Author Topic: A minefield of etiquette and/or decency? Public breast feeding  (Read 15500 times)

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SiotehCat

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Re: A minefield of etiquette and/or decency? Public breast feeding
« Reply #15 on: February 25, 2013, 05:49:03 PM »
Why is it not offensive to see kittens or puppies being suckled by their mothers? Many think that's cute. We are mammals too.  What's wrong with that?

I don't think that comparison really works. Cats and dogs are also completely naked(most of the time), but people can still be offended when a man in the soda aisle shows his backside while getting cases of soda.

I don't find breastfeeding offensive and have no problem with it. What I don't understand is how a breastfeeding woman flashing people (accidental or not) is any different than anyone else flashing people.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2013, 05:52:31 PM by SiotehCat »

Ceallach

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Re: A minefield of etiquette and/or decency? Public breast feeding
« Reply #16 on: February 25, 2013, 05:49:55 PM »
I think public nudity is often inappropriate, but breastfeeding does not require nudity.

So far I've only fed in public once, in my dr waiting room. (unless you count my office at work).  I did comment to DH the other day though that I do feel reassured by the fact that breastfeeding anywhere is protected by law here - we were heading into the shops to complete some necessary and urgent legal paperwork, and it was nice to know that if my 3 week old was suddenly hungry I could feed him and be in the 'right' regardless of what anybody said.  Of course, I am discreet about it though.  But because of the controversy I see around this topic I always think people are going to be mortally offended.

On a similar note, I stopped in a cafe after my dr appt as I was starving, and I ordered apprehensively, sure that the staff were thinking "that baby better not cry!".  I couldn't have been more wrong - they went out of their way to ensure my comfort, offering to bring me things and moving the table closer so I could reach better while holding bubs. I was touched by how welcoming they were. I didn't need to feed him there, but again it was nice to know that I could have.
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dawbs

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Re: A minefield of etiquette and/or decency? Public breast feeding
« Reply #17 on: February 25, 2013, 05:51:50 PM »
I've e heard of women walking along in shopping centres while breaks feeding. There's something wrong with that.
The thing is...there doesn't have to be.

If a baby is in a carrier or wrap and/or the mother is discreet, no one need notice.
Chances are, you've seen a woman who was BFing while walking around a shopping center somewhere and not known because most people are discreet.

I will say, my view on this has evolved a LOT from what it was 10 years ago...in part because of the 'confirmation bias' I realized I was seeing.
I've seen the 'in your face' (<bit of a pun there  ;)), no discretion, *insert other descriptors here* BFers.  But there's a lot of confirmation bias in seeing them--I assumed they were the people BFing in public.  But there are a lot of 'reasonable'/discreet/*insert other descriptors here*  women out, in public, breast-feeding, who aren't ever noticed as feeding--so people don't realize that those discreet people are there. 


katycoo

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Re: A minefield of etiquette and/or decency? Public breast feeding
« Reply #18 on: February 25, 2013, 05:53:28 PM »
The key here is that it is uttlerly illegal (in Australia, where this event happened) to ask a woman to cease breastfeeding in a public area.

I do believe a bit ofdiscretion is in order though - be aware of your baby.  You don't need a cover if your clothing choices mean that you can feed without being half naked.  Do, however, cover if your baby pulls off.  Don't just leave it all hanging out.  A nip-slip might be unavoidable but most people won't see it since they won't be staring at you.

Docslady21

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Re: A minefield of etiquette and/or decency? Public breast feeding
« Reply #19 on: February 25, 2013, 05:54:18 PM »
the commercial

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgmbJso-2-o

I don't like this commercial because I think the lady is being snotty--not for feeding her kid, but for assuming the guy is ogling her when he's likely surprised to see her breastfeeding so obviously in a fine dining restaurant. It's not common to see that, I would be startled as well. And, if it's a natural thing, then why is it rude to look at someone doing it to the point that you make a snarky comment? After all, all he was doing was watch the baby eat, right? This commercial is mean and I don't like the way they portray young men.

I would love to see this question on the board: A young man was gawking at me as I breastfed uncovered, what should I have done or said?

Ceallach

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Re: A minefield of etiquette and/or decency? Public breast feeding
« Reply #20 on: February 25, 2013, 05:55:43 PM »
Also I should add, I live in a suburb with a high % Muslim population.  Many women at the shops with me are wearing the hijab, so simply in my normal modest clothing I reveal much more skin than anybody else around me! (Arms, ankles, shoulders, neck). 

