Breast-Feeding in Public

  • folie a dru.

    folie a dru. (1270)

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    And all the breast-feeding hullabaloo that goes around.

    In America, it's extremely controversial to breast-feed in public or to even be proud of doing it. A mother was told she couldn't breastfeed her child by a pool because the breast milk might 'contaminate' the water.

    There have also been women who have been forced to drink their own sealed breast milk before getting on the plane with a child. Of course, after the breast milk touches the mother's lips, it cannot be fed to the child.

    Do you think breast-feeding should be allowed in public?

    Image
    Do you think this mom should have lost her civilian job for being in this image?
    June 27th, 2012 at 06:42pm
  • Kurtni

    Kurtni (10125)

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    The TSA breast milk drinking debacle just... blows my mind, that it ever even occurred. But, I think that's a problem more with the TSA and TSA agents being on a constant power trip than the stigma attached to breastfeeding. There is also the story of the mother who was locked in a confinement cell for four hours to "teach her a lesson" for bringing breast milk onto a plane. Rolling Eyes

    My anthropology teacher worked for WIC after he graduated with his undergrad degree, and he worked with a lot of immigrant women who didn't want to breastfeed because they'd be poisoned into thinking breastfeeding was a thing poor, dirty women did, and "normal" people bought formula (which is why they were at WIC). His job wasn't to sway women in their choice one way or the other, but he said he just felt so enraged on the behalf of these women because they were made to feel like they were "dirty" if they breastfed.

    Image

    Do you think stories/images like this help or hurt the image of breast feeding?

    I disapprove of the title time used (although I'm not sure that reflects the profiled mother's opinion) because whether you chose to breastfeed or not doesn't reflect the quality of mom you are- I think the whole point is you shouldn't feel pressured either way, so you can make a comfortable choice.
    June 27th, 2012 at 08:27pm
  • folie a dru.

    folie a dru. (1270)

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    @ Kurtni
    I actually love that image. I know that's an unusual stance to take. But the thing they were going for was shock value and I felt like they achieved it and it probably made people pick up the magazine and read the article.

    That picture doesn't enrage me... although it was shocking the first few times I saw it. I also had a lot of respect for the mother when I heard her thoughts on it, which is that it's not the way she breastfeeds her son and it was done to make a statement, draw attention. She knew she'd get shit and she was okay with it, she wasn't playing a simpering victim.

    ---

    That thing about breastfeeding being a poor thing is interesting because I just watched a documentary that said poor women are more likely to buy formula and middle/upper class women are more likely to breastfeed.
    June 27th, 2012 at 08:32pm
  • Kurtni

    Kurtni (10125)

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    That thing about breastfeeding being a poor thing is interesting because I just watched a documentary that said poor women are more likely to buy formula and middle/upper class women are more likely to breastfeed.
    That was kind of my professors point, what an oxy moron it is- for poor women, breastfeeding means you don't have any other options and you can't afford things for your child, where as for wealthier women breast feeding is kind of a novel thing you can do because you want to. And, middle class women get stuck somewhere in the middle, where they can't even breast feed their kids at a picnic in the park without being scolded and told how inappropriate it is.

    I would imagine working also has something to do with it. A wealthier mother would have the resources to stay home and maintain a breast feeding schedule or buy the expensive pumps, where as a poorer woman probably has to work to support herself.
    June 27th, 2012 at 08:38pm
  • folie a dru.

    folie a dru. (1270)

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    @ Kurtni
    Which I think is why they tried to implement laws that enable working women to breastfeed.
    June 27th, 2012 at 08:42pm
  • Katlight Sparkle

    Katlight Sparkle (100)

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    Kurtni:
    That was kind of my professors point, what an oxy moron it is- for poor women, breastfeeding means you don't have any other options and you can't afford things for your child, where as for wealthier women breast feeding is kind of a novel thing you can do because you want to. And, middle class women get stuck somewhere in the middle, where they can't even breast feed their kids at a picnic in the park without being scolded and told how inappropriate it is.

    I would imagine working also has something to do with it. A wealthier mother would have the resources to stay home and maintain a breast feeding schedule or buy the expensive pumps, where as a poorer woman probably has to work to support herself.
    Stupidly enough, this is pretty common phenomena. "Crunchy Parenting" is a sort of broad and ill defined term, but I think of it as any type of parenting that doesn't conform to the usual white, middle class expectations. If you find yourself going, "uhm. Okay, I guess?" then it's probably crunchy parenting. But basically all common tenents (cosleeping, cloth diapers, baby slings, attachment parenting) of the stuff crunchy parents advocate for are things that poor women and families have been doing for ages because they didn't have a choice.

