Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Letter to the World about Public Breastfeeding.

Dear World,

I'll keep this short and sweet.

Please stop sending mixed signals. We tell women that "breastfeeding is best", we tell them to do it but then we ask them to hide like it is shameful, kick them out of places for breastfeeding and say stupid things like "I don't want to see THAT" or "plan ahead and pump." Cut it out.  Stop the double speak. Get over your fear/sexual obsession with breasts and let a mother care for her child as nature intended because, I've got to break it to you, feeding babies is what boobs are for and everything else is just a nice bonus. Just think about it, if you wouldn't think it inappropriate for a woman to give a bottle then it isn't inappropriate for her to be breastfeeding with or without a cover. Mothering is hard enough without you projecting your issues onto moms and their babies. 

Get over yourselves please.

Even Sesame Street gets that breastfeeding a baby isn't a big deal, sometimes I feel like a lot of you need to go back to preschool.

Again, get over yourselves please and let a woman take care of her baby giving that "best" you're so into.

That's all I have to say about this. Today anyway.  I just had to get that off my chest.   Now I'm going to go whip my boob out and feed my baby.


The Leaky B@@b

P.S. Breastfeeding moms will not be bullied. We're educated, fierce women that WILL protect our children and meet their needs. Thank you.


  1. I LOVE YOU Jessica, because while I'm busy blogging about parenting and leaving my breastfeeding blog posts in "draft" stage, you're right out there, saying exactly what I want to say :)

    You make my day. Stop sending mixed signals! "Yes, by all means, do what's best for your baby, but don't ever let me (or my children) see it because that's not your place to decide who sees your boob" - UGH. Cut it out already, mainstream! If you're going to support breast as "best", then you should applaud moms nursing, wherever they decide to do so. Not just when it's convenient for you.

  2. Well said! I've got baby #3 on the way, and I can't WAIT to breastfeed in public again. People need to see it.

  3. Amen! This is why I always pass along a reassuring and accepting smile to any mom that I see breastfeeding in public. And you'd better believe that we are fierce! We will continue to fight for what is right. You can't stop us world!!

  4. I don't know you, but my sister is a big fan of your blog post here. So I read it, and to an extent I agree with your position, but frankly your arguments sound ridiculous and childish.

    How would you like it if I pulled out my dick in front of you to take a leak? Because, I've got to break it to you, urination is what penises are for and everything else is just a nice bonus.

    Saying "I should be able to feed my baby in public" isn't the same as saying "I'm going to damn well breastfeed right in front of you no matter how uncomfortable it makes you."

    Yes, people should respect you and your breastfeeding, but you should respect other people as well and not make a big deal out of it.

    Renee, maybe you'll read this. Don't be one of those annoying people who go too far the other way when trying to argue or fight against some injustice or double standard you don't like.

  5. Seth, Where did I say that I was going to "damn well breastfeed right in front of you no matter how uncomfortable it makes you?" And you do realize you just tried to compare urinating with feeding a child? There is a huge difference there, don't you think? That said I'm not asking for permission to feed my baby in public, there is no "I should be able to..." I am able to and I will. Further more, there is no legal prohibitive reason why I wouldn't. Unlike urinating in public. The truth is I will meet my child's needs before I worry about someone else's hang-ups in understanding the biology of mammals. If I were to worry that a bottle were to offend someone and not pull it out right away to feed my hungry child when they were crying for food, everyone would consider that neglect and possibly report me to the authorities. Why would it be any different when the mammary glands are the means of distributing the child's food?

    In case you didn't realize it, this piece isn't just a rant, it's a bit of humor from someone tired of the multiple accounts of women harassed for feeding their child. Read further on this site and you will realize that. The "whip my boob out" comment is totally tongue in cheek, a remark often heard referring to women that don't duck into the toilet to feed their babies.

    By the way, the anatomy of the penis indicates that urination is not it's only or primary purpose.