Because of that I'm very aware that breastfeeding could seem particularly offensive to them and always use a large muslin wrap.   A bit of consideration on all sides is necessary.

If a person can't feed without stripping off their entire top half, they should not feed in public.  And btw, in the privacy of my own home that's how I feed - topless.  If somebody skypes me or comes to the door I cover my other breast with a wrap.  But in public is different, it's about respecting those around us.
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snowdragon

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Re: A minefield of etiquette and/or decency? Public breast feeding
« Reply #21 on: February 25, 2013, 06:05:20 PM »
I don't care what folks do in public to feed their kids. I would care if I got squirted - or my food did. 

I care what you do when you are in my home, but that's a moot point because the youngest kid in my circle is 7 years old and not BF'ed at this point.

Erich L-ster

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Re: A minefield of etiquette and/or decency? Public breast feeding
« Reply #22 on: February 25, 2013, 06:07:52 PM »
Why is it not offensive to see kittens or puppies being suckled by their mothers? Many think that's cute. We are mammals too.  What's wrong with that?

I don't think that comparison really works. Cats and dogs are also completely naked(most of the time), but people can still be offended when a man in the soda aisle shows his backside while getting cases of soda.

I don't find breastfeeding offensive and have no problem with it. What I don't understand is how a breastfeeding woman flashing people (accidental or not) is any different than anyone else flashing people.

 ;D


Also, dogs & cats play scrabble wherever they please.

sweetonsno

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Re: A minefield of etiquette and/or decency? Public breast feeding
« Reply #23 on: February 25, 2013, 06:09:14 PM »
Giant minefield. Giant. I hope I don't detonate any.

I found out a few months ago that my friend had been vehemently against public breastfeeding until she'd been with me while I was doing it and later had her own child. We were chatting about it and she said the difference was 'look I breastfeeding in public' feeding vs 'my sons having his lunch and it happens to be coming out of my boob' feeding.

I love the way your friend described the different ways of breastfeeding. There does indeed seem to be a spectrum, and it highlights that it's entirely possible to care for your child without making a statement.

I know some people are deeply offended by the idea of breastfeeding in public. I personally think a bit of compromise on both sides is in order.

In other words: moms, please exercise what discretion you can, and if your baby is the sort who won't tolerate a blanket or drape, please find an area where you're as out of view as possible.

Non-moms: if you do happen to see a brief flash, please don't freak out about it. Chances are the woman in question would rather it hadn't happened as much as you'd rather it hadn't.

Personally, I'd rather a brief flash of more-than-I-really-wanted-to-see than a baby screaming because he/she is hungry. Happy, fairly quiet (except for maybe some slurping) baby is way better than ear-piercing-shrieking baby, so far as I'm concerned.

Amen to that!

I had to find the article elsewhere (the original article seems to have been taken down), but I think the entire situation was handled badly. "Offense to humanity" was a horrible thing to say (and completely hyperbolic). The nursing mother shouldn't have asked customers if they were offended. Nobody is going to tell her that yes, they were the one who asked the manager/owner to have a word with her.

upthread someone mentioned the Modern Manners Guy article. I thought it was pretty well written.

EllenS

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Re: A minefield of etiquette and/or decency? Public breast feeding
« Reply #24 on: February 25, 2013, 06:32:19 PM »
See - squirting, or babies who thrash/expose you/cant' stand to be covered, or being in an area where clothing customs are different, are individual situations.  Part of being a polite and thoughtful person is taking your individual situation into account.  This is why it is so divisive and upsetting to try to make blanket pronouncements about bf'ing - it is so totally individual.

Personally, I find being compared to a dog just as ugly when it comes from a breastfeeding advocate, as I do from someone who is raving against it.  We are people.  We do not eat out of bowls on the floor.  We do not urinate in public (at least we should not). We do not eat our own excrement, and yes we should consider our individual cicumstances and the people around us when we decide when and how to feed our babies.
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Frostblooded

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Re: A minefield of etiquette and/or decency? Public breast feeding
« Reply #25 on: February 25, 2013, 06:36:20 PM »
No one ever seems to touch on the one thing that bothers me the most about it! The noises. It sounds like mouth smacking and the sound really grosses me out, that's the only reason I remove myself from the situation. Otherwise, so long as they are appropriately covered and I don't see what constitutes public nudity all is well with the world.

twiggy

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Re: A minefield of etiquette and/or decency? Public breast feeding
« Reply #26 on: February 25, 2013, 06:41:58 PM »


This was taken at the zoo when DD was about 3 months old, or so. It's not always obvious that a baby is eating when they're snuggled up in a sling :) I know what's happening in this picture, but DH was standing on the bench behind me, trying to get DD's face in the shot. He didn't know that DD was eating before he went for the shot.

