How do breastfeeding stunts normalize breastfeeding? They don’t!

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Imagine if former chief executive Carly Fiorina had addressed HP stockholders while wearing a filmy negligee. Would that normalize women chief executives? No.

How about if Serena Williams took the court at Wimbledon topless? Would that normalize women in sports? I doubt it.

What if Hillary Clinton chose to campaign in a bra and G-string? Would that normalize women Presidents? Of course not.

What if Hillary Clinton chose to campaign in a bra and G-string? Would that normalize women Presidents?

Each of these stunts would do the opposite. Instead of promoting an image of strength and capability, they’d promote the sexist image of women as flighty and irresponsible.

So how do breastfeeding stunts like Dil Wickremasinghe breastfeeding her son while being interviewed on live TV and Jessica Colletti breastfeeding her toddler and his friend normalize breastfeeding? They don’t. Instead of promoting an image of breastfeeding as an excellent way to nourish a child, perfectly compatible with running corporations, competing in elite athletic events, or becoming President, they promote an image of breastfeeding as a stunt designed to offend as many people as possible.

Don’t tell me that breastfeeding is beautiful and deserves to be visible in public. Sex is beautiful but that doesn’t mean that women (or men) should be having sex during business conferences. Don’t tell me that the female body is beautiful. That doesn’t mean that women should show up for athletic events with menstrual blood running down their legs. Don’t tell me that nature is beautiful. That doesn’t mean that we want to see our politicians urinate on TV.

The photos above have nothing to do with normalizing breastfeeding and everything to do with normalizing exhibitionism.

It’s harder than ever to get the public’s attention by shocking it. Homebirth advocates will tell you that tweeting your homebirth, live-blogging it or even live streaming video of the birth is so 2014. To get attention now you have to perform a birth stunt, like giving birth outdoors in a Alaska in a blizzard, or in an Amazonian stream filled with microscopic parasites.

So it stands to reason that if you want to get attention for breastfeeding, you have to do in someplace unusual or with children other than your own. Breastfeeding while ostensibly performing your job on live TV qualifies as unusual. Breastfeeding a child for whom you provide daycare is unusual. Unusual is what it’s all about when you are a narcissist promoting yourself and your baby (or someone else’s baby) is merely a prop for your exhibitionism.

Wickremasinghe claims to be normalizing breastfeeding for working women, but she’s doing exactly the opposite. Her smug exhibitionism in the face of her co-worker’s obvious discomfort is a betrayal of legions of women (including myself) who have fought for the space, time and right to pump while at high pressure, high profile jobs like medicine, law and business. We’ve spent decades showing that breastfeeding is completely compatible with a career and does not mean flaunting our breasts in the workplace or embarrassing our professional colleagues.

How does Wickremasinghe’s behavior, the behavior of a privileged media celebrity, help her less fortunate sisters who only wish to be able to combine breastfeeding with a blue collar, secretarial or service industry job? It doesn’t. Indeed it harms their chances of convincing employers that breastfeeding and working are fully compatible. It’s hard to imagine a gesture more contemptuous of the “little people” and their real world breastfeeding difficulties than a celebrity pretending to normalize breastfeeding by exploiting her celebrity status on air.

Colletti claims to be normalizing breastfeeding, but she’s doing exactly the opposite. Her smug exhibitionism in the face of at least one of the toddlers looking anything but happy at being used as a prop is a betrayal of the legions of women who have fought for the right for women to breastfeed discreetly anytime and anyplace where our babies are hungry. We’ve spent decades showing that breastfeeding is about nourishing our babies, not flaunting our breasts in public or using public breastfeeding to produce shock and distaste.

How does Colletti’s behavior help normalize breastfeeding, public or otherwise. It doesn’t. It makes breastfeeding look like the choice of crazy, breast-baring self-promoters, not loving mothers who merely want to nourish their babies in the way they think is best anytime or anyplace where those babies need to eat. It’s hard to imagine a gesture more contemptuous to women who struggle for the right to breastfeed discreetly in public than an exhibitionist pretending to normalize breastfeeding by posting pictures of herself breastfeeding another woman’s child.

Breastfeeding stunts don’t normalize breastfeeding; they normalize exhibitionism. But then that was the point all along.

  • Lisa

    AMEN! Breastfeeding your child, like sucking your partner’s face in a gulpinp porn-worthy kiss is beautiful to YOU. If you want to display that in YOUR HOME go ahead, but not in my office, my school, etc. I can make an exception for mass transportation if you are discreet. Discreet does not mean hiding under a blanket, but nor does it mean unbuttoning your shirt from collar to hem. Modest breast-feeding friendly clothing. Stop showing off! It’s like all those gag-inducing Pinteresty photos of pregnancy or wedding announcements with ridiculous levels of p.d.a. We get it. You love each other or you love the coming child or love the kid you’re breast feeding. Breast feeding a child who can walk makes many people uncomfortable–sorry, but its true. When a child can ask for a drink you get them a cup, you don’t whip out a breast unless you are at home.

    • Cobalt

      What if it’s their office, their school, etc?

      Have you tried looking away? It really works wonders on displays you find not to your taste.

      If you don’t like breastfeeding toddlers, don’t breastfeed one.

    • Renee

      How about this – too bad!!!
      Seriously. Don’t look.
      It’s YOUR problem that a breast bothers you. And I wonder if you complain as bitterly about all the nearly nude, sexualized, women and boobs, in ads all over the city? Or is it just women BFing not following your rules that provoke your ire? So glad you have decided what’s acceptable!

      Thank goddess I live in a city where NIP is ordinary, and BF a toddler (or bigger!) gets you 10x more compliments and smiles than dirty looks, and uncomfortable glares. Moms just nurse anywhere they want, at will. As long as they want.

      THIS is what people mean by “normalizing” BF and it works.
      And guess what? No one is hurt by it either!

      I’m not an impolite person by any means, and I’m not out to offend. I just think that BF is not something that needs hidden, regardless of the viewer.

  • Rae Rae Martinez

    Did you actually just compare BREASTFEEDING with private acts like sex and urination? We’re talking about feeding a baby. Do YOU eat in public?

    • Cobalt

      She actually didn’t compare breastfeeding to sex or elimination.

      She compared women who breastfeed for shock value to people who use their bodies in other ways for shock value.

      It’s about mothers who exceptionalize themselves with the thin excuse of “normalizing” breastfeeding. This puts their behavior in the same category as anyone else who uses their body to gain attention, and gives the public the impression that breastfeeding is done for shock value instead of infant nutrition.

      Stunt feeding doesn’t “normalize” breastfeeding, it turns it into a sideshow act. This makes it harder for all the breastfeeding moms who are actually feeding their babies and not trying to run a public circus.

      • fiona ball

        “Don’t tell me that breastfeeding is beautiful and deserves to be visible in public. Sex is beautiful but that doesn’t mean that women (or men) should be having sex during business conferences.” – Sounds like she compared it to sex, to me.

        Breathing is natural, maybe she should stop breathing in public.

        • Cobalt

          Breastfeeding being beautiful and/or natural has nothing to do with whether it should be public or visible. Just as being beautiful or natural has nothing to do with whether sex should be public or visible.

          She is comparing arguments and calling both invalid on the same grounds. That’s integrity.

          Show me where she says public breastfeeding is wrong, not where she says bullshit arguments for breastfeeding stunts designed to be public exhibitions are wrong, and you may have a point.

          • fiona ball

            She put “deserves to be visible in public”, like breastfeeding is somehow undeserving.

