Thursday, July 2, 2015

Rant, On Nursing in Public

I've been debating about whether or not to write about this topic, but the fact of the matter is, I started this blog as a place to just write about whatever the heck pops into my head, and especially about things that bother me. Perhaps it's because I'm so full and overflowing with opinions, but really do my darndest not to let my opinions come out in public as often as they'd like, that it really sends me into a tizzy when (which has only happened two times in the last 10 months, so I really have very little to complain about) someone lets me know while I'm nursing my baby what their opinion about nursing is.

The first time I arrived at a party of people who were strangers to me (one I had met briefly before, and he had invited me). When I sat down and immediately needed to feed my hungry baby, two people made conversation by saying that they thought "when they could ask for it, they were too old to have it." Now, if you're going to offer an opinion, at least make sure it's your own and not some cliche you picked up! Of course, these particular people could only rely on cliches as they'd had no direct experience of their own.

Second, last weekend, at a family reunion, when I sat down to feed my very hungry baby directly upon our arrival, a relative suggested that she could get a blanket to throw over me. She said, "You know all those people who complain about covering up on facebook! What's so hard about using a nursing cover?!" Well, I have a word or two to say about this topic. And since I refrained from sharing it with my dear female relative, who I assume nursed her children thirty years ago, I will share it with you, my dear readers, who are free to disregard it and proceed in any way that feels comfortable to you. Because heaven forbid (seriously!) I tell other people how to live their lives.

Dear reader, if it makes you feel comfortable to use a nursing cover, by all means, do so. Here are some reasons why I have not: 1) I'm interested in buying as few baby items as possible, because they're expensive and they take up too much room for our very small and overflowing apartment; 2) They really do in some cases draw more attention than discretely letting the baby have a sip; 3) I have heard that babies often don't go for them--at the beginning when you're figuring things out, they get in the way, and when the baby gets older they pull them out of the way anyway; 4) I generally dress in such a way that they are, in my opinion, unnecessary: as Myrrh taught me, tanktop on the bottom, shirt on the top.

But more important than all this, it's ideological: Nursing is good for babies, and we should encourage it. Making mothers feel self-conscious about it, like they're doing something shameful or embarrassing or something that we should hide from view and pretend isn't happening just doesn't help us encourage nursing. It encourages women to do things like pumping a bottle to feed the baby when they're out of the house or not to leave the house (or not for very long). These things are inconvenient and detrimental to nursing and/or to women's mental health.

In conclusion, please nurse where and how is most conducive to your and your baby's comfort. And please do not tell me where or how (or how long!) to nurse my child. My little family will figure out what's best for us.

A second, funnier conclusion: I love this:
"I saw a woman breastfeeding in a park and was overcome with desire. I left my wife the same day." - John, 34, Nebraska 
"I was a married man with eight kids. Last month I saw a woman nursing her infant at a park. I am now married to her." - Luke, 45, South Dakota 
"Two years ago I was a successful business executive handling important transactions. Then I saw a breastfeeding mother. I became obsessed with nipples and lost my job. I can't make ends meet." - Anthony, 45


Hannah said...

Fantastic! I have a nursing cover (I made it...I was not ok with spending $30 on something made in Vietnam when I could make it here for much, much less) but I hardly use it. I've used it when helping with RCIA class...being somewhat of a focal point in a small gathering with men I don't know very well... But for the most part I find them cumbersome. And yes! Draw more attention!

Love love that article. Hilarious. Breast-ginas...hahahahaha.

Myrrh said...

I think nursing covers are clutch when you decide to venture out in public in an outfit that's not nursing friendly (I'm thinking of a wedding when my baby wasn't nursing all the time, so I wore a cute dress that wasn't very accessible and brought a cover...). But in general, I agree that they tend to draw much more attention to what's going on than my usual strategy, and anyone who draws even more attention to you by starting an ignorant conversation about how long children should nurse is just being a jerk. But you know I don't have opinions about any of these things either.

Frankincense said...

"when they could ask for it, they were too old to have it." These people know nothing. Babies can ask for it right from the beginning? Slash some babies don't talk til they're actually pretty old (I'm guessing far, far older than these people would be comfortable with a baby nursing)? Slash this just doesn't even mean anything.

Which brings me to my next point about which I don't have any opinion: People who feel the need to talk about how much I am OR am not exposing myself are also jerks. Leave me alone. Or you could get me a glass of water, that would be great.

Emily Hale said...

These are great comments. Myrrh and Hannah--glad to hear your actually experience with nursing covers. Exciting to hear that dresses may be a possibility in the future.

Frankincense--precisely! Babies are always asking for it! And yes to glasses of water.:) Also snacks.