Human breasts make milk. [Yes, men can breastfeed, too. See link below.]
Given this basic fact, it astonishes me how people respond to human breasts actually doing what they can do in public. Breastfeeding out of the home is, for some reason, not a simple act. So many decisions are involved. Are you going to nurse in public or give a bottle? (Does that mean you are going to pump milk for the bottle or use formula?) If you nurse in public are you going to cover up? How much effort will you need to cover up with a squirmy child that hates being covered up? If your child is not an infant should you stop nursing in public? What will you do with the stares and glares?
The list goes on. For me, a pro-NIP (nursing in public) kind of person, I’m all for the barer the breast the better. The more comfortable a mama is breastfeeding openly in public the more normal we can make this normal act and the more other women can see something they might end up choosing to do one day. Not every woman is comfortable with her nipple being flashed, and I think that’s up to each woman to decide. I also understand that not everyone feels the same about seeing flashed nipples, but in this case I think all the big people should put their needs aside for the little people on the planet. I really don’t see it as a decency issue. After all, when summertime comes or the tv is on, there are mostly exposed breasts everywhere and fully exposed breasts aplenty. People pay lots of money for string bikinis that show enough side boob for soft porn. Acceptable? Should these women be asked to cover up and show some modesty?
Sometime back I linked to “What Are Breasts For?” which included a humorous poem in support of breastfeeding. If breastfeeding is a biological norm for humans as mammals, you wouldn’t ever get that from the reaction many breastfeeding mothers experience out in public or from their family and friends. People openly express all kinds of feelings towards a mother nursing (nourishing) her child. Some of them are incomprehensibly negative. Others are from a vast gray space of disapproval. Since breastfeeding can be so controversial, I thought I’d dive right in with funny and furious sides of breastfeeding advocacy and rights and just some stuff thrown in for fun.
Nursing Freedom the website and the Facebook page are absolute go-to resources for support and information about breastfeeding in public. They have NIP (nursing in public) stories, an interactive map of breastfeeding laws, and NIP gear. Breastfeeding laws are different in every state, so find out about your state. Mothering.com also has good resources on breastfeeding, pumping and the workplace.
Stories of NIP Struggles
- Harassed at Whole Foods (Utah)
- School Bans Breastfeeding on Premises (Georgia)
- Kicked off the Bus (Michigan)
- Asked to Move in an American Girl store (New York)
- Cover Up in Music Store (Illinois)
- Pumped Milk a Security Threat (London, England, Heathrow Airport)
- Stop Breastfeeding at YMCA Pool (Texas)
- A Blanket? In This Heat?! You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me!!! (Upstate NY)
Perspectives and Support
- Social Network(from Blacktating): How “the village” influences our beliefs and norms
- The Milk Truck: “Thought nursing mothers created a spectacle? Meet The Milk Truck.” (Watch the video.)
- Breastfeeding Uncovered: A Peaceful Protest: From Kaitlin@Bring Birth Home
- Thank You for Nursing in Public: A mama’s belated support of another NIP mama
- Just Cover Up: A wonderful post explaining what’s wrong with asking a nursing mother to “be discreet” and “show some modesty.”
- When Toddlers Are Exposed to Breastfeeding: With Photos
- What if more men chose to breastfeed? (Yes, it is apparently possible.) Should they get to be bare-breasted in public like they get to when they run with shirts off?