In response to the Facebook “Nurse-In” that took place yesterday, we had a discussion on our Bosom Buddies Breastfeeding Support Group online boards about why would anyone want to post pictures of themselves nursing on Facebook.
If breastfeeding was perceived as “Normal” and not sexual or offensive then there would be no issue. Yes, you can choose to be discreet if that is what makes you comfortable, but the controversy of women nursing in public (in Target, at a gym, in a restaurant–etc) included women who WERE NURSING DISCREETLY. It is your RIGHT to breastfeed–in fact the medical community asks you to do it–exclusively feed your infant breastmilk for 6 months (and continue to breastfeed for at LEAST one year–at least 2 years or more according to the WHO).
We have spent a lot of time talking about breastfeeding in public in the past at our group sessions. I shared with the moms that in the beginning when I had my first, if anyone had asked if I would nurse in public, I probably would have responded with, “If I have to, but only if I have some privacy.” However, reality soon sets in when you have a baby and before I knew it or had given it any thought at all, I was nursing at the mall on a bench, at the dentist’s office, while getting my hair cut, while at a restaurant–you name it, I did it. No flaunting it–just feeding my babies.
In fact at one point our Bosom Buddies group handed out the following “thank yous” from the book “The Breastfeeding Cafe” (the excerpt is written by Lissa Russell):
“Thank you for nursing your baby in public. You are not only nourishing your child, but the hearts and minds of everyone here. When nursing in America is more common and understood, the credit will go to women like you. I thank you on behalf of my grandmother, who had never heard of breastfeeding. I thank you on behalf of my mother, who hadn’t a single soul to support her nurturing instinct. I thank you on behalf of my daughters, granddaughters and friends [added friends for those women like me who do not have daughters], may they never think twice when their children thirst. May they never search for a “secluded corner,” a dressing room, or a restroom. I thank you on behalf of every woman who ever was or ever will be. Have a beautiful day! (Behrmann, 2008, pg. 213).”
My favorite artist/cartoonist is Heather Cushman-Dowdee–she had a great cartoon that I cannot find right now but it went like this–Mother nursing in public–nearby woman starts talking out loud so mother can hear about how offended she is and why is there no cover (hooter hider)–the nursing mother hears and says, “I’m sorry” while politely covering the offended lady with the cover. I love this humor–it touches me and makes me feel supported in my choice to breastfeed–it helps break down barriers for nursing mothers. Here is Heather’s Facebook page–she posted all day yesterday in support of the nursing mothers on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/mama.is.comic
Here is her awesome website, http://www.mama-is.com/
I can’t think of any woman who is nursing and bares her breasts in public with the intention of drawing attention to herself –wanting others to notice and ridicule her/humiliate her. Instead women who nurse in public are looking for a clean, convenient place to nurse and care for their babies. Most of our states have laws to support public breastfeeding (NJ does). Yes, it is sad that a law is needed but alas that is the case.
The Facebook issue emerged a few years ago and recently got more press (the issue never really went away). Here is a group established years ago to protest the removal of photos–you can look through the old photos, https://www.facebook.com/groups/2517126532/photos/ –they are very touching.
Posting pictures, nursing in public–getting the word out normalizes breastfeeding to help rid our society of that “offended” visceral reaction. For example…
Most people would not find this offensive on Facebook or in a magazine (a girl in a bikini–underwear on display–low cut/cleavage):
But this photo caused reactions that were border line ridiculous
P. S. this photo is actress Julie Bowen breastfeeding her twins (the actress from Modern Family)
or this magazine cover that caused such a controversy
Here is one of my favorites–there are many depictions of Madonna feeding her baby–whoops, she did not get the message that breastfeeding in public is offensive–where is her cover?? 🙂
P.S. when we talked about this in the past, I mentioned to the moms that one of my BIGGEST regrets was not having a photo of me nursing. I am very sad about that. Nursing made me feel strong, powerful, nurturing, and special–I am so proud that I nursed; there is no good way to explain how important is was to me, but nothing else I have done in my life or will do can compare. I would have loved to have a photo of me nursing one of my boys.