    At the topic at large--
    Breastfeeding is time consuming and uncomfortable. A million things can wrong with it. You don't lactat enough or at all, breast or nipple infections. The kicker has to be that babies aren't necessarily any good at nursing when they're perfectly fine. Never mind a bunch of minor deformities in their mouths that ccan make it harder/impossible. So basically that mother breastfeeding deserves all the help and support she can get. It's perfectly natural and not sexual. Maybe guys are just jealous their boobs are useless? Since it usually seems to be guys that complain about it being indecent or whatever. If you don't like seeing a wom breastfeeding, you can point your eyes in a different direction.
    June 28th, 2012 at 12:07pm
  • folie a dru.

    folie a dru. (1270)

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    @ Katlight Sparkle
    I actually thought it's because guys don't like to see 'sex objects' (boobs) as they actually are, vessels for nourishment. We sexualize breasts to an obscene degree in Western culture.
    June 28th, 2012 at 02:19pm
  • kafka.

    kafka. (150)

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    We sexualize breasts to an obscene degree in Western culture.
    Don't confuse the US with the whole of Western culture, breastfeeding in public has legal protection in most of Europe and is fairly common - as is, for example, sunbathing topless. There was a woman breastfeeding on my flight from London a couple of weeks ago, the only comments she got were generic, ohh your baby is so pretty and cute / how old are they / etc.

    What I find most controversial / interesting about the Time cover is that it came out right after the French elections - so again while the European, Middle Eastern, African and Asian Times had serious politics on the cover (a picture of Francois Hollande with the words 'Bonjour, Angela' - see it here), the US magazine had some derisory issue meant to shock.
    June 28th, 2012 at 03:28pm
  • the4PonyGirls

    the4PonyGirls (100)

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    And all the breast-feeding hullabaloo that goes around.

    In America, it's extremely controversial to breast-feed in public or to even be proud of doing it. A mother was told she couldn't breastfeed her child by a pool because the breast milk might 'contaminate' the water.

    There have also been women who have been forced to drink their own sealed breast milk before getting on the plane with a child. Of course, after the breast milk touches the mother's lips, it cannot be fed to the child.

    Do you think breast-feeding should be allowed in public?

    http://l.yimg.com/os/401/2012/05/30/breastfeedingmoms3-jpg_221940.jpg
    Do you think this mom should have lost her civilian job for being in this image?
    If you look around, it's natural to do it, when and where ever.
    Which doesn't suggest any blame should be passed on the mother, or the child, because it was done, or was not.
    The milk was produced for the purpose of the child to have it, and most times, it is the best for both the mother, and the child to do it.
    On the other hand, how long, till the child is suposed to be weened of, in order to eat solig foods, the most convenient is to tie this in, with when the child grow teeth in order to chew.
    Making this into an economical, or moral issue, is the real problem.
    This should not be bothering anyone.
    June 28th, 2012 at 05:38pm
  • Audrey T

    Audrey T (6730)

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    @ of dru's being.

    Do you think breast-feeding should be allowed in public?

    Absolutely.

    A mother was told she couldn't breastfeed her child by a pool because the breast milk might 'contaminate' the water.

    The only issue I could see here is that if a mother is infected with HIV, it could be transmitted through breastmilk. BUT (1) most mothers with HIV don't breastfeed because of the risk of transferring it to their child and (2) the virus would not survive in any properly chlorinated pool - as a public pool should be. So really, superstitious/bias/personal opinions on breastfeeding in public shenanigans.

    @ Kurtni

    Do you think stories/images like this help or hurt the image of breast feeding?

    I think it hurts the image of breast feeding - though I wish it didn't. I wish people were more comfortable with breast-feeding in public, comfortable enough that images like this (with an older child breast-feeding) didn't give them pause. But, because we live in a country (I'm in the US - and not all country/cultures have a problem with breastfeeding in public) where breastfeeding in public is considered "taboo" (by some), seeing a child of this age breastfeeding is only going to make those people quicker to say "Ew. This is why breastfeeding in public shouldn't be allowed."

    ----

    I think the attack of public breastfeeding is just another attack on women. Yet again, here is something that we cannot do. And the constant mixed signals women receive when it comes to breastfeeding and motherhood in general just makes my head spin (and I'm not even mother yet!).

