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June 8, 2005

midcentury fallout

We feel a little bad for Barbara Walters. It's not her fault that breastfeeding makes her uncomfortable.

If you did a cross-section of women in their 70s, you probably wouldn't find too many of them feeling warm and fuzzy about the nurturing power of the boob. And it's no wonder, considering the crap they heard about it. We had a woman stop us on the street yesterday and tell us how she wanted to breastfeed her child in 1958, but was told that her husband's feelings were more important. Even when discouragement was not explicit, women who tried to buck the formula trend were often sabotaged by misinformation. In the 40's, one woman in our family was told she had no milk. Another was told her milk was "no good", that it was "the kind that turns to water."

30 years later, the same thing was still happening to our own moms:
"The main thing is that I wanted to, I had no support, I didn't know what the hell I was doing... and then I got 105 fever and the moronic doctor, obviously knowing nothing (since I recall a red tender spot on my breast) said I had pneumonia and I had to stop breastfeeding." Some women, through sheer resolve, support, disposition, or any combination thereof, were able to tune out the noise and make it happen; Ceridwen's mom breastfed 4 kids (one with a cleft palate) through the 70's, but encountered her own share of crap."When the hospital matron (head nurse) at the hospital in London (1972) objected to my nursing Tom (aged about 3 weeks) in a children's ward, my mother taped a notice to the window of our room which said: 'Caution! This animal suckles its young!'"

So now that we know better, it's time to move on from these anachronistic (and essentially bigoted) views. It's time for our culture to evolve...and to provide a little support for all of those women trying to follow the medical recommendations about the benefits of breastfeeding. So we'd like to thank Barbara for giving voice to the discomfort many people feel about this issue, and for giving us a wider forum for discussion ... which gives us a chance to change people's minds.

by thenewmoms at 12:30 PM
in breastfeeding


I do not understan what is the big deal . Like Ron Regan said it is a very natural . Babies need milk when they need it. If you do not like it just go away or turn your face.

The most weird think , women make this big issue. Men have no problem with this.

It is so said we have to worry about this.

comment by Metts Bahadir at June 8, 2005 12:42 PM

I so agree with thenewmoms.com view. I can't believe the woman on MSNBC's Connected has such a problem with breastfeeding. She thought it needed to be "sacred and private". Breastfeeding IS sacred and one can make it private in public with no problem. I dont agree with that woman's view either that you can go to the toilet in any restaurant. They are FILTHY and the woman from this site did well in telling her side and refuting the woman from Connected.

I breastfed my children. I used bottled breastmilk in public but I think breastfeeding should be allowed anywhere in public. Americans are too hung up on the human body and need to get over their puritanical beliefs. A breast is not just for a partner's pleasure- they serve a function. No one complains when a man goes without his shirt although he doesnt have a good reason like breastfeeding. Get over it and put your eyes elsewhere if you dont want to see it.

Rock on with public breastfeeding!

comment by Nicole at June 8, 2005 12:53 PM

These people say women should not nurse in public like there's some other option. I've nursed 3 kids. I've tried to be discreet, for my own comfort level. I've found it virtually impossible to find private places to nurse. With the exception of Babies R Us, businesses do not have private, clean "lounges" where women can nurse in private if they choose to. I tried nursing in the bathroom and someone came in to the stall next to me and took care of their very disgusting business. Never again. It was not practical to nurse in the car or with a blanket in the stifling southwest heat, where we live. Many times I had to nurse in public because it was the only reasonable option. Anyway, I completely support any woman who nurses in public.

comment by Misty at June 8, 2005 1:18 PM

You all who care what Barbara Walters said need to get a fucking life. Especially the creator of this website, trying to gain attention on national television. All you wanted was to advertise your sorry ass website & your sorry ass opinion. Barbara Walters isn't aloud to have an opinion? It's fucking sick when mothers breastfeed in public. Just like you said, it's easy for whoever doesn't want to see it to turn away, especially on an airplane. YOU should get up & go to the bathroom you lazy ass! You all are losers who have nothing better to do than gossip. That's what idiots like you all do though, sit around all day, watch kids, soak in your pathetic life & gossip. GET A LIFE!

comment by Anon at June 8, 2005 2:39 PM

You go girl!!!! I just saw Rebecca on Countdown with Keith Oberman....what a good advocate for breastfeeding in public. We don't have good support in our country for breastfeeding period...we don't need more grief about doing it in public. Rebecca is right, even that little bit of stupidity from Barbara Walters may be enough to keep mom's on the fence about breastfeeding from doing it, just out of fear they may have to feed in public at sometime. We need more breastfeeding in public, not less.
I've breast fed my son many times in public and with out the blanket cover up. Just didn't work for us. But it's not like I was just flashing my breast around. As we got more experienced with it, it was very easy to get him on and off with minimal 'nipple' flash. My biggest disappointment- no one came up to me to give me a hard time. I know it sounds crazy, but I just so wanted to give a lesson about breast feeding to anybody wanting to give me grief for feeding my son in public.

comment by amy at June 8, 2005 2:40 PM

Too bad the person before me didn't have the balls to put their name on the post. But, based on the atrocious spelling (that means bad, b/c I don't think you'd know the definition), and the excessive use of profanity (that means cursing, b/c apparently you have no education), you are a childless man with the world's smallest p......

comment by amy at June 8, 2005 2:49 PM

Nasty comments are always left anonymously- that's the rule, you know! Too cowardly to face the music.

