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June 7, 2005

the political is (still) personal

In the wake of the nurse-in, and the accompanying press, I've overheard a little grumbling: it's not a problem in New York... women don't actually give up breastfeeding because of social pressures, but because of their own personal "hang-ups".

Though NYC may be on the tolerant end of the scale, I'm guessing that millions of viewers of The View are not all living in such receptive environments. And hang-ups don't grow on trees, either. These feelings may be personal, but they're influenced, in varying degrees, by what goes on in the world around us. They seep in from some source or other, and affect us when we're vulnerable. And a particularly toxic attitude can impact generations to come...not unlike those genetically mutated rats in Seattle. Barbara Walters is of a generation that was environmentally posioned against breastfeeding. We're still trying to clean up after that mid-century mess when women were told that nursing babies was a bad idea, whether or not it was what they wanted to do.

Assuming that people's weird feelings about breastfeeding are only a "personal" problem is socially irresponsible in the long term. Until breastfeeding is accepted as a normal, healthy practice—one that's condoned culturally as well as medically—the mistakes of the past continue to dictate the future.

by thenewmoms at 9:46 AM
in breastfeeding


Way to go nurse-in participants!

So Barbara Walters and others of her generation and/or mindset would prefer to be seated next to a screaming baby on their next flight rather than suffer a fleeting glimpse of a breast? Maybe that should be the next strategy - if you're asked to stop breast feeding in public, or refused service, simply take baby off the breast for a minute or two and let him or her scream. (Of course, our babies shouldn't have to suffer for others' ignorance and hang-ups - but it is tempting as we all know how unbearable is the cry of a hungry baby!)

comment by anon at June 7, 2005 12:51 PM


I saw the show and was very angry! I wish I was in NY so I could have been there! Thanks for speaking up!

comment by Sara at June 7, 2005 3:18 PM

Or, in addition to a screaming baby, the nursing mom could whip out a portable breast pump and start pumping right then and there. When she's finished she could bottle feed the baby. That might make Barbara Walters happy. One thing non-nursing humans don't understand is that not only must hungry babies nurse, moms must nurse. Barbara and others seem to think mothers can pick and choose when to let their milk down. Full breasts are not a comfortable condition. Sorry Barbara, when I gotta nurse, I gotta nurse!

Ironically, in June of 2004 ABC & 20/20 ran a story called Milk Money: Advocates Say Government Pressured by Formula Companies to 'Water Down' Breast-Feeding Ads
By Brian Ross and Jill Rackmill. This story was about how Dept. of Health and Human Services gave in to the pressure from formula company lobbiests to soften an ad campaign to promote breastfeeding. I believe that if more people understood how important breastfeeding is, they would be more likely to accept it. However, the formula industry has done a bang up job of blocking the facts about breastfeeding. Here are some quotes from the news story - sorry if the formatting is off...

Officials confirm to ABC News that HHS' Secretary Tommy Thompson met privately with formula industry representatives but turned down meeting
requests from breast-feeding advocates....

The formula industry objected to what it called the "grossly misleading visuals" in the ad campaign and questioned the scientific validity of claims
of a higher incidence of diseases in babies who are not breast-fed....

"The ad campaign is backed by scientific research, by good research," said Dr. Larry Gartner, the former chairman of pediatrics at the University of
Chicago and the head of the breast-feeding committee of the American Academy
of Pediatrics.

"When you say 'not breast-feeding is risky,' what you're saying is 'using infant formula is risky,' and that is true and they know it," said Dr. Jay
Gordon, a pediatrician in Santa Monica, Calif., and a member of the breast-feeding committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

comment by Jackie at June 7, 2005 3:57 PM

Right on lactivists! Barbara Walters is a square! And other than all the health benefits of breast feeding, I don’t understand why people aren’t convinced of the purely practical benefits. Why waste so much time preparing the formula, cleaning the bottles and organizing all that stuff for even short trips? Why fork out major cash for formula and give it to some corporation who doesn’t care about your kid anyway? Why miss out on the anthropological experience of The Upper Breast Side? And when the Apocalypse comes, there will be no time to pack food supplies and feeding paraphernalia!!! It’s going to be just babies and boobs on the move.

comment by wade nacinovich at June 7, 2005 4:03 PM

Thanks for standing up for nursing mothers & their babies. I nursed my 4 children (the 1st only a short time), with the help of La Leche League, & support of other mothers.My youngest baby is now 21 years old & I am somewhat frustrated that more progress in accepting nursing babies has not been made. Keep up the good work & the media watch!!

comment by Anonymous at June 7, 2005 9:07 PM

Sorry if I pay 100.00 a plate for a meal at a nice restaurant I don't want to see someone milking at the next table...if I wanted that kind of atmospere I'd eat at a dairy barn. Word to the wise...pump before going public.

comment by NotForMilkCows at June 7, 2005 9:12 PM

I often pay 100 bucks a plate only to find I'm sitting next to someone wearing perfume that overpowers my food, or talking so loudly I can't hear my companions. Shall we send advisories regarding these issues as well?

comment by Anonymous at June 7, 2005 9:43 PM

Way to go Moms and Babies! Heard you on Air America this morning, and wish I was there adding to the public Nurse-in. My 16 month old would be chanting MOUK!! I also have a 5 year old who was nursed, who is so healthy and smart. Anybody who sees nursing as anything but nutrition and bonding is a creep and a perv. When I see mom's not nursing I feel sorry for them and there babes.

