat under a blanket if my mom doesn't???" Seriously.

    Boys of all ages and men of all ages are attracted to the sight of a female body. Period. Do everyone's sons and husbands a favor and don't whip it out in public.

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    1. I'm sorry, but I'm not going to overly concern myself with covering my hungry baby because other people are "incapable" of controlling their thoughts. Breasts are for feeding babies, and seeing part of a breast while a baby is eating makes you think sexual thoughts, that is entirely your problem and not mine.

      Saying, "Do everyone's sons and husbands a favor and don't whip it out in public" is like saying "Don't look too attractive so guys aren't tempted to sexual harrass or assault you." I owe your husbands and sons nothing. I'm not responsible for what men think or do, and I'm not responsible for what teenage boys think or do. That's their problem, and the problem of their puritanical parents. Your discomfort with bodies does not mean I have to accommodate you for it. I shouldn't have to raise my baby in accordance with your judgmental and immature views.

      Don't look. Or if they just can't help themselves because they don't know self-control or respect, you can take your husbands and sons home, and leave the place where the offensive/too sexy breast is making itself known.

      Delete
    2. When I had to nurse in public I would use a cover just for my own comfort and I knew it made my husband more comfortable (if he was with me) and when my son was a newborn it wasn't a big deal. As he got older- around the 9-10 month age- he hated the cover. Now, I did rarely use it, but he would immediately grab it and throw it off if I tried to put it over him. Just because you start with something doesn't mean they'll "be used to it" and accept it willingly.

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    3. Many babies will NOT accept a blanket, even from the start (assuming that as a new mom you can figure out the difficulty of latching on from under a blanket--which is an achievement unto itself.) There will, of course, be some babies who will. But just because some will accept it, doesn't mean they all will. My son is a prime example of that. He'd scream, arch his back, pull off blankets, etc. and very simply just NOT eat. He was not gaining weight either so there was no way I was going to put a stranger's comfort level over my son's eating, no matter how I had to accomplish it. Turns out he has autism and is extremely sensitive to light touch (like blankets) and it drives him crazy. Even if a child does not have autism or another extenuating circumstance, they are BABIES and don't understand anything except their own discomfort and hunger.

      As far as men and boys go, they are capable of controlling their own thoughts and the more often they get opportunities to realize that breasts have another function other than for their enjoyment, the better. A woman breastfeeding around my husband bothers him not at all. Probably helped that he spent some time in another country as a young man where women constantly nursed uncovered in public with no attempts to be discreet. Nursing moms are not responsible for a man's thoughts. Nor is any woman, no matter what normal activity she is doing.

      If you don't want to see, don't look. Not looking is a minor inconvenience compared to the trouble you want a nursing mother to take just so you can look anywhere you want and not feel discomfort.

      Delete
  44. As a mother of three I never breastfed. I agree every woman has the right to chose how they feed their child, I don't think you should be breastfeeding in public with covering. I personally don't like it. I don't wanna see it. I myself don't like the idea of my child latched on to me to feed reason why I didn't do it. To see a woman out in public with her boob out attaching a baby or toddler to it makes me sick. I'm sure I am gonna get a ton of negative feed back but this is my opinion.

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    Replies
    1. As a mother of three, I never breastfed either. I did try with my last child out of some socially imposed guilt... and I vomited. But with that in mind... If you don't want to see it, then don't look at it. It took me YEARS to get to the point where I could be comfortable with someone breastfeeding in my vicinity, but even then, I was smart enough to realize one simple fact.

      If a mother is breastfeeding, there are several other directions to look so that I don't have to see it. But if that baby is screaming because s/he is hungry, there is no place in the vicinity that will not hear it.

      TL;DR BTDT, don't like it, then look elsewhere. Your desire to not see something does not trump a baby's need to eat.

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  45. Article excerpt: "Of course, there are always some unnecessarily mean people, but some sentiments that come up frequently are legitimately well-meaning."

    my response to said statement:
    before you even get into the article, you have already assured your yes readers, anyone who thinks you are incorrect, somehow might be one of those "mean" sentimental people out there in the www, just giving young mothers a hard time. i know how difficult and how hot and hard work it is to put a cloth diaper over you, and i am so sorry it is a painful problem to do that. Your statement of adjudging some commentators as mean and having some legitimately well meaning sentiments, pigeon holes people who disagree with you, for all your pro readers who agree with views on the matter.

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    1. Hmm. I think you're misunderstanding what legitimately well-meaning sentiments are. That's a positive phrase, not a negative one, which is why I pointed out that some people can be mean (which they can) but some have thoughts/concerns/opinions that are coming from a place of meaning well. I was giving people the benefit of the doubt that the questions and comments I was addressing aren't usually coming from a place of meanness, but from a place of legitimate concern and meaning well in their thought process. The "unnecessarily mean" and the "legitimately well-meaning" are opposites.

      Delete
    2. I did not misunderstand. The descriptive words are words that carry connotative meanings. I was merely pointing out that your choice of words, might predispose your yes readers to assume on those who disagree. Again, I did not misunderstand you. I just flat out right disagree with your article and reasoning and your presumptions about those who disagree with strong feelings about such an issue.

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    3. Sorry, but either you did misunderstand or you're deliberately trying to be argumentative. Those first questions and comments I addressed—including the difficulty with covering up question—I think are legitimate questions. How would pointing that out make someone think that if they disagreed I'd think they were mean? In fact, I was deliberately pointing out that people who have problems with breastfeeding in public are NOT trying to be mean by posing those thoughts and quesitons. You totally missed the point.

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  46. Article excerpt:
    "Covering up implies that there's something inappropriate about feeding a baby. There's not. It's feeding a baby. That's it."

    My response:
    i am so sorry you yourself and your yes readers all feel that covering up means or implies something inappropriate! See?, this is the backwardness of this argument. They assume we all feel the feelings they feel about THEIR breasts. Just because many millions of mothers cover their breasts when feeding their infant, does not then, mean that all women feel it is something inappropriate to feed or rather nurse their child. I fear you and your yes readers all might possibly carry baggage and seek to deal with your baggage in a very public manner, demanding society to change for personal issues. It is the victims stance. I am so sorry that you and your yes readers seem to carry this baggage on you about the breasts the Good Lord created you with.That is so sad! Not everyone feels that baggage though, and covering ones breasts is about being modest, kind, considerate to others, being willing to do what one needs to do to promote social peace and not always kicking against the pricks of life.

