Children Need to See Breastfeeding

Recently there was an incident at a local restaurant wherein a nursing Mama was asked to cover up.

I happen to know that the owner believes in his heart that nursing, and the possible view of flesh that accompanies it, is inappropriate in a “family” restaurant where “10 year old boys” might catch a glimpse of something. The owner genuinely feels like he is protecting his patrons, who in turn feel like they are protecting their innocent children from indecency.

Tiny problem.

CHILDREN NEED TO SEE BREASTFEEDING.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell.

No wait, I did.

C’MON!

Ten year old boys and every other age of boy NEEDS to see a baby suckling on a nipple until it becomes BORING. I guarantee you if my 15 year old son was in the room with a nursing mother, he probably wouldn’t even notice it. Just like if someone were eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich he wouldn’t really care. Or if someone were BREATHING it wouldn’t much draw his attention.

A big part of it would probably be that breastfeeding reminds him of his mother, and his mother’s boring friends, and his aunt, and all those other tedious not-sexy females (no offense to my friends or sister, but I’m sure you understand what I mean!)

It’s a baby eating. Seriously, the most boring, tedious thing in the world. (Well, okay, when you’re the one feeding the baby, it’s pretty magical and fantastic sometimes, but usually even for the Mama, it’s pretty run of the mill.)

And girls need to see it. They need to see that it’s no big deal, that it’s everywhere, that choosing to breastfeed does not mean fighting with blankets to cover the baby’s head or fighting with restaurant owners (to cover THEIR heads.) They need to see that they would be fully welcomed, supported, even IGNORED by doing what is natural, commonplace, no big deal.

And PUL-EEEEZE don’t start with the “pooping is natural but you don’t want people doing it in the middle of a restaurant.” There is NOTHING  smelly, disgusting, repulsive, horrible, gross, or otherwise distasteful about breastfeeding.

If you think there is, you have serious mental issues. I’m not kidding. If it gets you so worked up you can’t enjoy your dinner, then you need to deprogram yourself from the cultural cow  manure you’ve been taught and haven’t had enough sense to cure yourself of yet.

News flash: that’s what grown ups do. We take all the erroneous, unhelpful garbage we were taught and we learn a better way to think and live.

If you were raised by racist parents, didn’t you have enough decency to try to overcome those absurd prejudices? If you were shown by your father that it’s okay to beat one’s spouse, did you not have enough humanity to re-educate yourself about how to treat others? If you were told that boobies are for men’s pleasure alone, and that breastfeeding is a yucky private thing that no non-slut would ever do in public, don’t you have enough intelligence to detach that asinine idea from its death grip on your psyche and kick it to the curb where it belongs?

Just try. I believe in you.

Or at the very least, keep your stupid prejudices to yourself and try to act cool while your children witness something that will change the world for the better: the shift from feeding babies pretend food to feeding them liquid gold.

Trust me. You WANT your grandkids to be breastfed, even if you don’t know it yet. Even if the thought of it makes you feel all wiggly inside.

That’s where society is headed — for all the psychological, social, environmental, nutritional reasons that point to breastfeeding as The Way to nurture a baby (and toddler!), we are moving toward the day when a mother nursing in public is normal.  To make this happen, the next generation has to SEE breastfeeding, literally and figuratively, as NORMAL.

When you work to hide it, to shelter the kids, you don’t even understand the damage you do.

So quit it.

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14 responses to “Children Need to See Breastfeeding

  1. What a wonderful post! I feel EXACTLY the same way! Well written!

  2. Keep on yelling.

    It’s amazing how different it is with baby no. 2. With my first, I initially felt very shy about breastfeeding in public. I felt I had to wear a nursing top, and I usually covered up. Gradually, gradually, gradually that all fell away. This time? No shyness whatsoever.

    I should say that it probably helps that I live in NYC. Not that breastfeeding rates are super high here or whatever (I actually have no idea what they are), but because everyone here pretty much does their own thing, and there’s always a million different flavors of “weird” out on the sidewalks. Someone has green hair and four nose rings? No big deal. Someone is breastfeeding a baby or even (gasp!) a toddler? No big deal.

    • I feel ya on the regional thing. First three babies: West Coast. No problem feeling self-conscious or anything, even with the first. Weird is a badge of honor there, and breastfeeding never even felt “weird.”

      Last two babies: in the South. Definitely feel self-conscious, even though I’d NIPed with the other three. With a tiny baby, I managed to NIP here, but once they hit the “aren’t they kinda old?” phase, I feel really “weird.” I’m ashamed to say. I think that’s why the restaurant stuff pisses me off so much that I feel like I have to yell, because I DESPISE feeling ashamed to nurse a toddler in public, and these business owners are not helping.

      • I live in the Deep South too, and never have had a problem nursing any of my 3 babies in public, even well into toddlerhood. It may be the community where you live, or it may be that I’m just oblivious to disapproval. Sorry you’ve felt weird about nursing here! I hope you like it here anyway!

        • I LOVE it here, actually! I feel bad that I said something disparaging, but if you read me on a regular basis, you would hear me generally bashing the West Coast for a wide variety of reasons while extolling the many virtues of living in the South. I really feel like I’m finally home here. I don’t want to be one of those people (the “Y” word comes to mind) who moves here and tries to change everything, but I do think that babies and mamas (and therefore everyone) would be better off if breastfeeding was widespread and NIP was commonplace. I’m glad you live in a pocket of the South where people are cool about it!

  3. Couldn’t agree more! Sharing!!

  4. Loving 99% of this post. Just not the bit about “pretend food.” As a Mum who has medical reason to be feeding her baby formula, and struggled big-time emotionally at the loss of her breastfeeding relationship, it hurts when people – particularly BF’ing Mamas speak negatively about it :\

    • You’re absolutely right, Megan, and I’m very sorry to have contributed to your pain on this issue. As I wrote recently in a post about the “choice” of breastfeeding, I am completely sympathetic to Mamas who are genuinely unable to breastfeed for an actual physical reason and not just because it’s their “lifestyle.” I had expressed my hope that these Mamas with real challenges would understand that if we dance around the issue too much, then those “choosers” are going to take longer to come around to realizing that if they can breastfeed, then that’s what their baby needs. Just as I would never mean to offend someone with dyslexia or other reading issue if I were to poke fun or criticize those people who refuse to ever pick up a book or read anything of quality, and instead only consume the “pretend” entertainment of, say, soap operas. I’m sorry you got caught in the crossfire, and I sincerely apologize.

  5. Pingback: On My Mind: 03.12.12

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