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Breastfeeding in Public - Kalamazoo,MI

Im not sure if Im just noticing more because Im nursing, but it seems this subject has been in the news a lot lately. Breastfeeding in public has never been my favorite thing to do but unless I dont want to leave the house for the next 6 months its just something I have to do. I have never had anyone say anything to me, but sometimes I can tell it makes people uncomfortable. I guess my questions is why?? Breastfeeding is totally natural and people dont seem to be upset by bottlefeeding or people drinking cows milk from glasses so why would nursing bother them? I even heard there was a city where they were trying to make it illegal to nurse older toddlers in public, which I couldnt believe since the WHO recommends nursing until the age of 2 for the health of the child. TIA, Im interested to hear ideas/opinions on this.

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Thanks everyone for the responses! I am definatley in favor of being modest when nursing in public... which is getting harder for me since I now also have a 2 1/2 yr old dd who thinks its time to play peekaboo everytime I try to cover up the baby to nurse him, lol. I asked my dh for the man perspective on this, he says people are uncomfortable because they are immature and need to grow up... which is feel is probably pretty close to the truth.

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I was never a fan of doing it out in public but I did. My son HATED to be covered up so hence the problem for me.

I bf him for two years and was TOTALLY worth it. He's almost FIVE and never gets sick (KNOCK ON WOOD!) so it was time well spent. :)

I think we're OVER bonded now because of the extended breastfeeding. If that's even possible.

3 moms found this helpful

I preferred to be modest for two reasons: for one, that is who I am - so I would cover up and two, I don't want people seeing my fat rolls when I had to pull up 1/2 my shirt. I think we are leaning more and more towards BF and that more and more will relax over it. I respect a mother more when she does BF in public, but does it discretely.

This is not directed to you, but in general is - what is the big deal about being a little modest?

But don't get me started on drinking milk from another mammal. :)

1 mom found this helpful

I was never comfortable breastfeeding in public. I don't have a problem with anyone doing it discretely. However, I would prefer not to see someone's entire breast displayed. I realize that this is probably not the proper answer, but it does make me a bit uncomfortable. I DO believe that women should breastfeed as long as they can though....

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Personally, I couldn't care less.

But it could be said that "picking your nose" is "natural" as well, but I think we would all agree that it's better if done in a discreet, tasteful manner, with an eye to modesty and decorum, correct?

And NO I'm not comparing feeding a baby to getting rid of a booger--but I think the principle applies to anything of a personal care nature, whether it's yanking out a wedgie, picking your nose, blowing your nose, clipping your toenails, etc. You just don't do those things in the middle of a crowded public area with NO sense of privacy.

I think humans have an innate sense of knowing when something they are doing might make others uncomfortable, and try to minimize putting that out there.

Why would breastfeeding be any different?

I don't think I'd use BFing as an example to "make a point" or "put it in people's faces" by using my child.

Just me.

9 moms found this helpful

I've never had an incident, ever, with a mother being way over exposed. Toddler, infant, etc. What I see is a lot of respect for others and mothers who are nursing babies in weird corners to go out of their way to keep out of "public". I found with DD that if I just smiled and went on with my business (I chose to use a cover. My friend did not. We both nursed our children past 1 yr.) people just went on with theirs. Most people would rather the nursing child vs the screaming one. There are collage images out there showing how much breast is shown in ads and on the fronts of magazines vs how much the average nursing mother shows. The ads show more.

I think we need to keep nursing appropriately - in general, militant action or stupidity (like the woman blocking the floor in a store) just begets more anger when going about your business and not bothering anybody will help people see that it's not worth yelling about.