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    1. I'm sorry, but all I can really do is laugh at how far you had to stretch to get to where you are in this comment. I can see the first part, because I wasn't totally clear on that point. It's not the act covering up itself that implies inappropriateness (although that could be argued, I think), it's other people telling moms they need to cover up that does that. If a woman wants to cover up because it makes her more comfortable, or even because she wants to make others feel comfortable, that's totally her choice. But to TELL a breastfeeding mom that she SHOULD cover up does, in fact, imply that she's doing something inappropriate.

      However, the baggage thing is just plain strange. I'm really not carrying any baggage about my breasts, I promise. I could easily try to make the opposite argument, that women who cover up to breastfeed must be carrying around some baggage about their breasts, but I won't. I don't think that's true, and I don't think it furthers the discussion.

      I could also argue that people shouldn't make a big deal out of breastfeeding in public in order to be kind and considerate and promote social peace. From my perspective, it's much more offensive and socially intrusive to gawk or vocally disapprove or tell moms they should cover up than it is to breastfeed your baby in public. Modesty is fine, but also totally subjective. To me, breastfeeding, even without a cover, is rarely immodest.

      Delete
    2. we do not see eye to eye, and I do heartily and emphatically disagree with your reasonings and your way of seeing it. Your arguments to me, fall short of logical debate. If i used some of your arguments, I could also promote wearing no shirts for women at all in public. (e.g. "how unfair is it to impose on women to cover up their torso or chest or breasts that were so nurturing to their infants?!") this is the arguments you rest your case on. Because to you, "natural" means if its natural then others have to put up with your nudity and you must thrust personal things into public eyes, so everyone around you has to put up with your need to not cover and we must tolerate and put up with all manner of undignifying women the world over. the spirit of lawlessless.

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    3. Nope, not even close to understanding my arguments at all, and based on your own faulty logic, I don't expect you to. Wearing no shirt at all because you revere your breasts for nurturing your infants is not an argument I would ever ever make, and I'm not sure how you even got there. When you're breastfeeding you're USING your breasts to feed your baby, not showing them off. And for the record, I'm actually not a fan of nudity. And I really wish you'd stop saying I thrust anything anywhere. I actually did cover up sometimes when I nursed, depending on the social situation I was in. But I would never tell another mother she should. You don't know any given mom's situation, you don't know whether her baby would refuse to be covered (sometimes my kids were fine with it, sometimes there was no way to keep the cover on), and I think anything that makes breastfeeding easier for moms should be supported. And by the same token, anything that makes it harder (such as making moms feel shamed for feeding their babies in public) should be critically evaluated.

      Delete
  47. The reasoning on modesty falls in my reading of your arguments. You have argued that just because the rest of culture sexualizes the breast and its seen in porno and on beaches in see through clothing, that somehow makes it okay for a breastfeeding mother, who is nourishing her child with her breasts to expose her breasts too, because you are arguing that, "heck! whole world shows their tits,why not us?" its a reactive stance to nourishing your child and faulty logic in arguing.

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    1. I'm not sure if you're replying to me or to another comment, but I think this is a good point. That point is more about societal norms as a whole. I didn't say anything about porn or see-through clothing, but let's use low-cut tops and bikinis as an example. Those are pretty widely accepted as a social norm, but breastfeeding isn't—even though breastfeeding generally shows less breast, and for a totally different reason, than those things do. It's not the argument that showing breasts in other contexts is okay, therefore it should be for breastfeeding; it's just pointing out the hypocritical stance society as a whole has about seeing breasts.

      Delete
    2. you said:
      "Those are pretty widely accepted as a social norm, but breastfeeding isn't"
      my response:
      i disagree, I believe most of the world is accepting of breast feeding infants.

      You said:
      "it's just pointing out the hypocritical stance society as a whole has about seeing breasts."

      my response:
      See? you are always so reactive to the culture in this argument. You are more concerned here in pointing out the hypocrisy of the world around us than you are about nursing your child. Who cares if the world is hypocritical??? what does their hypocrisy have to do with your behavior?

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    3. you said:
      ""it's just pointing out the hypocritical stance society as a whole has about seeing breasts.""

      my response:
      i do not believe there is as much hypocrisy as you seem to be busy projecting onto society at large in such a broad and general stroke of your small world and perception. Personally, I have great angst against pornography, and i applaud women who nurture their infants with their God given means of milk to them. I also applaud women who nurture, nourish and love deeply their children with bottle feeding.

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    4. Um, yes, most of the world is accepting of breastfeeding infants, but society here in America is generally not. At least, there's a good chunk who aren't, otherwise we wouldn't be having this conversation. But this: "I have great angst against pornography, and i applaud women who nurture their infants with their God given means of milk to them. I also applaud women who nurture, nourish and love deeply their children with bottle feeding." On all of those points we agree 100%. :)

      Delete
  48. btw, I nursed both my children into their first year. I never suffered at all, if it was a public place, I used a cloth diaper to cover my breast. My children never minded it in the least. They ate happily and rested peacefully under the covering. I was not determined to thrust me and any peevishness and laziness on others.

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    1. And you are ONE person with two distinct people for your children. You can't take your experience of easily covering up and apply it to everyone else. Believe me, I didn't use a blanket very often (never worked anyway) and it was NOT out of laziness. You're making assumptions based solely on your own experience.

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  49. I'm really disappointed in seeing such a large number of people who don't care what people around them think, or how their actions affect others. This is the epitome of selfishness. The basic sentiment in the pro-naked-breastfeeding crowd is: I shouldn't have to change my actions to make you happy. Wow. Not how I want to bring up my children.

