I would prefer to just stay at home for the entire first two years of my baby's life so I can feed her comfortably and privately. But, any mom who has ever breastfed knows that's impossible.
For those idiots who are not aware, a newborn baby breastfeeds every couple of hours. A toddler can breastfeed just as often, depending on the routines mom and baby have established. We could lock ourselves away until our children are weaned off the breast. Or we might just be lucky enough to have excellent timing when we do go out. But, more than likely, we are going to have to find a way to feed our baby in public. For most of us, there is no getting around it.
The Bill & the Facebook Argument
I was appalled to hear that when New Hampshire lawmakers debated the topic of public nudity in the New Hampshire State House this past Tuesday, breastfeeding in public came up.
Hmmm.....breastfeeding. Public Nudity. Breastfeeding. Public Nudity?
State Rep. Amanda Bouldin (D) posted her feelings on Facebook to convey her standpoint to State Rep. Josh Moore (R) about the proposed New Hampshire bill. The bill would make public nudity a misdemeanor. She stated:
"The very least you could do is protect a mother's right to FEED her child."
I was a bit surprised to read through the bill. Despite Bouldin's fury, it does specifically state an exemption for breastfeeding. I am not clear whether Bouldin knew this when she posted to Facebook, or if the exemption was added to the bill before all of the commotion on social media, or after. Either way, Bouldin was attacked for her post, by her own colleagues!
State Rep. Josh Moore (R) commented on her post with:
"If it's a woman's natural inclination to pull her nipple out in public and you support that, than you should have no problem with a mans inclantion [sic] to stare at it and grab it. After all... It's ALL relative and natural, right?" He also added that he had "more respect for a woman and her innocence and decency."
(Oh, really? Here's the thing: If you grab my nipple while I'm breastfeeding my child, I'm going to kick you in the balls!)
Bouldin responded, "My nipple isn't my innocence. By the time I had cause to whip it out in public (WHEN FEEDING MY CHILD) I was certainly no longer a virgin." (I don't agree that this comment was necessary or helped her cause any, but I understand she was in defense mode.)
State Rep. Al Baldasaro (R) jumps in at this point with his two cents: "Amanda, no disrespect, but your nipple would be the last one I would want to see. You want to turn our family beach's [sic] into a pervert show. Libertarians want a nude beach, put your money together and buy one, if you want to expose your kids to nudity, go for it. Some of us liberty minded Reps do believe in family values."
Now, for my two cents:
Firstly, the reps in N.H. need to work on their grammar! Commas all over the place, run-on sentences, misspelled words. You would think they would write at least a tiny bit better than a first grader! (You can see screenshots of the comments and more about this debate here.) Secondly, as usual, it's Republicans that have me feeling utterly disgusted!
I am not a fan of openly exposing myself in public when I am breastfeeding. I would rather stay home, but, as I have already mentioned, that is not always a choice. While there is a time and place for everything, the biggest problem here is that when our little one is hungry, we need to feed them! Little ones don't understand anything beyond the fact that they are hungry.
Last time I checked, family values mentioned by Baldasaro included breastfeeding our children. Isn't it a value to give our children the best start in life we can? Aren't we told by our pediatricians and OB/GYNs and child experts all over the place that "the breast is the best"?
These New Hampshire reps are sexualizing breastfeeding!
Nobody said we want people to look at our nipples! Or even watch us breastfeeding. If you see me breastfeeding my child and you don't like it, turn your head and walk on by! I really don't want you watching, anyway. It's not a circus act or anything. I'm just feeding my child, for Pete's sake!
If people notice a mother breastfeeding her child, they are witnessing something precious and glorious happening. After all, not only is breastfeeding a bonding experience like no other between mama and baby, we are also choosing to give our children the best start in their lives by breastfeeding them! We should support breastfeeding mothers, not cripple them and make them feel ostracized.
Classy Public Breastfeeding
Now, I am going to play the Devil's Advocate. Don't get your undies all in a bunch, we are ladies just as much as we are moms. There are classy ways and trashy ways of doing things.
There are fabulous wraps and chic nursing covers (like in the picture above and below) that will not only keep breastfeeding in public more private, but will also show your respect for yourself and the people around you. Breastfeeding in public does not mean that we have to let our boobs hang out for everyone to see, I'm just saying.
Why can't we all learn to embrace these lovely products?
Here is one that doubles as a chic scarf that I love (I want one!):
I understand that some babies do not like being covered up. Trinity, my one-year-old, hates anything over her head when she's breastfeeding. There are still ways of being classy about breastfeeding in public, though!
There are hundreds of different nursing covers, and most range up to $50; they are not expensive at all, so that's not an excuse. I am sure that every single mom could find a nursing cover that would work, even with some of the most finicky babies. There are $15 and 20 dollar nursing covers and wraps, too. Budget should not be a limiting factor in covering up.
Our government officials need to stop sexualizing breastfeeding, though! Especially the men! They need to embrace breastfeeding as exactly what it is: providing our precious little ones with the natural nourishment that they need.
Breastfeeding is nature in action. Not an indecent or lewd act, and certainly not an experience that should be sexualized! Shame on any man - or woman, for that matter - who turns the natural bonding and nourishing experience of breastfeeding into a sexual act! Anyone who does is messed up in the head. It makes my nose curl up to even think about people who would sexualize breastfeeding. Turns my stomach.
As far as the male N.H. reps who commented on Bouldin's Facebook post, shame on you!
You are the perverts! Come try to pinch my nipples while I'm breastfeeding my baby!
I dare you!
To turn breastfeeding into a sexual act of any sort is demented and offensive. The comments opposing breastfeeding on Amanda Bouldin's Facebook post were despicable!
It is a mother's choice to breastfeed and I support every single mother who does. You are starting off your child with nature's milk, and I applaud you for it! Don't let anyone make you feel bad about doing what is best for your child! Even in public. Just remember to remain classy.
What do you think? Am I being too harsh?
If you liked this post, click on the share buttons. Don't forget to subscribe to stay in the loop. And, if you love books, check out my books in the right hand column.
Thanks for stopping by!