  6. Oh, I love this blog! Thankfully I have never had someone tell me something so crazy...not sure how I would handle it if I did. Hopefully I will have a lot of appropriate comebacks/facts when/if the time comes. Thanks for all you do! :)

    and Seth...get over yourself!

  7. Seth, first off, feeding a baby is a sanitary act that doesn't leave any bodily fluids around - the same cannot be said of public urination. In addition breasts are not considered "private parts" in many other cultures. Topless beaches, topless women on TV, etc. are common place in South America and Europe. In fact, before formula was available in this country, when breastfeeding was the norm, women did not cover themselves while nursing their babies. Even though standards of modesty were much higher then, a baby's needs were recognized as more important. Even in Muslim countries where women are still held to higher standards of modesty, public nursing is usually permitted because it is necessary to meet the baby's needs. In Iran, a doctor's prescription is required to get formula so nursing in public is commonplace. A breast is definitely not the same as a penis! Get a grip and a clue!

  8. Urinating in public means there's urine somewhere it shouldn't be. If everyone were to start emptying their bowels and bladders wherever they may be...guess what? Then there's untreated sewage running through the streets. And that spreads disease and is the very reason toilets and sewage treatments were developed.

    You pissing wherever you please is a public health issue.

    Ironically, so is breatfeeding.

    Your urine causes disease. My milk prevents it.

    Of course, I would expect that a 15 year old boy trapped in a man's body WOULD be unable to see the world through an adult's perspective and would equate nourishment to urination.

  9. Seth - considering the fact that procreation is the way that species continue, I would argue that sex is the primary intention/function of the penis. The fact that you can also urinate through it is secondary to keeping the species around.

    It seems kind of like you have a chip on your shoulder. Because, seriously - you're on the defense for no reason. This piece, like Jessica said, is humor. And while I get that humor doesn't always translate properly over the interwebs, she was pretty obvious about it.

    I want to add - and this has nothing to do with Seth - breasts aren't sexualized until we make them so. My three year old thinks boobs are like bottles you transport everywhere. And mine happen to be bigger than hers, but, hey, that makes sense, because I have a baby to feed and she doesn't. She tells me sometimes that "when I have a baby, I'll have giant boobies like you, Mommy!" (And then you won't want them, lol...)

  10. Seth- If you cannot see the difference between eating and expelling bodily waste, you shouldn't have dinner guests. Ick. My child has the same right as anyone else to his food supply, no matter where it may come from, more so because he is an infant and cannot wait the way an adult can for his or her meal. And no, given the choice between caring what others feel or feeding my hungry child, I don't really care what your hangup is, only that maybe you should seek some counseling if seeing breasts doing something other than sexual bothers you.

  11. I like this Seth. I wanna see the penis. Whip it out buddy. Scared?

    I've nursed ALL 6 of my biological children in public over the last 15 years and never once have I been offered to see someone's penis. Darnit! You want to objectify my breasts then I'll objectify your penis. Bring it.

  12. HEY SETH!!
    I AM going to damn well breastfeed right in front of you no matter how uncomfortable it makes you.
    You know why? because YOUR problem of sexualsing the breast is YOUR PROBLEM, not mine.

  13. Just as an aside, there's another video of Buffy St. Marie nursing her son Cody and telling Big Bird about it.

    Oh neat! I just went to search for the next one and it seems Maria "nursed" Gabriella (I think it may have been her real baby, but I'm not sure)!

    Also, "You're My Baby!" This is the one I saw in my youth, but they made a new one with exclusively bottle fed babies since.

    Wow, it was even on Mr. Rogers! :)

  14. @CaperGrrl: That is Maria's real baby and she really is breastfeeding her! I love that clip. I had no idea there was a Mr. Rogers one though, very cool, thank you!

