Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Another perspective

I received an email this morning from a mother and wife who wished to remain anonymous, but I do NOT know her.  She asked me if I would post her feelings as a comment to my latest post but I felt that her comment was so poignant that it needed to be a post itself.  This is the society we do live in, with all of it's imperfections and shortcomings.  Unfortunately we are not perfect, although some try.  Rather than come from a defensive point of view, like some have on this issue, let's read the following and try to come from a place of understanding, shall we? (If you are lost on the commentary, simply read the next post down and the comments and you will understand):

"Melissa as a breastfeeding mother (on number 3) I totally agree that mothers should feel free to nurse in public but as a wife of a husband who struggles with pornography as many men do(and by struggle I mean hates it and is working so hard to overcome it) I have to say I support Janine's stance of discretion. There are many things that can trigger weakness in a man struggling with pornography and any level of immodesty is one of those things. I know it wasn't your intention but I think your comment that "it doesn't make them turn  into primal animals who can't control themselfs" is a bit naive and insensitive. My husband fully supports me breastfeeding in public but as a his wife I would appreciate it if modesty was practiced in all things. Alot of babies have a hard time nursing with a blanket over their heads it is stuffy and hot no matter how light the blanket plus they want to see their mothers face which is an important part of nursing. I mearly suggest that we take more thought to what we will be wearing as we are out in public so as to show respect to those around us. I agree that it is important for people of all ages to see that a women is breastfeeding and a little flesh showing between the babies head and your clothing not a big deal but I am not so sure they need to see an entire exposed breast. As a side note it is a shame that as a society we make a bigger deal about a women breastfeeding in public then of all the other blatant immodesty in the world around us."

Thank you anonymous for sharing your story with me.  I certainly wouldn't judge you until I have walked a mile in your shoes and I would hope others wouldn't either.  I would hope that we as a society would step outside ourselves a little and realize that there are others around us who may not feel the same as we do and therefore we can consider others feelings before we act...that is my only purpose in doing this blog.

That's my two cents


Melissa said...

Because this is specifically directed at me, I feel I need to respond.

Thank you for your thoughts, anonymous. I think you and I are more or less on the same page. However, I still do not see where all these lactating breasts are being exposed in public? Like I said, in my five years of saturating myself heavily in breastfeeding groups, I have seen one fully exposed breast. It sounds like Janine has only seen one (in Maui). So to go on the station with the largest audience in Utah and say that "the biggest faux pas is the women tend to not cover up" is outrageous. The biggest faux pas, in my opinion, is that women are not feeding their babies in public because they are uncomfortable because of messages like this. The pediatricians I work with (I volunteer in lactation) hear this all the time from moms. So, again, why not error on the side of making the women and children comfortable by accepting them however they need to breastfeed, wherever they are. Janine then goes on to say that we should cover up "even in social situations in the home". This is way too much burden to place on a new mom who needs to view her baby's latch and to be able to nurse continuously to build a healthy supply while entertaining visitors who have come to see the baby.

I'm sorry for you struggles. However, pornography addiction is just another manifestation of a culture who has become way too obsessed with the sexual nature of the breast and has completely forgotten the biological function thanks to several generations of not breastfeeding.

Janine said...

I want to allow you to have the last word Melissa because I know you would like to have it, but I just want to make sure I'm not going to be misquoted here. I said, "when it comes to breastfeeding in public, the biggest faux pas (which means false step- not malicious intentioned) is that women tend to not cover up" so I never said it was the biggest faux pas in the world, in the etiquette world, or in the breastfeeding or pregnancy world, I was referring specifically to breastfeeding in public places- and that was after I made sure that people knew (but didn't necessarily listen or want to understand) that I am a huge supporter of breastfeeding.

And for goodness sakes, in the home if you're having a party with 80 people (which is what I was referring to when I said, "social situations" you can certainly see whether or not your baby has latched or not without exposing your entire breast- to suppose otherwise is ridiculous. Do I want my husband's boss to see my breasts even though I don't see them as sexual and I prefer he didn't either? Let's me real here.