Edit to add, that a nursing toddler needs to be taught manners. By the time DD was 2, she was nursing breakfast and bedtime only. You probably would never have known she still nursed. By the time she was old enough to pull on my shirt, I was teaching her that was rude. If people allow their children to disrobe them, then that's a different issue than simply nursing a toddler. Further, nursing my toddler wasn't about me. I weaned when I weaned because it was right for us, and I nursed that long because it was right for her. I'm not saying there aren't exceptions, but I also get irritated about being lumped in with some subset of people who have issues when nursing a 2 yr old isn't an evil thing. Implying that everyone who nurses longer than a year or encourages nursing is militant is just as much part of the issue. I respect that formula is a choice. The main reason I encourage people to nurse is that you can stop, but you can't start 5 months later. That opportunity is gone. If you want to try, you have to try right at the start.

7 moms found this helpful

Maybe I am oblivious (I know I tend to focus and not really notice other people), but I never had any feeling of discomfort nursing my baby in public. Never noticed anyone else being discomfited but then, I also wasn't looking for it. My husband, I and friends would go to restaurants, and I'd nurse with a light cover thrown over baby and one shoulder. If anyone else even noticed, I don't know... I was awash with love, pride, and hormones.

6 moms found this helpful

I agree that it should not be a big deal. We see more breasts in the media that one really sees when a mother is nursing. Nursing is the true reason we even have breasts; they weren't designed as a bonus turn on point.

Have you seen the boobie beanie? It's SO funny!!!!!

http://www.mamaknowsbreast.com/archive/2010/07/the-boobie...

6 moms found this helpful

Why does it make people uncomfortable? IMO it's because the US has made the breast out to be a sexual thing instead of what they are made for...feeding our babies. So there are moms and dads out there who remember the feel of a lovers hand or mouth on their breasts and can't get over the fact that a babies mouth can go there too and it has nothing to do with sex.
Does it make me uncomfortable? Nope. I have nursed three children in private and public and I dare anyone to say something to me about it. And one woman did!! She couldn't get her mouth to stop about how disgusting it was, how gross it was that she had to SEE SUCH A THING, that my breasts didn't need to be seen by everyone (which they weren't at ALL) that they were just "hanging out!". It made me so mad I am sure my son was drinking curdled milk. So, as we were leaving I pulled my shirt down, right next to her, and swung my breasts around and said "THIS is my breasts hanging out! Breast feeding while covered is normal. Get over it" And walked away. My husband was mortified but I felt better!
Laura

5 moms found this helpful

Why is it OK for women to wear low cut tops, bikinis etc. and
display their boobs but not OK to let anything show while feeding a baby? If it makes you uncomfortable can't you just remind yourself that you're a product of an uptight, over sexualized, patriachial society and it's backwards to look at breastfeeding as gross? Whenever people are offended or "grossed out" they just need to itellectualize it a bit and remind themselves that breastmilk is the most helathy food for a baby and that food comes out of boobs.
What I find really gross is the constant barrage of images of boobs and other female body parts displayed in a sexual way everytime my teenage daughter turns around. I find it gross my 9 year old could not comfortably watch the last music awards show because of the over the top sexual content of at least 1/2 the acts. She was waiting for Taylor Swift and kept looking at me saying "Oh no, more sex, don't they know kids are watching?"
Why is it that Sport's Illustrated Swimsuit issue and Victoria's Secret Fashion Show are wildly popular but a woman nursing her baby in public and not being discreet enough is gross?
Americans need to get their priorities straight and stop judging eachother for something that's positive, healthy and should be encouraged.

5 moms found this helpful

i think it's just plain stupid to objectify breasts so absolutely and hysterically that everyone slobbers and pants to see one in a bikini top but is disgusted and outraged to see one feeding a baby.
they're just breasts.
it also used to be cause for outrage to see a woman's ankle.
@@
khairete
S.

5 moms found this helpful

Breastfeeding in public doesn't bother me, UNLESS the mom is doing it because she has some axe to grind with society.
Once my husband was waiting for me to get done with an appointment and, just as I was exiting the office, a woman came and sat next to him, flush against his side (hello, can you say personal space violation???? haha!), turned toward him and started nursing with her whole breast in view, all the while staring at him. Boy was she pissed when he didn't react! I watched all this happen and my husband and I had the hardest time not laughing in her face! She picked the wrong guy to try to offend!

