Friday, March 4, 2011

Every good blogger has to have at least one controversial post in their archives, so I figured it was probably time for me to go ahead and bang one out.  Today’s topic: nursing in public (NIP).

Now I know this is one of those topics that people have deep, fundamental beliefs on what is “right” and what is “wrong” so I’m not going to try and convince anyone who thinks nursing in public is wrong that it isn’t.  I respect every person’s beliefs, even if I disagree.  I feel like though, a lot of the people who are against NIP have several beliefs that just aren’t true and would love to offer some insight into the commonly (incorrect) arguments against breastfeeding in public.

The major argument that I hear from people who do not agree with NIP is that we should just go to the bathroom.  I really hate this argument, just as I’m sure every single other breastfeeding mother does.  First off, it is just completely and totally unsanitary, especially in public bathrooms. I’m not at all a germ freak, I never once asked people to use hand sanitizer with Baby as a newborn, nor do I think we ever used the bottle at home that was given to us at a baby shower.  In a bathroom though, there often no other place to sit than toilets which I would hope even people who do not agree with NIP would agree that isn’t acceptable for a child to feed there.  Society would NEVER ask a mother feeding a child a bottle to feed the baby in the bathroom, the same standards should be held for all babies.

I also hate the argument of, “Sure it is natural but you don’t see me urinating in public”.  I won’t even get into the ignorance of that statement and explain why it isn’t even comparable.  However if we really want to go with that argument, consider this.  We make special concessions for  babies.  We don’t blink an eye when pee or poop their pants in public. Why should we get upset when they need to eat in public?

Of course, I have also heard the argument that the mother should just pump a bottle so that when they are out they can feed that to the baby.  I actually understand why people suggest this-prior to being a breastfeeding mother myself, I had thought this same thing. Unfortunately it just doesn’t work that way.  I really wish it did because then I wouldn’t have to consider what I wear every day for its nursability.  First off, some mother’s just do not respond to a pump at all.  Right now, I have found myself to be in that position and would not be able to pump a bottle to provide for Baby while we are out.  Not all breastfed babies will take a bottle either and I do not think it is fair to ask a mother to compromise their breastfeeding relationship so that they do not offend others. Additionally, a mother simply just can’t replace a bottle for a feeding-the milk is still produced and has to be expressed, either by their child or a pump or risk not only discomfort but serious infection.  I can only imagine that if someone is uncomfortable seeing a mother breastfeeding, they would be even more so watching a mother pump.

To me, that is actually what the whole debate boils down to.  People who do not agree with breastfeeding in public are uncomfortable.  And they shouldn’t be.  The breast did not start out as something sexual, it has a very real purpose.  I can not fathom why there is even uproar about a mother nursing in public when there is not only no clamor over a woman in a low cut top, in fact, as a society we celebrate her.  The honest truth is, often a woman nursing shows less breast than a woman wearing a bikini top. I have been out many times and people around me are completely clueless to the fact that I am breastfeeding.  I do make an effort to nurse in areas that are secluded not because I don’t want to offend people, but because Baby is easily distracted and I would prefer to feed in a quick manner so that I can continue on with whatever errand I am on.  Luckily though, the law is on my side in Texas (as with almost every state in the US) that breastfeeding in public is completely within my rights at any place I am legally allowed to be.

Boyfriend (as well as my mother and brother) will joke often that I am so vocal about nursing in public (or breastfeeding in general) because I am a tree hugger, hippie, flower child, free spirit, whatever other synonym you want to equate with a nonconformist.  It isn’t about that though, it is about my rights as a mother.  Again, I respect people’s opinions who feel like breastfeeding should be done in private only.  I do request though that my opinions are respected and allow me to parent my child in the best manner I know how without having to fight for the right to do so.

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