  15. Seth,
    I think it's sad that you decided to come across as such a jerk. You are saying that you see her point, but then you argue that we should only feed our babies if we get permission? I am confused. Do you expect us to ask people if they are comfortable with us feeding our children? How are we to judge your level of comfort? And also why should your comfort come before my infant's? You can rationalize why I am feeding in public, but my three month old only knows she's hungry.

  16. Seth,
    I know very few woman who nurse in public with the degree of indiscretion that would be equal to a penis being exposed. A woman nursing her babe may inadvertently let a little nip peep out but most are very discreet (and if they aren't so what but that's another post) A man urinating in a restaurant or at the playground or in the mall is not at all the same as a woman quietly feeding her child. Do you actually think that a woman nurses in public to spite those of delicate sensibilities? "Hahaha I have an excuse to reveal my breasts and will use it to make you uncomfortable!!!!" Get real! As a mom of three I have many more important things to do with my time than worry about what seeing me nurse my child does to someones sensibilities! Would you ask a skantily clad voluptuous co-ed to please put on a sweater because you can see her nipples and it's making you uncomfortable? Hmmm? No, because she has the right to adorn her body as she sees fit just as I have the right to use my body as nature intended for the nourishment of my child.

  17. I am teary eyed watching these SS clips. They are just so beautiful and simple. Thanks for the post Jessica!

  18. Too funny. If a guy said that to me while I was nursing I would pose this challenge to him: If public urination is the same as breastfeeding in public then prove it. Pee in a cup and drink it in front of me or, better yet, get it straight from the source. Prove to me that it's the same thing. LOL.

  19. Actually that was me, Stephanie. And you're welcome, Jessica! :D

  20. Seth, it is far easier - and causes less harm - for anyone who is uncomfortable with breastfeeding to just look away and move on, than it is for the mother to censor herself for the benefit of others, and to put the needs of everyone else around her before her baby, who should be her primary concern.

    Nipples are not genitals. Do you have ANY idea what it's like when your baby is crying and hungry but you're THAT embarrassed and ashamed about FEEDING it? And you are ok with this harmful cultural bias to continue?

    Sexual images of breasts bombard us daily, along with exaggerated beauty and so-called perfection of the female form are everywhere. Yet the moment you try to give what's touted as "best" to your baby, it's "yuk, put it away, use a bottle, we don't want to see, stay at home...". Girls are weirded out by breastfeeding or too embarrassed to do it in public, BECAUSE of attitudes like yours, yet they're happy to go out, get drunk, end up drunk, upside down and knickerless in a gutter and you think this is ok? You want your daughters to grow up with that mindset? You want them to live in w world with such a lopsided view if the human body? You want them to br embarrassed about feeding their babies, and objectified by everyone else?

    I don't set out to make anyone feel uncomfortable. But if breastfeeding is to be normal and accepted, then it's their comfort zone that needs to change, not how, when or where i feed my child. By telling mothers to cover, hide,, stay home.... You make the act dirty, shameful, weird,taboo, mysterious... And the stigma continues.

  21. Ps. By the way:

    Urinating in public is illegal. Feeding in public his protected by law

    Urinating in public is unhygienic. Feeding in public is healthy.

    Urinating in public exposes a sexual organ. Feeding in public does not.

    You can (hopefully) wait and fond a designated are to urinate. My baby canNOT wait.

    Urinating should take only a few minutes. Feeding can take anything up to an hour. Feeding can happen 12 times a day or more, depending on the baby. (Newborns should feed a minimum of 8 times in 24hrs. Schedules are not recommended, and often impossible.) It's therefore really not feasible to exclude women from normal activities every time the baby needs to eat.

    Urination is EXCRETION. Feeding is SECRETION. Pay attention in Biology class, please.

  22. Jessica: The entire tone of your post said ""damn well breastfeed right in front of you no matter how uncomfortable it makes you"

    Susan: Who said anything about drinking urine? That's clearly not part of this conversation, noone's comparing drinking pee to drinking milk, the comparison is 2 different socially stigmatic yet natural processes which involve bearing "private parts." I put that in quotes because, according to Sarah's reply up there, breasts are not considered "private parts" in many other cultures.