            Flowers are beautiful, kindness is beautiful, dancing in beautiful…do they not deserve to be visible in public either?

            It’s a stupid and irrelevant argument.

            She proposes that breastfeeding, like above, is for exhibition. When has wet nursing and feeding when your baby needs it (if that happens to be during an interview), exhibition?

            I know one of these women on a group I visit. She is not looking for attention, it’s BS. She is trying to normalize something, that is biologically normal, so people don’t live in fear from judgmental and insidious people like Amy.

          • Cobalt

            “Flowers are beautiful, kindness is beautiful, dancing in beautiful…do they not deserve to be visible in public either?
            It’s a stupid and irrelevant argument.”

            Exactly. Breastfeeding being beautiful is an irrelevant argument. Whether something should be public is based on its merits, benefits, harms, and there is no obligation for people to display themselves beautifully in public anyway.

            “She proposes that breastfeeding, like above, is for exhibition. When has wet nursing and feeding when your baby needs it (if that happens to be during an interview), exhibition?”

            She does not say breastfeeding is inherently exhibitionist, and is defending all the mothers who are breastfeeding for nourishment (you know, the moms who are ACTUALLY “normalizing” breastfeeding) instead of doing it for exhibitionism (the ones who are shouting “look at my breastfeeding, it’s EXCEPTIONAL”).

            Going on mass media just to feed a baby is exhibitionist. It is screaming “I’m special because I breastfeed, so I am worthy of all this public attention. Look at me!”. That’s a far cry from normal for breastfeeding to be so super special it’s worth putting it on TV it when it happens.

        • Cobalt

          People don’t breath in public because it’s natural or beautiful. They do it because they need air, a basic body function that is both urgent and generally harmless to others. And when someone does it in a way that draws unnecessary attention to the process for the sake of making people look at them, it is called rude and obnoxious. Saying that the reason you are deliberately being obnoxious is to normalize respiration is ridiculous.

          Mothers generally don’t breastfeed in public because it’s beautiful or natural. They do it because their babies need to eat, a basic body function that is both urgent and generally harmless to others. And when someone does it in a way that draws unnecessary attention to the process for the sake of making people look at them, it is called rude and obnoxious. Saying that the reason you are deliberately being obnoxious is to normalize lactation is ridiculous.

  • Gatita

    This photo was posted to Facebook with this caption:

    EDIT: I didn’t expect this image to reach so far. I understand everyone has their own opinion which they are entitled to, all I ask is that comments are not rude or hurtful and are kept respectful. If it is not to your taste please hide it from your newsfeed.Thank you!!

    I photographed this mama’s pregnancy a couple of weeks back and she was telling me how terrified she was of having a c-section. Well over the weekend she went into labor but had to have an emergency c-section after losing a lot of blood. She asked me to come over this morning and shoot this particular image as her worst nightmare proved to be what saved her and her sons lives.

    Please feel free to share and tag image, however please do not crop alter or remove watermark.

    Photographer’s FB page here

    • Gatita

      An article on the controversy around this photo (entirely predictable reactions, unfortunately): http://blogs.babycenter.com/mom_stories/081415-why-this-c-section-photo-tk/

      Unbelievably, after Helen posted this photo to her Facebook page, she started receiving what she describes as hateful messages calling her vile things. Someone even reported the photo, but Facebook decided not to take it down.

      “I don’t really understand why the reactions have been so strong. To me it’s a beautiful image that shows both a struggle and something beautiful. Maybe it’s because the cut is raw and the baby is soft and pure. It’s almost two opposing features.”

      • wookie130

        I will never for the life of me understand where the “hate” comes from with people who feel compelled to blast Helen for this photo. I mean, I do understand, from a rather insane and stupid point of view…I guess I just can’t relate. That’s a beautiful mom, and a gorgeous baby, and a lovely scar.

        • Cobalt

          I don’t see anything even remotely hate-worthy in the picture. It’s a celebration of the triumph of new life. The total nudity I find a bit glaring, but overall it’s a beautiful new baby, a life and love worth every inch of that scar.

    • Cobalt

      I find the celebration and appreciation of life saving surgery to be quite refreshing. If showing the incision will help other mothers manage their fears of the unknown of cesareans, then that is great.

      I don’t like the gratuitous placement of the baby on the mother’s naked genitals. That really bothers me.

      • Gatita

        It doesn’t bother me because that’s the exit hatch for the baby and it’s clearly not meant to be sexual. It’s always a push-pull tension around women’s genitalia (like the whole “breasts are sexual” thing). But in this instance it’s clearly meant to simply juxtapose the baby with the scar. The photographer explained that the baby couldn’t rest on the mother’s abdomen because it’s only 3 days after the surgery.

        • Cobalt

          I understand why the baby had to be positioned there. I don’t think it is a completely unusable position, but…I disagree with not having so much as a bit of cotton between the baby’s face and the mother’s privates. During an actual vaginal delivery, fine. In any other circumstance, not so much.

          To me it’s more reminiscent of “seeding” than sexualizing breasts. Breasts really do have a feeding function. Vulvas shouldn’t have an infant photography function. There is no reason or benefit for that touch and it could be so easily avoided without challenging the juxtaposition of the baby and the scar.

          I think it’s a neat picture, definitely Art. But I like my art without naked adult’s genitals gratuitously touching a baby’s head.

          • Sarah

            There may have been a strategically placed bit of cotton between face and vulva anyway. The fact that we can’t see one doesn’t mean it wasn’t there.

          • Cobalt

            But why would you hide that? I would want people to know it’s there!

          • Sarah

            Better photo image, perhaps? And maybe she felt differently.

          • Cobalt

            It really does come down to artist choice, in the end. If it were my photo, there would be a little blanket between us, and no pubic hair would be showing to draw attention to my genitals.

            But it’s not my photo.

          • Roadstergal

            And subject choice? It sounded like the pic was a collaboration, which I do find touching. “She asked me to come over this morning and shoot this particular image”

          • Wren

            The mother’s legs aren’t spread open or anything. I don’t think the baby’s head is touching her genitals actually unless her legs are super thin. I just tried sort of recreating that (over clothes) with my cat, since he was on my lap. No head to genital touching.

      • guest

        I love it with no reservations, and wish I had been able to have something similar taken of me and mine (for my private collection – I personally wouldn’t want it on the internet). A baby this young, the placement on the legs while naked doesn’t bother me, because that is how they exit, and in those crazy newborn days mom and newborn sometimes are naked all at the same time. Women bathe with their babies at this age sometimes. I wouldn’t expect everyone to want this photo of themselves, but because my c-section was unplanned and urgent, I have no photos from the operating room, and very few of me at all in those early days. If I had money, I’d’ve done something like this.

        • dbistola

          I tried posting this earlier. I really love the picture too, and I am having trouble squaring this with my irritation with the pictures of these nursing women. It does seem a tad personal, but she looks really good for just having delivered, and the scar looks like it’s healing nicely. It makes her look heroic and motherly, and the baby is so cute. I am wondering why I have no problem with this picture being shared, but am annoyed at these women making photo ops of themselves nursing. I can’t really explain why. It’s not because I have a problem with women’s bodies because I really like this particular picture. It might be because of public nursing now taking this whole quasi political stance-as if these women are doing something politically important by nursing in unexpected scenarios. It might be because Dil is at work, where most people would not have their babies, and seems out of place. It might be because of the smirk on the caregiver’s face and the fact that the boy looks kind of awkwardly positioned. Anyone feel the same?

