January 2, 2012 9

Target Nurse-In Reactions Are Old, Stale and Kind of Annoying

By in activism, breastfeeding, mom stuff

via Chrissy Bodin

People had mixed reactions to the amazing national Target Nurse-In. Some argue that events like that help people get used to the sight of nursing moms, others argue that it’s just a dramatic show, or even hurts the cause. That’s not my opinion, but people are definitely entitled to their own thoughts. Donn Esmonde, of Buffalo News, certainly took advantage of his right to his opinion when he wrote his article entitled “Let’s keep breast-feeding a private act.

He says:

Call me old-fashioned, but I just think that, when possible, some activities should be done privately.

No, I’m not going to call you old-fashioned, Donn. Just misinformed. And I’d like to see if I can help explain to you why even middle or upper-class, modestly-dressed women still choose to nurse in public.

You see, “some activities” as you stated, in this case, is an infant eating. I don’t know how much you know about breastfeeding, but you said yourself you know it’s healthy for the baby. Too true, it is. It’s their biologically designed food, the one they’re meant to have, that not only builds their immune system and grows them strong and healthy, but it even helps heal the mother’s body from pregnancy and birth, scrunching her uterus back down, making her less likely to have diabetes Type I than even if she’d never had children. Honestly, it’s pretty cool. The undedicated stems cell in it beat out just about anything, even bone marrow. Then add in that it can be pretty tough to do sometimes, and we have a culture that makes it very difficult for moms to succeed with so many corporations getting their hands in what should be unbiased medical information, and you come out with moms who are proud of what they do, realize it’s super important, but end up having to be on the defensive regularly just to protect themselves from the very thing they’re told they need to do.

So, as you can imagine, when you compare it to a man peeing in public, people are going to get pretty upset. See, no bodily fluids are spilling everywhere here. You don’t have people arguing against your right to pee, or corporations trying to convince you that you can’t pee effectively. It’s not an upward battle to be able to pee in a restroom. Not to mention, breastfeeding doesn’t affect you like someone peeing next to your loafers would. There is no mess to clean up, nothing for anyone to step in… comparing breastfeeding to urination is like comparing breathing to vomiting. Yes, they’re bodily functions, but that doesn’t mean that they’re even remotely comparable. Not to mention, that comparison? Pretty old, and a Straw Man — that is, an argument that looks big but really has no real strength and is easily brushed aside. It sounds like a good retort, but it’s old and stale. I’m with you on not changing a baby’s poopy diaper out in the open, I really am, because excrement belongs in the bathroom… which brings me to your next comment:

Stores and restaurants are equipped with restrooms and, in many cases, changing stations. They seem to me like the perfect place for an infant to chow down.

Does it? Really? A bathroom — where we both agree that fecal matter belongs — seems like the perfect place for a tiny baby with little immune system defenses to speak of should spend 15-40 minutes to eat? By the way, that means the mother has to be in the bathroom that long too. Most men I know really dislike public bathrooms — they enjoy urinals because they don’t have to touch anything, and often won’t poop in public because they’re grossed out by the stalls. Not to mention, the sounds and smells of other peoples’ fecal matter is enough to make anyone lose their lunch… yet you think this is the “perfect place” for a baby to eat? I’m really hoping you rethink that. Maybe this video can help you… imagine you’re this guy:

Just curious… does the bathroom still seem like the perfect place to eat?

To be clear, I have no problem in general with breast-feeding, which is healthy for babies. Nor am I repelled by the sight of a woman popping out a breast in public and attaching an infant. It’s just something I would prefer not to see, thank you, when I’m out shopping for a CD. Or, for that matter, when I am scarfing down scrambled eggs at a diner, or taking a walk in the park or hunkering down at a coffee shop.