Pornography addiction is no different now that it ever has been. The only difference now is that is is far more readily available and the anonymity that comes along with it gives way to a far larger audience. When dad's Playboy magazine would go missing, that was noticeable, nowadays, it's rampant everywhere, but to think that men's brains are different now, is just naive.

I don't know about whom you speak when referring to these "generations of non-breastfeeders"- as generations before me have breastfed on both sides- consistently. I don't know that there is an accurate way to measure who is breastfeeding out there and who isn't- so I think to say that as a society women aren't breastfeeding, is also unfounded for I think many women choose not to become a statistic, I know I am not one. I would just be very careful with the things you throw out there. I DO research my topics before I tackle them and I don't consider myself an uneducated person. By no means to I know it all, but to throw infinite statements out there is a dangerous thing.

I'm A. said...

This is an unbelievable argument and I'm in shock that this was posted. So the logic here is...some men are addicted to pornography and therefore mothers breastfeeding their babies should cover up for their sake?!

Clearly everyone will just have to agree to disagree because this is the worst argument for covering up while breastfeeding that I have seen yet.

I think you have missed the point that the "other side" is trying to make.

That point being, mothers should be able to breastfeed wherever, whenever, however. It's natural. It's normal. It's healthy. It's sweet. And the VAST majority of breastfeeding women out there ARE discreet. Never ONCE have I seen a breastfeeding women bare her breast in public. And I think if we are all honest with ourselves we could agree that bare breasts in public are the RARE EXCEPTION, not the norm. So why not encourage breastfeeding women instead of discourage them?

Melissa said...

"When it comes to breastfeeding, the biggest faux pas is that women tend to not cover up" - is the perfect example of an infinite statement.

How silly of me to not realize that you were talking about a party of 80 people. I guess I just inferred too much when you said "when it's not your significant other and children or maybe your sisters and your mom". And thank you for clarifying what "biggest faux pas" means. Oddly enough, I'm still completely confused how women not covering can be the biggest faux pas when it come to breastfeeding.

Yes, breastfeeding rates declined steadily and sharply through the 20th century (from the 1930s to the 1970s where they reached an all time low of a 25% initiation rate (so you can imagine how low there were at six months)). There was a gradual increase and then another decrease in the 80’s. Here is an interesting article:, although much has been written about the topic.

Breastfeeding is taught to our sons and daughters visually. This is why World Breastfeeding Week's theme this year is Breastfeeding: A 3D experience. (World Breastfeeding Week is sponsored by UNICEF and the WHO). Our own Utah Breastfeeding Coalition has chosen the theme "Breastfeeding: Mothers See, Mothers Do" for this year's Breastfeeding Cafe (the footage on the KSL story came from last year's cafe). We need to see breastfeeding, period. I’m not saying that women should expose their breasts every time they breastfeed in public (it personally doesn’t bother me – I liked to use a sling for privacy, as you saw in the footage). But any sort of suggestion that there are faux pas to be made when breastfeeding in public has a damaging effect. Why not give women the benefit of the doubt that they will be discreet, as the vast majority are? Telling them what to do- to cover up –seems pretty rude to me.

However, my bottom line is this: I will never allow my concern for the comfort of others to interfere with the comfort of the child in my arms. Like my friend Jeana says – I will not allow another person veto power over my parenting – the responsibility for preventing and alleviating an uncomfortable situation lies on whoever is uncomfortable, not necessarily the mother.

And I certainly don’t need the last word. It is your blog and I’ve said what I want. So, unless someone has a question for me directly, I am done posting here.

Janine said...

In response to "I'm A"- I don't think that anyone is arguing with breastfeeding in public, ever. That was never the issue. I also don't think it's your place to tear someone else's logic or story down until you've had their life experience, do you?

What is the "other side" women who are pro-breastfeeding like anonymous and me? Have you even read my blog? Do you know that I've breastfeed for a total of almost 10 years?

And if women should be able to breastfeed whenever, wherever, and however they want, then why bother to argue that the VAST majority do cover up? Who cares if it's natural to breastfeed- why bother covering up then?