          • Gatita

            The double nursing in particular bugs the shit out of me because of her smirk and because it’s so over the top–not just toddlers but two toddlers and one of them isn’t even related to her (“I win the BF Olympics!!!!”).

            Dil’s TV appearance doesn’t bother me. You don’t see women nursing on TV and I don’t think it’s a bad thing for people to see it even though it’s kind of a stunty and grandstanding thing to do.

            Re: CS mom, you can’t see her face and she isn’t running around doing media interviews (that I know of). Also, as far as I know, the photo was intended as a personal portrait and it was the photographer who shared it on her page not mom screaming about normalizing CS.

            But that may all be rationalization and bias and I should feel the same about all the pics. I don’t know.

          • dbistola

            I think you exactly put your finger on it. The purpose of the pictures-the CS picture was not attempting to make a political statement of sorts. It was a beautiful moment to capture. I agree that what Dil did wasn’t bad, although stunty-simply because it was somewhat out of place/context. Was she making her appearance to specifically nurse on tv? That would mitigate things a tad. I just do not like the idea that some lady can putter around her merry way and be your average Jane Schmoe BreastFeeder, yet see herself as this political radical or wave maker, when in thousands of other places women simply plop down and nurse. It seems privileged-and who will necessarily be helped in a serious manner? More women may feel better about nursing in public but will that solve our serious issues like poverty? Also it’s funny that you also dislike the smirk. She looks so prideful, and where I might excuse that in an impoverished place with two small infants, two toddlers sitting on a comfy couch next to her and craning their necks does not spell activism. The truth is on the surface they sound like they should be the same-but they are vastly different.

          • Cobalt

            Lactivists have campaigned to turn the general perception of breastfeeding images to statements about Overcoming Major Adversity with nursing mothers as Warriors and Champions. This perception is so pervasive and distasteful (because breastfeeding really is nowhere near a life or death battle, there’s no real risk they’re taking or defeating) that it colors even images that don’t have those goals.

            The cesarean photo really does depict the results of a major risk and subsequent triumph of life. And it’s not anchored in a culture of bragging about the accessibility of a particular choice.

          • Roadstergal

            Well put.The cesarean photo really does depict the results of a major risk and subsequent triumph of life.”
            Well put.

          • guest

            Well, for one thing, this photo looks like art. We have long made exceptions for art to depict things that were taboo in real life. So this this looks “legit” while someone’s breastfeeding selfie isn’t received the same way. I don’t know if that’s what’s niggling *you*, but I definitely think of this one as an art photo and not a “look at my scar I’m so great” photo.

    • Sarah

      Her stomach went down much faster than mine.

    • dbistola

      I personally really like the photo, even the placement of the baby. She looks fabulous for just having delivered and the scar looks like it’s healing up nicely. It does seem intensely personal though.
      Interestingly I am feeling somewhat conflicted on the sharing of this picture. I like that it was shared. It makes c sections look beautiful and heroic, and I feel that needs to be shared….
      HOWEVER….I am irritated by the women above who are attempting to make themselves heroic by nursing those kids. What could it be? I’m obviously not annoyed by women’s bodies because I love the c section picture. I obviously like to see sentimental images of motherly commitment to children.
      Maybe it’s because I dislike the whole nursing in public thing becoming some kind of political movement (one where it would be hard to see benefits to lots of children)?
      Maybe it’s the fact that Dil was nursing her kid at work, which seemed out of place and sort of needless? Maybe it was the age of the kid nursing from his babysitter, or her stupid prideful expression??? Someone help me out here.

  • Susan

    Disagree, again, on this and the comparisons of public breastfeeding to sex or urination make me embarrassed to be a regular of this blog. Appreciate most of what you say but I don’t like this post at all. To each their own i guess.

    • Carolina

      Agree, and I normally love this blog. I don’t like breastfeeding stunts, but breastfeeding isn’t remotely similar to elimination. It sounds like Donald Trump made that argument.

      • guest

        Yeah, I have to agree as well. If a woman can do her particular job while nursing, she should! That’s normalizing. I’m not enthralled with purposefully planning a live TV appearance *just* to NIP, but newborns eat so often it would be easier than pumping in many cases (not all, obviously – only a very mellow baby can hang out at work without being disruptive). But it’s just not anything like urinating or menstruating in public. For starters, nursing doesn’t involve leaving your bodily fluids behind – the baby swallows the milk.

        • fiftyfifty1

          “If a woman can do her particular job while nursing, she should! ”

          I agree that breastfeeding is nothing like elimination, but I can’t quite agree that if a woman CAN do her job while nursing, she SHOULD do her job while nursing. Would the same be true if it were bottle feeding, or if it were a man? For example, would we say “If a man can do his particular job while bottlefeeding, he should!”?

          I myself COULD do my job (doctor) while feeding an infant, I suppose. But why does that mean I SHOULD?

          • guest

            Yes, if a woman or man can do their job with their child present in the workplace, they should be able to, provided that workplace is safe (no construction sites, etc.) and the baby is not disruptive. As I said, it takes a mellow baby, and it’s something that only works during the newborn period – once they get mobile and start being awake more often, forget it, unless you work at a daycare or something.

            This doesn’t mean I don’t support maternity leave that covers the entire period someone might pull off the baby at work thing, just that it should be an option when possible.

          • fiftyfifty1

            But before, you said if a woman can do her job while breastfeeding a baby, she SHOULD do so. Now you are saying parents “should be able to” have their children present in the workplace.

            I really am confused about what you are advocating. Are you saying that if it is possible, a breastfeeding mother OUGHT to take her baby to work? Or are you saying that we should change laws so that all parents (barring a construction site etc) can bring their children to work to be cared for, at least as long as they are well behaved? Because a system in which parents are encouraged to bring their kids to work would take some MAJOR policy and cultural changes.

          • Cobalt

            Also, define “well behaved”. Seriously high potential for excluding a lot of kids with disabilities, and subsequent discrimination suits.

          • Amazed

            Plus, “Well behaved” means nothing in context of work. Sure, it makes some things easier but normally, it’s hard for everyone to behave as if someone isn’t even there. That’s the only way for a child, or adult, actually, not not disrupt. Under any other circumstances, it would be rude to treat someone like air, for both mom and her co-workers. Usually, people want those around them to feel comfortable, especially when they’re children. You stop by to consult your colleague, and you’re automatically conditioned to AT LEAST say hi to the kid. A disruption already!

            On the other hand, there is a reason why friends cannot generally just drop by at your job and sit patiently in the room waiting for you to finish working. And it isn’t only because of YOUR productivity.

          • Dr Kitty

            Would you like to have your GP’s baby in the room during your consultation?

            I mean, it’s basically a desk job, it wouldn’t be difficult to have to baby in a car seat or play pen in a corner, but would it be ideal for me, or the baby, or the patients?

            No, no it would not.

            Amongst other things, baby would probably be exposed to chicken pox, strep pneumonia, RSV, Rotavirus, Norovirus and every kind of cold and ‘flu virus well before it would be a good idea.

            Maternity leave+ pumping+ keeping my kid away from sick people and not stuck in a play pen for 8 hours at a time seems like a much better plan.

          • Bombshellrisa

            There are plenty of home birth midwives who bring their nursing babies and toddlers with them to work. There are a lot of doulas who state that their nursing child will accompany them to consults and to the birth. Not professional! And not soothing! If I am paying someone a lot of money to comfort me, I expect that I will be their only focus.

