controversial discussion topic of the day — public breastfeeding

Originally brought up because we received word this afternoon that although our new building for work doesn’t have room for a fitness center, space has been allocated for a number of “private lactation rooms” for nursing mothers. Not really a big deal on the terms that if there’s no room, there’s no room…but it did bring up the question that if there aren’t going to be daycare services provided, either, then why do we need these when babies don’t belong at work…and more importantly, what’s with people wanting to breastfeed wherever they please, anyways?!

My argument, as you may have guessed, is against mothers breastfeeding in public – for a number of reasons, but first and foremost simply because I don’t think that I should have to look at that while I’m eating my burger or grocery shopping or whatever. As much as I may very well be for breasts in a private setting, it’s still indecent exposure as far as I’m concerned and I don’t understand what makes it ok just because there’s a baby involved. I have a theory today that the average American Mom could rob a bank…and as long as she has baby in tow, from her perspective there would really be nothing wrong with what she’s done…teaching the child about the value of a dollar or some crap like that. “How dare you deny my child an education!”

Mind you, there’s more to it than that because putting myself in that exact same situation, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with my wife breastfeeding in public, either – I don’t think that she should have to do that. It’s not that I consider it degrading for the woman or anything, but I know the woman that I love enough to understand that it would be uncomfortable for her to have to do something like that in a public setting, so from my family’s perspective, I would make sure that we take whatever steps necessary to ensure that she doesn’t have to do it – whether it be to bring bottles with us or simply plan our day to make sure that she can take the baby to a private area for feeding, I more so think that it falls back on the parents to care for their child in a responsible manner and the rest of the world shouldn’t have to accomodate that – yes, even if that means not going to the mall if it’s going to conflict with junior’s feeding schedule…

Sometimes we have to make sacrifices and I really think that one of the problems in today’s society is that nobody wants to anymore, and I don’t necessarily mean to pick on motherhood specifically, but between raising the child and wanting to work and still spending time out with the girls and going to yoga class and hauling everyone around to all of their school plays and sports, something’s got to give and it shouldn’t be the sanity of everyone else around you! How much clearer does it have to be spelled out that you might not be able to do all of the things that you want to do right away after having a baby? I guess I just don’t understand the sheer disrespect for the other people around you (and yes, I do consider it disrespectful to breastfeed in public, just as I would if you’ve got a baby pretty much anywhere in public and don’t choose to remove yourself when the child starts acting up, ruining everyone else’s experience) – why should my dinner or day at the park or trip to Disney be distracted because it’s your right to feed your child naturally in public? While I do understand that some mothers may do so discreetly by covering the child with a blanket, it’s still not something that I think should just be done on the park bench while you’re waiting for the evening bus – sorry!

And here’s the kicker…

Florida House of Representatives-1993 CS/HB 231 – Encouraging breastfeeding and authorizing breastfeeding in public

Section 1. The breastfeeding of a baby is an important and basic act of nurture which must be encouraged in the interests of maternal and child health and family values. A mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether or not the nipple of the mother’s breast is covered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.

There’s even a card that women can carry to show business owners that they legally cannot be stopped from breastfeeding in any restaurant or other place of business that they choose…and I’ve never been a big fan of any laws that tell private business owners that they’re unable to deny service to particular individuals – let my politics affect my profits, but don’t tell me who I can and can’t let into my store.

I think what bothers me the most is that they seem to think that they can flaunt it because, again, no one is allowed to interfere with a mother and her baby and honestly, I don’t really think that I’m being insensitive here, either. If you want to breastfeed your child, then more power to you, but just as much as I don’t think that my day should be ruined by having to be around you doing that, I really don’t think that your day should have to be affected, either. It can’t be a comfortable process to go through – likely one that you’d rather perform in the comfort of your own home – so why not do it there? The baby doesn’t need food often enough that it can’t go a couple of hours without feeding anyways, so maybe just a little bit of planning and consideration for both the baby and the rest of the world around you would go a long ways. If you’re aiming to plan a day away with just the three of you, just remember that being respectful to others is just going to get even more difficult as you enter the phases of teething and beyond, so if you can’t find a way to cover the bases and still make it through the day without bothering the other patrons, then welcome to parenthood – it’s time to adjust what you can and can’t do for family fun. Sorry about your luck, but I paid $60 to see Figment today, not entertain the growing pains of raising your baby…

I’d love to hear some other opinions, but just try to keep the flaming to a dull roar – I know that this one is a hot topic… 😛


  1. Taken from a message board that I came across, this is the type of arrogance that I’m talking about:

    Jane said: “women who whip out a tit wherever they please to engage in breastfeeding are offensive, sometimes. I have seen women do this on public transportation, at the mall and in restaurants. It’s a matter of manners. In some places it’s just not appropriate.”

