Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Nurse-Ins are for EVERYONE

Often, the only outspoken lactivists are mothers who are currently nursing their children, or have nursed them in the past.  The lactivist community is strong, but insular - demonstrations are often nurse-ins, and understandably, conversation in lactivist groups tends toward the ins-and-outs of being a nursing mother.

Breastfeeding is more than a mom's issue.  It's an everybody issue.

Right now, there's a controversy spreading on Facebook, across the internet, in cafes, stores and churches.  Facebook has recently banned a number of users for posting photos of themselves breastfeeding.  They have deleted an event for a national "Nurse-In", which calls for mothers to post breastfeeding pictures.  Why?

"It's obscene."

I cannot breastfeed my son.  I'd love to post a picture of our brief nursing time, but alas, I didn't capture one at the time.  My husband can't breastfeed, my mom is way past that, and I don't have any friends who are currently breastfeeding their kids.  Nonetheless, I support nursing moms, and their right to feed their babies wherever and whenever the baby needs food.

So, why would I care?

"OMG, I DON'T WANT TO SEE YOUR BOOBS!"

Nursing in public prevents angry, screaming babies.  I hate listening to babies cry hysterically.  It's the worst sound in the world - give me fingernails on chalkboard any day.  Every instinct in my body drives me to find the sound of the screaming child and fix it.   Evolution or God made people that way - we react strongly to the sound of a distressed child, our hormone levels changing, anxiety activated.  When I hear a truly upset baby, all I want to do is help.  If the child is hungry, the solution is simple - feed the baby.   I'd so much rather round the aisle in Target and see a nursing mom than have to hear her child screaming across the store.

Once upon a time, I traveled a lot for business.  When you board a packed plane, there are a few things you dread having in the seat next to you.... a smelly person, an exceptionally large person, and above all else....please.... not a baby!

Well, on one trip, I approached my seat and found a mother with her 18 month old son in her lap.  It was a 4 hour flight, and I was dreading every minute.  We took off, and he started to holler - ear pressure is no fun.  His mom made eye contact with me, popped out her boob, latched him on, and smiled.  I smiled back nervously...did she just do what I think she did?   Her son looked up at me past his mom's nipple and grinned.  I was a little shocked, but there was no screaming.  We chatted on and off during the plane ride, and every time the little one got fussy, she nursed him and he relaxed.  What a pleasure!

That was my first real experience with nursing.  At 23 years old.  What, you say?  It's not a typo.  I understood that, theoretically, women could breastfeed their children, but I had never actually seen it.  For realz.


"OMG, MY KID CAN SEE YOUR BOOBS!!"

I was 23 years old the first time I saw a mother nurse her child.  My mother breastfed me for a few weeks until her doctor told her that she didn't produce enough milk and I was going to starve.  She believed him, and formula-fed me and my younger brothers from then on.  Some of my earliest memories were of bottle-feeding my youngest brother.

I have dozens of cousins, and a large, close family.  During my childhood in the 80s and 90s, either none of them breastfed their children - or if they did, they did so in secret, hidden away in the spare room with the coats.  I never saw it, not once.  My baby dolls came with bottles.  Cartoons showed babies being fed with bottles.  I was raised to believe that's how babies are fed.  With a latex nipple on a tube.

So, when it came time for me to have children, I did research - and found out that breastfeeding is not just best, it's normal - it's how babies are supposed to eat.  All the time.  Babies were made to breastfeed.  Breasts were made for making milk.  Not filling out a bikini top.  I knew it was the right thing to do....but I didn't know how to do it.

I took a class. I read books.  Then it struck me - this is a normal thing to do.  Why did I have to take a class to learn how to do the "football hold"?  Why did I have to take a class to show me how to latch a baby on my breast?  The answer is simple - I had never seen it, up close and personal.  Is it any wonder how difficult breastfeeding was for me?

If you want to know why so many women attempt to breastfeed and fail, I would say to look there.  They didn't learn how, when they were 10 and first learning how to care for infants.  Why can't fathers support breastfeeding moms and give advice?  They never saw it, in real life or on TV. 

I later found out that 2 of my aunts did breastfeed my cousins.  They did it in spare bedrooms or the bathroom, because they were told or led to believe that nursing was "indecent" and "obscene." So, at the multitude of gatherings, all I ever saw, and all that millions of American children have ever seen, was a mother either bottle-feeding or sneaking off quietly to some dark room, away from the action, to perform this "disgusting bodily function."


Here's the truth.  Babies don't come with bottles in real life.  They come with boobs.  We are mammals, and mammals breastfeed their young.  Duh.



"OMG, CAN'T YOU COVER UP??"

You don't ask the mother cat with kittens to "cover up" - right?