          • guest

            And you are within your rights to request the child not come, or find another midwife, or birth in a hospital where safety concerns would clearly not permit this. Oh look, problem solved without needing to shame women who might think differently.

          • Bombshellrisa

            It’s not just a matter of thinking “differently”, it could also be considered a HIPAA violation.

          • Amazed

            Look, it’s clear that you want women to be paid for taking care of their own babies. Not going to happen, unless in very specific circumstances. It’ll never be the case that women CAN bring their children at work and NOT bringing them would constitute those circumstances.

            I find the “I’ll do my own thing while being paid for doing something else that demands my full attention because I am a MOMMY!” mindset greatly disturbing. I don’t think a child wanting attention or even stirring can be conducive to their mother trying to resolve a shoulder dystocia or stop a PPH.

            You’re going too far here. You seem unable to see that there are professions where having your child is definitely counter-productive. You can whine about shaming poor little mommies who might think differently all you want but I am totally comfortable with shaming the bitches who place lives at risk just because they cannot or do not want to make childcare arrangements or worse, simply think that sticking their boobs for their kids to take as much “liquid gold” as possible is more important than other people’s lives and deaths.

          • Sarah

            The problem comes, of course, when I don’t have that choice. Perhaps I live in a rural area and there’s only one GP covering the day I’m off work. Perhaps the midwife the local homebirth team send out to me is the one who brings her nursing child with her (not that the NHS would allow this, but we’re talking hypotheticals). I will probably not be in much of a position to argue if I’m in labour.

          • Who?

            It’s the boring rights argument again, dressed in a tawdry costume. With rights come responsibilities, with choice exercised often comes choice limited for someone else.

            The privileged don’t see it that way though, they just see what will work for them with no interest in or respect for what might work for someone else, or what someone else might lose so they can have what they want.

          • Amazed

            I wonder what they would think of a woman who needs her job to make a livelihood but also happens to have a kid in need of an orthodontist. The orthodontist comes in town only once in a few MONTHS… and mom cannot find anyone to fill in for her. What would they do? Sure, mom should be allowed to have a leave to take the kid to the orthodontist… but she isn’t given it. Once again, she needs the job so that the family can make the ends meet. And no, no one else can take a leave either, so this isn’t an option.

            Rights. Such a sweet word.

            This is a real life case from about 30 years ago here, where women were proclaimed “empowered” because they were given the chance and actually expected to work out of home (and also, your average family here COULDN’T exist on one salary either).

          • Amazed

            Oh yes. And it’s terribly difficult for the children as well. I cannot speak about babies since I don’t have one of my own. My mom was took a maternity leave with both of us. I cannot talk about toddlers either since well, I don’t remember it. But when I was old enough to remember – it was BORING as hell. Stay there, in the bottom of the room, and do not talk. And oh, no matter how curious pupils try to engage you, do NOT give up.

            And that’s when I was being good.

            I cannot imagine it would be this good for a baby either. Provided that baby does not even startle in their nap and start wanting attention NOW while mom is trying to coax an answer out of a pupil or take a BP.

          • guest

            Yes, and as I made clear, the infant at the workplace idea was ONLY for newborns. They would not be bored because they cannot be bored – they eat, sleep, cry, and poop. If you have a crier (as I did) it’s not going to work. If *a* woman has *a* baby that can be be at worked and not cause problems, let it be there. The others, no. COMMON SENSE, PLEASE.

          • Who?

            So it’s common sense now that guides the structure around how the right woman, with a compliant workplace, colleagues and other parent, should (if she wants to) take a tiny immobile baby to work?

            To me it’s common sense that Imagining any woman would want to spend the first six-eight weeks after childbirth dragging herself and a new baby to work in an office so she can breastfeed is ridiculous. See why common sense doesn’t work as an objective standard?

            Not to mention that ‘can’ will quickly become ‘should’ especially where people are concerned about job security in difficult times. So choice will in fact evaporate.

            But on to more practical matters-who is going to carry the baby down the thirty floors in the fire escape when the alarm goes off, the newly delivered mum? Who’s going to wrangle the boss who wouldn’t recognise his own kids in a line-up but is too worried about upsetting hr to just say no? Who’s going to make sure that no one in or around the office has their own personal issues around babies (history of miscarriage or stillbirth, say) that having a baby in the office might trigger? Who’s going to take responsibility for the checking of police records to make sure no one with access to the workplace is a child sex offender?

          • Amazed

            So babies who are not criers never wake up suddenly and cry out? They don’t get inconvenienced by things like being dirty or hungry and start wanting attention NOW distracting everyone, their mom mostly? Forgive me but I find this hard to believe.

          • guest

            As is YOUR CHOICE. I wouldn’t mind if my GP had chosen to have *her* baby with her, and it worked. Doesn’t mean she HAS TO if she thinks it’s unsafe. As I said above, I wrote to hastily when I wrote simply “should.” I only meant it should be an option, not a mandate.

          • Sarah

            That’s charitable of you. I wouldn’t be that impressed if my GP had a baby that was crying or rooting for a feed while she was trying to check my piles. Nor would I like having to wait while she fed the baby before getting said piles checked. I’d be equally unhappy if it were a male GP bottle feeding his baby, or indeed a female GP bottle feeding hers. Luckily I live in a country with paid leave…

            Since you’re restricting this to pre-mobile babies, a large number of this cohort aren’t going to be on any kind of predictable feeding schedule either: mine both rolled before 4 months and spent a lot of time on the floor kicking and maneouvring themselves into things before that. The toddler never had a predictable feeding schedule, and the 6 month old doesn’t yet either. So you can’t just say you’d feed them and then schedule appointments around feeds. This is a nice idea you have, but it’s not going to work in practice for anything other than a tiny group of women, women who are sufficiently privileged that they could probably access maternity leave anyway.

          • guest

            Why on earth would you feel obligated to say hi to a sleeping six week old baby? C’mon, you’re not even trying here.

          • Amazed

            So you’d expect everyone to look over a sleeping baby and not feel obliged to say something like, “What a sweet kid” or something like this? Sometimes, things get heated at a workplace. I am a child lover but I do not relish the thought of modeling my work behavior as not to disturb a sleeping baby.

            I don’t know what kind of rocks you work and socialize with but it’s unacceptable for me to make a baby inconvenienced – and that means that the mere fact of bringing the baby along make ME inconvenienced and influence my work capacity.

          • guest

            Not disruptive to the workplace. Plain and simple. Either the work gets done and other workers aren’t inconvenienced, or it doesn’t and the baby can’t be there. I have in mind a far less litigious society, quite frankly.

          • Cobalt

            Children are inherently disruptive in the overwhelming majority of work environments, even if they have angelic behavior.

            And it’s very disruptive to the child’s development to be expected to have the limitations of a typical work environment imposed on so much of their childhood. Expecting a kid to spend 40 hours a week actively being out of the way is inappropriate.

          • guest

            So it wouldn’t work in the majority of workplaces – so what? That was in my initial proposal from the get-go.

            And no. There is nothing disruptive to a newborn’s schedule to sleep, eat, and poop at an office rather than it’s own home. You are clearly ignoring the part where I said it WOULD NOT WORK FOR CHILDREN AFTER THEY BECOME MOBILE.

          • Cobalt

            The eat/sleep/poop phase is typically the first six to eight weeks. Are we doing away with maternity leave entirely now?

          • guest

            Yes, I did say “should.” I meant “if she can and WANTS TO she should,” not “all women should.”

