Friday, March 19, 2010

Weekend Movie: Why nursing in public MATTERS

I can own up to it: a fair portion of my social life actually takes place on Facebook these days, due to (a) living really far away from many of my friends and (b) the limited time out in the real world that comes with being a mostly-SAHM. As such, being me, I post at least as many links to birth advocacy, lactivism, gentle parenting and other related topics as I do links to the latest LOLcats, pictures of my kid, and videos mocking Glenn Beck.

Sometimes I wonder how the former category comes off to my, well, civilian friends, particularly when it comes to lactivism regarding breastfeeding in public. I wonder what they think of phenomena like Facebook's censorship of many breastfeeding pictures, and responses like the ever-growing group "Hey Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene!" I'm sure that my links have met with more than one pair of rolled eyes. Yeah, yeah, we all know "breast is best", but there are more important things going on in the world. And sure, I guess moms should do it if they can, but what's the big deal about having to do it in public?

This is what the big deal is:

"A recent article published in Australia's Herald Sun indicated that many Generation-Y women polled would not nurse their babies because of fear of embarrassment over public breastfeeding. As much as 75 percent of these young women felt that nursing in public was uncomfortable and few understood the benefits of breastfeeding for themselves or their babies."

As long as breastfeeding is stigmatized, as long as nursing mothers are made to feel uncomfortable and unwelcome, as long as women are pressured to cover up or go to private areas (if this is the mother's preference for her own reasons, including religious ones, this is certainly her prerogative), women are going to be deterred from breastfeeding at all, despite the risks of NOT doing so - risks that affect both her child and herself.

Nursing in public is a public health issue.


  1. Lately I've been thinking that talking about it on the Internet is mostly just preaching to the converted. I live right in the middle of the city so I can usually pretty easily pop home to nurse when I'm out, but have been intentionally choosing not to because it needs to become normal. Sometimes I wonder about the benefits of the causes and groups about it because it makes some people more aware of the fact that it's a polarising issue and that there's opposition to it, which may further deter them. Like, that maybe saying "I feed my baby wherever I need to and it's convenient and I never have hassles" is probably more reassuring than saying "Fuck all those haters who try to stop me nursing in public!".
    Video has some lovely images, though, which I'm pretty sure are *always* positive.

  2. I fell in love with Keith all over again that time we were at the farmers' market and you fed Lily right there in the crowd, and he didn't bat an eyelash. And when I mentioned it later, asked if it made him uncomfortable or bugged him at all, he thought it was a ridiculous question. "That's what they're FOR," he shrugged; "the kid's gotta eat." Guys back where I come from would not have been so cool about it.

    But that's progress! And you're right, it comes from regular exposure. It is indeed a vital public health issue and it's worth talking about as often as necessary. I love reading the information you post and I hope you continue to share it!

  3. I was just talking about NIP with a new friend last night. She said she's all for breastfeeding, but she's a little squeamish when it comes to doing it in public and the way she was talking, it sounded like she was expecting an agreeing answer from me.

    Yes, I am still nervous about nursing in public sometimes but regardless, my child needs to eat and I'm not going to make her wait. My friend made mention of a statue that is in Oklahoma City (we live in OK) of Angelina Jolie breastfeeding her twins. ( ) She said that she found it to be highly offensive considering the fact that it is in full public view, "...where CHILDREN can see it!!!!" Why shouldn't children see it? Don't you want the next generation to know that this is the way we are intended to feed our babies? I know I do.

    My daughter Gracie asked me the other day what bottles are for. She said, "Momma, you feed Kairi with your boobies, so why does my baby doll have a bottle?" (in so many words) I told her that even though all mommies can feed their babies with their breasts, and although that should be the normal way to do so, it's sadly not. She threw the bottle back in her toy box and proceeded to "feed" her baby over her shirt. LOL. She said she thinks it would taste better this way. Haha.

    Anyway - Sorry to write a novel here. I just wanted to share that with you. I love that my daughters will grow up knowing that breastfeeding is the way we are supposed to feed our children, in public and out, and I hope that they will remember that when they have kids.

  4. 任何你憂慮的事,你都應該去採取一點行動,不要只是在那邊想 ..................................................

  5. Just copying a small post from my own blog that I wrote a while ago. I feel it pertains to this issue. Mamar, Mama
    I found a Spanish ad online that uses the term mamar "to breastfeed". I couldn't help notice that mama and mamar look like the same form and wonder if mamar should really be better translated into the verb: "to mother." Direct Spanish to English translations have given me "to suckle" as the official translation. But it is most often used in context of a child suckling its mother. We should really consider breastfeeding essential to being a mother. I know that some women can't breastfeed for a true sincere medical reason and I understand that. But I would like for a culture shift to occur that we assimilate the image of a nursing mother into our general image of "mother" in our minds.

  6. What a beautiful thought.

    The more I think about this issue, the more it seems to me to embody that first-wave feminist truism: the personal is political. It really, really is.


  7. One of the sweetest things I ever saw in public was a mom sitting on a bench in an outside shopping mall with her young daughter, probably about four sitting there with her while she was nursing her baby. The sweet part? The little girl was sitting right next to her mom 'nursing' her baby doll. Talk about a wonderful example!

  8. I have a neighbor with a 2 month old and a 2 year old girl. My friend nurses her baby, and the little girl nurses her stuffed animals at the same time. It's really cute to watch, and I hope the little girl remembers that when she gets older!

  9. I NIP and never got any dirty look. My daughter nurses her doll and I think it is sweet. Breastfeeding is just natural and easy...