I was disgusted, though, because she wasn't *just* feeding her baby. She was setting out to try to make a man uncomfortable just so she could prove that she could excercise her rights. The women who are itching for a fight are the annoying public breastfeeders, the rest are just mamas feeding their sweet babies. :)

I guess I am a fan of modest breastfeeding, plus those Hooter Hider nursing cloths are just so cute!
I had opposite pressure from militant nursing mom friends.
People attempted to shame me for being a shy public breastfeeder but they didn't get that I was trying to hide my tummy more than my breast!
Also, I was publicly berated for supplementing formula on numerous occasions, including a woman screaming, "Poison, poison......" at me. So, I guess no matter what you do, someone will be upset or uncomfortable so you should just do what you need to do! :)

Be confident, mama! Most people aren't bothered by breastfeeding in public. Cater to your comfort level, not the public at large.

5 moms found this helpful

THe reason why Americans feel so uncomfortable about breastfeeding, especially in public is this: We are a hypersexualized puritanical nation. We sexualize our children, yet women a woman uses her breasts for a purpose in which they were created, we are deem offensive. America is extremely backwards in that we have the OPTION of education, but rarely take advantage of it. Other developed nations and ALL of the developing nations don't bat an eye when they see a Mother breastfeeding in public - because in their nations it is a normal daily function of Motherhood, sometimes up until the child's 6-9th year in some cases. All cultures which endorse breastfeeding generally go until the 3rd year - I know my own daughter weaned herself at 4.5 years old... I can see my son doing the same.

4 moms found this helpful

I dont care who gets pissed at this, but nursing a toddler in public gives me the creeps. I dont want to see your kid come up, lift up your shirt, and nurse.
Now, on the other hand, I feel that nursing an infant is a beautiful natural thing and could care less where its done.
I was a modest breast feeder, even with a cover I felt uncomfortable in public. I would usually just go to the car or sit privately. I rarely did it in public.

4 moms found this helpful

I breastfed 2 children each for a year. There were times I had to breastfeed in public. Which I hated it, only because I was uncomfortable. I would usually try to find a quiet out of the way place to do it. If I see someone breastfeeding I usually smile at them. I don't know why something as natural as breastfeeding can gross people out of make them uncomfortable.

4 moms found this helpful

I agree with what OneAndDone said. I can't answer for really why people are bothered. The only thing I've ever figured is that breast are so sexualized that it causes people to view even nursing a baby as sex-related.

I've breastfed 4 children-- 2 of them tandem. I always went to another room or used a lightweight cover. Even though I was feeding my babies, I was feeding them with my breasts which as a matter of discretion, I prefer to keep from public view even when not breastfeeding.

4 moms found this helpful

I havent the slightest issue with Mothers breastfeeding in public UNLESS they are not discreet about it. Even though I have the same parts and have breastfed my first and plan to breastfeed my second soon I really have no desire to see other womens bits. If I notice that someone is breastfeeding while using a cover I dont even think twice but if I can see her breast and the baby attached to her I get offended because even though its natural its not something that anyone wants to see or should be a part of - Cover up and everyone is happy!

4 moms found this helpful

I was never a fan of doing it out in public but I did. My son HATED to be covered up so hence the problem for me.

I bf him for two years and was TOTALLY worth it. He's almost FIVE and never gets sick (KNOCK ON WOOD!) so it was time well spent. :)

I think we're OVER bonded now because of the extended breastfeeding. If that's even possible.

3 moms found this helpful

Having breastfed both of my kids I think that once you've breastfed, or been in the family of someone who's BF their babies it's not shocking to you and you barely notice that it's taking place. On the other hand if you've not been around it I suppose it's shocking to see someone nursing their baby in public. I always tried to find a corner somewhere, used a small blanket to cover baby/breast - but things happen. Babies get to a point where they reach up and pull the blanket off becuase they don't want their head covered, a breeze comes by, etc. I never sat at a table in the restaurant nursing my baby - but I'm not uncomfortable when I see someone else doing so. It is the most natural thing in the world and we live in a culture that's perverted the breast. Why are so many men comfortable at a Hooters restaurant but not when a mom is nursing her baby? It's about selfishness.

