Friday, July 1, 2011

Cards I Shouldn't Have to Carry, Really

First, there's this one:

A lot of states have this type of law on the books. What's more, a lot of breast feeding support groups, etc. hand out this type of card. It's not the law or the card that bother me. It's the fact that they are necessary. I'll avoid my soap box here (maybe), but let me just say that breastfeeding is not only natural, it's also the most healthy alternative for mother and baby.

I'm incredibly disturbed by the types of perceptions many Americans seem to have re. breastfeeding. At the end of an article about a woman who was dismissed from her job for taking unscheduled breaks in order to pump, I was amazed by the number of comments from women who thought she deserved it because she had the audacity to choose to have a baby, breastfeed that baby, and work full time. There were also many whose comments likened breast milk to other bodily fluids like urine and vomit. Their point being that they didn't want to see a woman's breast milk any more than they wanted to see her urine or vomit. Okay, how many breastfeeding women out there are parading their breast milk around in public? If you're one of them, you need to stop.

My biggest problem with these discussions, though, is that breastfeeding women have very few alternatives to "breastfeeding in public." I suppose we could all stay home until our babies are grown and no longer breastfeeding like the reader comment above suggests. But, here's a radical idea, what if large public spaces offered a place for women to breastfeed? What if they had mother-baby rooms that not only had adequate changing tables but also places for mothers to sit in relative private and feed their babies? Is this a radical idea? If it is, then why does Japan, which is supposedly so far behind the US in terms of gender equality, provide such great resources for women who would rather not sit home for the first 6-12 months (or longer) of their child's life?

OMG! How crazy is that? It's a room with a comfortable place to sit and nurse AND changing tables that are not surrounded by filthy public toilets!

For the record: I've never met a nursing mother who was aching to show her boobs to complete strangers. In fact, most of the nursing mothers I know would like to be able to feed their babies without feeling like they are exposing themselves or committing a crime. I can tell you that during the months I am breastfeeding a baby I feel a lot like this:

So, I'd rather not have to worry about getting grief from a bunch of crazies who think I breastfeed in order to show them my boobs.

Then, there's this card:

Let me just say this: If I have to carry a card around to explain why my kid (and my parenting skills) are not living up to your expectations, then screw you. Thank you, and have a nice day.


FMBMC said...

Yep, I actually had someone "theoretically" ask me why women couldn't breastfeed on the toilet. (A) Eww, that's disgusting!, (B) Tried it once and L and I were both very uncomfortable and unhappy, and (C) Really, my blanket tastefully draped over my shoulder so you can't see ANYTHING offends you and interferes with your ability to eat? Here's a thought, keep your eyes on your own table.

I'd much rather have a mother feed her baby even without a blanket than hear a shrieking infant who's only crime is hunger!

Anonymous said...

My second child was a baby when we lived in moved to Japan for several months. I was amazed by how much easier it is there. Whether it was urban or rural Japan, department stores, airports, amusement parks, zoos, and even public office buildings (like city hall) had places to feed and change the baby in private. Seems like in the US my only choices were to stay home, to feed in the women's restroom, or to feed in the car (which is pretty much impossible in the summer months).

It seems like nothing will change unless there is a fundamental shift in the way that we view women and their breasts. What a weird, weird country we live in.