The Breastfeeding Debate

I don’t know about you, but I have noticed an undercurrent of attitude associated with breastfeeding nowadays.  Women who advocate breastfeeding are–dare I say it–rude in the way they communicate their views.  I understand that they want to feel uninhibited in society to feed their baby and blah blah blah.  I understand that “baby shouldn’t have to eat in the bathroom ’cause we don’t” and blah blah blah.  What I DON’T understand is the fact that if I, as a soon to be mom, have made the decision that I think breastfeeding in public is inappropriate, I am scorned and scolded for having this view.  If this is about our right to decide, then why should my viewpoint be taboo?

A few weeks ago, a girl posted this on facebook:

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“If seeing this offends you but seeing this doesn’t then you, friend, are a hypocrite.”

My comment was, “What if you’re offended by both?”  to which I then explained that while breastfeeding itself is certainly not offensive to me (in fact, I’m all for it), doing so in public is.  In the same way that I don’t appreciate a woman wearing a bikini top around my husband and the other men trying to live godly lives, I don’t appreciate a woman breastfeeding her baby and making these men uncomfortable or tempting them to look.  After a long drawn out debate, the girl’s response to me was that I don’t understand because I haven’t had my baby yet…WHAT?  Just because my baby is not out of the womb yet does NOT mean that I don’t understand the principles and morals behind the matter.

To me, the core behind this attitude of breastfeeding moms is rebellion.  “I can do what I want when I want and how dare you try to stop me.”  This attitude is inconsiderate toward men, toward other children who’s parents may not want them to see a stranger’s boobs, and the women with those men and children.  It would be one thing if these women were trying to advocate designated breastfeeding areas or a woman’s right to choose how to feed her baby…but this just simply isn’t the whole issue.  If this was the whole issue, it wouldn’t matter if I disagreed with these other moms.  They would support my right to decide and to protect my family.

Let me be very clear in saying that I advocate breastfeeding…just not public breastfeeding.  Like it or not, breasts are a sexual object (God created them this way, which is a wonderful thing) and while, yes, one of their functions is feeding, this should be done in private because of the temptation that a sexual body part brings.  I plan to breastfeed my baby and supplement with pumped breast milk or find a discreet feeding area (which they do have in many shopping centers and places if you really want to find them).

So what do you think?  Will I lose any followers over this politically incorrect post?  I hope not.

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12 thoughts on “The Breastfeeding Debate

  1. Hmmmmmm. I think whapping out your boobs to feed your baby without any attempt to hide them is inappropriate. However, if you need to feed in a public place and have prepared yourself as you should have done, then there is no need for anyone to be offended. If I have to breastfeed while out and about, my boob and our baby’s head will be covered by a large cover / piece of fabric.You can buy special items designed for this. People would therefore be able to ascertain what it is I am doing, but they would not be able to see it. I don’t understand why anyone would take exception to this.
    A good compromise or no?

    • Yes and no. I guess I have mixed feelings about that, because, on the one hand, I appreciate the woman trying to be modest and discreet (I really do). On the other hand, though….I guess what comes to mind for me is if I needed to change my shirt and someone held up a coat so that no one could see what I’m doing…I mean, yes, that would be acceptable in a way…but wouldn’t the men around still want to look or imagine what I look like topless? Eh, I dunno. Like I said, mixed feelings…

  2. I agree with Roxxroxx. I would feel uncomfortable seeing someone’s boob flying free in a public place (and I wouldn’t have mine out for everyone to see). In our society I just don’t think it’s appropriate, for any reason. On the other hand, I have NO problem with discreet breastfeeding in public using some sort of cover for privacy. That way no one has seen anything that they or anyone else doesn’t want them to see. Win win?

    • Mixed feelings. See comment to Roxxroxx. I will say it doesn’t upset me if I see a woman breastfeeding this way like it would if she didn’t have a cover. I do know for a fact that it makes my husband very uncomfortable, though.