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    1. Let's imagine for a moment that the people around you think that you should always keep your ankles covered, and that your action of sitting with your ankles uncovered is offensive to them. Would it be selfish to not abide by that antiquated notion of modesty, or would it simply be trying to change a social norm that was based on overly prude ideas about female body parts? If the actions you're wanting me to change to make you happy are unreasonable, I don't think it's selfish to not abide by them. I'm not saying that women should walk around "naked-breastfeeding." But the notion that women should HAVE to cover up to feed their babies in public is based on backwards notions about breasts, in my opinion. Couldn't it be argued that it's selfish to want a woman to inconvenience herself and her baby in order to not show any hint of breast, when it's much easier just to shift your sight a few inches one way or the other?

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    2. Nicki,
      I so agree with you. I am sick of a crybaby wimpy crowd who think they need to impose their private stuff on society for their own selfishness. I want my children to not insist society march to the beat of their personal drum. People who go around screaming for rights and imposing on society their personal private things, are odd in my book, unthoughtful and unkind and always busy yelling 'RIGHTS!" but where is their responsibility to their neighbors?

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    3. Annie said:
      "...antiquated notion of modesty, ..."

      my response:
      how far will you take it? remove the blouse cause its hot on the bus? and of course, society needs to put up with your need to be cool at the moment. lol how far does one take this??? keep pushing, you will have the society you want, a woman who feels inconvenienced for being thoughtful of others, is to me, part of a bigger problem with this world. everyone gets inconvenienced. It is backwards to demand society to cave into your needs for the moment. It is not that inconvenient to be thoughtful to those around you.YOU yourself and YOU have this generalized idea that YOU and your yes readers PROJECT on to others, that says its all backwards to be modest, its backwards to suffer some inconvenience, and its backwards to have to be sociable. that is what you are saying. you are projecting onto others around you. i suggest you rather do a sound research study done by sound research methods in order to arrive at a better rounded number of society than your generalized take on others around you.

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    4. Annie said:
      "Couldn't it be argued that it's selfish to want a woman to inconvenience herself and her baby in order to not show any hint of breast, when it's much easier just to shift your sight a few inches one way or the other? "

      my response:
      this is the problem with the world. everyone wants everyone to put up with their nudity, their laziness and foot the bill too. this is the victim. always insisting everyone around them allow them to do whatever feels good to them, without thinking of others.

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    5. Annie said:
      "would it simply be trying to change a social norm that was based on overly prude ideas about female body parts?"

      my response:
      change a social norm that is based on overly prude ideas about female body parts??? what?? lol. prude?? but here in your statement Annie, is the underlying argument that you are busy trying to change a societal norm. this is your stated reasoning and argument here. YOU and YOUR yes readers PRESUME and ASSUME that the rest of society is prudish? is this your argument? really? lol one day, (based on your reasonings in this entire page) it may be considered prudish to wear a swimsuit at the pool or it may be considered prudish to teach 5th graders how to wear a condom, as they teach them today in some schools, or it may be one day considered prudish to wear bras or any such thing that we consider normal. its the working of lawlessness. to me, its about being thoughtful to others when nursing, its about being willing to rather inconvenience me myself and my children than cause others to stumble or falter. its about being willing to impose on me, rather than the people around me.

      Delete
    6. correcting my typo in the above response:
      I wrote:
      "it may be considered prudish to teach 5th graders how to wear a condom, as they teach them today in some schools,"

      what i meant to write:
      it may be considered prudish to NOT teach 5th graders to wear a condom, as they teach them in some schools today"

      Delete
    7. Anonymous, you are ascribing all kinds of motivations and philosophies to me that are totally not representative of who I am at all. It's actually becoming a bit laughable.

      Also, this:
      "this is the problem with the world. everyone wants everyone to put up with their nudity, their laziness and foot the bill too. this is the victim. always insisting everyone around them allow them to do whatever feels good to them, without thinking of others."

      I could turn that right around:
      This is the problem with the world. everyone wants everyone to put up with their inability to control their sexual thoughts, their laziness (to not look the other way) and foot the bill too. This is the victim. always insisting everyone around them modify their behavior to accommodate them, without thinking of others.

      In a social situation, I do think a breastfeeding mother and baby's needs and comfort take precedence. I think that's the way it should be, not for selfish reasons - I'm all done nursing my babies - but because I think mothers with babies should be extended an extra measure of grace. Having a baby is hard enough. Why make it harder?

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    8. Anonymous,
      I find everything you had to say ridiculous. Nursing mothers should consider the feelings of everyone else in society? They shouldn't try to change social norms? They should worry about their obligation to their neighbors?
      Would you like to return to a society where women are property?.. because if noone challenged norms thats where you would be stuck.... or maybe we should take it farther back.
      It is no individuals concern or personal responsibility to ensure that the society around them is comfortable with their traditional behavior. Whether we are talking breastfeeding, clothing choices etc. It is society's responsibility to foster feelings of tolerance and eventually acceptance for natural practices they may not start out understanding.
      That being said nursing in public harms none, benefits future generations and provides opportunities for social education as well as re-education. If you look at it from this less emotionally charged point of view then maybe some can begin to understand that its not about modesty or inconvenience for those around a nursing mother. Its about feeding a baby and recognizing that society and its whims are a ridiculous measuring stick for most every situation.

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  50. There is no good reason not to cover up. You listed 3 to which I will respond: It's hard to balance a blanket...Really? The baby may not like it...So does that mean you do not change diapers or use an aspirator? You want eye to eye contact...You can't do that in the hundred opportunities you have in the day? I am all for breastfeeding. I am not all for people acting as if they are the only people in the universe who matter. As simple as it is for someone to just "look away," it's also simple enough to turn your body, cover the baby, or do whatever you need to do so that others aren't subject to seeing your breast. It is exhausting that you express yourself in a way that asserts that your comfort level should take front seat to my comfort level. No it shouldn't. We live in a society which implies we exist among people.

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    1. Some babies won't stay latched on and repeatedly pull the cover off. Some babies don't mind it. And sure, eye to eye contact happens at other times, too. But there's no reason a nursing mom shouldn't have the same opportunity to look at her baby as a bottlefeeding mom does. That's just silly.

      "It is exhausting that you express yourself in a way that asserts that your comfort level should take front seat to my comfort level."

      But aren't you saying that your comfort level should take front seat to a nursing mom's and baby's comfort level? How is that any different? (It's not my comfort level - I'm all done nursing my babies.)

