The Breast Fest

I’m not really sure who started this, but today, October 10, 2007, has been declared Breast Fest. (The only reason I can imagine it's this day is that 10-10 written out kind of looks like a pair of breasts. Ha!) This was in response to Bill Maher’s blabbering on so about his right to eat and not watch a woman breastfeed in public, as well as a Canadian woman’s Facebook account being canceled without her knowledge after she posted pics of her breastfeeding.

You just have to love the mom bloggers. Everyone had their nursing bras in a knot over this and they asked moms to post breastfeeding pictures on their blogs and write about as a way to basically, flip off those who oppose breastfeeding. Fine. I’m all about participating in this. So, hence the picture here.

But what I really want to rant about here, is why do people care about breastfeeding in public anyway? Why do we, as moms, really care what they think? Obviously having your account cancelled or being asked to get off an airplane or leave a restaurant is cause for a fight. But looks from people passing by as you feed? Why do we care?

While some will say breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world, my response is that “then you are a lucky woman!” I struggled with my first for many reasons and chose to stop after five months. With my second, I enjoyed it. She, however, had high standards for when and where she was to be fed so at five months, I threw in the towel. But for women who do struggle and want to try to continue, the pressure to cover up or not feed in public might be too much for them. It’s so much easier to just bring a bottle along. .

Back to why do people care. I breastfed both my kids in two different countries. Alex was in Qatar where women had to dress conservatively--short skirts and tank tops were frowned upon. Did I breastfeed in public? Yep! Did I cover it up? Sometimes I did, but if Alex was screaming loud enough, I was ripping my shirt off to get him quiet.

In Sweden, women are breastfeeding everywhere. No need to cover it up. No need to look away. Three or four moms are sitting having their fika in the middle of a café and all are nursing.

Even in the U.S., I found myself in Barnes and Noble stripping my shirt off on the way to the train table in the kid’s section so Anna could nurse while Alex played Thomas the Train. I don’t think anyone cared. But if they did, I wasn’t about to find out. I even did that on a plane a few times. I actually think they were relieved that the boob stopped the crying. I always did my best to find a chair out of the way so there was privacy for me. I tried to remember a blanket to cover up, but neither of my kids really wanted to eat with a blanket over their face. Would you?

I will say that by the time I had my second child all modesty had gone out the window from the whole birth process and first-time breastfeeding so I didn’t really have any qualms about doing it out in public or even in front of family members that probably preferred that I not.

I’m trying to understand why people don’t like seeing this eating ritual. We see half naked women in the malls, on the streets, in magazines everyday. It’s not as if any woman breastfeeding is trying to do anything other than feed her child. It’s also not as if you’re seeing an entire boob exposed. Most of the time, I have to look twice before I confirm that the baby is actually eating and not just being cuddled.

So I’m asking moms out there to comment. Have you ever had anyone comment on you breastfeeding in public?


Cara Fox said...

Totally agree. Why is this such a big deal? Shouldn't be. I personally have gotten weird looks on occasion but no one had had the guts to SAY anything to me. Have also been in a group of moms when another mom got weird looks and we all came to her defense. Hell hath no fury like a nursing mother scorned. : )

KMF said...

I haven't had any comments or noticed any weird looks and I've breast fed both of my kids wherever and whenever hunger struck. I did recently fly and told my seatmate that I would be breastfeeding and that would be the only way to prevent my daughter from crying. He wisely chose boob over wailing.

KTM said...

Great note. No one has said anything to me when I was breastfeeding, but for me, I covered up because I didn't want my jelly belly rolls to be exposed! However, I soon realized, we all have them, so I was happy to just lift my shirt and show my boob, belly bump and rolls!

I did have a relative say to me about two women breastfeeding their babies at the bar at a wedding....it didn't bother her that they were breastfeeding, just that they were doing it at the bar and I do see that it's a matter of choice as to where you breastfeed, but sometimes it doesn't have to be right next to where you have beer on tap which was the relative's point! Breastmilk on tap too maybe? Haha. Also - most attendees at the wedding were in their 60s.

Nicole said...

I have three little ones, the youngest is still breastfeeding and the other two were a year when I stopped. I lived in the Middle East and breastfeed, I never once felt really uncomfortable. I had many converstations with Kuwaiti women and they were always surprised I was breastfeeding but always encouraging. I always felt more self conscious at home. (US, Canada). I have never had anyone make a comment to my face. I don't really know what the big deal is, as long as you are descreet who cares. I think people really need to mind their own business and keep their comments to themselves. (As a parent it seems strangers always have something to say about your parenting skills!!) For jelly belly rolls-found a great line called Glamourmom. Camisoles that you wear under your clothes that cover your belly with a built in nursing bra. Bought one in every color. Perfect.