OTHO, when I'm at home I have been known to take my shirt off entirely. Obviously I wouldn't ever do that in public, or if I had people over. After BFing 4 babies, I've gotten pretty good at nursing discreetly. I typically wear a nursing tank/cami under my shirt, then the shirt comes up, the tank comes down, and there's very little exposed.

I have nursed Baby several times in stores. I plop DD in the shopping cart seat to contain her, then hold Baby across my body, laying him across the handle of the cart so i can still steer the dang thing.

My feeling is that my baby needs to eat. I am going to take care of my child's needs, but that doesn't mean I call attention to myself or make a big production about it. Pretty much the only place I won't BF is someone else's house, if they're at all uncomfortable with it. My experience in this regard is unique in that I don't have many friends who aren't also family. And most of my non-family friends are either super old, I've known them forever, friends, or else they're also moms who tend to share my viewpoints on the subject. Either way I know their feelings. So at Dad's I'll excuse myself to the other room, if I'm at BIL 3's place for some reason, it's time to go home.

As for sounds, my kids have made similar sucking/gurgling/gaspy noises with either breast or bottle. Or at least, I perceived them to be the same
In the United States today, there is a pervasive tendency to treat children as adults, and adults as children.  The options of children are thus steadily expanded, while those of adults are progressively constricted.  The result is unruly children and childish adults.  ~Thomas Szasz

Sharnita

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Re: A minefield of etiquette and/or decency? Public breast feeding
« Reply #27 on: February 25, 2013, 06:52:39 PM »
I don't know some babies make those sounds with bottles or even baby food.

EllenS

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Re: A minefield of etiquette and/or decency? Public breast feeding
« Reply #28 on: February 25, 2013, 06:58:44 PM »
No one ever seems to touch on the one thing that bothers me the most about it! The noises. It sounds like mouth smacking and the sound really grosses me out, that's the only reason I remove myself from the situation. Otherwise, so long as they are appropriately covered and I don't see what constitutes public nudity all is well with the world.

See, that's interesting.  I think this is part of the boundary issue.  If you were in a restaurant with noisy adult eaters (which I have heard, really gross) you would not think it appropriate to tell them to be quiet, or be offended because they should not be eating in public.  You are doing exactly the right thing by removing yourself rather than blaming the mom or baby.

I think there are some valid issues with the visual/exposure side of public bf'ing, and it is something moms should bear in mind.  However, people who are going to be bothered by the knowledge that you are bf'ing - even though they can't see it?  I think that is a boundary.  I can, to a certain extent, control what I show the world.  I cannot control what other people THINK, and it is not my responsibility.
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kherbert05

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Re: A minefield of etiquette and/or decency? Public breast feeding
« Reply #29 on: February 25, 2013, 07:02:42 PM »
Yes, like most issues it is the zealots on either side that are a problem.


The mall near me has a quiet room that can be used for BF. I heard a woman go off about how they couldn't force her in there. An employee was near by and quickly told her that no - it was for people that wanted a quieter place no one was force to use it. (It is right near the food court, there was an arcade, and a merry go round, so very noisy area.


The kids in our family are used to family members BF, and them middle group is at the age were they HAVE to tell us everything they observe. A couple of times they have loudly announce that woman is BFing. We say yes - lets lower our voices so we don't disturb the baby. A couple of people have taken weird offence at that.


I don't have kids, but have been on the receiving end of "If your MOm had BF you wouldn't have list of interrelated chronic genetic conditions." 1. Mom was diagnosed with hepatitis (probably a math mistake she was cured within 24 hours but was banned from donating blood or BF.) 2. She nearly died and had 104 - 105 fever and was in ICU after I was born. 3. I had my first allergic reaction less than 1 hour after i was born while still in the NICU.  Somehow I don't think that BF would have been a cure all for me.


I haven seen the anti-BF people in real life. I would defend the every mom I've ever noticed BF in public. They always seem to be doing all they can to be modest and what is best for their kids.


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