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    2. I'd love to see you wrangle my second child particularly and nurse him with a blanket over his head. It was outright IMPOSSIBLE. He arched his back and screamed, tore it off at every single opportunity. There was never an option of trying to "teach" him to endure it. And now that he's older and I know he has autism and is extremely sensitive to touch--especially light touch (like a blanket) drives him crazy--it makes perfect sense why he wouldn't like it. I tried. But I shouldn't have to put myself and him through that kind of torture just so someone else won't feel momentarily discomforted.

      And I think that is why the mom's comfort level trumps the average bystander. It isn't really a question of who is more important. It is rather who is given the greater inconvenience? In most cases, I'd say the random stranger has less an inconvenience of a minor discomfort that they can look away from, verses a mother who would have to go through a huge rigmarole just to spare the stranger that momentary discomfort. When you look at it that way, it is easy to see why her comfort level should take priority.

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  51. I have read so many of these breastfeeding articles about how breastfeeding is the best choice I agree however I don't want to see a mother feeding her baby with her breasts in public it makes me feel uncomfortable. I choose to bottle feed both of my children because the whole breastfeeding process creeps me out (say what you want but I refuse to feel guilty for my personal feelings and choices for my children and I) I commend the woman who are willing and able to breastfeed however please stop making this issue bigger than the war on terrorism (no im not comparing breastfeeding to terrorism).

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  52. I'm a guy and I've never understood the big deal with a mom feeding her baby. First off, I more than likely wouldn't even notice the mom, and 2nd, I'd rather accidentally glance a sideboob than hear the hungry baby screaming while I'm trying to eat. I'm all about privacy... IF I notice a mom trying to feed her baby, I'll look away out of respect to help give her her privacy.

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  53. Annie, I just wanted to let you know that this is a very well-written article, and as a Registered Dietitian, I applaud people like you who support our nation's babies in getting the best nutrition from breastfeeding, when possible.

    Also -- I applaud you for your patience and perseverance with the above comments that are........frustrating.... to say the least ;) Perhaps a glossary is needed with future blog posts?

    Keep up the great work!

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  54. Annie, that comment about how baby feeding in public is selfish nearly gave me a heart attack. I hope you have some chocolate and valium to deal with that nonsense. This is what I wrote on my FB page (since I shared your article today):

    Regarding the blog post to which I linked a few hours ago: Someone in the comments suggested that it is selfish to feed a baby in public because it makes her uncomfortable and she shouldn't have to be exposed to that. It grosses her out. For cripessake. Ya know what is selfish? Being a nincompoop. I don't particularly enjoy watching the Naked Cowboy wearing underwear in NY. I think it's gross. Back hair at water parks, I admit, sometimes I have to look another way. Those people, naked cowboy and back hair man at water park: showing off his package for money and/or having fun. Do people write comments about them saying "them exposing themselves in public is selfish. I shouldn't have to see that."

    A mother may have a tiny bit of tummy and breast exposed for a few moments to feed a hungry baby. This is life. The BEST KIND OF LIFE. If it grosses you out I suggest 1) talking to your therapist about why it grosses you out because that might be a good thing to explore
    2) look away. walk away. Your problem, NOT hungry baby and mom. And 3) it is none of your business how the mom breastfeeds. If you think baby is too old, or too much skin is showing, you have to realize, you may someday feed your kid MacDonalds every day for a week out of sheer exhaustion. Is that the best possible way to feed a child? Would every mom do that? You do NOT get to judge how another mom feeds her children. If you don't like it, roll your eyes once you are 50 feet away. Do what you gotta do. call your sister and complain about it. 3.5) I expect you to have enough decency to be outraged by the revealing and trashy sex lounge signs up and down the high way in Dallas, right there for little boys and girls to look out the window and see the value of women, and the string bikinis at the beach showing crotches and nipples. Let's be offended by all of it equally. But 5) By the way, those women choosing to reveal themselves, or being sexualized against their will: they are not feeding hungry or comforting sad children. Look. Away. Have enough maturity and selflessness enough to say "I don't get this, I wouldn't do it that way (the fav phrase of folks who aren't mothers yet, I know I said it...) but good for that mom for doing her thing. I hope I can be that brave it it's important to me some day."

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  55. Thank you! I absolutely love this. I too broke my rule about reading comments and was rather frustrated today. You made my day when I saw this post! (Someone shared it on a FB breastfeeding page I'm on.) :)

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  56. Great article. I am not yet a mom, but I think I would feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public (at least at first)...but I think that comes from the same place that tells me I must be "modest" to keep men from ogling me. Which as we know not only objectifies women but also makes men seem like they have absolutely no self-control. I hope that I can learn to dress comfortably for myself and also (hopefully someday) breastfeed in public as it is undoubtedly going to be necessary at some point :)

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  57. I have so much to say it would take a month to reply to all you close minded contradicting supposed breastfeeding supporters. Those of you who think women should have to cover up while feeding her child your comfort infuriat me. And that lady with the 14 yr old son worried about what he will see if a woman is bfing in public... well I got news for you. Your son sees alot more actual nudity on TV and facebook and probably the girls he goes to school with then he would see from a mother feeding her child. And to the lady who complain about a woman exposing her stomach by lifting her shirt while breast feeding her child... well all I can say to that is you not right in the head. Women show alot more then their tummys just walking around town. So just shut up. The majority of breastfeeding moms do not blatantly exposes any part of their body that is not necessary to feed their baby. It's closed minded people like the ones who had negative comments on here that make me want to NIP without a cover even more. How dare you tell me that feeding my child is indecent or inappropriate. I do not care where I am or who is around I will feed my daughter when she wants to be feed. I will not just whip out my breast b4 she is ready to latch but sorry if you can't handle seeing skin bc that's basically all you'll see when i NIP bc my nipple is hidden in her mouth! So if you don't like it don't look and when it comes to little kids and ppl being worried they will see somthing.... All you have to say is she is feeding her baby. But honestly it's adults who notice a bfing mom kids don't usual pay attention. I could go on forever on all these ignorant comments but I'm tired and my daught has just finished feeding so we are going back to bed. Good night all my wonderful baby feeding mama's and a big bite me to all you jerks who make bfing sound dirty.