    I suspect it's not in those other cultures that public breastfeeding is an issue that causes anyone consternation. It turns out though that the society in question is one in which it IS an issue.

    Whether public urination or breastfeeding leaves bodily fluids around is irrelevant - the point is that they're similar in certain ways, ways which could be objectionable to people.

    And MY point is, if you're going to breastfeed in public then you should be respectful of the people around you - you don't need to draw attention to it, which is what all of these types of posts and articles sound like they're saying to me (and I've read several, as my sister keeps linking them). They sound like people who are upset (maybe rightly) at having been chastised for something they feel they shouldn't be chastised for and would like to tell those people "damn well breastfeed right in front of you no matter how uncomfortable it makes you."

    And for the pedants: Yes, of course urination isn't the ONLY purpose for a penis, though as for PRIMARY purpose - ask your husbands and boyfriends which they do more often, urinate or procreate. I was drawing a quick comparison, and decided that using the same sentence structure as the original post would be more powerful than changing it to say "primary purpose" or anything else.

    For the record, replace 'urination' with anything else one could do with that organ and the argument holds - I suspect it would be unsettling for you to see it in public.

  23. Seriously, you see more on the beach and with half the young girls nowadays then you do when you breast feed. It's just a boob...we all have them...sorry if some are more prominent then others. I can't believe someone could be that immature... as to say "it's just a penis..." The difference is buddy that what comes out of my boob nurtures a child, keep him/her healthy, and helps to make for an intelligent child that won't turn out ignorant like you. Yeah, pee from a penis is a natural function....of WASTE....just like your extra.

  24. Seth... Most breastfeeding women do not yell "LOOK AT ME I'M BREASTFEEDING!!!" They usually sit on a bench or whatever is closest and then get the ogling eyes of passer-bys and sometimes the evil "ew" or "Oh my God". On rare occasions you will get the adult that will walk up to you (while you are minding your own business) and tell you that you are "disgusting" and things like that "shouldn't be done in public". These words and actions are unprovoked by simply sitting down and feeding your child.

    I believe this was the premise of the post. Not to be defiant and piss people off my saying "WATCH THIS!!!"

  25. That's the cool thing about art forms, there is a lot that is subjective and not everyone sees the artist's original intent or vision. Often when we don't it just speaks more to where we are personally when experiencing the piece.

    You didn't understand my post here Seth. Perhaps you should explore why this would be such a hang up for you that you see something other than my intent. Other than my tongue and cheek comment about whipping my boob out to feed my baby, which is poking fun at the comments people say to women nursing in public, that is not the tone of my post at all. Rather, I'm asking the world to get over it's hang-ups and let women everywhere feed their babies without a fuss. I'm not jumping up and down shaking my naked breasts with a baby hanging off one telling everyone that if they don't like it they can kiss my butt. I and other breastfeeding moms simply put our child on our breast often not exposing anything- trust me, we're too tired to do much more than get the kid on the boob. The point here is that as a society we all know and tout that breast is best but then we somehow find ourselves asking women to leave places they legally have every right to be or in the comments of blogs debating the rights of all those poor people that have to suffer being uncomfortable when a woman puts a child to her breast to feed. Breast may be best but when we're having debates like this it certainly isn't what is accepted as normal. Our biology would beg to differ, breastfeeding is normal we've just perverted it.

    And yes, I consider it perverted to be more worried about the adults that may be uncomfortable with seeing a woman breastfeed her child than we are about supporting and encouraging women to care for their babies and meet their needs.

    I don't make a scene, none of the women I've ever seen breastfeed in public do and neither have the women I've read about being harassed while nursing in public. It's the other people that turn it into a scene, people that have a problem with a mother caring for her child in the most natural way. Most don't even show any boob. But even if they do they legally can.