So, here I was, an expectant mommy, and I bought a nursing cover.  I'm sorry, these things are stupid.  If you're a breastfeeding dummy like me, nursing isn't "instinctual."  It's hard!  Getting the right latch is hard.  Getting the kid on the boob is a challenge at first.  Doing it blind is damn near impossible.  Yeah, yeah, some nursing covers have a hole at the top you can look down through - but their purpose is to reduce sight of breastfeeding.  Right?

Ok, let's see how a new mom, who has never actually witnessed a nursing mom do her thing (because it's gross and indecent and should be done in private only), attempt to get a proper latch with a cover.


Instructions for ensuring a proper latch:

1- The first step to a proper latch on is getting baby to open WIDE!  Brush baby's lips with your nipple to encourage him to open wide, as if yawning.
  (Oh yeah, sure.  I'll see his wide-open mouth with my x-ray vision.  With a cover on, I'm going to brush her nose with my nipple, not her lips!)

2 - Once baby's mouth is open wide, quickly pull him onto the breast by pulling the baby toward you with the arm that is holding him.  Make sure you move the baby towards you, and not move yourself towards the baby.
(Sure, no problem.  I'll just hope I'm pulling him in the right direction, and try to accomplish it one-handed, so I can keep this blanket in place....)

3 - The baby's gums should completely bypass the nipple and cover approximately one inch of the areola behind the nipple.  Make sure the baby's lips are everted.  Some baby's will tighten or purse their lips, especially the lower one.  If the lower lip is inverted (turned in), try simply pressing down on baby's chin to evert the inwardly turned lip.
(Forget x-ray vision.... now I need x-ray vision and a friggin MIRROR!)

 4 - Note how the baby's lips are correctly everted, and the mouth is open wide.  Also notice how much breast tissue has been taken in, almost the entire areola is in the baby's mouth. 
(Hmmm... can't see that areola through the blanket, can I?)

 That is mostly a "beginning" problem... what about later on?


I absolutely love this YouTube Video of an older baby's reaction to being covered...



See?  Not always easy.


Plus, returning to my point above, if nursing moms always cover up, little boys and girls have to learn about breastfeeding from a BOOK. 

Babies are people too.  They deserve to eat when they're hungry. and they deserve to enjoy their meals without a blanket over their heads.  Pretty simple stuff.




"OMG, CAN'T YOU JUST FEED IT PUMPED MILK IN A BOTTLE??"


Sigh.  Again, a dumb idea from someone who's either never breastfed, or someone who never had problems.

First, when babies are super-little, bottle-feeding can cause "nipple confusion".  Just like it takes a mom some time to figure out how to breastfeed correctly, it takes babies some time.  Artificial nipples work differently than boobs.  They have one hole, boobs have multiple holes.  Breastmilk flows at different rates during a feeding, bottles flow at only one speed - fast!  Babies have to work at the boob.  They just have to open their mouths with a bottle.  If you introduce a bottle before a baby is fully established with breastfeeding, you can actually sabotage the breastfeeding relationship.  

Not all babies will take a bottle, either.  Choice #1 - food from the source, at the right temperature, starting out light and progressing to a thick, sweet dessert as the meal progresses.  Great company, skin-to-skin contact, and just the right fit.  Choice #2, your meal all mixed up, shooting out fast, either too hot or too cold.  Sure, it's still a steak dinner with cheesecake, but you're getting it through the drive-through.

Not all moms have a strong enough supply to pump and feed their baby the old-fashioned way.  To pull this off, she has to make enough food for breakfast and lunch at the same time, but still have enough in the "fridge" for lunch later on.  Pumping's not easy, either - you don't get the same amount from a machine as you do from a baby.

Even if Mom does become a pumping pro, it can change her supply to the other side of things, with engorgement and overproduction.  If you think nursing in public is gross, just wait till she whips out the pump!

NEWS FLASH: Breast milk is not shelf-stable.  It's milk.  Hello.  It has to be refrigerated once it's been pumped out.  So, if Mom's away from a fridge for longer than a couple hours, it's the boob or nothing.   And we're back to the screaming baby.



"CAN'T YOU JUST GO IN THE BATHROOM??"
Right.
'Cause that's a nice, safe, clean and comfortable place to enjoy a meal.  

Did we forget?  Babies are people, too.





So, nursing moms, keep it up. Whip it out.   
Feed your babies.

Nurse in public.  In church.  At the store, in an airplane, in the playground, at the mall, at Christmas parties and birthday celebrations, in line for Santa, at a restaurant.  You're doing what's best for your baby, absolutely.

Just as important, you're showing that little girl at the next table over how to do it right.  You're teaching your nephew how to become a supportive father.  You're reducing noise pollution.  You're improving the public health.

You're saving the world, and I'm more than happy to hold your cape.

106 comments:

  1. This is Genius. Point blank

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  2. Love love love this post! You make me want to whip it out more than I already do.