As for Barbara Walters she can take her antiquated views to people that give a care. I will take her advice when I buy into the other propoganda in this country.

comment by MollyKolly at June 7, 2005 11:24 PM

My husband called me from NYC and was screaming "Hurry,MSNBC hurry!"I caught the tale end of the interview w/ Rebecca but being an experienced breadtfeeding mother could peice together what had happened.Would someone PLEASE tell me why it is OK to use breasts to sell everything from cars to cheesburgers (read:PARIS Hilton) but people start to get all freaked out when a woman uses them for what they were DESIGNED to do-NURSE!!! My brother used to give me a hard time when I was nursing my 2yr old-meanwhile his 2 yr old was running around with a bottle in his mouth!I wouldn't give up my breastfeeding experiences with my children for anything.My children are happy,healthy (have NEVER needed an antibiotic and they are now 3 and 6) and I have a deep empathetic bond with them that I am convinced is due partly to nursing.I am also convinced that there is a conspiracy on the part of the formula company.Ever noticed that the breast pumps that are sold in large retailers are made by Even-Flo?I believe they are made uncomfortable and hurt for a reason-to discourage woman from breastfeeding!You go Rebecca!!!

comment by Jen at June 8, 2005 12:27 AM

Hello there from Canada!

We are pretty lucky up here to have plenty of nursing friendly restaurants and stores and even publicly funded lactation consultants. Our local Health Unit has a BF clinic with a certified lactation consultant once a week and anyone can attend for help and advice. It's a great service that I took advantage of. Having one-on-one advice in those early difficult weeks made all the difference to me! Even if all is going well, its nice to know the support is there if you need it.

As to the issue currently being discussed, I watched The View on the day Barbara Walters made the negative comments about breastfeeding [while BF my 11 week old son] and remember thinking how silly, selfish and pathetic she was. Who really cares about her level of "comfort" when a little human being needs nourishment and love from his mother. I mean, she's a grown woman surely she can come up with a strategy to cope!

On today's show she was on the phone saying that she didn't say that SHE felt uncomfortable, that it was the man she was sitting next to that said HE felt uncomfortable! I'm pretty sure she said "I felt uncomfortable" but I'm sure The View won't rerun the tape! Apparently, they are going to discuss it on the next show so that Star can be there - I don't know why because I can't imagine what she could possibly have to contribute to the topic; in all previous discussions she has seemed quite horrified of the entire idea of BF, saying things like euk and yuck when Elisabeth Hasselbeck has described her BF experiences.

I had thought it was admirable that Elisabeth chose to share her BF experiences on the show, but I was very disappointed to hear she had recently switched to bottles, especially because she is probably lucky enough to have her baby with her at work on the set and there is no reason why she could not continue to BF in that situation. Many women do not have the luxury of that situation.

Anyway, keep up the good work with the nurse-ins. Wish I could be there to show off my baby's blue sling and matching cloth diapers!

comment by TBay Mum at June 8, 2005 12:52 AM

I am wondering if I am recalling correctly that Barbara's daughter is adopted....wonder if that could have anything to do w/ her discomfort around nursing???

While I am BF my 11 wk old daughter and plan to continue til she's done, I supprt all BF moms. I can't stand to watch the view and their nasty, catty opinions on everything....particularly Star and Joy! I have tended to watch Ellen for laughs while I have been home!!

comment by maria at June 8, 2005 6:36 AM

I just got caught up in all this from reading about the protest on newyorktimes.com. I wish I could have been there. I breastfed my baby for the first year, and did come up against all the looks, uncomfortable fidgeting, and eye-rolling in restaurants, etc. Here's what I find so ironic and silly: what's on the cover of EVERY SINGLE magazine on the shelves? Models and celebrities with gigantic breasts pouring out of their clothes. Victoria's Secret sells more push-up bras than we can imagine (I'm actually wearing one right now). I just read a staggering statistic about how many women in this country have breast implants. Hmmm... seems to me that, according to all this stuff, our breast-obsessed nation would be freaking thrilled to get a look at a real, live booby. Yikes.

comment by Holly at June 8, 2005 12:00 PM

I'm just amazed. I live in Georgia, and have never thought twice about breastfeeding anywhere, including on planes, in restaurants, in church and so forth. No one has EVER made a comment to me, but I've also tried to be as discreet as possible. It's almost funny to imagine how annoyed I'd be if someone actually said something.

comment by Rachel at June 8, 2005 2:18 PM

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