Monday, July 12, 2010

Nursing in Public: Debacle of the Delusions

I've been reading a great deal lately about people who are against nursing in public (NIP).  My Facebook fanpage, NIPPA sports a few of the links and stories I have come across.  What I've found are that there are a few commonalities amongst those who find NIP offensive.  Following is an FAQ of sorts to help dispel the delusions that seem to be rampant both online and out in the real world about nursing a child in public.  I decided to address the Top 5, so as not to bore you and go into novel status here on SPM. 

1.  "No one wants to see that, so cover up."  This phrase could be applied to a plethera of public activities, but we are speaking of feeding a baby here so I'll attempt to keep on topic.  If you have ever breastfed a baby, you will know that covering is either something you do to help yourself feel comfortable or something to try and keep the baby focused on the task at hand.  Once a baby reaches a certain age, the cover generally becomes a bigger distraction than a bicycling poodle who juggles flaming torches.  I have attempted covering in public and I would rather wear a neon sign and a big fuzzy clown wig.  Besides, most breastfeeding mothers are sensible, modest women who rarely, if ever show anything and I've actually been approached with the 'awww, sleepy baby' comments while my nine-month old is actively nursing.

2.  "Can't you do that in the car (restroom, dressing room, at home, etc.)?"  Sure, I could.  But can't you also go hide in those places so you aren't offended by me breastfeeding?  Some places do have lovely nursing suites, but I've yet to see one that I would feed my pet slug in so I'll be nursing my child in arms while I'm shopping or chatting with my friends or husband.  It is 100 degrees + right now in my car and I refuse to be relegated to my home simply because my baby likes to eat and I have errands to do.  As a consumer and a citizen, I have as much right to be at the mall as the next person. 

3.  "You can pump and/or bring a bottle."  I have to take a second and clean off my screen every time I read this sentiment.  I do that snortle thing where all of my Coke gets spewed out onto the keys and the nursing baby's head.  Obviously, anyone who says this has never breastfed because what's the point?  If I'm going to spend all of my time pumping and bottling, I might as well just feed my baby formula to appease everyone else in the world.  Breastfeeding is feeding, but it is about so much more than JUST feeding.  There is bonding and soothing and nurturing that go into every nursing.  Bottle-fed babies are much the same in that they crave suckling and comfort from their feedings.  Pumping is mechanical and it is not easy to do.  I began my current nursing relationship with a cold and unfeeling pump as my baby lay in the NICU struggling to breath.  I saw other mothers who worked with their pump for hours daily to then squeeze out tiny milliliters (it takes 30 mL to make an ounce) of breastmilk.  I was fortunate in the beginning because I made nearly four times daily what my baby ate but now I could not pump an ounce if my life depended on it.

4.  "You can feed your baby at home, THEN go out in public."  This is another comment that is laughable, at best.  With that sort of logic, YOU could eat at home and THEN go out in public, saving everyone from having to see you wolf down your Mickey D's or your chai latte with tofu infused bagel.  Restaurants everywhere will be singing your praises.  Seriously, babies are surprising little creatures.  You can feed them and I'll be a rabbit in a fox pen, those little dickens are hungry again in 20 minutes.  When I picture a breastfeeding mom trying to nurse at home, race to the store, do her shopping and get back home before her babe is screeching for another feed, it calls up images of illegally parked Fed-Ex truck drivers in crop pants toting a diaper bag.  Or maybe the Gino's pizzeria delivery guys with frayed pony-tails and smeared lipstick dragging little Suzy by the arm trying desperately to be on time. 

5.  "Breasts are sexual."  Sometimes, yes they are.  But so are fingers, tongues, toes, heck even noses and ears for some people.  How dare we go exposing our sexual organs out in public.  I demand you cover up those erotic digits before I have thoughts that I can not control.  As a breastfeeding mother, I assure you that my partner and I can distinguish between the sexual use for breasts and the natural, biological use for breasts.  If you can not, or you just can't stop thinking about that mother over in the play palace at the mall sticking her BOOBS in her babies mouth, I suggest therapy with a highly-qualified shrink. 

So there you have it, my Top 5 Delusions of the Deluded, debacled and de-valued.  I dare say that I have covered all of the lunacy or that one person will ever be able to dispell all of the madness that surrounds a woman breastfeeding her infant in public, but it is what it is.  My grandmother gave me excellent advice in regards to seeing things that I don't want to see.  She told me that if something offends me, the first thing I need to do is to turn my head.  Until someone grabs your face and smooshes you into her boobs to FORCE you to watch her nourish her child, I suggest you take Nannie's good advice.  Or there's always the standard, STFU.  Your choice.