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  3. Hooray for the mom that you got to see breastfeed on the plane. I always nurse my babies on the plane, whenever they need to. But I have to admit I have a harder time nursing my 3 yr old in public mostly because I just don't want to deal with the looks. I got some when he was two and it made me sad that mothers would call me "disgusting" to their own daughters for feeding and comforting my son in public. I hope mothers can get a little peace in this area. It's hard enough to do something that is so natural yet so non-instinctive as breastfeeding.

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  4. I love this! Thanks for posting and for supporting us breastfeeding women. I agree that everyone needs to see breastfeeding in public more often, how else will this country catch up with the rest of the world in understanding that breast is best? Awesome read!

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  5. this is a great post!! Thanks for taking the time!

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  6. This is great, i hope you don't mind i linked you on FB

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  7. Please do, Vivian. :) I like the company!

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  8. Erin I posted this on my local mom site and many of them have linked on FB! You will become a FB sensation :D

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  9. Totally awesome! I posted on my facebook as well!

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  10. I am currently breastfeeding my daughter and I have been for the past 5 months. I plan on continuing until she is ready to stop. I nurse in public, but I use the udder cover. I know it’s natural to breastfeed - we're mammals. I cover up because just because it is natural does not mean that I want to have it seen in public. Sex is natural and mammals have sex in public, but I do not want to do that in public nor see anyone else doing it in public. I never saw anyone breastfeeding nor was I around anyone that really did. I knew the breast was where you ate as a child - I did not have to see it to know that's how it was done. I have always wanted to breastfeed my children and I am overjoyed that I am able to supply her with enough as well as pump while I am at work. She prefers me over the bottle, but takes both which is great. Our number one choice is for me to breastfeed and she only has a bottle when I am not around. I have never given her a bottle myself. I have nursed in restaurants, on Riverstreet (in Savannah), stores, at public festivals - everywhere. Yes I cover up, but I am still giving my baby the same nutrients whether I cover up or not.

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  11. Henniger, if you are comfortable covering up, more power to you. I'm certainly not going to run up to you and yank your udder cover off. If that works for you, great. I know a lot of nursing moms it doesn't work for (because of the reasons above), and I support them doing what works for them. As long as the baby is fed, who am I to complain?

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  12. LOVE LOVE LOVE this post!! You are saving the world too, mama. Thank you.

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  13. I love this post! I have a cover and use it occasionally.... but if I forget it at home or just don't feel like getting it out I don't. Plus my munchkin is now 6 months old and getting to a "don't cover me up" stage. Oh and I wanted to say... I was never so proud as when my 2 year old picked up her baby doll and said "baby need to eat" and whipped her shirt up and stuck her doll to herself. Thanks for being so supportive of breast feeding moms!!

    By the way I'm a new follower... would love a follow back at HappeningsoftheHarperHousehold.blogspot.com

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  14. This is awesome! Thank you so much for speaking for us lactivists who are formula-feeders! I for one, was unable to nurse because for some reason my body didn't produce milk, however I totally endorse all the lactivist priciples and love to see mothers nursing in public! I feel like even though I can't nurse alongside them I'm still supporting them in spirit!

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  15. I love this post and I agree that breastfeeding needs to be seen. I have known mothers who make themselves sick trying to make sure they can discreetly nurse in public because they don't want to be harassed. I've said it before and I'll say it again - the only people that need to be comfortable nursing in public are the mom and the baby. If a mom wants a cover and it doesn't inhibit her nursing, I understand. But for those of us dragging around a baby, toddler, diapers, slings - a cover is not on my list! And I'm pretty sure it's not on my daughters' either!

    I remember the first time a stranger openly nursed in front of me and I was taken back, but would never have dreamed of saying something. Now I'm GRATEFUL she did! What an awesome experience to see that modeled for me as a young woman.

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  16. this is an awesome post. I love your enthusiasm for breastfeeding. I agree that part of the problem with public breastfeeding in public is that it is seen often enough. I hope that with your next one you are able to breastfeed. If you are not able to produce enough milk that does not have to stop you. There is a way to feed your infant at the breast. There is also plenty of breastmilk out there for babies who's mamas are having some difficulties. You can find some answers on facebook by searching for Eats On Feets.

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  17. I have so much to say it won't fit in this comment box so all I will say is....

    Thank you. from me and my baby.

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  18. Great post! I'm bookmarking it.

    And I'm amused at the comment above about nursing with a cover on River Street in Savannah - a place whose primary focus is getting women to lift their shirts. LOL!