So, here’s your last bit I’ll address. I’ll give it to you that you’ve never breastfed, and you’ve never pumped, so you likely don’t know that many women cannot pump milk even if they try, and some infants need to eat every 45-90 minutes, so a woman would really struggle to even grocery shop if she had to stop to hide for 15-40 minute every time her baby needed to eat, or try to schedule around it. Some babies can go longer, so you could get away with nursing in the car before you go in and hope that your baby is sated long enough for you to finish your trip, but it’s not always a guarantee. Some babies refuse to even take bottles from their mother, so even if she did pump and bring it, the baby might not even take it. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you didn’t know that. But… I have to say, I’m not really a fan of seeing someone “scarfing down” food anywhere. I’m not repelled by it either, usually… but some people really eat in an impolite, disgusting manner. I’m not a fan of the way some people dress either, with very revealing clothing, or heck, shirts with cusswords on it… there are a lot of grosser things that people do regularly in public. You know something else a lot of people really hate in public? Crying babies. You know what often fixes that? Yeah, you guessed it: feeding them.

There’s a lesson we teach our children when they’re very small, which is that there will be people who are not nice to you, things people do that you may not like. You control you, and only you. You also cannot change anyone else. What you can do is try to have a little empathy, put yourself in their shoes. Wouldn’t you hate it if you had to take a child out in public with you, and that child wanted to eat every hour on t he dot, but you had to sit with them in a stinky restroom or a tiny changing room the entire time they ate? Wouldn’t that make you really not want to take the child with you? That’s what articles like yours do to breastfeeding moms — they make mothers who have no option but nursing in public want to stay home, or to start using formula.

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9 Responses to “Target Nurse-In Reactions Are Old, Stale and Kind of Annoying”

  1. Here’s the bottom line: if you, as an adult, would do it in public, so should baby. If not, then baby shouldn’t either.

    So, I don’t urinate in public. Therefore, I don’t change baby’s diaper in public.

    I do eat in public. And so does my baby.

  2. Ashley says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. A lot of people don’t understand what it feels like to be constantly ridiculed for something people tell you your supposed to be doing but don’t want to see lol

  3. Jessie says:

    I participated in my local Target Nurse-In and I’m glad to say that I never got any negative comments. My mom said that I did get a few second glances, but luckily if people felt they didn’t agree, they didn’t feel the need to tell me so. Thanks to your article, if I ever do encounter the person who feels the need to spread their ignorance, I’ll know what to say!

  4. Sara says:

    I am surprised how fired up people get about this, mostly because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a woman breastfeeding in public. I’m 5 months pregnant and fully intend to breastfeed–undecided about whether I’ll do it in public (I guess we’ll see how it goes). But is it really that common? I’ve lived in several different parts of the country (including urban and suburban) and honestly can’t remember spotting a woman out nursing.
    Sara recently posted..2011 RecapMy Profile

    • MJ says:

      Sara, I am sure you have been around women nursing in public. You probably didn’t even notice because they were so discrete. Once you have your baby and you start nursing, you’ll notice it more.

      I remember once after I had my daughter I ran into someone at Babies R Us and I was nursing under a blanket, the girl asked me where my baby was. Kind of funny too because her baby had a big bottle of formula in her mouth. Nursing in public really isn’t a big deal. The first couple of time you might be nervous, but you’ll get the hang of it. It is actually common that babies don’t like being covered, my little girl didn’t mind, she just wanted to eat. Good luck with your new baby and your nursing adventure. I can’t wait to have another baby and nurse again!

  5. Andrea says:

    I never had to nurse in public. It was too painful to breastfeed, so I pumped only. But there is still similiar challenges with that. I wish businesses/facilities/public spaces had a comfortable, clean room for nursing activities. Quite a few times I had to pump in a bathroom or I would pump in my car. I always threw out the milk from a bathroom, it just seems too gross to feed the baby anything involved with a bathroom.

  6. Ana says:

    I’m surprised to read the comment of the girl who has never seen moms breastfeeding. It’s all around. I personally have breastfed everywhere: from parks to planes, to movie theater (it was a moms and babies session), restaurants… No one ever said anything to me, but in the state of Illinois, where I live, scorning a nursing mom or telling her not to nurse is ILLEGAL. So, even the law protects us. That should be the case everywhere.
    Good luck to all the new moms!

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