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  58. As a father to a naturally nursed little boy, and the oldest in a family of 7 children, all of whom were naturally nursed, I can honestly say that nursing at the breast is a truly beautiful thing.

    Witnessing my siblings and the children of my Mother's friends all nurse at the breast as I was growing up, made me appreciate the female body for so much more then a sexual object. It taught me that there is nothing more natural and beautiful then when a mother feeds her baby.

    There aren't words to describe how happy I was as I watched my baby son nurse at my beautiful wife's breast. And when I see other mothers nursing in public, I don't oogle and drool over the chance to see another womans boob, I see a beautiful act of bonding between mother and child, and my hat is off to all of you!!!

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    1. Bravo to you! It is refreshing to see a man with a completely healthy and appropriate response to nursing mothers.

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    2. LOVE hearing a gentleman's perspective. The world needs more people like you, Chris.

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  59. It is an individual choice to do it in public or not but as an African woman myself I'll say there is nothing wrong with breastfeeding in public. By the way, that is a great article! I enjoy reading it, thannks.

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  60. Among a couple of other issues I have with this article, "Going to the bathroom is gross, stinky, and unsanitary to do in public..." Actually, "going to the bathroom" is a 100% natural function that every human being does every day. I wouldn't label it as "gross," unless you're talking about not wanting to be around someone else's bodily fluids. Oh, wait a second, feeding a baby involves bodily fluids--right? I would not want to sit down on a chair where someone's milk had dribbled down, or where their baby spit up a bit of milk. That makes me want to puke just thinking about it. The same way I'd puke if there was a bit of poo or pee on a chair or table in a public place.

    This is just an honest observation and is not meant in a snarky, mean-spirited, or anti-breastfeeding way. I support breastfeeding 100%. I just wish places where food is served all offered family lounge areas for breastfeeding mothers.

    I won't go into detail on the other issues here--like the idea that the act of breastfeeding can/should somehow solve the age-old problem of men being attracted to and sexualizing womens' breasts. SMH.

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    1. Its not a problem that men are attracted to womens breasts, that is as natural as breast feeding. What breast feeding teaches us is the proper way to see women in the context they're in at the time, and how to seperate sex from other feelings or emotions or impulses.

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    2. Going to the bathroom is natural, but it's still gross (to me, anyway). The smell, mainly. Not all bodily fluids are created equal. Spit isn't nearly as big a deal as poo, for example. Sweat is technically a bodily fluid, and we touch people's sweat every day. Breastmilk doesn't smell bad, it's not going to spread disease, and quite frankly, breastfeeding isn't usually that messy so it's not something to be concerned about. If you can find one single study or report of someone getting sick from being exposed to a woman's breastmilk in a public setting, I'd love to see it. I looked pretty and couldn't find one.

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    3. I hope you don't realize how many glasses of cows milk gets dumped on restaurant chairs every day. My gosh, that's bodily fluid from an unsanitary ANIMAL! Do you know where those teats are located?? I'll give you a hint: its a lot further south on a cow than it is on a woman. O.o

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    4. Going to the bathroom is an act that deals with a waste product. Breast milk is not a waste product. It is food.

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  61. The problem I have with this post is not the viewpoint so much as the attitude that seems to be behind it; it's more assertion than argument. For example, she writes, "If a mom wants privacy to nurse because she feels more comfortable that way, that's great... But it should be for her comfort, not for yours." This and other comments in the post do come across as a lack of regard for others. It seems to be that "nursing mothers should be able to breastfeed whenever and wherever, and no one else gets any say in the matter. I don't care about your opinion or discomfort because you're wrong." Her comfort is important; other people's comfort is not.

    The final section about the village in Africa suggests that the writer does acknowledge what the general social/cultural view is - she just thinks it's a wrong view and should change. That's a perfectly valid position to take and to argue in favor of, but to me the tone of the writing is less "I am arguing for my viewpoint" and more "I know I'm right about this; why can't everyone else see that and agree with me?" From a purely utilitarian view, the many outweigh the few - so if the general societal consensus is to be uncomfortable with public breastfeeding, then one would need to argue that nursing mothers do indeed warrant a privileged position that would outweigh the fact that they are the distinct minority. I'm not saying that such a case could not be made, but that it has not yet been.

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    1. I'm not sure I ever specified whether I was making an assertion or an argument—merely answering some common questions from my own viewpoint. This "lack of regard for others" has come up quite a bit, as well as the "many outweigh the few" idea. A few thoughts:

      I don't actually believe that it's a vast majority who think that breastfeeding in public isn't okay. I think that varies greatly by region. As I stated, the vast majority of people I know are supportive. It would be interesting to see some actual numbers across the board.

      But let's say for the sake of argument that the general cultural view is that breastfeeding in public makes people uncomfortable. It does not logically follow that it would have to be proved that "nursing mothers do indeed warrant a privileged position that would outweigh the fact that they are the distinct minority." Why not? Because it was the general social/cultural view that blacks shouldn't eat at the same restaurant as whites a mere couple of generations ago. Integration made people uncomfortable. Lots of people thought it was wrong. Did the many outweigh the few in that case? Was it necessary to prove that blacks "warranted a privileged position in order to outweigh the fact that they were the distinct minority"? Was other people's discomfort with integration a legitimate feeling that deserved to be maintained and coddled?

      I'm not putting breastfeeding in public in the same category of seriousness as the civil rights movement. I'm using that as an example to illustrate that there ARE instances where the general cultural/societal viewpoint is wrong, where people's discomfort with something is based on such erroneous ideas that it's hard to make an argument other than "How can you not see that this is wrong?"

