Saturday, October 07, 2006

At the risk of being flamed by breastfeeding mums everywhere...

I've just read another article about a fight between a retailer and a woman who tried to breastfeed on their premises. And despite the fact that I myself am a breastfeeding woman (though only just), my opinion on the matter probably doesn't match that of most others.

It's probably because I'm a teensy-weensy bit on the prudish side, because I was never comfortable with breastfeeding The Little Madam in public, myself. At our mum's group meetings, I never knew where to look when someone whipped out a boobie to give her little one his or her feed. TLM's feeds were usually timed so that I could get the job done before we left the house, or after we returned home (and I've just realised why I don't get out much).

Not that I'm against breastfeeding in public per se, rather that I'm keener on seeing more nice places where women can feed their babies when they aren't at home. If I've ever had to do the deed in an airport lounge or cafe, it's only because the only other options were to use the toilets or go home.

You could say that if I'm uncomfortable with it, then it's my problem. But then, it's obviously a problem with a significant number of people. And until the attitudes of enough people have adjusted, surely it's only being sensitive and thoughtful to try to avoid offend those who haven't yet reached that stage of enlightenment?

9 comments:

happy and blue 2 said...

I'm not against breastfeeding but I don't particularly want to see women flinging their breasts about all willy nilly in public either.
Unless they aren't breast feeding..

Violet said...

happyandblue2: you men...you're all the same...

charlotte said...

I quite agree that there should be more spaces where women can go and breast-feed if necessary. Too many times I ended up feeding my first baby while sitting in some insalubrious toilet. However, by the second I had lost my prudishness and fed her wherever. By the third, I couldn't care less about ANYONE'S sensitive feelings: feeding my baby was a job and I had to do it. Having said that, I am not gooey about bf-ing and was really happy when he weaned himself at 10 months!

Violet said...

charlotte: I can well understand that by your third child you'd have stopping worrying about breastfeeding public. You probably would have stopped worrying about a lot of things that plague first-timers.

Anonymous said...

I find this whole debate fascinating because I never encountered it until I was quite old. My mother breastfed her 4 babies anywhere. She wasn't militant about it or shy about it - it just was never ever an issue. I don't remember anyone ever finding it remarkable in any way. So I was entirely perplexed when I went to visit my overseas aunt for the first time at age 9 and she said "You'll need to leave the bedroom now because I'm going to feed the baby." I remember telling my mother and asking why on earth my aunt would think I needed to leave the room (I think I assumed there was something wrong with the baby!)

Scholiast said...

I think it's very much a cultural thing. (There's a reason why Americans don't breastfeed, and it's not just that they've got about 2 hours maternity leave..

Over here you're very much supposed to breastfeed - wherever you like - but there are lots who aren't overjoyed at watching. Still, they could just turn away.. And most mums are very discrete, I find, practically wearing their babies :)

Violet said...

anonymous stranger: There was a time when I definitely preferred to feed TLM without any onlookers, even in my own home - it was when she was about 3 months old, and highly distractible. The only way to get her to feed instead of looking around, was to go into a darkened room with her and try not to breathe too loudly.

scholiast: Here in NZ breastfeeding is definitely pushed as the way to feed one's baby, and yet there's still a small amount of resistence to making it easy to breastfeed in public. Though probably not as much as in the US.

Angela said...

I still nurse my 12 month old son and we only nurse three times a day so that usually just happens at home. I would love more comfortable places to nurse my son if I needed to when I was out of the house. People just don't understand why breastfeeding is so important. When people find out I am still nursing they can't believe that a person could nurse that long, never mind that some children are still using bottles till they are two and three years old. My son never took a bottle and even if he did it is less work just to nurse on demand. I would also never expose my self intentionally. Why would I want some person to look at my breasts. Well, except for my husband. Also bottles just did not seem like an option for me. Nursing was best so that is what I was going to do.
Breastfeeding is like everything else if a person is doing something different then there must be a problem with it. For example men can't breastfeed naturally so some feel uncomfortable with it. Well I am legally blind and have a guide dog. People stare at me (so my husband says) and have a problem with me taking my guide dog to stores. It is very frustrating. I just say if a person has a problem with what I am doing then they can just ignore me. It is all a personal choice. Do what makes you happy and if a person is doing something that makes you unhappy then ignore them.
I just have so much to say.

Oh and your blog makes me happy! on a hard day.

Violet said...

angela: Here, it's pretty much accepted that women will try to breastfeed until their baby is around 12 months old, but if they're still breastfeeding after two years then they'll probably get funny looks from people. I'm always surprised when I'm congratulated on still breastfeeding TLM at 14 months.