Apparently the hosts of "The View" recently expressed distaste over public breastfeeding (calling it "gross and disgusting"). This info quickly spread throughout various mommy internet communities and within days a volunteer-run NURSE-IN was scheduled. We don't watch "The View" and don't know exactly what was said, but we can understand why everyone is talking...
Squeamishness over public breastfeeding, and even breastfeeding in general, is a major reason for low breastfeeding rates in this country. The small percentage of breastfeeders is not entirely due to a lack of education: "breast is best" is no longer secret information! The medical community has totally embraced breastfeeding and yet most women still don't take it on... or take it on for more than a few days or weeks.
One interesting fact for you to consider: Most breastfeeding books (La Leche League publications excepted) do NOT show breastfeeding on their covers. We are being told to stay under wraps in a systematic way. The "blanket" solution (cover your baby and boob with a blanket) simply confirms the idea that our breasts are only meant for the bedroom (property of our “darling husbands,” to boot). Even despite the endless silicone-filled, or otherwise enhanced, breasts seen on half the billboards looming over every highway in the land, we're still expected to cover the "functional" breast (and the forbidden areola! let alone the sacred nipple!) when nursing. If we want breastfeeding to take off we need to see more images of regular old moms breastfeeding ... in life... on billboards... at least on the covers of a few breastfeeding books.
Although the words "Nurse-In" may conjure images of crazy hippies,the fight for acceptance of public breastfeeding isn't in the same league as picketing for nude beaches or burning bras. This is not just some leftie attempt to loosen sexual or moral values. It's not, in other words, a *lifestyle* issue. It's a medical issue. It's really quite simple: Making breastfeeding logistically possible is crucial to its success.
If you live in NYC and want to attend the Nurse-In, here's the info .
I am going to be the first to repsond to my own post! Lame. But, I have gotten a few personal emails on the topic of the Nurse-In (some positive, some discouraging) and wanted to pitch in a couple more thoughts. Another mom from a mom community reminded me that not only is the medical establishment fully behind breastfeeding, but so are state laws. We CAN breastfeed whereever we want and not get hauled off to jail. Important point. Still... that makes the low numbers even more annoying. Also, in the middle of this breastfeeding advocacy frenzy (of mine, at least) I want to be sure to say that I also totally support any mom's decision to feed her baby formula. There are lots of reasons why formula feeding can make sense and the last thing I want to do is make any formula-feeding mom feel like crap or totally annoyed and/or angry at anyone (like me) who harps on about breastfeeding. My real point here is that whatever decision a mom makes she should be supported to follow through with it--which, for a breast feeding mom, means making her feel comfortable in public. And, by "in public" I don't just mean "out on the streets!" I am also thinking about in front of family... or friends or even doctors. I know I'm shoving a very body-happy idea up against a very large brick wall of puritanical thought... but I can't help but feel upset by the lame situation. Rebecca and I have just talked to too many women, and done too much research to ignore this pesty little boob issue! Maybe if they called it a BOOB IN (or a BOOB OUT) this would get more attention.
comment by Ceridwen Morris at June 4, 2005 7:39 PM
What's truly lame is those ladies on The View. If you're going to have a show with multiple female hosts, you'd hope they would express a range of opinions rather than reach a stupid and misguided consensus on breastfeeding in public. I mean, I'm always making decisions about when I feel comfortable putting the baby on the boob outside the house--it depends where I am, who I'm with, etc, etc. There are times when I decide not to do it, but usually I manage to do it discretely. In the park, in restaurants, at friends' houses, and once even "on the street!" I also give the baby formula--and that's way easier--but for soothing a fussy baby nothing seems to beat the boob.
comment by Tomoko at June 5, 2005 8:19 PM
I breast-feed all over the place and men DO GET OVER it... they just learn to deal... the more we do it, the more everyone will get used to it.
comment by Anonymous at June 6, 2005 9:01 AM
Where to begin... I heard about this for the first time on Air America this morning. I am livid! Those ladies on The View on so out of touch. I'd like to know more about whether Elisabeth set them straight. I heard it was her return to the show that prompted this discussion. As far as formula feeding goes -- I just want to add that formula feeding mothers have plenty of support - from the US government, pharmacutial companies and even the medical community. The medical community at large may say they are in support of breastfeeding but their actions do not match their words. Even in my very liberal community, I have had doctors take a "hands off" approach when it comes to breastfeeding. At many of my child's well-child visits, I could have used a "nice job" or "keep it up" from the doctors (esp. in front of my husband) but never did they express support or encouragement (except perhaps at the two week visit). I realize the doctors were probably not fully supporting the formula feeding mothers either (they were neutral) but the point is that society ADORES seeing bottle fed children and ABHORS seeing the breastfed child. Our whole society needs to change and hopefully change can come from people expressing their public support of breastfeeding and their disdain that role models (if you can call them that) are on TV spouting off about how horrible it is to see a woman feeding her child in a natural manner.
comment by Jackie at June 6, 2005 12:32 PM
My husband actually dragged me into the room to have me watch a news story about The View's view on breastfeeding. It's a shame that they brought the topic in a negative light to a mass nationwide audience. Since when should we value celebrities opinions? I nursed our children where ever and when ever they wanted to eat. In church, in the mall, in restaurants, on my porch, where ever! I didn't really care what people thought or said, it was my child that was important, not their ignornce or hangups.
In most European countries it's not even an issue. I can't believe in 2005 America, people still make a big deal out of a woman feeding her child. Does it make them uncomfortable because they find it sexual? That breasts are only to arouse men? If that's the case I think they need help.
comment by Angela Albanese at June 7, 2005 10:56 PM
It is sad because there are people who look up to these "view" women. There is also a population that go out and buy really bad advice baby books like "baby wise" which recommends scheduling breast fed babies, and letting them cry in between feedings. There are women who are discovering that the advice of this man has led to the malnutrition in there babies. He is just one of many people who are doing everything they can to undermine the nursing experience.
comment by MollyKolly at June 7, 2005 11:40 PM
I cant believe the women of the view said this. You would think that they would be pro breastfeeding!
My son is almost one and I still breastfeed him. A lot of family and other people dont think I should be breastfeeding him anymore as well as my childs doctor. Breastfeeding is natural and normal. What is everyone's problem. My thanks goes out to all the Moms who support breastfeeding!
comment by petite mommy at June 9, 2005 12:42 AM