When my first baby was a newborn I would go sit in a bathroom stall and nurse her. Then I realized that was nuts! Why should I expose my child to the gross germs in a public restroom becuase everyone else is crazy? By the time she was 2 months old and I was more skilled at nursing I'd go find a discreet corner and pull a recieving blanket over her head.

So much of it ahs to do with what yo u're accustomed to. If you grew up in the family taht nursed their babies, and you also nursed yours you become very comfortable with others nursing their babies. If you only see breasts as a sexual thing you will be VERY uncomfortable around nursing moms. (Which is why the Hooter's customers find nursing moms to be gross!)

3 moms found this helpful

I always used a cover and never had a problem. It can't be that people are disturbed by seeing a boob because women walk around all the time with their boobs hanging out (low cut shirts, etc). I think the "in your face" BF moms make it more difficult for the rest of us (one mom mentioned the group that protested and BF at a store--those people!)

3 moms found this helpful

It comes down to the simple fact that in America breasts are viewed as a sexual organ, not a biological one. In addition, there are some people who feel that exposing too much skin and/or certain areas of the body is immodest.

I have never actually seen a woman whip out her boob and attach a baby to it in public. I have seen women nursing discreetly. I wouldn't be bothered by the former but I can see why the latter is preferable to a lot of people given the mores of society.

When I breastfed in public I covered up with a scarf or went to a private area because I was more comfortable that way as was my baby.

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I breastfed for 2 years.
It wasn't a goal or anything. I just let her self ween and that happened to be when she stopped.
I am a BIG proponent of breast feeding ANYWHERE you happen to be.
I don't believe that you should have to hide it as it is not dirty, wrong, or sexual.
I don't see the big deal, it is a baby doing what babies do.
It is a breast doing what a breast was made to do.
End of story.

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In most states this is a protected right. I have had conversations with many people about this (my youngest is 13 months, and tall for her age - we hope to make it to 2 years old per WHO and AAP recommendations). But people in america seem to thinkboobs are for men, rather than nuturing babies. And, the whole "breastfeeding as a lifestyle choice" concept means that people have permission of minimize the health concerns associated with formula and act like BF isn't really vital in any way, shape or form. (think about howmany new moms/preganant ladies don't even know that BF is recommended to age 2 - if they don't know, how can we expect the general population to know?

Very frustrating.

3 moms found this helpful

I breastfed all four, i always excused myself or covered up. A breast is private. I dont understand why women would not cover. I dont want to see anyone's private parts....except my husband ;)

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I was not a BF'r by choice... just not for me. There are a lot of moms like me who simply chose not to BF.

I was completely insulted and angry at the hospital because the BF police would not give me formula for my child until hubby, myself and my Dr raised a huge stink including security. In the end, they were banned from my room and told that if they did not leave me alone, security would remind them to do so.

I do believe it is a personal choice and each person has a right to make his/her own choice. My daughter is very healthy and a lot of BF children are very healthy. There are a lot of children not so lucky that were formula or BF that aren't healthy.

I've been to many family functions as a young tween/teen and my cousins would simply flip out a boob, walk around and go about their business. Yes, I was grossed out.

I believe some moms are like the BF'rs I dealt with at the hospital and cousins.... they want shock factor, they want display and attention (even negative attention). I appreciate it if a mom is in a more private area to BF and not on the main bench at the mall with it all hanging out.

I choose not to look when I see someone, even covered. I agree, some babies might not like to be covered so in that case, be more private about it. I can't imagine a toddler walking up to mom and latching on.. I think that is basically mom not being able to let go and let the child develop normally.