Way to go, you guys! I am so proud of what you've accomplished! Have you seen the Kimmel video? You'll love it... there's a link on my blog.

comment by Kristina at June 8, 2005 5:05 PM

Well, amy, I'll put my name on this post. And BTW, I'm a woman with a masters degree. And I don't like seeing women's breasts hanging out in public, with or without a baby attached to them.

Sorry ladies, but I just don't understand why you have to be breastfeeding in public to begin with. Are you seriously saying that your baby can't go for an hour or maybe two without being fed? Can't you plan your errands and trips out of the house around your child's schedule? Are you aware that there are religions where men are not allowed to shake hands with women they are not related to? Think of the penance those men might have to do if they happen to catch a glimpse of your naked breast!

If for some reason you find yourself with no alternative but to nurse in public, couldn't you at least be discrete about it? What exactly was it, Amy, that kept the blanket from "working out"? Sounds to me like you've got some sort of point to prove to the world. It seems to me that there must be a way to get the baby latched on without putting your nipples on display.

I would simply remind you all of the furor raised -- mostly by parents -- over Janet Jackson's 2 second nipple flash last year. If children will be so harmed by having a nipple appear for a couple of seconds in the middle of a television show, how on earth will they survive seeing nipples everywhere when women start breastfeeding in public?

Lastly, I'll just say what I've seen in lots of places on the internet. I don't see anyone who prefers that women not breastfeed in public saying that it's bad to breastfeed, or that breastfeeding isn't natural. What they are saying is that there are things we simply do not do in public. Exposing female breasts is one of them.

comment by jenn at June 8, 2005 5:19 PM

I think it's great to breasfeed your baby.. it's far beyond all the sweetest thing in the world.. I think it's the moment where mom and child become one.!!

I also think that moms can breastfeed in private places.. not everywhere.. it's my opinion!! I do not prefer any person to see my boobs.!! don't you??

comment by Mimi A. at June 8, 2005 5:26 PM

This is a response to Jenn.

Women in those cultures you are mentioning are expected to breastfeed their children. They are covered from head to toe and when they breastfeed they EXPOSE a breast. And the men know just to look away. I guess you didn't take any Anthropology classes!

I had no problem with J. Jackson's breast. In fact, I think that the majority of Americans are way too uptight. Try taking a subway trip in Europe. You will see breasts all over the billboards advertising things like body cream. My daughter is very well adjusted despite not only seeing me nurse her brother but also attending his birth. OH THE HORROR. She saw a naked woman!

If you decide to go back to school to educate yourself about other cultures, you might want to look into a class on lifespan development too since you obviously know nothing about small children. Babies do best when they are NOT on a schedule. They need to be comforted and nursed according to their clock, not yours. Not only that but they bond while they are nursing and looking into your eyes. You are meeting their needs and they are developing trust in you.

comment by Victoria at June 8, 2005 9:05 PM

Victoria, I guess you must live in a place where everyone is EXACTLY the same. Clearly, you don't live in New York, where, for example, a number of Hasidic Jews live, work and interact with others on a daily basis. And the point, if you'd read my note again, wasn't about the WOMEN being in public and exposing themselves. It was that the MEN are in public and would have to see things that their religion prohibits. Or don't men have any rights here? I have a friend who's a Muslim woman (who wears Western clothes and has a job as a chemical engineer) who is horrified every time she sees a woman breastfeeding in public. Doesn't she have any rights?

And, gosh, I'm sorry, but having watched my sister and sister-in-law raise and breastfeed seven children (including a set of twins) and NEVER having seen them in a position where they had to nurse in public, I figured that most mothers could work something out too. It was simple -- until the babies were about 2 months old -- at which point they were on a schedule (perhaps "routine" would be a better word) which was relatively consistent -- my sister and SIL spent most of the time at home with their babies, in private gatherings with friends and family, or at doctors' visits, where the babies' need to nurse at anytime generally involved only other women with babies.

So please, don't give me any lectures about anthrolopology or child rearing. What I haven't personally experienced, I have witnessed. And yes, I do realize that occassionally, even the best plans go awry and breastfeeding women will have to nurse their babies in public. Nurse away, but PLEASE do it discretely.

comment by Jenn at June 8, 2005 11:21 PM

yes those men and women have rights. They have the right to STOP looking and mind their own business.

I feel sorry for your sisters to be confined to the home because of narrow-minded people. If they choose to put their babies on a schedule that is their choice. My children will not be a schedule because it can interfer with the breastfeeding relationship and lead to low milk supply and early weaning.

I may not like having to see people yelling at their children but I deal with it. I don't like self-righteous people running around giving advice on things that they have no experience with, but I deal with it. But, I will not and I will not confine myself to the home.

As an education woman you seem to be really into the prescribed roles of men/women. So is it either a life or a baby? Sorry, but I choose both.

And no, not everyone is the same where I live. But, I won't cater my life to the most narrow-minded in the world.

comment by Victoria at June 9, 2005 1:12 PM

A question to the original poster, thenewmoms:

where did you get the quote (referenced to Ceridwen's mom) "...CAUTION! This Animal Suckles Its Young!". I would like to give her credit (does she have a name I can attribute this quote to)?"

Thank you all so much for the lively discussion. I am a breastfeeding mama of one four month old, and deeply inspired by this current debate.

comment by Sara at June 10, 2005 1:23 AM

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