      • Fair enough. Do you actually see this happen often? I think I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve ever seen a woman breastfeeding in a public place, and it actually makes me happy to see it because I love knowing that some women are breastfeeding when it seems like so many aren’t. But that’s just me, and I think we should all try our best to be sensitive to other people and what they may be comfortable with. 🙂

      • I do see this often over here. Breastfeeding is a normal part of society here. The first time I visited, one of the ladies at the home church whipped her boob right out in the middle of the study. You could cut the tension in the room with a knife lol. I see it every time I am out and about shopping, too. Usually, the women are quite discreet and I don’t have a problem with it…but like I said, knowing a man’s perspective has given me a new sensitivity to what they go through.

  3. I gotta say I agree with you quite a bit on this one. I do highly disagree with the comment in the photo and I can finally make sense of the difference and what about public breastfeeding bugs me so much: nipples. Bottom line. I do not want to accidentally wander my eyes onto some lady’s nips. It’s happened before and it has made me feel uncomfortable.

    For now, I bought a nursing cover, and I’m not sure if I will use it, but I have it. I agree with the argument that I wouldn’t want to breastfeed my baby in some public restrooms, but I’ve been in some public restrooms that are cleaner than some people’s houses. That I might not mind so much. But with the nursing cover.

    Another spin I have on this is feeding times. It bugs me how people say that public feeding is necessary because that’s when baby was hungry. I have read several books and have heard success stories from family and friends alike about putting baby on a feeding schedule. Good for 1000 other reasons, it throws that “unpredictable feeding” excuse out the window. If it’s his scheduled time to eat, however, then I intend to do my best to plan around it, and that’s on me.

    I’m taking this whole argument in stride though, and am trying to keep an open mind. I have the best intentions to breastfeed discreetly, but then again, I haven’t experienced it yet, so I’m probably just going to have to wait and see!

    • I am with you on this. I have registered for a nursing cover and am trying to take everything in stride, too. It’s just hard to know a man’s point of view and completely ignore their struggles.

  4. I know I am not a man, but I think (comparing to the men I know), your man’s feeling against breastfeeding appears to be quite unusually strong? And I totally agree that it’s not ideal to just ping them out in full view of strangers. What I can’t understand is that if I was, say at a restaurant and had to feed the baby, and I left the table, and went to a quiet corner, (say by the bathroom or out by/ in my car) under my cape thing, he’d still not like it if he happened to walk past, just from the knowledge that under the cape, my boob was doing it’s amazing natural thing…? And I would, I’m sorry to say, be inclined to discount such feelings.

    I’m also not yet a mum, so who knows what will happen once I have crossed that line. I am all for trying to accommodate the wishes of other people, but it’s really important to me to get breastfeeding going properly and I anticipate that it’s not exactly easy to do so. Scheduling is not (according to my main reading source (Baby and child, Penelope Leach)) ideal for setting up and maintaining the most efficient milk supply – it is based on demand. As I have twins on the way, until I go back to work, I fully expect that to feed my TWO babies on demand, I’ll at some points need to feed in public. Under a sheet. It’s just more important to me than the rest.

    I know boobs are sexualised, but their function is not sexual, in the way that the genitals are. They are baby feeders – in Thai the word for boob and milk is the same, and the word for ‘nipple’ is ‘hua nom’. Literally translated, that’s ‘milk head’ .

    I think they should be given a balanced position between reverence for their amazing, feeding function, and respect for those who don’t appreciate looking at others’ boobs in public.

    Mine have turned already (literally and in how I think of them) into ‘milk heads’. I am a cow right now, and I have two glorious udders. That does not mean I want you, or you (or you either!) to see them. 😉

  5. I am all about breastfeeding in public, with a cover. I also don’t have problems with those who think it is inappropriate. I also don’t have problems with those women who don’t use a cover, but have their clothes in a way that you cannot see anything. I think breastfeeding is a natural thing to do, and if a mother chooses to breastfeed in public as long as being modest, I think it is fine. I however, don’t choose to look at those women who let it all hang out when breastfeeding. I don’t necessarily agree with letting it all hang out, but I do agree with breastfeeding your child when needed.

  6. Uhhhh, “experience”, that is, not fireworks….. Although, it may be a little like fireworks during the whole sore nipple phase, who knows 🙂

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