I have no issues with the woman's body... I love my breasts and my body. I've been the first one on the topless beach but BF'ing just is not my thing.

I'll probably get hate mail but so be it... it wouldn't be the first time and I am sure it won't be the last.

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I think it's becoming a hot topic because more and more moms ARE breastfeeding. It was actually discouraged through the 70's -- moms were told formula was best. So, I think there is a whole generation that doesn't think breast is best.

And then you have the group of people who aren't parents YET. Weren't we all the best parents until we had kids? :)

I struggled with finding comfortable places to nurse in public with my first. I was much more comfortable and confindent with my second. I almost wished someone said something to me, because I was ready to defend it.

I will say I'd much rather nurse in a private area ----just because baby usually nursed better in that setting than in a busy area with strangers everywhere.

2 moms found this helpful

I think because basically, a part of your breast is exposed in *some* way.

Clearly, no one ever has a boob hanging out for the world to see. But I think it makes people uncomfortable because even under a cover...people know the boob is out.

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Sad, isn't it? I think people are just not used to the idea here in the west. Natural is unnatural.

2 moms found this helpful

My mantra was - if its an acceptable place to give a baby a bottle, its an acceptable place to breastfeed a baby. I'd try to be discreet and avoid sitting next to a teenage boy or a 65 year old man while I did it, but otherwise...

My baby should get to eat in the same comfort as a formula baby, and I shouldnt be banished to another room or a dark corner and miss out on whatever limited social interactions with adults I had access to. I live in Texas and my baby doesnt need to swelter under a nursing cover with its 85 degrees inside, with the AC on.

When I had guests over, I would tell them that I was going to nurse and if it made them uncomfortable, not to look. They all laughed, and everyone was fine with it.

edit to add - also - this topic always gets me all riled up! I think that people who think there is something inappropriate about it, or even who think that there is something wrong with extended breastfeeding - I dont know - I think that reflects THEIR sexual issues, not my maternal ones.

also - I was definitely NOT into shock value - I just wanted to feed my baby in the same comfort as a bottle fed baby.

2 moms found this helpful

I breastfed my four, and I had some major supply issues with my last two (yes, I tried everything, and the babies were losing weight!), so I weaned them sooner than planned. WELL, I felt MORE uncomfortable feeding them formula in public than breastfeeding in public because I personally wanted to only breastfeed, and didn't want others to think I was CHOOSING to bottle feed. I'm terrible, I know...

ETA: Now, now ladies. I know breast feeding is differently viewed in this country as oppsed to European countries, for instance, BUT lets not blame the US for sexualizing them, however. Men/boys at a VERY early age LOOOOOVE boobies. Erections aren't governed by the US.

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Your question is "Why?" IMO it's because we live in a society that is overly sexualized and breasts are seen, thanks to the media outlets, as predominately sexual in nature. I think it's hard for many people to separate that from the fact that breastfeeding is normal and healthy, therefore it makes them uncomfortable whether consciously or unconsciously to see a child latched on to what is otherwise only shown to the masses as "for adults only" Is it right?...Hell no, but the media plays a definite role in how we as a nation perceive women and this is the result.

1 mom found this helpful

I preferred to be modest for two reasons: for one, that is who I am - so I would cover up and two, I don't want people seeing my fat rolls when I had to pull up 1/2 my shirt. I think we are leaning more and more towards BF and that more and more will relax over it. I respect a mother more when she does BF in public, but does it discretely.

This is not directed to you, but in general is - what is the big deal about being a little modest?

But don't get me started on drinking milk from another mammal. :)

1 mom found this helpful

When I was nursing, I had two mantras:
1. If you don't want to look at it, put a blanket over YOUR head.
2. No one has a "right" to not be offended. If I have offended you by baring my breast so my baby can eat, well, that's your problem, not mine. Whine all you want about it, I'll just take my shirt off so you can look at my other boob, too.