      Was it a "lack of regard for others" when people asserted that it was wrong to be uncomfortable with integration? Some discomforts actually are wrong because they are based on ideas that don't make sense. I don't think it's wrong to be uncomfortable with women unnecessarily parading their breasts around, but that's not happening in the vast majority of breastfeeding in public. And again, if someone is uncomfortable being in the same room as a mom feeding her baby, they are free to leave, just as people were free to leave an integrated restaurant if it made them uncomfortable. It's not a lack of regard for people's feelings; it's simple fairness. Unless a mom is walking right up to someone and flashing her breast directly in their face, no one is being forced to see anything they don't want to see. It's unfair to expect a mom to go to extra lengths to ensure no one sees anything when other people are in charge of their own eyes, and it's unfair for people's discomfort with something as totally normal as feeding a baby to make life harder for moms who are just trying to feed their babies.

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    2. I'm afraid I don't think the comparison with civil rights and integration is an appropriate one. Of course, as you acknowledged, one is far more serious an issue than the other. But in my mind, the critical difference between them for this discussion is that race or skin color is simply part of who a person is, something they have no control over, whereas breastfeeding is an action a person makes. A more apt comparison with civil rights would be along the lines of being uncomfortable around a person who is a new mother, regardless of what they are or are not doing. To my knowledge, no one is asking new mothers or babies to avoid public places altogether, but simply to courteously refrain from a very specific action in such public places.

      I too would be interested to see statistics about the general population's views on public breastfeeding. Your personal experience is that many people are supportive; I would tend to think the opposite, at least based on my own experience. Perhaps I'm wrong, and most people are okay with it; perhaps not.

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    3. First, I appreciate the thoughtful dialogue here. Thank you. :)

      You're right, it's not an accurate comparison. It was really just to illustrate that just because a society/culture is uncomfortable with something, that doesn't mean that discomfort is legitimate. Let's make the comparison more appropriate with an action that people would find distasteful. Let's say an interracial couple was holding hands in a restaurant. That would have made a lot of people very uncomfortable. Was it okay to ask or even to insinuate that the couple should leave the restaurant so no one had to see that? Would it be considered courteous for them to refrain from holding hands in public because it makes the people around them uncomfortable? They don't HAVE to hold hands.

      I actually do understand why people have a problem with breastfeeding in public. Overwhelmingly, I believe, it goes back to the inability to see breasts as anything other than sexual. Therefore seeing a breast in any context is deemed inappropriate.

      I'm not actually a fan of seeing breasts outside of breastfeeding. I think Hooters is an abomination, I think porn is ruining our society like a cancer, I think it's reasonable to have discussions about modesty with our children. But breastfeeding is TOTALLY separate from any of those contexts. Every person I've ever known who was raised around breastfeeding doesn't bat an eye at it. Seeing breasts in a breastfeeding context should be totally asexual, in the same way that having a baby suckle from your breasts is totally asexual. It takes experience seeing breastfeeding in order to make that differentiation, which is why I think it's important for women not to be told to hide themselves away.

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  62. A MILLION times THIS. Thank you for expressing what I've been saying for years so well.

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  63. I have an interesting take on breastfeeding in the presence of others & why on lookers get so offended. I am a proud mother of three beautiful daughters. I modestly breastfed all of my girls. By modest, I mean sometimes covered up & sometimes didn't. I never flopped my boobs around and shook them in any way to attract attention to myself, promise! My youngest I breastfed until she was 14 months old. While breastfeeding my youngest daughter, I was approached & addressed by a friend and my mother-in-law about my breastfeeding in front of her kids & husband. This friend explained to me that she was the one that felt uneasy about my breastfeeding. She explained to me that she felt threatened by my breast being exposed because in fact her husband was a "boob man". She continued to explain that I was this adorable mom that was so put together. My hair & make-up was always done and that I was considered the "hot mom" amongst our group of friends. My mother-in-law (who had recently found out her husband had an affair many years ago) said that she did not want my father-in-law around while I breastfed so that he didnt accidently see my boob. She put it off on me. She didn't want her husband, the grandfather, to get the "wrong idea" or get a "mixed message" about me. By all means I did not feel this way. The daily hair & make-up ritual was to cover my own insecurities of weight gain & the look of death that I always felt I displayed after the rangle of three kids. This friend of mine explained that I set the standard for what she thought her husband expected from her. She had three children also that she breastfed for a few months before returning to work. Yes, she was delt different cards. I was able to stay home for 6-8 months after having my girls. My point in this story is that society has made woman so insecure. The breasts has been extremely sexualized. Some men pay money to eat their lunch in the presence of a young woman exposing most/all of her breast. Movies & magazines have forced woman to compare & up hold the so called standardof what a beautiful woman looks like. Real woman don't have people to do their hair & make-up everyday. Real woman don't have personal chefs to cook phenomenal, perfectly preportioned food with just the right amout of calories. Real woman don't have someone to photoshop all our pictures on FB & Instagram. We sometimes wonder if our husbands are distracted by other women (I believe this is a normal/occasional thought) this friend was so insecure about herself that she thought that the sight of a baby nursing on my boob would make her husband question his relationship with her. Are the people that complain about the breast being exposed just insecure? Are they worried that a breastfeeding mother is able to attract sexual attention while a non-breastfeeding mother sits unsexualized (may have made that word up) with their shirt down.
    I never felt so baffled in all my breastfeeding days as I was with these two woman. I went through many emotions & thoughts after being approached. My husband assured me that I was doing the right thing and to continue doing what was best for our daughter.
    As for the woman, I just felt extremely sad for them. That they were so tormented by their insecurities. I assured my friend that she was beautiful and that I would respect her concerns. I would never make another woman deal with those demons of insecurity over something I could control. I simply started excusing myself or covering up in the presence of her husband. She thanked me many weeks later for respecting her feelings. We are still friends to this day, 10 years later. Now for my MIT.....that's a whole other forum.
    Just give me that milk! Moo moo moo moo! Keep the milk flowing & those babies fed my breastfeeding alumni friends!

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  64. Have been nursing my 19 month old since birth and could have written every word of this. He's had every drop from the tap. Well...we tried a few bottles, but he never took enough from them to count as a feeding. Anywho...I used to cover *all* the time if anyone besides my husband was in the room. And then it was just in semi-public places (I wouldn't care at a restaurant, but would at church because people know me there, dangit.) And now I'm at the point where I really don't give a mouse's tiny hiney about what anyone thinks. Sometimes the cover helps him nurse better, sometimes it ticks him off. It's about what makes him and me most comfortable...not anyone else. Thanks for this. :)

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    1. Your comment was just too cute! " a mouse's tiny hiney " ADORABLE!