    There's one community (often the medical community) shoving breastfeeding down women's throats and shaming them into breastfeeding, and then there's another community that's just as strong saying that if you do breastfeed, you have to hide away and do it. So women have to breastfeed, but -dear God- don't let anyone see you do it.

    It's ridiculous.
    June 29th, 2012 at 12:05am
  • Katlight Sparkle

    Katlight Sparkle (100)

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    @ Katlight Sparkle
    I actually thought it's because guys don't like to see 'sex objects' (boobs) as they actually are, vessels for nourishment. We sexualize breasts to an obscene degree in Western culture.
    This too of course. Because fuckballs, we can't wrap our brains around the idea that a body part might have a dual purposes. That something can be both attractive and functional. That's so hard. But yeah, breasts = sexual all the time to the white men in charge, which makes them much less mature about the whole thing than most five years old I know who give no fucks about breasts in public. "Yeah, she's feeding a baby so what?"
    June 29th, 2012 at 04:13am
  • The Rumor

    The Rumor (365)

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    @ Katlight Sparkle
    In my experience, little kids do stare a lot. I think kids between 2 and 5, particularly those who have been breastfed themselves, are amongst the most interested. Obviously because they're so young, it's different to the interest adults might show. They're just curious about what you're doing.

    ***

    I live in the UK and I have heard of stigma associated with breastfeeding here. I was breastfeeding my son by a pool (because when you're taking a six month old swimming and they get hungry, what else do you do?) and a guy gave me a really dirty look for it. A friend of mine got threatened to be kicked off a bus for breastfeeding (and yes, that would be totally illegal).

    At the same time, though, I've gotten a lot more oohs/aahs and admiration when breastfeeding my son in public. I've had other mums come up to me and ask for advice because they get embarrassed. Particularly old ladies find it very sweet and a lot of people find it refreshing to see a young mum breastfeeding.

    There's a culture here, particularly in younger parents/teenage parents, that it's a yucky or unnatural thing to do, which I find totally bizarre.

    I think that people over-think public breastfeeding a lot. It's just feeding a baby, there's nothing else to it. Yes, it's a lovely cuddle for the mother and child but that's got nothing to do with someone who might be in the vicinity. By all means, if it bothers you then just don't look.

    I also think, though, that people who look down on those who don't breastfeed need a reality check and possibly more of a life. Some women can't for whatever reason and yes, some women don't want to and that is completely within their rights to decide. It's a personal decision and babies who aren't breastfed can thrive while those who are can have a huge amount of health problems. It's not something that anyone should feel guilted about or pressured into, it's a personal choice and you should go with whatever you find right.

    The thing I hate most is when people are grossed about because someone doesn't breastfeed with a cover/blanket over their baby. From when he was a few weeks old, my son refused to breastfeed with a cover so it's something that I've never been able to do. It's not that I'm trying to be shameless, I just can't do it any other way...and you know what, fair enough to him. Do you drink a cup of tea with a sheet over your head? No, why should he have his milk like that? It's not like you can see anything either way, I probably show off more skin wearing a summer dress than I do when I'm breastfeeding.

    TL;DR: Breastfeeding is a personal choice and women should be respected whatever they do. If you don't like it, don't look at it. It's not a spectator sport anyway.
    June 30th, 2012 at 11:11pm
  • LaRawra!

    LaRawra! (100)

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    Lol. Not too long ago, I was with my two sisters and we went to Tawny's (one of my sisters) work which is McDonalds. She had to do something real quick cause she is manager. Anyways, Heather and I stayed in the car, and a van pulled two spaces beside us and I was bored. So I stared as the husband was changing their baby's diper. . . Than it got weird. The mom who was in the passenger seat got out and got this weird pillow looking thing out of the back and went back to her seat. The dad took the baby over to her. The mom was putting the cover like thing on her and setting the pillow thing down on her lap. Then the guy handed her the baby and she set it down on the pillow thing. At this time, I told Heather to look over there. Then she put her under the cover thing and I looked away real quick, cause then I realized what she was doing. But Heather didn't and she got to see her boob apparently. . . But it was so funny to us cause I've seen somebody breast feed their baby in public. . . and at McDonalds at that. Then the dad took the little toddler inside and it was just the mom and the baby out in the van.
    July 1st, 2012 at 01:33am
  • Kurtni

    Kurtni (10125)

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    ^ I don't see anything "weird" or "funny" about that story. Shifty You can't make a hungry baby wait, whether you're at Mc Donalds or somewhere else.
    July 1st, 2012 at 02:08am
  • LaRawra!