1 mom found this helpful

If you're exposing a large amount of your breast, that will make people uncomfortable. I had one of those nursing coverups, made of linen so it wasn't too hot, and never had an issue. I would nurse in the middle of the church service (since our mother's room was over run with toddlers, teens and dads), in my car, restaurants, etc... I was respectful of others and NEVER had a weird look from anyone. I'd guess most people didn't even know I was BF my child. Even before the coverup (I had to use it later when my daughter started wiggling and tugging on my clothes), I would tuck her under my shirt until she latched, then slide the shirt up so it was at the edge of her mouth, and again no one even seemed to notice. With a newborn its a little trickier since often you have to watch them latch on. But many coverups had a peek hole for you to do that as well.

It does irritate me that no one seems to complain about seeing excessive cleavage! Seriously, that is way more offensive! But whatever, sex sells, Mommy-hood doesn't.

Best wishes!

1 mom found this helpful

I have done a lot of public breast feeing and have not once felt that any one disapproved. One time I was very uncomfortable because I went to church without my husband and nursed the baby in the pew and was sitting next to a middle aged gentlemen and an adolescent boy. I had a cover, but felt they were uncomfortable and so would avoid such a predicament in the future. Nursing in public used to feel uncomfortable when I wasn't good at it, but with time, I learned to see my nipples to be only as private as my bellybutton and would feel only that level of embarrassment with an accidental flash. However, I was sitting across from my good friend once as we nursed our babies. I was seeing a lot of boobie and I'll tell you, it was surprisingly distracting. I couldn't even keep my thoughts straight and carry on with my conversation. Something about seeing nipples is like getting flashed with brights. I was surprised at how uncomfortable I felt. I'm grateful for that akward moment because it helped me realize that just because I was over being uncomfortable with my own boobs does not mean I was comfortable with everyone else's. But being uncomfortable is a far cry from being disapproving. Not to say you didn't experience disapproval.

I was looking forward to breastfeeding in public with my first little one - somehow I thought that it was a statement on how great it is to do for all babies and we should be able to do it when needed, etc. However, I remember the first time I tried...circling the mall for the most out of the way location...it was surprisingly so uncomfortable to feel so exposed (even though I was very covered). Over time it got better and less of a big deal. I remember one especially stressful day shopping with my second one and a 2yr old with me and I forgot my cover and sat down on a bench near dressing rooms - I was covered as well as I could (usually wore a camisole, too so covered from all sides) and an older woman came up and apparently didn't like it and told me I could use the dressing room if I wanted. Truth be told I was too exhausted to get up at that point and move and she moved on with out incident - that was probably my most rebellious moment. Other times it was just less stressful to be in public and it was so nice to find private places...Nordstoms bathrooms = awesome, the van, and yes, a bathroom stall was sometimes the most comfortable for us all....not every cranky baby and tired mama wants to try to keep covered the whole time. After all of that I still wouldn't change anything...I had fun nursing on hiking trails, zoos, in many different fun NYC touristy spots and on the subway when needed - it usually made me happy be able to have that experience with my little one and did my best to be very covered to leave little room for critique. I do my best now to give accepting, encouraging looks to any moms nursing and hope that the goodness that it brings to moms and our little ones is a message that more and more people hear and understand. PS I also found in the time we lived in Queens, NY that I saw a lot more moms in public nursing - perhaps because it was a more international neighborhood but perhaps it was just that we saw a lot more moms in general :).

I breastfed both my boys. One for 14 months, the other 20 months. I did breastfeed in public but I never liked it, nor did I feel comfortable. It is one of those things they gets a lot of "stares" regardless how people feel, therefore it made me uncomfortable. Once my son was past one I definitely even did it less in public as he is tall for his age and I didn't even want more looks. There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby in public, but I also feel some women could be less obvious.

I was never comfortable breastfeeding in public. I don't have a problem with anyone doing it discretely. However, I would prefer not to see someone's entire breast displayed. I realize that this is probably not the proper answer, but it does make me a bit uncomfortable. I DO believe that women should breastfeed as long as they can though....

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