Tuesday, June 29, 2010


I came across this article on a friend's facebook page.

Seriously?! Breastfeeding is "creepy"?! WTF is wrong with people? It's a boob. They are not "fun bags". Why would you even refer to your breast as a fun bag? Whoever wrote the "creepy" article really needs to get her head examined and figure out what problem she has with her view of her own sexuality.

Recently, a breastfeeding discussion crept up on another blog I read. The big question was "Should women cover up when nursing in public?". Anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis knows I am all for breastfeeding.

I made the comment that I never, ever, ever cover up when nursing. I got a little backlash for that. Things like, "why wouldn't you cover up?" and "there's no reason NOT to cover up".

Instead of keeping that discussion going on forever in my friend's blog comments, I think I will make my position very clear here.

****A woman should breastfeed in whatever way makes her comfortable.*****

That's it. Bottom line. Whatever makes you more likely to breastfeed anywhere your baby needs/wants (they are the same thing when your child is a baby, needs and wants) to - do it.

If you are more comfortable covered up in public, cover up. If you are more comfortable not covering up, then don't. It's about your comfort feeding your baby. It is not about anyone else, what anyone else thinks (myself included), and what anyone else's ideas are. It is about you feeding your baby. The end.

I know women who would feel totally weird having other people watch them breastfeed. I also know some women who would feel like they were drawing waaaaay too much attention to themselves and the feeding by throwing a blanket over the whole thing.

Personally, I don't cover up. It's more attention getting for me to cover up than to just feed the baby. And to be honest, I need to see my baby and my breast in order for her/him to get a good latch and for me to know that they are not suffocating under my rather large mammaries. I actually have to hold the breast off of their nose or they can't breathe.

But really, how much breast is exposed when you nurse? Once your baby is latched on there is hardly anything there anyway. The nipple and areola are completely in their mouth and your shirt is pretty much covering the rest of your boob. (Yes, I use the very un-feminist word "boob" in my house. Sue me.)

I have heard from many, many people "reasons" why I and other women should cover up. We're "creating sin in the minds of men and boys". We have a "responsibility to be modest".

Bull. I have a responsibility to feed my child. I am not "whipping out my boob" or my "fun bags" to do a lap dance or get men turned on. And I have issue with the term "whipping it out". What exactly is that? Does anyone actually do that? That phrase would imply to me that there was some kind of fast movement about it and that I was shaking it all over for everyone to see. Lemme tell you, there ain't nothing fast about unhooking/unclipping a nursing bra and then trying to pull up your shirt in one motion. It's not whipping, and it's not sexy. It just is what it is.

One of the commenters over at the other blog said (and I quote, emphasis mine) "I am not a modest person. ...... BUT I do not want to see it, and it does make me nauseous." Really? You admit to NOT being modest (and I have ventured over to her blog in the past....and nope, she ain't modest one bit in her choice of clothing) but you have a problem with breastfeeding?

People use band-aids and string together in an outfit and call it a "bathing suit" BUT I (and others) should feel dirty or immodest because we are feeding our children fully clothed? Get over yourself. I show less skin breastfeeding than a lot of women (and girls too) do going to the store.

So again, if YOU WANT TO COVER UP you should. But you shouldn't do it because you feel guilty or dirty or someone tells you that you should.

If YOU DON'T WANT TO COVER UP, then don't.

No one, especially another mother, should tell any other woman what the "right" way to nurse is. The right way is whatever way makes it most comfortable for YOU.


Anonymous said...

you're right. her "creepy" comment says way more about her than about breastfeeding.

Anonymous said...

Alright. So... just to clear up something. I'm sure you know that in my post I never implied that breastfeeding was "creepy" or "made me nauseus (sp?)" But I guess I was simply trying to say that some woman really show no tact in the way they breastfeed. There is a way to breastfeed without a cover and still be discreet.

But regardless, even if a child is getting breastfed and their mom has their boob exposed to the world... then at least the kid is getting breastfed... and that's a positive thing.