    LaRawra! (100)

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    @ Kurtni
    It was weird to me and my sister because we've never seen somebody do that before in public. And I agree with your second sentence.
    July 1st, 2012 at 02:25am
  • Insanity's Artist

    Insanity's Artist (150)

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    As a breastfeeding mom, it saddens me that so many people try to demean the very real benefits of breastfeeding and try to say formula is just as good, if not better, because they think a baby eating the NATURAL way is weird or gross.
    From experience, I can say that it's hard for breastfeeding moms in America, at least in my town. Breastmilk isnt PACKED with nutrients like formula is since it's tailored to what the baby needs so of course a baby is going to eat more on breastmilk than formula but people automatically assume that more frequent eating means your baby isn't getting enough, which isn't true at all. Babies need a eat on demand schedule and if that's every thirty minutes, well, my pediatrician says that's normal for younger babies, and I think he would know better. But you wouldn't believe how many people, especially my family, berated me for not pumping and adding cereal to my breastmilk or not using formula, and when I quoted my pediatrician, they acted like he was letting my daughter starve.
    When my daughter turned six months and I kept breastfeeding her, they attacked me like angry wolves saying its totally unnecessary. Now, she's 15 months almost and I still breastfeed on demand even though she really only wants breastmilk in the morning. I've never had a problem with lactation or nipple infections and she learned how to latch on quick, so I never understood why I was harped on for it all the time.

    As for breastfeeding in public, I don't think I could ever do it because I'm shy, but if a woman feels comfortable then by all means. I know personally how uncomfortable it is sitting in public restrooms when you're out and about so if you're good doing it on a bench, go ahead. Thankfully, here in Texas, women are legally able to breastfeed ANYWHERE that's "public" so no one can stop them.
    July 1st, 2012 at 08:28am
  • Audrey T

    Audrey T (6730)

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    @ Insanity's Artist
    I guess it depends on where you live in America (how people feel about breastfeeding).

    I mostly witness people berating mothers for feeding their babies formula instead of breast milk and women shunning (or turning their noses up) at women who choose to use formula. There's even been campaigns to ban hospitals from giving free formula to new mothers (which I don't agree with).

    I do wish more women had support (from friends and family and others they associate) when it came to breastfeeding in public - so that they would be more comfortable doing it, if they chose to, and not feel ashamed or like they have to hide. I think it's definitely hard for a woman to decide to breastfeed according to the needs of her child and not the side-eyeing of others when they don't have people around them to help ward off the people who are "against" it.

    When my best friend's son was young (he'll be a year at the end of August), she used to breastfeed whenever he needed it - whether that be at the mall, at a restaurant or on the subway/bus - but she's gotten so much grief for it, she now feels like she has to hide in a public restroom to feed her child. I think that's just awful (and gross), that she feels like she has to sit in a stinking restroom to feed her child because people may look at her funny if she chooses to feed her child in a more public setting.
    July 1st, 2012 at 08:01pm
  • Jewel Nicole

    Jewel Nicole (100)

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    I can't believe I haven't posted in this thread yet. Facepalm

    Yes, I think breast feeding should be allowed in public. I think it's a natural thing and it shouldn't be frowned upon. I don't understand all the negativity towards it, it's not like it's indecent exposure. I just...don't get it.
    July 1st, 2012 at 08:48pm
  • liam payne.

    liam payne. (250)

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    When I used to live with my mom and she had my baby sister, I remember seeing some people give her such dirty looks whenever she breastfed in public. The number one thing people said to her was always something along the lines of, "That's really inappropriate", which really annoyed me. How is quietly sitting on a bench in a mall or something, feeding your child with nothing even showing inappropriate?

    Honestly, there is no harm in breastfeeding in public. Like Kurtni said, you can't make a hungry baby wait.
    July 1st, 2012 at 09:37pm
  • The Rumor

    The Rumor (365)

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    I don't know why people would find it strange. No one would give dirty/odd looks to a mother feeding a baby solid food in public. My son never took a bottle, there isn't always an available public restroom, sometimes the only alternative would be to let them scream and - not only would that be totally unfair/cruel to the baby - that's way more anti-social than quietly breastfeeding.
    July 1st, 2012 at 10:53pm