        • Roadstergal

          That’s an interesting point. A lot of women use mothers’ rooms or other private spaces at work to pump. Why not pump in the middle of a broadcast on TV?

          • guest

            I don’t think anyone has ever wanted to pump in public, but I think it should be just as permitted as nursing. It does expose more, typically, but I really don’t care how much boob a woman shows while nursing or pumping.

            But it is interesting that NIP is a big activist deal, but PIP isn’t.

        • Box of Salt

          guest “For starters, nursing doesn’t involve leaving your bodily fluids behind – the baby swallows the milk.”

          The babies you know obviously never spit up.

        • Mattie

          When I think of babies in the workplace I always think of this http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/mother-tongue/10462755/The-Italian-MEP-whos-a-poster-girl-for-working-mothers-everywhere.html it seemed to work out pretty well for the mum and child in this situation.

          However while I feel being able to have your baby with you at work (especially when your country has crap maternity leave) should be an option, I’m not down for anything that forces people to do things that make them uncomfortable.

  • Mattie

    OT: Advice needed. NHS just brought in the Meningitis ACWY vaccine for 18-19 year olds just starting university. I am 24 and going in to my second year, should I request the vaccine. I have only been vaccinated against Men C so far (as per previous requirements). Am I at risk for the disease?

    • Sue
      • Mattie

        Thank you, annoyingly that didn’t really answer my questions =/ will go and speak to my GP.

        • Dr Kitty

          You’re outside the parameters of the programme, stocks of vaccine are limited and your GP may not be willing to give it to you, because if you get it, it may mean someone in the identified risk group won’t.

          “Students in their second year or above of university do not need the vaccine and are not included in this programme.”

          The major risk of Men ACWY is for students going into halls of residence for the first time, which is why the programme is targeting freshers.

          • Mattie

            That makes sense, I figured they could get more vaccine but that is pretty selfish of me, I’ll ask if they would do it, and if not get it done at a travel clinic/privately. I need to have it before I go to the US anyway so just wanted it out of the way lol 🙂

          • Dr Kitty

            Why do you “need” it for the USA?
            Men ACWY isn’t recommend for travel to the USA.
            It is recommended for the Hajj and subsaharan Africa, but not the USA.

            If you just want it, and the trip is recreational, your GP is under no obligation to provide it on the NHS as non-recommended travel vaccination is non-GMS (i.e. your GP and their treatment room nurse aren’t being paid for it) so you’d have to pay for the vaccine.

            If the trip is some sort of elective or internship through your university and the course requires the vaccine they should have sub-contracted someone to provide the necessary vaccinations as part of their duty of care under occupational health law.

            Under UK health and safety legislation it is the employer’s responsibility to pay for and arrange any vaccinations their staff may need, and GPs can invoice the employer, but not the patient, for non-GMS vaccines.

            Believe me, it is labrythinine, and over complicated, but if my treatment room nurse suddenly has 25 students booked into her clinic who have all been told to get a non GMS vaccine for Camp America or whatever, whether or not we are getting paid for her time becomes important.

          • Mattie

            Because I’ll be studying abroad, and it’s one of the required vaccinations for attending almost every college. I’m not sure if that is covered under occupational health as it’s a student situation not a work situation, I don’t mind paying anyway. I had to pay for almost all my occupational health vaccines for my previous midwifery course.

          • Dr Kitty

            Probably easier to pay for it privately, and cheaper in the UK than the U.S.

          • Mattie

            Yeh exactly 🙂 will shop around lol

          • Roadstergal

            Can I just say, reading through this thread, that getting vaccinated against Men before studying in the US sounds like an awesome idea. 😀

          • Who?

            Anywhere really. A couple of late teens highschoolers from a local boarding school died of it here in the last (say) 10 years. It’s really quick, in boarding school half the world has a bug once someone gets sick, it was horrific.

            Get that jab, Mattie!

  • Azuran

    I just don’t get the point that she think was trying to make by breastfeeding her baby live on TV.
    Why is the baby at her job with her? Who brings their baby to their job and breastfeed them on the job (unless you work from home or have a day care)? No one is fighting for the right to bring their baby to their job and breastfeeding them while working. (ok, some people probably totally are fighting for this….but still)
    This has nothing with you asking for a break to pump milk at work. Or with the right to breastfeed in peace in public. What she did is the equivalent of your waitress serving you food in a restaurant while she is breastfeeding, or having the cashier at the grocery store breastfeeding while she is scanning your items. Nobody is fighting for that.
    This is actually hurting the cause…… Women like her give mothers in general a bad rep. Here we are, fighting to prove that we are just as good a men and that motherhood does not make us ‘bad employees’ and there she goes, bringing her baby to work and breastfeeding it at work. As if that’s a ‘normal’ thing that every mother should do.

    • Angela

      Exactly. When the baby is older, is she going to wheel in a high chair and have it throw food all over the place?

  • “Don’t tell me that breastfeeding is beautiful and deserves to be visible in public. Sex is beautiful but that doesn’t mean that women (or men) should be having sex during business conferences. Don’t tell me that the female body is beautiful. That doesn’t mean that women should show up for athletic events with menstrual blood running down their legs. Don’t tell me that nature is beautiful. That doesn’t mean that we want to see our politicians urinate on TV.”

    WTAF did I just read. Dear god you’re an idiot.

    Adsense revenue from this comment/hit towards your clearly desperate monetary needs. Use it to travel more and learn the globe maybe. Exploitation is sad. And needy.

    How fucking absurd and tone deaf could you be.

    Cya Dr Amy. May you find what you need.

    -e

    • Cc

      Berating others is the best you can come up with? Really?

      • Who?

        Calling attention to rudeness and hypocrisy is ‘berating’ now?

        I take it you would also characterise EG’s comment as’berating’ Dr T? Yet I don’t see you calling that out.

        So you’re on the hook for hypocrisy.

        Thanks for playing.

        • Nick Sanders

          Cc’s reply was to Elizabeth, not you.

    • Who?

      Another foul mouthed lactivist. What a surprise!

      I just hope all that revolting language isn’t finding its way into babies’ ears and brains-and they think formula is bad!!

    • Sarah

      While you’re here Elizabeth, fuck you for appropriating Black Lives Matter. You’re a piece of shit, an absolutely huge one. And a fucking racist to boot.

      And I say this as someone who actually agrees somewhat that the post you quote here is bollocks.

    • RMY

      Calling someone an idiot and then not explaining why you find something objectionable and leaving isn’t going to convince anyone who doesn’t already agree with you of anything. It’s frankly a waste of a post.

    • SporkParade

      Oh, hey, it’s you! I just wanted to let you know, as a breastfeeding mother, I find World Breastfeeding Week to be triggering as hell. Why? Because every single effing day, I have to put up with people who “support” me for breastfeeding by slapping me in the face for not being physically capable of doing it exclusively. So yeah, until breastfeeding support stops being synonymous with bullying formula feeders, I’m going to oppose WBW loudly and proudly. The funny thing about your post is that your attitude, i.e. women who use formula are formula feeders and therefore oppressive of breastfeeding, is exactly why so many women just switch completely to formula instead of combo-feeding.

  • Amy

    One of my biggest pet peeves is when people compare breastfeeding to urinating or sex. It’s not. It’s comparable to bottle feeding. I agree with you that feeding a child during a TV interview or a workplace meeting is inappropriate, but it’s inappropriate because one wouldn’t be feeding a child in either of those situations.

    • Sarah

      Yeah, if you don’t know the difference between peeing and feeding, I hope you don’t do much cooking.