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  19. This post just pointed out every frustration I've ever had with other people complaining about breastfeeding in public and put it on its ear. Thank you so much for putting my own thoughts into a concise, constructive and informative article. This was great! I'm bookmarking this and have shared it to a few of my "breastfeeding in public is a nono" facebook friends. ;)

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  20. I'm nursing my 3rd baby (3mo). Yesterday while at the store I was wearing my 3mo in a wrap, 2yo in seat of cart and 4yo running off and me trying to keep up with him and get the stuff we need. Baby starts to cry and fuss and lately she gets upset to the point where she won't nurse or be consoled if I don't feed her RIGHT away. No time to catch my 4yo and drag him to the changing room to nurse. I pull up my shirt (have a nursing tank under), adjust carrier, and get baby latched on THEN use part of carrier to cover - baby's feet sticking out - must have looked so funny! I only covered up for my own comfort but I'd like to note here that there is just no way to cover up during latch on. And then baby was not happy with the covering so I had to "free" her and I just pushed my shirt down so it covered most of the breast. Modesty is great - but it's not always perfectly possible when nursing a baby. I do what I can but - baby needs milk - NOW. Wherever I am - nursing cover or not. Let's not forget how often you run into a store or something and forget the nursing cover! Or the cover got poo on it earlier that day or you forgot to pull it out of the wash!

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  21. great article. couldnt say it any better!

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  22. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Awesome post. Love it. Wanted to say the same thing, but now I'll just send people here. <3

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  23. I cried a little when I read this. I wish more mothers would consider breastfeeding. Not only that but wouldn't quit if it is too hard. I am still nursing my 14 month old. I have loved every minute of breastfeeding (including the chapped nipples, engorgement, etc.). It was work, and I am proud that my baby got what is best, and proud of myself for the commitment.

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  24. I loved this from top to bottom! Thank you... I'm on my third child and still had problems getting things together under a cover.

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  25. This is the most knowledgeable, informative and FABULOUS breast-feeding norm post ever. THANK YOU, from the mama who's breastfeeding and doing the best I can to take care of my child in public places.

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  26. I love it!

    I whipped them out at Chuck E Cheese today; no cover, no blanket, nobody batted an eye.

    Thank you for this!

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  27. This was fantastic. Bravo. Thank you for speaking supportively and intelligently about the issue, despite your struggles.

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  28. THIS IS GENIUS!! Thank you for writing all the things I've been thinking. Sharing this immediately!

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  29. Thank you so much. I've shared this. Fantastic blog. x

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  30. Thank you for your post.
    When I was a young mommy, I nursed my twins in the bathroom when we were out because I felt so embarrassed to be nursing. When I had my little ones I refused to do that... who wants to eat a meal in the bathroom anyway? I am glad that not only did you breastfeed your son, even though you had no role models... but you encourage other moms to not be ashamed.
    We are not ashamed when we eat, why should we be ashamed of our innocent babies eating??

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  31. Rock on momma. Thank you, thank you for the support and powerful messages. Brilliant. XO

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  32. As a lactivist Daddy, this is awesome! Keep up the great work. Indeed, my wife's superpower is making milk and giving that very special gift to both of our children. Proud and loud. Bravo!!!

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  33. Mummy to a Nursing 16 month oldNovember 19, 2010 at 3:11 PM

    Bravo!!! Amen!!! Love it!!!!

    I love, Love, LOVE your post!!! Thank you so much for writing it. I'm from the UK and it's all over Facebook! You're famous!!

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  34. What a great read! Thank you for sharing and for supporting breastfeeding mommas!

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  35. I love you. (Typed while nursing.)

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  36. My daughter and I worked too hard to learn how to breastfeed NOT to show off the skill! We love anyone who's awesome enough to appreciate it!

    Thank you!!!

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  37. Oh, my goodness... I didn't realize how insular the breastfeeding advocate's world is until I read this. It was so affirming and wonderful to read this from a non-nursing mother. I'm sorry it didn't work out for you and your son, but thank you for supporting nursing! It was very brave of you to take this on, when usually the subject has clearly drawn battle lines. Thank you!!

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  38. You are my hero! You've said so much of what many of us think but can't eloquently put into words. Thank you!!!!

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  39. Oh, and by the way - this is one of the reasons I glow and smile when my 3 nieces and nephew ask if they can watch me breastfeed. I know I am teaching future BF supporters ;)

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  40. This is absolutely fantastic and inspiring! I've been nursing whenever and wherever since my daughter was born eight months ago, but am always a bit shy. I have transitioned from the udder cover, to the two shirt trick, to covering just my breast with a burp cloth while I let my baby's mouth cover the nipple. Yesterday, she unlatched and turned her head when I started talking to someone, so my exposed nipple stared them right in the face. I was a bit horrified, until the woman I was speaking to addressed my baby with an, "Aww, baby, are you hungry?" It's things like that, and things like this post that make me more and more comfortable, and more and more empowered every day!