    I want to respond to more but my time is short. Thank you for taking the time to read all this Seth. I am curious are you speaking for you personally or are you defending someone else uncomfortable with BFing in public?

  26. Seth,

    Listen buddy, this is the thing. You are on a blog regarding breastfeeding. You are going to read things you might not agree with. It is fine to voice that opinion, but you will not find much support for your opinion here.

    Breastfeeding IS natural. I don't get hassled about it, I cover for my own personal preference, my baby is healthy. If anyone EVER would complain about it, I would politely reply that their face is offensive to me and I don't ask them to turn around. If something is offensive to yuo in society there are two things that you can do: deal with it, or become a recluse.

    Oh, I lied I DID get hassled about breastfeeding once. It was when I used a cover and my former roommate was hoping to get a view of some bood

  27. Seth, women urinate too....unfortunately there is nothing comparable to breastfeeding that men do, so it might be a little beyond you to grasp why urinating and breastfeeding are not comparable..... in simpler terms perhaps would be I'm not asking for my baby to pee in public, but rather to eat in public - if you can eat out, then there is no reason why baby can't. And just to note, what you eat and the type of plate/lunchbox you use are not dictated by society, so why should my baby's be?

  28. Where does Seth live? I wanna have a nurse-in!! How many days would Seth have to be around nursing mothers and adorable babies before he'd get over his breast phobia? What if we all walked about topless, would that hasten the change?

  29. The more women are able to breastfeed in public without being "hidden" away, then we will hear less comments like Seth's about our breasts being compared to penises.

    I was in a childrens museum and was able to find a quiet place to nurse and I had one of the workers there tell me that she keeps suggesting they add a nursing room. While that is a fine suggestion, its just perpetuates the idea that its something that others shouldn't have to see, much less think about. And how am I supposed to watch my other children play while I'm hiding away in a nursing room? One of the perks of breastfeeding is its convenience and nursing rooms take that away, as well as making the mom feel left out.

  30. "Respectful of those around you"

    Firstly, "respectful" is subjective. Every other person nearby could well have a different definition of what would be "respectful". Which one should she defer to? The one who expects her to cover? Sit in the corner? Face the wall? Leane the area? Stay home toll the kid is weaned? Use a bottle? Why cant she just get on with it in the way SHE is most comfortable, and everyone else get on with their lives? Isnt that much sompler?

    Remember when you see a breastfeeding mother that she IS being "respectful" and "discreet" as defined by HER. Do you honestly expect the rest of the world to march to YOUR moral tune and comfort level?

    What, exactly, is disrespectful about the sight of breastfeeding, breasts and nipples? It won't traimTise, corrupt or hurt anyone. It doesn't cause cancer of the eyeballs. In fact, it is positive. The more people see it, the more normal it will be.

    I don't want breast to be best. I want it to be boring. A non issue.

  31. You have become my new favorite blogger. I loved your post that you wrote about realizing that you are a lactavist. I think just reading that post made ME realize the same thing about myself!! This post inparticular really inspired me. I've become quite passionate about the need for more mothers to NIP so that it can become the socially accept norm that I believe it should be. If breast is best then why do it in the bathroom? Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I just shared your link on Twitter & Facebook. Keep up the good work. I look forward to reading more.

  32. Ok- I have no read through the comments yet... but I will and then follow up.

    Just wanted to say that I was sitting here nursing my 1 year old and showed the YouTube video to my 2 year old (who also still nurses) and she loved it. in fact she is begging to watch it again!

  33. Seth, you just don't get it and never will. The same as White supremacists dont get why minorities want equal rights or homophobic people don't understand why gay people want to live in peace.
    It's about RIGHTS and FREEDOMS not about exhibitionism. It's about sustaining life, not about protest. Breastfeeding is as natural as skin color and sexual orientation, it just IS and we are standing up for our RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS as nursing mothers, because if we don't NOONE ELSE WILL!


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