    I mean this in the nicest possible way…but I don’t give a rat’s ass if you’re offended or find it inappropriate. I will nurse my child whenever and wherever she needs to nurse. If you have a problem with that, you have completely bought into the sexualization of the mammary gland and the problem is yours, not mine or my child’s. Take it up with a therapist.

  2. Ooh, ooh – one more!

    Let me tell you how “over myself” I am. I’ve had two kids, need to lose weight, the boobs aren’t perky anymore, and I don’t care who gets a glimpse when I nurse my kids. Because it ain’t about all of y’all. If you don’t like it, don’t look, or go somewhere else. Your comfort level just doesn’t compare – in the least – to the well-being of children.

  3. I don’t know much about this, since it obviously isn’t an issue for me right now, but I think I’ve deduced, from my limited experiences…babies don’t give a SHIT who you are or where you are or what hour of the fucking morning it is, and if they want something, and they’re not getting what they want, breast milk or otherwise, they will make your life a living hell until they get it.

    Also: (again, I’m not a scientist, so I may be wrong here): when you lactate, it’s not fun. Your breasts swell so your bras don’t fit, they’re sore all the time (especially if you don’t breastfeed), they fucking leak, you’re already fucking exhausted…all in all, not something fun, and definitely not something to be berated for because other people can’t deal with it. And I really don’t want to pull out the “You’re a guy, you don’t have to deal with it, you don’t understand” argument, because that’s kind of a cop-out, but I think that women do have to deal with a lot of stuff (especially with our bodies and in relation to our offspring) that men don’t have to necessarily, and moms should be cut some slack sometimes, because despite all my whining about soccer moms and their vermin all the time, if I had a kid, I’d probably be bitchy and grumpy, too.

    I really don’t care if people do. I’d rather they not do it five inches from my face, but that’s because that’s my personal space in general.

    If it was me…hmm. I think I’d probably try to do it privately as much as possible (I have low self-esteem enough without creepy men watching me breastfeed, thanks), and if I couldn’t I would just turn as much away from a crowded area and just do my thing, not make a big deal of it. After all, I’m having a day, just like you.

    On the other hand, I think there are plenty of places where a small human infant who can barely conceive of who he/she is and where the hell they are DEFINITELY does not belong (movie theatres, nice restaurants, the workplace, university classes, anywhere I am (heh), etc…). But again, that’s more because it’s a baby, not because someone might be breastfeeding it.

  4. Also, people shouldn’t be reduced to second-class citizens just because they have a baby/young child. I think the idea that you can’t do ANYTHING because you have a kid is silly. Yes – having a child means caring about their welfare before your own – if they’re being fussy and crying and won’t stop, seeing Batman Begins tonight is probably out. However, look at our society – women BARELY can get 3 or 4 months maternity leave, and not a lot of this is AFTER you have the baby – Americans don’t think it’s important enough to have time to take care of this kind of stuff. It’s difficult to juggle a job, kid, family, errands, pets, etc. In Germany, you can take THREE YEARS. Granted you don’t receive money during this period, so you have to have a significant other who is willing to work while you don’t. But DAMN. And your old job HAS to hire you back.

    This is why it’s important to have lots of support before you get pregnant – have friends, neighbors, cousins, moms, grandmas/grandpas, aunts, whoever, who can help, offer to babysit, drive, etc. BUT, a lot of people have gone totally outside their family community – my aunt lives across the country, totally not near any of her side of the family. It’s hard to find a support base to help you with kids, especially if you’re new to an area and don’t know anyone.

  5. I don’t think it’s a women’s rights issue, or even a baby’s rights issue – for me personal, it comes down to having respect for the people around you and if you’re consciously doing something that you know can make the people around you uncomfortable and you opt to say, “Fuck ’em – it’s my right and I’m doing it anyways,” then you’re just being rude. I don’t swear when I’m around children because it’s inappropriate, so why doesn’t it go the other way? I’m sure parenting is tough, but even when I do become a father, I certainly don’t expect anyone else to walk on eggshells just because of the path that I chose to take…

    This reminds me of that episode of The Simpsons – Marge vs. Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples and Teens, and Gays

    Bart: Mom – Maggie puked in your purse again.
    Single Mom: Poor me! All my purse is full of is disposable income…

  6. Well, I don’t really know why it makes people uncomfortable, unless it’s REALLY in your face. I mean, she’s giving the baby food, that’s all. I think that a child (or whoever, for that matter) is more mentally harmed by, “HOLY SHIT, LOOK AT THAT TIT, IT’S TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE AND UNHOLY, PUT THAT SHIT AWAY, IT MAKES ME UNCOMFORTABLE!!!*” than teaching them that that breasts are a part of the female body and serve versatile functions, not all of which are sexual.