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  41. Great post!I grew up in farm country, every body I knew nursed. Sorry I didn't read a book to tell me how complicated it is suppose to be. It is quite simple... when a baby is hunger, they open their mouth. you take a hold of your breast and put it in, they suck. They can smell milk. Instinct tells them to search with their mouth. You don't need to tease them, or measure any circumference. You can even do it with your eyes closed, while your half asleep. I promise. Your milk will still come down just fine. I even had a lactating nurse try to tell me that if my nipple didn't stick out a half inch... they would starve. So much for books, or classes. I guess the farm animals forgot to consult with a lactating nurse first too. Honestly I support nursing 100%, No books or classes needed.It is natural... But as humans (not animals)most of us...we wear cloths, drive cars, live in homes, learn to read and write, and learn to follow a code of mutual respect called common courtesy, and set forth laws to live by based off of those respects of others as well as our own rights. I tend to agree with the above lady about animals in the barn yard. I am a mammal, but I believe I live by a different code of ethics than the animals. Public places are shared with everyone. Common courtesy, and respect of others should be shown when ever possible. I believe we as people, should never forget respect, and courtesy in all we do.

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  42. You rock! Thank you for lending your voice!!!!

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  43. love this! I think everyone should read this!

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  44. I am simply speechless, this is simply GENIUS! It made me want to cry, shout, and laugh, all at the same time . . . but most of all, it made me that much more proud to be a breastfeeding mama :-) (and it was't easy at all at first, but I did it!)

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  45. The responses here are amazing. You're all very welcome, and thank you!

    @anonymous, I'm glad you had an easy time nursing. I sure wish everyone did....I didn't give up because it was hard. I gave up because if I didn't, I was either going to poison my son or die. Check out my other posts to read the story, if you want.

    If you want to cover up, more power to you. I'll join you, and the lady with her boobs on display, feeding #9 with a bottle. Maybe, thanks to the referrals to Eats on Feets, there will be breast milk in that bottle. Maybe not.

    Either way, this post is about respect. It's about my respect for breastfeeding moms. Maybe, somewhere out there, a breastfeeding mom will write a post respecting those of us who can't.

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  46. BEAUTIFULLY put! I love this. :) (she says as her 19-month-old nurses)

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  47. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  48. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  49. Really? Is it that big of a deal? Do you realize that there is a whole world out there that thinks you are just looking for some way to feel important in society? Are you that bored with your life that you feel that you have to stand up for your nursing rights? People, innocent people are being murdered by death squads, contras, militaries, militias, terrorists, and street hoodlums as we speak and in large numbers. There are children dying around the world of starvation because they don't have enough to eat. Disease, poverty, lack of education, political injustices, abuse, neglect, rape, child molestation, murder....and you want to get upset because someone doesn't care to see you expose your private parts in a Kmart or at a Baseball game. I think that we need to rethink our priorities as a species. Whether you nurse a child in a restroom, a broom closet, or in the safety of your own home....he/she is still being fed and cared for. I don't think you deserve a medal or any special privileges for doing your job.

    What about the mother in Cambodia who lost her children to disease, starvation, and land mines? Why should she care that you gave her the right to nurse in the food court of your shopping mall? I am all for raising a child the way you want to, but there are other issues more pressing than "Is it acceptable to 'whip them out' (as the author so crudely put it) in a public place?"

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  50. I was floored by this post! Thank you so much for your eloquent words and your support for breastfeeding mamas everywhere! <3

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  51. great post, I saw it on facebook and passed it on.

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  52. Hi Anonymous (I don't get why people who want to argue won't even post their first names....):

    1 - I'm not standing up for my own nursing rights. I don't breastfeed. Did you even read the article?

    2 - Supporting one cause doesn't mean you don't also support another. I support cancer research, prematurity prevention, doctors without borders, animal protection, the homeless, the hungry, and a bunch of other things. By your logic, you can only love one child. I can care about many different issues, and standing up for a baby's right to eat is one of them.

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  53. Wow, awesome :)

    From A very proud breastfeeding mommy of a 19 month old who still proudly breastfeeds in public :)

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  54. THANK YOU. I'm the proud new Mama of a very happy and healthy 2 month old. He is the light of my life. I love being able to give him the best... but I hate some of trhe uncomfortable looks and comments I get from my own family. Neither my mom nor my husband's mom nursed their children, and while both are very supportive of my decision to nurse, they are both obviously uncomfortable when it's time for Baby to eat. I constantly feel like I need to leave the room... not only because of their modesty, but because of my insecurity with my "new Mama bod." Thank you for encouraging me to swallow my insecurities, ignore the uncomfortable glances from modest family memebers, and just enjoy feeding my son the best food he can get.