Perhaps I'm kind of standoffish to how vehement some people are about breastfeeding and NOTHING ELSE. Before DLG was born, Bunny and I attended a breastfeeding class that made us feel that if DLG wasn't breastfed... she was going to die. I'M SERIOUS! We came away feeling that we had to breastfeed under no uncertain terms. It put a lot of pressure on Bunny and really stressed her after DLG was born. I can tell you from the bottom of my soul that Bunny tried SO hard to breastfeed and it just didn't work. When she would pump she'd get one or two ounces at a time... while her friends would get 8 to 10. When we finally decided to go with the bottle it was a completely different world. DLG was happy, content and slept much better. She didn't have more problems. She didn't die. She didn't get sick on a more regular rate. She didn't reject us. In fact... it was completely the opposite!

So... all in all... perhaps we can disagree on some womans methods of breastfeeding in public. I think that for SOME women... a greater degree of effort can be made to keep everything covered. That's not a bash on you because I read everything you wrote just now and I agree. But, sometimes there are those people who just for the sake of making a statement... make it uncomfortable for a lot of people. And when I say uncomfortable, I don't mean "sexual". Never once have I seen a breastfeeding woman and thought "sex", "oooh boobies" or something like that.

Anyway... I just want to let you know that I don't have a problem AT ALL with breastfeeding and think that if you can do it then do it! Sorry if sometimes my choice of words (i.e. "Flop") weren't the most tactful either.

I feel like I'm rambling...

Much love and respect...

Anonymous said...

I must admit that I say "whip them out" just because it makes me giggle. "Here, baby, want some boobies?" and I whip it out. :)
I think the issue with nursing in public is an interesting debate. It is a pity that it is not a more common sight. If we saw it all the time, it wouldn't shock people when I whipped it out. (See, I told you that is how I say it!)
I only cover up when I am around teen age boys. I feel like they have hormones enough, I don't need to flash a little boob at them. But, in general, babies head plus my shirt is plenty of cover. My sister calls me a pro because she has to look twice to determine if I am actually nursing.
On the flip side, I had a woman sit down to nurse her baby in front of my husband and I. She undid everything, and burped the baby with her boob hanging free. That was a little awkward. When your nursing, by all means, be comfortable. Heaven knows I know how hard it can be. But, being discreet and courteous is also important.
Breast feeding is so important. But, when one can't, and there are those who honestly can't (ask me my sob story sometime....), there are alternatives. That is true. But I will say that not nursing my first baby was the hardest thing I ever did, the most gut wrenching, the most painful. And that had nothing to do with outside pressure. I know what is best and I was powerless to do it. I will never be a nursing nazi for the sake of women like me. However, I will look down on women who have it in their power to do so, and for selfish reasons do not. (maybe "look down on" is too strong, but I can't think of how else to put it. Disagree with?) Breast is best. The pressure to nurse is for the sake of the child. There is no equal option. There is no "this is just as good". My daughter that didn't nurse is healthy, happy and loved. But I do wish, even ten years later, that I could have started her out right. And I may never know how she might have been healthier or have better teeth, or live longer....
Wow! THat is the longest comment I have ever written. I apologize, but I did say at the beginning that I am interested in this topic.
So, preach it, Girl! But, be gentle. Nursing is such a tender subject to some.

MamaMidwife said...

BWYA - I agree. It says way more about her than about breastfeeding in general.

W&C - Yep, yep, and yep. I also "look down" (not the best choice of words) at those who don't even think it's worth trying or have the ability and just don't "want to". I think it's weird.

I have much sympathy and understanding for those who try soooo hard and it just doesn't happen. I think a LOT of that has to do with misinformation and pressure from society/family/friends about what BF "should be". Sometimes though, it just doesn't work out no matter how hard you try.

And I know I need to be a little more gentle. This is just a touchy subject for me. I have been confronted by some well meaning people IRL who have opinions for me about what I am doing. I have no problem listening to what they have to say. The issue I have is when I try to give them my opinion and instead of hearing it and respecting it as my choice and my decision....they continue to push their ideals in my face until I am in tears....all the while being "gentle".