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  65. Disagree. One of the perks of civilized society is not behaving like cavemen just because the paleo diet is trending.
    And it's not just "feeding." There is a DISTINCT difference between bottle feeding and breast feeding and in the case of very sick babies, tube feeding. Oh, the joy of adjectives, qualifiers and modifiers!!
    I have publicly breastfed three big, fat, always hungry babies. It's true that when it's time, it's time and there's no getting around it. I never hid in a bathroom or in a corner, but I did cover up. I have my whole life to bond with this human. 10 minutes without eye contact never killed anyone. And the baby doesn't like being covered up? Sorry little baby, as the Dread Pirate Roberts once said: get used to disappointment. Babies aren't an accessory for public platforming and campaigning.

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    1. You cannot explain to an infant that they just have to deal with it. It can cause longterm developmental damage to an infant not to meet its needs relatively quickly. If an infant needs to eat and flips out if covered, then that baby should be fed uncovered. The baby's health is WAY more important than your comfort. How selfish of you to put a moment of discomfort over the physical and emotional needs to a helpless infant.

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    2. ^ I SECOND THIRD AND FORTH THE REPLY TO THIS COMMENT! "Babies aren't an accessory for public platforming and campaigning. " you should REALLY think about considering your child's feelings! Do you feed yourself covered up? " Get used to disappointment" to an infant... REALLY... Grow up!

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  66. My babies clusterfeed. All. The. Time. I would never be able to leave the house. Or the nursing lounge. Let's enact a law for all public stores/places to spend a lot of money to build an appropriate nursing room so moms can go out in public to hide in a room to feed their baby. Makes sense to me.

    I have nursed my 7 kids and most people never realized I was nursing. Ive nursed over the too and pulled my shirt up. My large boobs are shaped to make nursing difficult in a covered/'modest' way in all situations. Often times i would be in the middle of a conversation and they would stop a second...sometimes would ask if I was nursing and would apologize for bothering me! These were usually conversions with men. I only ever got rude comments by women cuz the baby was pulling my shirt (usually during babywearing not feeding). And only women would tell me to sit in a bathroom. Men would politely walk away or situate themselves to a more comfortable position like how people move themselves when being forced to sit too close.

    From my experience, I got harassed by women and never men. One time I was at a church and had two old med always leering at me...but they did that no matter if I was feeding or not. Some men are like that no matter the situation. In general tho, I dont think males sit aroused all day at a beach or in public. So to me, that whole arousal argument is invalid. Some Males will lust no matter the situation. Let's put our boys in public rooms so they never see anything possibly arousing. Rant over.

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    1. Sorry for typos ^^ nursing while typing on small phone...ugh...

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  67. I love this. I fed my youngest all through Disney World. I had her in a sling to make it easier. A couple walked up to me to see the baby. They didn't realize I was feeding. They saw and told me, good job. Keep doing what you're doing.
    Another time I had gone to the restroom to change diaper and get the sling on (I needed to put baby down. A woman was behind me waiting to use the table with her little girl. I apologized for taking so long. She wasn't having any of that. She said it was more important that baby eat and went on to explain to her little girl what I was doing. I thanked her for her patience once I was done but she thanked me.
    Lastly, we were at one of the fancy character dinners. Baby had to eat. So I got my sling and got her latched and say and ate. Eyore came over for a photo op. He didn't realize what I was doing and I have a photo with Eyore feeding my daughter.
    With each child, I got more brave with feeding. By my last I exclusively fed her until 15 months. I'm so glad I did.

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  68. Preach on Sister!!! Thank you for this article... shared on facebook! :)

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  69. Thank you so much for this post! I breastfed all 3 of our babies. With the first (9 years ago) I was super-self-conscious and terrified of feeding her in public. It stressed me out beyond belief. I experienced PPD and I was always depressed because I just about couldn't go out in public. By the time we got everyone ready, packed a huge diaper bag, dealt with the carseat, etc. there was only 40-ish minutes before she would need to feed again. When I became pregnant with our 2nd, I swore I would never be embarrassed about feeding in public again. I tried to do the 'cover with blanket' thing, but in August in Louisiana, it just wasn't happening. He pulled it off every single time (I couldn't blame him!). After the first week, I just said 'to hell with it' and fed my baby wherever I was, without a cover, without caring what anyone thought. I never got any weird looks that I know of. I don't think most people even knew I was feeding a baby! I wasn't nearly as exposed as the VS models are in their massive window ads. It's ridiculous to expect breastfeeding mothers to hide while feeding their baby. The more 'normal' this becomes in the US (a 'progressive' country, really??), the better.

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  70. A friend of mine posted this on FB and I just had to comment. I have read through the comments about people saying that its offensive in one way or another. I am a man and I have two daughters and a son. It is my responsibility to teach all three of my children about respect for other people. That includes the realization that breasts aren't toys for men, they are for nourishing babies. There is nothing obscene about a woman baring her breast to feed her baby. Any man that can't control his sexual urges when seeing a baby being put on a bare breast needs to grow up. That is incredibly juvenile behavior. My daughters, if they choose to have children, should be comfortable to breastfeed in public. My son should be mature enough to realize that the breast is not there for his amusement.

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    1. Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you! Can you teach classes???? So nice to read this kind of comment from the male partner of a breastfeeding woman.

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  71. I read something once that said to offer a baby blanket to the (often offending) offended so they can cover their own head..give em a mercury laden microfiber blanket so they can get the idea of how suffocating it is to be under one.