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  55. This was absolutely wonderful. I don't have children, can't have children, but the sight of a mother breastfeeding her child absolutely does not offend me. As you stated, it is natural. My friend breastfed her child, and it never failed, any time we went out to eat her son would wake up and cry. We were sitting at the restaurant enjoying a meal, why would we expect him to feel any differently? It was so aggravating that she had to concern herself with whether anyone would be offended if she fed him while sitting at the table.
    It is perfectly acceptable for a man to walk around in public shirtless, regardless of the condition of his physique, but discreetly bare a breast to feed your child and the outcry is horrific. The breast is barely even visible when the child is feeding so the implication that one is "baring their private parts" is utterly ludicrous. It is merely a sign of our repressed culture that a woman's breasts are considered obscene and a natural act like breastfeeding is offensive.

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  56. What a tremendous encouragement, seriously. I didn't realize until I read this article how much pressure I was feeling to do what I feel is best for my baby while at the same time feeling like I am possibly being offensive to others. It was like an internet hug!

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  57. Hi there,

    Great post. I'm past my nursing days, but I breastfed all three of my children. Maybe not as long as I should have, none of them made it past 9 months, and one was even as short as 6, but I consider myself to be pretty old hat at the whole deal. And you know what....I gave up on covering up, oh, about 3 months into the first child. You just can't. And really....what is a third person seeing when a mother is nursing her child? A round head, and a smooshed up breast. You see more breast in girls wearing low-cut t-shirts. Where's the obscenity?

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  58. Beautiful. What a lovely way to start my day. Thanks. And thanks for holding my cape.

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  59. I feed my baby in public all the time without the cover and when people sometimes ask me very politely if I want to go to another room, I'm like: no thank you we are good here with the biggest smile on my face

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  60. i am a breastfeeding momma, i feed til my kids are 2 2 1/2. i chose to be descrete because i think it is what is right. i dont agree with exposing breasts when you can avoid it. i chose to feed in private places, the baby isnt distracted and i would not be comfortable with people seeing my breast and neither is my hubby. i support public feeding but with discression. i dont really want my hubby knowing what my friends breasts look like, sorry if thats weird. there are a lot of things that are normal and natural that shouldnt be done in public...in the older days people were not in public / social situations nearly as much. i dont think that exposing your breast in public is acceptable, but thats just me. like i said, feed them when ever but turn your back, make an effort to no expose yourself totally. unfortunately teen boys, most men, etc would lust on seeing a breast even unfortunately in breastfeeding conditions... we have to consider the whole idea of public nudity. anyway, these are just some thoughts. i love breastfeeding and do it in public when i need to but most places provide great baby facilities now i can sit comfy in private and bond with baby.

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  61. Love this post! I hate how people are towards BFing. I have no problem nursing in public. Sometimes I cover up and sometimes I don't. So far I haven't had anything said to me about BFing in pulic but I would hate to be the first person that does!!

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  62. Excellent post! I was blessed to be able to nurse all 5 of my living children. Sometimes I got funny looks, but I never showed more "skin" than people at the beach, teens at the mall in summertime, or on any given evening of watching prime time TV. My husband wasn't breastfed, but thankfully his parents were always very supportive, whether I nursed in a chair in their living room, or whether we needed a back bedroom to calm a distracted child.

    Breastfeeding is not indecent, it is not sexual, and there is no reason for nursing mothers to hide in shame while they are feeding their children. My husband has flown for business before, and had the opportunity to tell a young mom "I have five kids, all breastfed, you do what you need to do it won't bother me."

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  63. Excellent, excellent article! Thank you for affirming what I hope will someday be common knowledge with the help of good information like yours!

    I only take issue with this part:
    "NEWS FLASH: Breast milk is not shelf-stable.  It's milk.  Hello.  It has to be refrigerated once it's been pumped out.  So, if Mom's away from a fridge for longer than a couple hours, it's the boob or nothing..."
    Depending on the cleanliness of the pumping situation, Mom's milk is actually stable for quite a long time. Moms can see www.lalecheleague.org for the latest storage recommendations and other great info.

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  64. My daughter and I love you for this!

    The hypocrisy around the whole situation is that skimpy itty bitty bikinis that leave nothing to the imagination, no one bats a lash at people eating greasy hamburgers in public, yet when feeding a baby, a little bit of breast skin is obscene and feeding a baby is compared to bowel movements.

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  65. This post says it all- rock on lactivist!

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  66. I agree with the person that says we have SO much to worry about in this world.

    However, I don't agree that this is a justification for making moms hide away to breastfeed. In fact, I think it's a reason why we should NOT freak out when women breastfeed in public and it should be such a NON ISSUE.

    Because SERIOUSLY is it that horrible that you MIGHT see a flash of a nipple? And honestly, that "nipple" is really probably just the baby's hand and not an actual nipple. And even if it is a nipple.. so what? There are people losing their kids in Cambodia and you're complaining because you saw a NIPPLE because a mother didn't want to expose her baby to disease causing germs by nursing in a bathroom?

