Monday, March 14, 2011

Breastfeeding is not a crime, part 2

I want to thank everyone I spoke to at the Children's Hospital today about Friday's incident.  Extremely respectful and kind representatives assured me that the hospital has no policy against breastfeeding on the premises and is in fact a very strong proponent of breastfeeding.  I am truly thankful for the time and attention they have devoted to this matter; moreover, I am thankful for the good work they do saving children's lives everyday.

Still, it is distressing (to put it lightly) that a woman can be asked to leave any location because she is nursing her baby.  The law does provide women with the right to nurse in any public or private location, but that does not stop people from getting offended by it.  I just don't understand how anyone could find fault with a mother nourishing her child.  Apparently the reason why my friend was asked to leave the hospital cafeteria was because people had complained that they did not want their children to see a woman breastfeeding.  My reaction to this is that maybe if more children grew up seeing women nurse, no mother would be told she could not breastfeed her baby in a hospital cafeteria because that's where people eat.  If children grew up viewing breastfeeding as normative, maybe breasts wouldn't be fetishized to the extent they are, and people would actually come to realize what breasts are there for.  In this regard, it seems strange that we even need laws granting mothers the right to breastfeed anywhere they wish.  It should just be a given.

Obviously, this incident happened to my friend, and I wasn't there to witness firsthand the details of what happened.  So I think I will step out of the issue for now.  And again, I want to stress the respectfulness of everyone I have spoken to at the hospital, and I want to make clear that I in no way wish to tarnish the reputation of the hospital or any of its employees.  What I do hope though, is that no woman is ever again asked to leave the premises because she is nursing her baby.

I'll close by including some pictures of me, nursing Will in various public locations.  Soooo offensive, isn't it?

Will's first cable car ride

On a cable car in San Francisco

Dr. Mom

Dr. Mom, PhD in breastfeeding.  And Biological Anthropology.


Rachael said...

I find it astounding that anybody is weirded out by breastfeeding. I never grew up around bf'ing. I was the youngest, no family nearby, never knew any babies as a kid. I don't think I ever saw a bf'ing woman until one of my friend's had a child, and it never struck me as weird or awkward in the slightest. Nipples. We've all got 'em.

If a child has a question, there's a simple answer: "That mommy is feeding her baby". End of story. I've heard women say that so many times to their children and never once heard a child question what it meant. The alternative ("that woman had to leave the room because she's going to make milk come out of her nipples. I feel funny") is so much more complicated!

We've been fortunate. I've bf'd everywhere, and I do mean everywhere (typically at a restaurant within a foot or two of other diners, actually). Perhaps there's a different culture for bf'ing in the northeast, or maybe we've just been lucky -- I haven't been stopped, yet.

Actually, not to make this comment too long, but it really fires me up... just a week ago I needed to go to NYC for 8 hours and had to ask a random security guard in a random 40-story building where I could go to pump! He didn't act the slightest bit weird -- helped me find a locked (very nice/clean) bathroom on a random floor, and that was that.

Oh my, I could just imagine the protest: bare chested women marching down the street with babies to their breasts. I'd do it in a heartbeat :)

Alena said...

Speaking about children -- I just thought of a story to share. :)

A few months back we had some friends over at our apartment, and I went into a separate room to breastfeed my son. I had not quite mastered the art of breastfeeding discretely, so I was not sure how comfortable our single male friends will be if I were to sit there bare-chested. :)

Our friends' 5 year old daughter (the one and only for now), however, wanted to see how the baby will eat, and I had no issues with that. So I started feeding my son, and she came in and went on asking all kinds of questions about the process. After I explained to her what exactly was happening, she's got that "Eureka!" expression on her face and exclaimed: SO THAT'S WHAT THOSE THINGS ARE FOR!!!

I couldn't help but laugh. She nailed it. :)