    • Agree with this, Dr. Amy you miss the mark on this one, both images are exhibitionist but a woman feeding her child discreetly in public definitely is not.

    • toni

      I’m actually rather impressed with the Sri Lankan lady.. you can’t see any flesh at all. And yes, I agree with this. There is no reason why sex needs to occur in public, ever. And aside from accidents the same for urinating. Unless you don’t go out at all or are happy to leave your family/friends to run off and hide somewhere, choosing to breastfeed means you’re going to have to do it publicly at some point. I think we should *try* not to expose ourselves too much while doing it but feeding the baby is more important than protecting people from a glimpse of breast. I drape a blanket over my boob (not over the baby – she likes to look at me when she feeds) and sometimes it slips and I don’t notice for a few seconds. I expect most people to do the normal decent thing if they witness my accidental exposure and pretend they didn’t see anything.

      • Amazed

        In public? She’s feeding her baby at her workplace, not in public. Nothing in the world can convince me that she couldn’t find a babysitter so she wouldn’t have to TAKE her baby at her workplace and breastfeeding when she’s in the middle of the most public part of her work.

        I was rather impressed with her, too. Impressed with her smugness. Is this what women should be striving for? Making breastfeeding stunts at work? She’s spitting in the face of all women who had no choice but take their children to work because they didn’t have anywhere to leave them and faced the negatives. I am saying this as the kid who spent a good many hours in my mom’s classroom and been disruptive when being bad and when being good just by being THERE.

        No one ever fought for the right to bring their kids to work and breastfeed them. It interferes with work, no matter what. It takes away attention – both the mother’s and her co-workers. What this attention-seeking woman did was “Look at me, what a MOM I am! Nothing comes before my child!” It would have been the same if she breastfed naked to her waist, bottlefed, or had a wetnurse serving her on bent knee.

        As if work comes before children for other women who have no choice but leave their children home to be able to do their jobs because there won’t be a TV camera documenting their greatness and people admiring them for not flashing out boobs.

        Workplace and in public are not nearly one and the same.

        • toni

          whut? I’m impressed with her ability to breastfeed with no blanket and not show an inch of skin because I can’t do that. That was all I said regarding her. “And yes, I agree with this [Amy’s comment]..” that breastfeeding is not comparable to urinating and intercourse because breastfeeding mothers need to do it outside the home in order to have a life (and also because it’s not unhygienic.) I wasn’t talking about ms wickremasinghe’s situation, it was a separate train of thought. I know breastfeeding at work and in a restaurant are different so sorry you wrote all that for no reason lol. I should have put a break between the first sentence and the rest of my post.

          • Amazed

            Ah, I see. I was not impressed with that because generally I don’t look at other women’s chest area when they breastfeed, so I wouldn’t know just how easy or hard it is to not expose yourself.

            I just have a problem with equating “in public” and “at one’s workplace”.

      • Roadstergal

        “There is no reason why sex needs to occur in public, ever.”

        You’ve never been to the Folsom Street Fair. 😀

        • toni

          No..? I’m guessing that’s something I would regret googling haha

          • Roadstergal

            It’s a laid-back, adult-only celebration of consensual depravity.

            It’s great fun, if you’re into that sort of thing, and a good idea to go to Pier 39 instead if you’re not.

  • Allie P

    I breastfeed in public all the time, and i don’t use a blanket, either. I want to be able to see my infant while all this is going on. But that doesn’t mean I’m letting it all hang out. Scarves and cardigans and camisoles mean no one sees a nipple unless they are looking REALLY hard at the exact second between me baring my breast and my kid latching on. But that doesn’t mean I need to do it on live TV.

    • Cobalt

      My baby would unlatch and whip his head around to look at stuff, dramatically exposing me to any onlookers in the process, unless I used a cover to keep him focused. Using a cover cut nursing time in half, just by getting him to eat and only eat. Onlookers be damned (and really, there shouldn’t be any gawkers, mind your own business, TYVM), I covered or went somewhere quiet to nurse for my own convenience.

      You gotta do what works for you.

      • Allie P

        I totally agree, you have to do what you want to do. My baby will fuss and flail if I try to cover her up, though. So people saying “you should use a cover or it’s inappropriate” isn’t right either. You should do what your baby and you can manage. It’s just like support for pumping is great, but saying, “Why don’t you just pump” as if it’s going to work or be equivalent for all mothers and babies isn’t helpful. I was told to go on a week long trip when my baby was 6 months and when I said I couldn’t because of nursing, I was told I “could just pump” and it would be fine. No, it’s not fine, because pumping doesn’t work well for me.

  • JellyCat

    It looks like there are lactoexhibitionists and lactopornographers, and there are also mothers who nurse their infants in public places. And these categories are distinctly different.

  • Zen

    The thing I don’t get is, I would WANT breastfeeding to be a private moment between me and my baby. Out-of-the-way, quiet nursing room? Sign me up! If no such facilities are available I’ll feed the kid wherever. But why would you WANT people watching you do that? Head scratcher to me.

    • Ellen Mary

      If you BF for any length of time, or more than one child, the softly lit romantic version goes right out the window. It is really just eating. It isn’t some private baby & me honeymoon. It really is just a kid is hungry & your manner of feeding him happens to be on your body. I don’t want to go to a private nursing space because I have other freaking kids to mother & sometimes a husband to tend to so if I am in an airport & I need to nurse, I can’t just disappear with my baby & leave the others & I can’t take older kids into a private mother/baby space. The idea that a mother & a baby need to disappear together works only for women not trying to manage older children & social responsibility at the same time.

      • jenny

        Or this: “The idea that a mother & a baby need to disappear together works
        only for women not trying to manage older children & social
        responsibility at the same time.” well said.

    • Amy

      Because it’s feeding a baby? And honestly, most people aren’t really looking all that hard. Because most of the time, you can’t even tell whether a woman is nursing or just holding the baby close. When you’ve got small children, out of the way = inconvenient. Especially when one of those kids is hungry. Add to that the fact that many places that do bother to build/create “nursing rooms” for mothers and babies make them “nursing and CHANGING rooms” and now we’re talking about sitting for 20 minutes in a place that smells like dirty diapers, even if it does have nice lighting and comfortable rocking chairs. No thank you– give me a bench somewhere, anywhere, and I’m good.

    • Trixie

      Because I didn’t want to isolate myself to feed my babies?

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      It’s not a question of wanting people to watch you. It’s a question of wanting to have a life outside nursing.
      DD wouldn’t eat under a cover. She would also take 60+ minutes to nurse every 2-3 hours (usually closer to 2). Hiding in another room to nurse for an hour or more out of every 2-3 is not conducive to a social life. When you’re already struggling with PPD and social isolation, it’s crippling.
      Lastly, nursing women often have other children to care for. Making a toddler or two leave the fun and go be isolated with an unhappy, resentful mom while she nurses isn’t conducive to anyone’s sanity.

      • Zen

        So you decided to not tuck yourself away and/or use a cover–that’s totally cool and sounds like it was totally necessary. Good for you for doing what worked for you.

        For me personally, it’s not that I’d have to sit in a closet every time (as you said, impractical), I just don’t get off on the thought of everyone watching me with a kid on my boob, like these ladies seem to be doing.

        • jenny

          Most women don’t get off on the idea of everyone watching them. They are just trying to get on with life, which includes inconvenient babies. And most people don’t really pay attention, ergo, it’s not a big deal unless someone makes it a big deal.