    ...And you're calling supporters of a baby's right to breastfeed on "being too passionate" about a non-issue? :p

    Thanks to the person who owns this blog. :) It's nice to know that it's not JUST an issue for moms that are breastfeeding, and that formula feeders support breastfeeding as well.

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  67. Breastfeeding is also part of a child's immune system and changes from minute to minute in response to a child's needs.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkUpyetAhpA

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  68. Well said! I used to cry at the tought of having to use a cover with my newborn son. I had faild at breatfeeding my preemie twins & I was determined to get it right this time. With a cover? Not gonna happen. I used it some when he got older and breastfeeding became like second nature, but mostly we just used a blanket and that was only for the comfort of those around me. After a few months I refused to "go and hide". Now he is 12 months and we rarely NIP anymore - he's way too "busy" .

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  69. Yes, there is a lot to worry about in this world. Health is one of them. Everyone should know how much human milk can do for one's health and that it is the best beginning a person can get in life :)

    GREAT post, thank a lot for this!

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  70. Thank you.

    As a mother of 4 expecting another, its not normal to others that I feed my 26mth old. There is a severe lack of misunderstanding of how breastfeeding works.

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  71. Beautifully written. Thank you.

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  72. What a great blog -- well said!

    If I could, I'd like to make a small correction. You noted the differences between drinking from a breast and drinking from a bottle. Drinking at the breast is not more difficult - it requires the strongest muscles to work with little effort. Bottle-feeding uses weak muscles working very hard. And just to add, it is easier for preemies to drink at the breast and rarely aspirate because they can control the flow. They can't do this with a bottle and often choke.

    Thanks for letting me pitch in my two cents : )

    Lorraine, mom of 7 and Lactation Educator

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  73. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  74. Thank you so much for saying so well what many of us don't know how to put into words. Brilliant. I breastfed my twins for 2 years and had all these same thoughts many times. If you send me your email address, I would like to share an article I wrote about the experience.

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  75. "unfortunately teen boys, most men, etc would lust on seeing a breast even unfortunately in breastfeeding conditions... we have to consider the whole idea of public nudity. "

    Seriously? That is so sexist it's unbelievable. Do you think men are animals? They're completely capable of separating these two things, as one can see almost anywhere outside the US. I really hate your attitude.

    Maybe if we stop making normal breasts so forbidden, people wouldn't freak out every time they saw a boob.

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  76. Brilliant, everything I've ever wanted to say and more!

    To 'annonymous' who says there are more important things in the world...what are YOU doing about all those issues then? Or are you just USING those issues to make a rather lame argument? I'VE worked in the slums in Africa, donate to charities and volunteer my time for disadvantaged children and I STILL have time and energy to support breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is an important WORLD issue, if women breastfeed in a country where a natural disaster strikes, they don't have to worry about damaged water supplies affecting their formula. Have you even heard of the Nestle boycott?

    I also agree that the post about men lusting over breastfeeding is ridiculous and incredibly sexist. I don't use a cover and you can't even see anything when I feed LO.

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  77. Thanks for this post! I was just discussing this with my mother, who breastfed 3 babies 3 decades ago. I told her I didn't mind breastfeeding in public, and that I actually think more women should do it so that breastfeeding is seen as normal, and so that knowledge is passed along, as you've stated here. I told her I'd only ever seen one woman breastfeeding in public. She said, "I thought I'd blazed that trail for you." So we still have work to do!

    I just want to add to the "pump & bottle" topic -- somehow, it seems that the message that breastmilk is best has made it into the general consciousness. But the fact that nursing is not only normal and natural, but also extremely powerful for bonding and cognitive and emotional development has been lost. (I know not everyone can breastfeed, and certainly it's not the only way to bond with your baby, but I just want to point out that it isn't just nutrients a baby gets from a breast.)

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  78. This is awesome and absolutely true. Rock on! I nursed my first until she was 27 months and am currently nursing my one year old. We consistently get compliments at how well behaved my kids are on planes - completely thanks to nursing!

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  79. We did as you said and when I asked my now older son how he would feel if his future wife did not want to breastfeed, he looked puzzled and said, "But mom, how would the baby eat?"!!! Can you tell all our friends breastfeed, as well?

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  80. Beautifully said! Wonderful!

    I miss breastfeeding so much--my three year old self weaned at the beginning of this year. Before that, though, we nursed everywhere. And I do mean everwhere! I breastfed (without a nursing cover just about every time, 'cause those things are just annoying) at an Obama rally, at a Fred Thompson speech, at a Ron Paul rally, on campus of Bob Jones University multiple times, in church, at a few different rock concerts, while grocery shopping, at the playground, at the mall, WHILE CHANGING A DIAPER (yes, I am just THAT flexible! Hah!), at the movies (I remember nursing though most of Twilight when it first came out to theatres), at restaurants, in the shower, and during playdates. And probably lots more places I can't remember, because it was just normal for us.

