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alittlelost July 31st, 2013 08:07 AM

Breastfeeding in Public
I sent my book to a friend who replied with "Nursing mothers will like this book" which I knew implied that formula feeding mothers wouldn't. I don't understand this mindset. I read books where babies are being fed from bottles, I see it on TV, and I don't think "Oh I don't want to read this/watch this anymore because it's about a formula fed baby not a breastfed baby." Is it just me? I can enjoy stories and shows even if people don't do EVERYTHING *exactly* the way I do.

Anyway, when she said that, I said, "I think it's good to normalize breastfeeding."

Her reply was this:


I don't like seeing nursing mothers in public unless they cover up. It's not that I'm offended by nursing or boobs or that I don't see the stupidity behind our culture sexualizing young women and yet finding nursing offensive. I totally get it. Nursing is a wonderful thing. Wish I could have done it.

But when I see a nursing mom, I feel like I'm imposing on something intimate and sacred between that mother and her child. I feel like a voyuer, and I feel a bit of annoyance for the mother for exposing that relationship with her child to the public.

It's petty, but I also feel resentment toward that mother for flaunting how naturally it comes to her, without regard for me and other women like me who wanted to breastfeed but couldn't. My son wouldn't latch. I wasn't producing. I later learned that the milk I was producing was masking a sensitivity to milk protein. Now, I know in my heart that she's not thinking of it that way, but its how I feel when I see it. I think they should feed their babies when the child's hungry, whenever, wherever. BUT, I wish they'd cover up. Like I said. Petty. I own it. :)

This was my reply (I think this covers it!):

I understand. I can't cover up when I nurse though because Isabel has a hard enough time breathing as it is being a premature baby. I'm not sure if it's hard for other babies, too. I know I can't sleep with a blanket over my head because I feel like I'm suffocating. And I don't think a mother should feel like she has to leave a park to go nurse in her car (dragging an older child away from the fun). Nor do I think a mother should have to feed her child in a bathroom. No one tells formula feeding mothers to do that. And feeding your child should be a tender act of love that is intimate between mom and child whether you use breast or bottle. It's about feeding with LOVE. That is the most important thing. It's okay for you to feel that way. You at least own that it's your issue. They aren't actually doing anything wrong, it's just easier to be annoyed with them than to deal with your other feelings surrounding the issue. If you think about it logically and fairly, a mother has just as much right to nurse her baby in public as another mother has to bottle feed in public. That said, I think "nursing rooms" are great (because I rather have a quite nursing area anyway!) but I find it sad that a bottle feeding mama would be excluded from a nursing room. For one, I don't think one baby should have to feed in a nursing room while another baby wouldn't have to, and for two I don't understand why a nursing parent would want that quiet moment with a child while a bottle feeding parent wouldn't. It's just not fair to the child. People are too busy getting mad/annoyed/offended/disgusted by the parent to remember there is a child there who deserves to eat where formula fed babies eat, too. They don't do it to flaunt. They do it because their baby needs to eat without suffocating 9under a blanket) or choking on the stink of urine and feces (in a bathroom).

FYI, nursing has NEVER come easy to me. I had supply issues with my first child and a latch problem and needed donor milk. It took me 6 months to get my first child to latch on. He also had a milk allergy and I had to do a dairy free diet. I had supply issues with my daughter, too. first an oversupply that caused too much foremilk which made her colicky, then an under supply. My youngest son was easier, but then this time, I have had thrush, mastitis, vasospasms (at one point all 3 at once) and I've have to pump and use expressed milk 98% of the time because she can't get enough milk from the breast before falling asleep. She was also clamping down on me and it hurt sooo bad I couldn't nurse. I'm STILL working to get her to nurse (she's 6 weeks old now) and if I'm in the middle of a kmart and she latches on and it doesn't feel like she's going to rip my nipple off with her gums, then I'm going to feed her. And it's not to flaunt it. It's because she needs to eat. I also don't vaccinate and it's important that my children get breastmilk to build up their immune system. It's better if they get it from the breast than the bottle because they need whatever antibodies I am making for what we were both exposed to today (not a month ago) and they need daytime milk during the day and nighttime milk at night (because the hormones in your milk at night produce sleep).

you aren't imposing if you catch a glance at someone nursing any more than someone is imposing if the catch a glance at you formula feeding. And if it's hard for you to see, look away. Me, personally, I don't make a habit of watching anyone other than my own kids eat. That includes adults -- who the heck stares at a person eating?? That's weird, no matter how they are being fed or what they are eating or who they are :)

mgm78 July 31st, 2013 01:36 PM

Re: Breastfeeding in Public
ugh. if it is was imposing, then that mom would use a cover or do it elsewhere. I nursed my DD everywhere and never used a cover and made sure i never felt bad about it. I was feeding my baby. It is life, it is natural and normal. it is just her having her own issues and has nothing to do wtih women nursing.

alittlelost July 31st, 2013 02:05 PM

Re: Breastfeeding in Public
I agree completely. She kept saying she "owns" her emotions over it, but I feel liket hat contradicts her saying things like the mom should cover up and implying the mom is sharing an intimate moment that she shouldn't and "flaunting" how "easy" it is to breastfeed.

mgm78 August 1st, 2013 04:42 AM

Re: Breastfeeding in Public

juleeannk August 1st, 2013 07:14 AM

Re: Breastfeeding in Public
I think that was a great response! I asked my local breastfeeding group about that woman's response and this is what I got back in return.