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  72. Here's the thing ladies, the breastfeeding debate is fueled by anger and/or strong feelings on both sides of the issue. I have seen plenty of women breastfeed in public and most of the time it is done in such a way that is not offensive or distracting to other patrons in any way. However, with that said, I must share a story that happened when my son was about 2 to 3 years old. We were at McDonald's and my son was sitting there eating his happy meal. A woman walked in with her screaming baby, so naturally everyone looked in her direction (normal reaction when you hear screaming). She proceeded to lift her shirt all the way up to her neck and start feeding her baby. She had pulled her shirt up to where (both breasts were exposed). Now my son, who is naturally curious, starts staring at her. He said to me, "mommy, her boobies are showing." I explained to him that she was feeding her baby from her booby. He continued to stare, and this woman started screaming at me and calling my son a pervert. So, I try to distract him with his happy meal toy, but he continues to look back over at this woman and watch her feeding her baby. Now she starts screaming at him and telling him to mind his own f-ing business. So I politely ask this woman not to scream and curse at my child (as his bottom lip is now starting to quiver). Then she starts screaming and cursing at me and telling me I should take my son and leave because he is obviously a "sicko". Meanwhile, everyone in the restaurant has heard every word and they are all starting to make little comments under their breath (loud enough though that you could hear) about her being the one who is a pervert for flopping them out in public, etc.... I felt like my son and I were attacked just because the mom was trying to get attention. A 2 year old watching a woman breastfeed their baby is not a pervert. So while there may be some bad apples when it comes to being accepting of breastfeeding in public, there are also plenty of women who seem to intentionally make it uncomfortable for others around them, just so they can have a reason to complain....

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  73. LOL... I'm laughing about the amount of times I had my boobs out and flopping about in public throughout my 20's. You should have seen the beads I got at Mardi Grad! I show almost zero boob when I'm feeding my boys some boobie milk in public.. yet somehow I'm stigmatized as a disgusting exhibitionist when I do it. What? Suddenly my boobs arent awesome because my baby is attached to them? Society is full of double standard jerks.

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  74. This should be required reading at some stage of life in this country :)

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  75. This article is fantastic. Thank you for sharing. It blows my mind that anyone can dispute such a beautiful and necessary act of nature.

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  76. I had a thought as a young mother that, "I refuse to be banished from society for Breastfeeding my child". It took some time and learning to be 'comfortable' when in public. I used to say with my 5th, that "if she didn't eat in public/when we were on the go, then she wouldn't be able to ea"t... I would push the double stroller with the baby nursing in the sling, while I walked the older two to school in the mornings... I didn't have time, and didn't want to lock myself away or stay home all the time just because I was breastfeeding. In the 14+ years of breastfeeding with my 6 children, can you imagine how much church I would have missed? or whatever other things if I was constantly running away to hide to feed my kids? I have literally breastfed all over the world, on planes, trains and automobiles. I have BF while hiking down Carlsbad Caverns, on It's a small world at Disney (it's a great 20 minute sit down place in a climate controlled environment! ;), the top of the Space Needle, sitting in Church, at concerts, at the pool, while shopping, etc... It's just a matter of feeding baby when baby is hungry. I wasn't trying to do anything special, I wasn't trying to make a statement, I wasn't trying to get anyone's attention believe me, I was simply trying to live my life, and do the best for my kids and take care of their needs...

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  77. While I really don't agree with everything the article had to say, I support breast feeding wherever. I in particular don't care to see it which is why I will make sure not to look at them while they are doing it. Breast feeding can be a beautiful thing. Some women however, are just vulgar in general, in all phases of their lives, and when breast feeding they are no different. I feel that is where most of the issue tends to stem, and not from just an issue of breast feeding. We chose not to breast feed our children. I know, as a registered nurse, that breast feeding is not any more beneficial in the long run than bottle. Our life was so much easier as two very busy managers and there is no way that my wife could be with the kids 24-7 so they had to be able to eat something when she was not around. This way I was able to do most of the feeding myself and the grandparents who kept the kids while we were at work could feed easily as well. The whole issue is regarding simplicity in life. For those mothers who do not have to work and can be with their kids to feed all day or pump for when they are not with the kids, great! More power to you. It is simpler to do and for sure the cheaper way to go. For all those out there who do not like seeing it, just look away. That is also something simple to do.

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    1. I have a BSN in Nursing and am a licensed lactation consultant. I have to say that people uneducated comments such as " I know, as a registered nurse, that breast feeding is not any more beneficial in the long run than bottle" are the exact reason so many mother's do not understand and do not get the help they need with nursing. I urge you to do some research on the reasons HUMAN breast milk IS in fact far more beneficial than a powdery substance that you have absolutely NO idea what is in it for sure! Formula is made from COW'S milk. Which in case you are uneducated to what "cow's milk" is, it is BREAST MILK from another SPECIES! Your wife's body was trusted to make your children, why would you be as ignorant to not encourage her to feed her the FREE, PERFECT, and most COMPLETE form of nutrients that was made SPECIFICALLY for your children!!!! People like you, with these uneducated ridiculous comments and opinions, are the exact reason the USA is so unhealthy and completely dependent on man made drugs. Do your research before commenting. PLEASE. Thank you

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  78. A great comment to anyone that suggests you feed in the bathroom, just reply "I will when you take your meal and eat in the bathroom along with my baby!"

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  79. Wow. The comments on this post have opened my eyes to what a variety of opinions there are on this matter. I breastfeed my baby. I'm thrilled that I'm able to. I usually cover my breast, but I don't feel that I have to, and at times when I don't feel like struggling with a baby who likes to grab anything that touches her hand, and it's 80 degrees out, I do not. I think the argument that breastfeeding evoking sexual responses from passers-by rings a bit hollow with me because personally I don't think there is anything sexy about a breast being used to feed a baby. I am totally comfortable with my friends coming over and nursing their babies in front of my husband if they feel comfortable; I feel much less comfortable with women walking by my husband on the beach with tiny bikini tops on...the bikini tops are designed to attract and sexualize the female body; breastfeeding is about something entirely different. The last thing I have ever thought about when getting ready to feed my baby in public is "I can't wait to see how many guys look my way." If they do, that's their decision. In my experience, most males tend to avoid a breastfeeding woman. In any case, this argument could go on forever, but the fact is that at least in my state, I am allowed to breastfeed wherever and however I choose by the law. Modesty is not a one-size-fits-all concept, and it is NOT about "protecting" men from sexual thoughts that we might "force" them to have by using our breasts for their intended purpose!

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  80. It's amazing how skewed our culture is when it comes to what is and isn't appropriate regarding breasts and their primary function. Thank you for writing this article.

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