Yes, this post came out with a hard ass tone, mostly because I was specifically trying to get my point across to (some) people.

Oh, and yes.....the whip it out phrase can be funny too. I just hate it when the anti-BF use it to judge.

My husband read this post and said, inreference to "whipping it out" - "That's what men do when they pee." He made me laugh soooo hard. I wish I had included that in the post!! (And for the record, when one of the kids needs to nurse in our house and I seem to be "busy", my husband will say, "Woman! Sit down and whip one out for him/her!" It's funny here too.

MamaMidwife said...

Papa K - I certainly don't think you implied BF was "creepy". that was another article I ran across and they just kind of needed a response in the same post. The nauseous thing was one of the commenters over on your post. I was just commenting back to that without making your blog a "firing post", 'cause (as I mentioned in this post) you're my friend. (And I have my own blog to make opinions on.)

I think the kind of "class" you and Bunny were subject to is one of the things that hinders a lot of new moms from being about to breastfeed sucessfully. Putting a lot of pressure on mom and guilting her into to thinking she's not a good parent if she doesn't BF is not the path to success. (And yes, even I didn't have success with my first one....I'll tell you about that sometime. It still makes me upset.)

The pump thing is also such a bad indication of BF. I can feed an army with my breasts.....but I can only pump out 1-2 ounces at a time. Now that I *know* that's not an indication to how much milk I produce, I don't feel like that means I can't BF....but I did believe that at one point.

I know sooooo many families who have dealt with what you and Bunny had to go through. I am positive Bunny gave it her all and probably had lots of crying and heartbreak involved with BF. I am sorry you had to go through that, and I am glad you two found a solution for your family that works.

And....I don't think you see a BF mom as "boobies" or "sexual". I do see a lot of people who are against BF saying that kind of stuff though. It always seems like that's the only arguement they can come up with (like the lady who's like "I'm not modest....but BF makes me nauseous"). The "creepy" article I linked to had the same idea. I think some women just have a screwed up sense of their sexuality. It is a sacrifice to give up your body for your baby, but it can be wonderful too (and it's definately NOT sexual).

Ok - so now I am rambling. :)

I hope you didn't think this post was aimed at you. I have much love and respect for you also, and I think your post and comments about this issue were very well thought out.

Peace Brother.

Anonymous said...

Def didn't think it was aimed at me (but I know I probably started it!).

I enjoyed the back and forth debate on my blog... it's kind of what a blog is for i.e. to start conversation, and sometimes some people (my commentors) say some dumb crap.

Anyway... thanks for all you comments you leave me and the continued reading. I certainly enjoy reading your stuff.

Peace right back atcha

laurazim said...

I was not too surprised by the article you mentioned--it really seems to be the "main stream" mode of thinking. It's pretty rare to have an attitude supportive of breastfeeding at all in the media, unless you're reading a medical journal, for Pete's sake.

Ok, so I have my own opinions about NIP too (and I just love that NIP just happens to stand for Nursing In Public and also are the first three letters of the word "nipple"--LOL!!!), and I will not cover up (unless I'm wearing a shirt where my only option is to bring it underneath my breast--then I feel just a little TOO exposed!) either. I do layer, though. Don't read so much into it. Some people choose modesty for their own comfort, and it almost sounds like some people think it's a bad thing. I don't think it is. Yes, I said that I keep the rest of my body covered while nursing because there's no reason not to--and I meant it. There really isn't any reason not to. I also choose to do so out of respect for my husband.

I am not saying, nor do I mean to imply, that anyone who does not do exactly as I do is disrespectful, etc. I just agree with Papa K--some people really do show no tact or respect for anyone else, and who blatantly refuse to show any modesty or discreetness (is that even a word?)--almost out of spite--and that's not good for the whole NIP movement, either. Not aimed at anyone specifically here--just stating an observation and opinion.