rethinking my thoughts

May 21, 2010

it's friday.  did you know it's friday?? friday.  friday friday friday.

sometimes i'm not sure why i get so excited about friday.  do i have awesome weekend plans? no.  in fact i have work to do over the weekend.  but that's not the point.  there's just something lovely about that word: friday.

anyway, moving on to my point, yesterday i read an article on
From Bashful to Brazen: The Indiscreet Breastfeeder's Manifesto

the author tells the story of a nasty encounter she had with an old lady in a grocery store, one where the woman said that by nursing (discreetly) she was "making a spectacle of herself"

but, the author went on to say this:

The encounter had the exact opposite effect on me than the woman had intended. It made me bound and determined never to use a tea towel--whatever that is. Her advice did not make me bashful; it made me brazen.

Since that day, I have nursed openly in some pretty amusing situations, including during an eye exam and while taking the written test for my driver's license. Neither the optometrist nor the DMV examiner asked me to stop. In fact, both were encouraging, if a little embarrassed, saying that it was a first for them, but that I should just go ahead and do what was best for my baby.

I have nursed while getting my hair cut and my oil changed. I have nursed in libraries, museums, and malls, at weddings and parties, in stores and waiting rooms, in line at the grocery store, and while waiting on customers in the bookstore where I work. Not to mention in restaurants, airports, parks, zoos, and the Morehead City Seafood Festival beer garden (I had juice, of course). Once I made myself at home on the patio furniture display at K-Mart. Another time I sat on the edge of the dairy case at the grocery store; a passing manager assured me I could sit there as long as I needed.

i have, since the early days, been a big fan of discreet nursing.  i wrote my discreet nursing primer and i was very proud of it.  but after reflecting on this article i'm not sure i'm going about this the right way.

there are, unfortunately, always going to be people out there who aren't fans of public nursing.  however i don't think i have a hope of changing their perspectives if i don't set a good example.  children need to see women breastfeeding, to know that our breasts are for nourishment and not just for swimsuits.  if people saw women breastfeeding more often it wouldn't be such an issue.  familiarity breeds comfort and acceptance.  other cultures outside our puritanical regime don't seem to have these weird breastfeeding hangups, it's ridiculous.

at the same time it made me realize- i expect to be hassled.  i've been so beaten down by a few angry jerks that i anticipate everyone to be anti-breastfeeding crazies.  that's not the reality.  a lot of people probably don't care, wouldn't notice, or would be (gasp!) nice about it.

we had a party a few months ago. lots of our friends came over and some brought their kids.  while all the adults were chowing down and drinking in the kitchen i popped into the living room where the kids were playing to nurse jude.  and one of our friend's little girls came up and sat by me.  she reached over and patted jude's head.  she leaned in close and cuddled up to my arm and said, "baby is having his milk!" and there was wonder in her eyes, as if she knew just how full and happy and comforted jude was at the moment.  it was a happy place.

something about it broke my heart a little.  because in their complete innocence children see breastfeeding as matter-of-fact, completely normal.  they look at it without all our adult experiences skewing their inhibitions.  jude could have been eating a pudding pack for all she cared.  it was a moment in time that brought the sting of tears to my eyes, that i still think about now.

the article has me reflecting on my primer post.  i don't think women should "have to cover up."  i always wanted to be modest, not for other people's comfort, but for my own.  if the impression that i gave was that you need to cover up your nasty boobs when you're doing that, well, that's not what i meant.  maybe this will remind me to carry myself with a little more pride and expect the best in people, not the worst.



Ashley, the Accidental Olympian

As I am not a mother, this is something I have yet to experience. YET even without the experience I fully and completely agree that if women breastfed openly in our society, people wouldn't see it. It would blend into the background seamlessly.

The idea that in our world today mothers get NERVOUS before feeding their baby the way their bodies intend not only baffles my mind, it also sort of outrages me.

Great post Grumbles.


I like Fridays too (also, childless, so I won't comment on the rest).

Love you!

Ky •

I'm smiling. What a great post.

(And now I'm hungry for a pudding pack and have realized that I haven't had one for nearly 4 years. Damn Mexico.)

"Baby is having his milk," made me smile.

While I don't necessarily feel comfortable nursing my baby in the grocery store sans something covering my hoot - I've seen it done (A lot actually. It's no biggie down here.) and I don't think twice.

Boobs are for nourishment, not just swimsuits. Right on.


I hope when I'm a Mother I have the courage to not give a crap what others think and always just do what's best for my baby! Great post.

Adventures In Babywearing

I feel the same way- I hope for breastfeeding openly, un-covered to be THE NORM, to be accepted as it should be! It's so natural, and honestly I believe that putting a huge blanket or hooter hider around your neck and making a big production, finding the right seat in the room, practically flashing a neon sign saying "I'm nursing discreetly!!!" is more attention-getting and obvious than just nursing naturally, wherever you are.

And yes, the only way it will become "the norm" is if more moms continue to nurse openly like it's nobody's business. :)

Covering should only happen when Mom or baby wants to (I still do it sometimes if I need to hide some belly flab), but I don't like it when moms think they should hide their breastfeeding for other people.



Hurrah! I love this point. Thank you for sharing. :-)

Betsy B. Honest

I've been breastfeeding for 4.5 years now. I started out pretty shy and now I'm brazen. I've breastfed everywhere and on every occasion. No one has ever been rude to me about it. Most people don't even notice that I'm doing it most of the time. I think that's because just finding a comfy chair and getting to it is much more discreet than nervously pulling out a big wrap or something. I have, ironically, been called out for being too modest about it by other moms. Whatever. At those times I wasn't even being modest. I just needed quiet and dark to keep distracto baby focused. I think everybody should just feed as required to keep themselves and their babies comfortable.

My point is that I think brazen is discreet -- if you are comfortable with it the people around you probably will be too. If not, they can stay home where nobody will breastfeed in front of them.


I remember that post. I didn't get a vibe that you thought it was wrong to not cover up. Just a primer for those that want to.

As for me, I have never felt a need to cover up anything.I think most of Atlanta has probably seen me nursing over the last 3 years and only once has someone been rude to me about it. Usually people are very encouraging. Honestly though, I'm not doing anything wrong and if I see a woman with a big awkward blanket over her and her baby, I KNOW whats going on in there. Not to mention women that are having to wrestle with their baby while latching blind and trying to stay covered at the same time. If I see a woman with a baby snuggled up to her chest, I usually assume baby is sleeping. It draws more attention to me to cover up. So I don't.

the grumbles

agreed, with all of you. just... thinking out loud a bit.

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama

I agree with Adventures in Babywearing - I have no problem with women who *want* to cover up, but I hate it when women feel they *have* to cover up. And of course I am all for nursing without covers in an effort to normalize nursing :)

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...