    I applaud every mother who stand up for the rights of her child and breastfeeds on demand, wherever, whenever. That's just normal!

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  81. Thanks for supporting us breastfeeding moms....I have absolutely no problem feeding my babies when they're hungry-It's completely natural & let's not forget: "breastfed is bestfed"

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  82. I keep coming back and reading this... this post just rocks. Thank you :)

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  83. Ik looooved to read youre story !!

    With love al the way from The Netherlands!!!

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  84. simply put - thank you! :)

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  85. Awesome, awesome post. :) Though I am a fan of nursing covers while in public for my own modesty, I whole-heartedly agree with everything you said.

    Thank you!

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  86. I love this blog, it sums the issue up exactly. A family member saw the 'nurse-in' link on my FB page and commented 'I thought we'd fought this fight when you lot were being breastfed!' (I'm 33). I had to reply 'Unfotunately not, apparently it's still *obscene*'. It's very, very sad that breastfeeding in public is still a 'fight' after more than 30 years.
    XXX

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  87. Here in Scotland, 30 years ago, a friend regularly breastfed her babies while sitting in the front row of church while a celibate priest celebrated Mass. Another mum at the same Catholic church was still breastfeeding her 4-year old whenever he asked for it, although he was eating regular food too. Seemed quite normal to me. I didn't quite have the nerve to do it in church, but my own son was breastfed in all sorts of odd locations. I've never heard of covering up while feeding a baby! Why would anyone expect you to do that?

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  88. Living in Israel, I have breastfed in malls, at parks, parties, cafes, restaurants, on street benches, aeroplanes ... everywhere I've been with a baby, I have breastfed - never using a proper cover, sometimes making a token gesture at modesty with the use of a cloth diaper. I don't think I've ever even used a breastfeeding room, and I've certainly NEVER breastfed near a toilet. In public, I either get glanced at, ignored, or positive comments. I'm the last person to expose myself in general - I don't show leg above the knee, never show midriff, barely show shoulders ... but if a bit of boob is on show while my baby is getting a meal, I really couldn't care less - the opposite: I, like you, like to think that showing a little skin encourages other women to feel confident about feeding in public, too.

    Israel is a very child- and baby-friendly country (although yes, we do circumcise our babies), and people are aware of what babies' needs are, and are always happy to see those needs being filled.

    Once when I was on maternity leave, I had to go in to work for a feedback meeting - with my baby in tow; when the baby started to grizzle my (female) boss said "If you need to feed her, go ahead". And I did. We might be a bit messed up in certain ways over here, but there are some things we really manage to get right: I have only ever gotten the impression that public breastfeeding is completely socially acceptable. Good for you for expecting the same in America. I always feel that if people don't want to see it, they can just look the other way. If men want to ogle, let them. The most important thing is that mother and baby are comfortable.

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  89. Amazing awesome wonderful terrific article! So glad I took the time to open up the link that was shared and read the whole thing!!

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  90. If I could, I'd like to make a small correction. You noted the differences between drinking from a breast and drinking from a bottle. Drinking at the breast is not more difficult - it requires the strongest muscles to work with little effort. Bottle-feeding uses weak muscles working very hard. And just to add, it is easier for preemies to drink at the breast and rarely aspirate because they can control the flow. They can't do this with a bottle and often choke.

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  91. Thank you, I needed to read this. I just flew with my six month old son and we are breastfeeding. I actually brought a bottle of breastmilk on the plane in hopes of avoiding breastfeeding in public. He drank from the bottle but he wanted to breastfeed for comfort, which I couldn't and didn't deny him. It was difficult as he's a big 6 month old and very active while breastfeeding. The men on either side of me where clearly uncomfortable. But I'm certain they appreciated that his screaming had stopped and that he slept the entire flight after breastfeeding.

    I live in a very small community where I am surrounded by friends and community members who are breastfeeding or have in the past. Without my husband's support I don't think I would have made it through all the bumps I've had along the way with clogged ducts, clogged nipple pores, and mastitis. But I am so uncomfortable breastfeeding in public, particularly outside the safety and support of my community.

    I'm flying again in a few months and I have no plans to stop breastfeeding. I'm already anxious about breastfeeding an older baby on a plane (a cross country flight no less). Reading your post has given me a bit more confidence for my upcoming trip. Thanks again!

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  92. Great post! I wandered over from Nikki's post. Shaming mothers about breastfeeding just gets me all riled up. Who knew this would be my cause?!

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  93. Good and another post from you admin :)

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