          • Zen

            I don’t disagree. When I say “these ladies”, I refer to the exhibitionists in the main picture.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          *nods understandingly* It sounds as though we’re on the same page, then.
          Believe me, I know the type. For some reason I can only attribute to madness on my part, I joined the local nursing moms’ page. Though there’s a much-crunchier-than-I vibe, most of the women there seem of the go-along-get-along nursing sort. One or two, however, seem to spend their lives going out of their way to nurse their toddlers in odd areas, and then scream about discrimination whenever someone says something or doesn’t accommodate their every whim. A prime example of this was the time one of the members decided to berate some poor minimum-wage-slave at a local children’s indoor playplace because the playplace had a moms’ room with a glider/rocker. Why on earth would this be a problem, you ask? Because OBVIOUSLY they were trying to MAKE NURSING MOTHERS HIDE AWAY because they didn’t have a glider/rocker out in the main playplace area as well, and clearly this was DISCRIMINATION !!!!ELEVENTY!
          *facepalm*

    • Somewhereinthemiddle

      I would appreciate the luxury of wanting nursing to be a relaxed, unrushed, quiet moment. But as a mother of soon to be 4 children, using nursing rooms is just that, a luxury. I know of only a small handful of places that have them anyway. I will be nursing on playgrounds, at schools, stores, kids birthday parties, restaurants, in the car in carpool line, and I will be doing it quite publicly because my kids are too young to leave unsupervised in such place. *Shrugs* I don’t *want* people to watching but it’s pretty much unavoidable.

  • SarahSD

    My experience has been that breastfeeding is pretty normalized wherever I find myself, but that doesn’t mean it’s the case for everyone. Personally I don’t see either of these images as shocking or a “stunt” so I guess for me, breastfeeding is very normalized. I nursed wherever I wanted without a cover, and never had any trouble. Maybe, just maybe, in real life I was sensitive to context cues and didn’t nurse where I didn’t feel comfortable or in ways that would make those around me uncomfortable, but I also didn’t go out of my way to worry about everyone else. Nursing at work can be totally normal. I took my newborn to class in grad school, committee meetings, and other events, and nursed her, no one even noticed. The only one who was detrimentally distracted was me, so I found a sitter.

    The internet will blast your image into anyone’s eyeballs, far beyond any comfortable community bubbles. Sure, then, I guess that’s exhibitionistic. But it also reveals who is habituated to seeing breastfeeding as no big deal, and who isn’t. I guess that in this sense, it’s exhibitionist because it’s totally one-way and context-insensitive. People scrolling through buzzfeed or whatever might not want to look at breastfeeding pictures. Sure. But in real life, I’m all for people feeding their babies however they want wherever and whenever they need feeding. If you’re comfortable feeding your baby in the middle of the grocery aisle, or next to a stranger on a plane, go for it. I have. In real life, people are usually sensitive to context cues and can figure out when it makes sense to do something. The comparisons to gstrings and pissing or sex in public are just as judgemental-sounding and off the mark as when breastfeeding advocates express their “sadness” or dismay by comparing formula feeding to poison or junk food.

    These images are not, in themselves, shaming other mothers for their choices by showing themselves breastfeeding. They’re not hurting anyone. Some people might be bothered by them. You seem to be. My view is that others’ slight discomfort around my feeding choices was not my problem. These mothers take a different tack – it seems that by being so very public, they have made your discomfort their – and everyone’s – problem. But if you disagree with their tactic, ramping up the “controversy” and continuing to fan the fames of their viral meme doesn’t seem like the best way to show it.

  • dbistola

    I agree that these are stunts and obnoxious ones. Nursing at work or on live tv is. What good is this going to do anybody? None. The random person who gets worked up at the sight of a nursing baby will simply be moved to more anger.

    People are used to seeing breasts covered up in this country-for hundreds of years. There is no good reason why anyone needs to let that privacy go.

    If a woman is nursing her baby, of course she shouldn’t be ogled, harassed, or bothered. But you cannot stop someone from feeling discomfort, nor rage against them for feeling that way.

    What is wrong with nursing covers? I used them all of the time. Why is that not a thing anymore?

    • dbistola

      Again, I want to point out that it is a woman’s right to take her breast out to feed her baby, and it is our jobs to be polite and adults. But she just cannot stop a stranger from being irritated.

    • Cobalt

      Some babies really don’t do well with nursing covers, and honestly, nursing isn’t something to hide.

      It’s not something to gratuitously show off, but it shouldn’t be embarrassing or shameful either.

      • dbistola

        I would agree with the fact that it shouldn’t be embarrassing or or gratuitous. But here’s the question-is it a problem for those to exist? How about looser clothing?

        Nursing isn’t something to hide, but people feel discomfort over seeing very personal body parts like nipples. When I nursed without a cover I was still pretty discreet, but I can understand someone feeling like this is a personal body part and like they are watching something private.

        • Mattie

          they could not watch, it’s not really difficult to not stare at someone’s breasts (or the back of a baby’s head)

          • dbistola

            That’s great and most people don’t, but you cannot prevent someone from being discomfited by seeing a private body part. I have some older relatives who are uncomfortable wearing pants for God’s sakes. Should I humiliate them for their own good?

          • Mattie

            No, but you should also not feel that you need to alter your behaviour just for them. Feeling uncomfortable is not the worst thing in the world, and as adults we should be able to just deal with it and move on,

          • dbistola

            See, I do have a problem with that. If I know a certain person is a little sensitive about bodies, I would just excuse myself. Why alienate someone that I might care about? I would not want to show my nipple to my father’s friends/cousins.

            My problem with these exhibitions is that it HAS TO BE ALL OR NOTHING. No in between, no normal people taking their company into account.

          • Mattie

            I agree, but you can’t know the feelings of every potential stranger you might encounter while out and living your life, so doing something you don’t want to do (being forced to do something you don’t want to do) to make strangers you don’t know feel less uncomfortable is just too much effort.

          • JellyCat

            This why there are people who fart in public places and not care. Some, may have no choice of course, but not all 😉 it’s simply to much effort for them to wait.

          • Mattie

            I don’t think that’s all that wrong either lol

          • dbistola

            I think it is easier, much easier to go off to the side and discreetly nurse (doesn’t have to be too discreet, just no nipple out in front of strange people) rather than plop down in a world of strangers and make it a point to bare my breasts. I cannot control the world around me.

            I can control me, though.

          • JellyCat

            Well, I often alter my behaviour on public. I behave differently at home. I also like swearing at times, but I’m not doing that on public.

          • Mattie

            Oh haha I swear in public, but only when I’m talking to my friends, but I also don’t say really bad words so eh whatever…if you’re out in public you sort of accept that you can’t control what other people do, and unless it’s directly harming you/your family then you just need to chill and move on with your day.

        • Sarah

          Nobody here has suggested that the existence of nursing covers is a problem, so it’s hardly a question that especially needs to be asked here. By all means take it up with Rixa Freeze.

      • JellyCat

        I didn’t like using my nursing cover in some instances, but I would always find a way to not expose my breast. This is because I’m respectful of other people.

    • Mattie

      I hate the argument that just because something has been going on for hundreds of years we need to accept it, slavery went on for a couple of hundred years, acceptable homophobia for even longer, racism is still a problem today…should we just accept that because it’s been like that for years, or should we become more self-aware and try to change the things in society that are unfair or unnecessary (like forcing women to hide when they nurse, either in a room or under a blanket).