" First of all, I think that woman was very presumptuous in assuming every woman who breastfeeds in public had it come so naturally. Not all mothers who are able to breastfeed have an easy time doing so. That mother she sees in public might have had an extremely difficult start. That breastfeeding mother, whether it came easily or not has earned the right to breastfeed her child wherever she needs to, just as the woman who sent the email has that right.

Second, resenting a woman who breastfeeds in public because breastfeeding didn't come easy to you is as silly as resenting a woman who takes her child in public because you can't conceive. It's not those other women's fault that she couldn't breastfeed her child.

Third, asking a mother to cover up something that is so natural (whether it came easily to the mother or not) is rude. It is much easier for you to just look away than for a breastfeeding mother to have to pay for a cover, make extra room in her diaper bag for a cover, take the extra time to adjust herself and her baby under the cover, make sure her baby stays cool enough under the cover, and fold up the cover when she's done. (Plus there's the water, electricity, soap, and time that the mother will use to keep the cover clean and possibly the cost of a second cover if she doesn't want to wash the first one everyday.) Also, I personally think covers draw much more attention to breastfeeding mothers than if they were uncovered.

Fourth, nursing can be an intimate time for mother and baby, but not every nursing session (especially those in public) can be enjoyed to the fullest with so many distractions and so little time. Also, covering up a baby while they are eating (I know from experience) creates a barrier between the mother and baby, making those public feedings even less intimate and enjoyable. Saying that you want a woman to cover up her breastfeeding baby, not because you are offended by the sight of her breast or the sight of the baby eating, but because you feel you are annoying the mother or intruding on their special time together doesn't make sense. Watching a mother and baby breastfeeding doesn't interfere. If the mother didn't want anyone else to see her breastfeeding her baby, she wouldn't do it in public.

Lastly, I would tell the woman how sorry I was that she wasn't able to breastfeed her son and offer some resources that could help her breastfeed her next baby, like the LLL."

and another
" Now that Im off my phone and can actually type…
Breastfeeding in the beginning was a challenge for me. It did not come naturally or easy at all. It took a lot of patience and many difficult and tearful days to be able to exclusively provide my daughter with breast milk. When you see a nursing mother in public you should not take offense but instead offer a little smile or nod of encouragement. Rather than feeling like your imposing on an intimate experience perhaps enjoy the beautiful moment your being privileged to. Breastfeeding is an act of bonding but also nourishment. Would you rather I make them wait or ignore their need. A cover may seem to some like an easy solution. My child will not nurse covered and why should she. I don’t expect others to cover their children as they eat and at least mine eats with her mouth closed! But seriously if I cover while nursing she gets uncomfortable and irritated then she doesn’t nurse properly or I could pump and give her a bottle then wait till I get home to nurse her. Either of these options would affect my supply and I would be back to square one struggling once again to feed my daughter. As for bonding I will not refuse my child comfort just as most mothers will not refuse to give theirs a hug or cuddle. I too suffered with a milk protein issue and had to temporarily cut all dairy out of my diet. Ive not met one woman who said breastfeeding was a breeze for her. We all have our challenges and have struggled to be able to successfully breastfeed our children. Please don’t feel resentment to the woman nursing in public without a cover. Women need to find a sense of solidarity and pride in one another. Please realize that nothing worth it in life just comes easy and our struggles don’t always show (women are notorious for smiling through pain). I cant perform brain surgery but I don’t resent those that can, Im thankful for them. Be thankful for these women feeding their children despite the glares and rude comments for if you ever have another child and hope to breastfeed we will be your strongest support and biggest allies!"

They both said, feel free to use in the future.

I also got questions like this
"She's welcome to use any or all of what I said as a response! I think it's awesome that she put nursing in public in her children's book, and I would love to buy that book if it's already published (or when it does get published)!"

I gave them the title of the book. Can they buy it anywhere other than Amazon?

alittlelost August 1st, 2013 07:56 AM

Re: Breastfeeding in Public
Right now it's just on Amazon (print and Kindle), but I can get it on Kobo, Nook, and iPad if there's interest. We still have to find the right publisher for putting it in physical stores, but I leave that work up to my agent :) Thanks for telling them about this and about the book. I am thinking maybe I should write up an article about this, and when I do would probably include many of the points these wonderful ladies made :) I agreed with every last word they had to say and I am in awe at how gently and effectively they expressed themselves. Lucky kiddos to have mamas like that!

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