    *ie, like the Janet Jackson thing. Thank you, broadcast news. Your anchors think breasts are indecent and gross. I hope your wife (or mistress) punched you in the balls when you came home.

  7. Well, I’ll give you my bias first.

    In the city of Eugene, there is no law on the books saying anything about anyone wearing any kind of shirt. There are laws about pants, don’t get me wrong. As a result… nothing. There aren’t people running around topless, it’s just the culture.

    I don’t really care if anyone breastfeeds nearby. It doesn’t affect me in any way (aside from once in a while making me think of children, and giving me a warm loving feeling in my tummy.) I think that anyone who ever ever uses the reasoning of, “It’s my right, so fuck off!” is being terribly terribly irresponsible. All rights come with responsibilities. The right to breastfeed in public is tempered with the responsibility to use discression. You should be discrete, but there’s nothing embarrassing about it.

    I’m starting to repeat myself…

  8. I had a reply typed up here, but I lost it…oh well.

    If this comes off sounding abrasive, I’m sorry, but I’ve just apparently never been around enough people who were willing to do so “discretely” to point my mind in the other direction.

    But for anyone out there who’s just so blatant and harsh about not caring whether or not doing this around me might offend me, that’s kind of cold because I don’t even know you. There’s a difference between being liberated and just being arrogant…

  9. Mothers can breastfeed their children, boobs hanging out and all. “They need to be fed!”
    Well why don’t you just unzip your pants and pee on the sidewalk, Friend hanging out and all? “People need to dispose of their waste!”

    They may have that so-called right to let it all loose in public, but the rest of us non-barbarians also have a well known right — freedom of speech. If you want to say that’s one disgusting titty, you can. This is America, damnit! You can take advantage of your rights, we’ll take advantage of ours. But then they bitch about it. Wait, what?… it’s okay for the fat lady, but the rest of us have to keep our mouths shut? Eh.

  10. So, if a woman is sitting on a park bench, holds her child to her chest, and pulls her shirt up enough to access the nursing bra pocket, and sits and coos at her baby while they suckle; is that discreet or blatant?

    I’m sure that someone announcing “I’M GOING TO BREAST FEED NOW!” then stripping naked to the waist, before looking bewilderedly for their baby. Asking many people if they’ve seen her baby. Finding the baby in the stroller next to her. Holding the baby at arms length. Nursing the baby, while making farting noises on the unoccupied breast is blatant.

    At what point does it become discrete? If they’re in an alcove? If they have a nursing blanket over the child’s head? If they’ve been secreted away to a detention vault under guard of secret service?

  11. Complaining about breast feeding, yes.
    I don’t care if you run around and tell someone they’re ugly.

    Sigh. That part was referring what was said in those forums.
    “…and I don’t care who gets a glimpse when I nurse my kids. Because it ain’t about all of y’all. If you don’t like it, don’t look, or go somewhere else.”
    Someone obviously had to have let her know it’s quite disgusting. It’s the fact that they bitch about things people say that I was targeting. She could certainly go to a more private location to feed her youngin’, but by choosing to do it in public is basically saying, “Hey, I want you to tell me you think it’s disgusting.” Then they’re actually appalled when strangers speak up. Give me a break.

  12. I don’t actually see it as the ‘slap in the face’ challenge you do. I really do see it as just something that people do, and tantamount to pulling a pint of yogurt out (of your bra) and eating it, though sized down for an infant.

  13. Not so much a “slap in the face.” It’s just that the mothers are quite noticeable. I don’t think they should be surprised and angry when someone lets them know.

    Plus, I really don’t understand why they can’t at least slip away to the gal’s bathroom instead of pulling it out in the bread aisle for all to see.

  14. The most common reason I can think of (having never breastfed in public) is “Honey, I’ll be on the bench over there when you’re done.” In this instance, going to a women only area isn’t a real possiblilty

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