      • dbistola

        Covering up your private parts is not slavery. I might hate that argument too, but in my opinion this comparison does not work.

        • Mattie

          It’s not slavery but I’m not equating breastfeeding with slavery, rather the sexist aspect of how we view female bodies as different to male bodies…so comparing sexism to racism to homophobia.

          • dbistola

            I don’t like looking at shirtless males much either, and neither do most traditional minded people. Although that is undoubtedly less sexualized than female.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            No doubt, you don’t want to see me shirtless.

          • dbistola

            it’s not that I would find it unsexy, but I do see the absence of a shirt as tacky and someone personal. My dad used to go around shirtless and in a very thin worn pair of shorts in the summer.

            I found this disgusting and horrible….ugh-no one could look at him.

          • Mattie

            Haha I feel you there, I kinda feel the same, this summer I went to stay with my dad and it was so hot he was just walking round in underpants…eventually I just accepted it and walked around in bra and pants or a t-shirt and pants lol

          • dbistola

            he did it around the house and outside, but did not feel ashamed when visitors came around. I would be dying inside, and I am pretty sure they were uncomfortable too.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            At night, I will often wear nothing but underwear, but that’s sleepwear. When folks are visiting, I at least wear shorts.

          • Mattie

            I sleep in my birthday suit =P but only when I’m alone

          • toni

            I have never seen my dad without a shirt on! It’s very unusual to see him without a tie come to think of it. Even at the beach he’s in a shirt and a crew neck or a seersucker suit. My husband is the complete opposite.. always bumming around the house in his boxers. I think it’s so slovenly and disrespectful.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I found this disgusting and horrible….ugh-no one could look at him.

            Yeah, that’s the usual response…

          • Tara Coombs Lohman

            Did we have the same father? Mine was fairly horrid looking in his cut-off jean shorts and his six-pack abs–from real six packs, not from working out. Oy. I loved him, but I cringed every time I heard him fire up the lawn mower.

          • Mattie

            Yes, but you CAN look at them. Like, it’s the norm in a lot of countries that men can be topless (in some places) but women cannot. I’m not mad about looking at topless men either, or topless women, I wouldn’t go topless myself…but I can acknowledge that one rule for men and one for women isn’t exactly fair. I’d rather have equal rights and be a bit uncomfortable than just accept a ridiculous double standard, even if it wouldn’t alter my life at all.

          • dbistola

            I think all people should keep their shirts on except for the beach or around their own yards. Exceptions made for nursing babies.

          • KarenJJ

            One of the weird things about working in the UK was topless men sunbathing on the lawn next to the office at my work during our lunchbreaks. I never ever saw that in Australia.

      • demodocus

        slavery is much, much older than the United States,

    • Dr Kitty

      I had a baby that screamed and cried and would not feed under a cover.
      I managed to BF perfectly discreetly without one.

      Waterfall cardigan + nursing vest+ t-shirt = no boob on show.

      Mandating nursing covers is not helpful, they aren’t necessary, and some babies don’t like them.

      • dbistola

        it’s not the nursing cover, and most certainly not the idea of a mandate.

        I strongly feel that none of this should be mandated. However, it’s the idea that there are ways to nurse and clothing (a lot of clothing actually) that makes things less awkward for everyone.

        I don’t see why it has to be a thing-some people seem to feel that everyone must be forced to love a bare breast in public for their own good. There are a lot of people who simply are not comfortable, call it crazy, etc. A lot of mothers don’t want to show their breasts. A lot of people don’t want to see them.

        • Amy

          But are you spending as much time criticizing non-breastfeeding women for showing too much boob? It’s summer right now. I haven’t breastfed in over four years, and I have rather large breasts for my small frame. Ergo, most of my summer clothes reveal a decent amount of cleavage. And that’s a LOT more than how much breast showed the majority of the time I nursed in public, when my kids’ heads covered everything that my tank tops don’t.

          • dbistola

            Where is my critique? Did I not mention repeatedly that a woman has the right to nurse in public and even bare her breasts to do so?

            Nope. I am only thinking of nipples, the whole breast itself, and if someone surprised someone with an entirely bare breast. I have big boobs myself and they tend to show up more often than not. Cleavage is pretty common when someone is out and about. Nipples and bare breasts, not so much.

            I pointedly said that anyone has the right to nurse in public, and even bare their breasts to do so. I only said that others may react differently, and many people would be uncomfortable (i.e. my dad’s friends). If you want to go after someone against public nursing, it would not be me. I did it myself. All the time.

            Many women on this feed cop to covering up in some manner, so it is obvious that there are people who care. Many women on this feed mention that they do prefer being discreet if they can, or going somewhere else if possible/feasible. The all or nothing argument is stupid and needlessly incendiary.

          • dbistola

            I am vociferously caring that some people might be uncomfortable with seeing my nipple, and some women would not wish to show theirs either. I dislike these stunts because they frame it as “here’s a nipple. Grow up you loser.” The reality is much different. Most women nurse publically with no fanfare.

        • Amy

          And if you don’t want to see something……don’t look. Pretty simple.

          • dbistola

            Are you talking to me? why would I want/not want to see a nursing breast? I am not referring to myself. I am referring to other people in this world around me. Because, there are other people in this world other than me. They may be a little freaked out if I showed them my entire bare breast.

            the pat response is that I am not supposed to care, or blow it off, or consider these people not worth my time. But the unfortunate truth is that some of these people who might not want to see my nipples are worth my time, god love them.

          • Amy

            I am talking to you. For someone who so vociferously doesn’t care, you’re spending an awful lot of time worrying about whether the sight of a nipple might bother someone. Why not let those people worry about themselves?

            But I’m also using “you” in the general sense. Maybe I should have gone all formal and said “one.”

          • Sarah

            Yes. The onus is on the person who doesn’t wish to see a lactating breast to do the work, not on the woman. There is no right not to be exposed to breastfeeding.

          • dbistola

            I don’t have a problem with a lactating breast. There is no onus on me. I have also pointed out repeatedly that I am not referring to rights which are legally mandated. Everyone has a right to pull their breast out to feed their child. This is the fourth time I have typed this.

          • Sarah

            Nobody suggested you did. This is not all about what you have posted.

          • dbistola

            Then why under my thread, in response to me?

          • Sarah

            It was a response to Amy (not Dr Amy, the commenter Amy).

      • araikwao

        I am just cheap, and never bought the pillows or covers or specialised clothing, and I never showed anything. A singlet top under my usual clothing and a flat cloth nappy tucked into my bra to catch the extra downpour plus cover my stretched-out belly kept everything decent. I became less comfortable about feeding in public with my second, but it was do-able anywhere we needed to.
        Edited for clarity.

    • Trixie

      Not everyone likes them or feels they’re necessary.

    • Julia

      No one is under any obligation to ensure others around them aren’t uncomfortable. I get uncomfortable when a pen creeks on a whiteboard. People get uncomfortable at all sorts of things. Nursing without a cover is fine, and the uncomfortable onlooker just needs to suck it up.

    • Sarah

      Nothing is wrong with nursing covers, they’re a legitimate and useful invention for women who for whatever reason need or want to cover while feeding. Everything is wrong with suggesting other women ought to use them when they don’t feel the need to.

      • dbistola

        Read below where I don’t. Over and over. I just did not see them as so problematic.

        • Sarah

          This doesn’t refute anything I said in my post. You asked what’s wrong with nursing covers, and were responded to. If you don’t want answers, refrain from asking the question.

  • Paloma

    OT but the sentence talking about menstrual blood reminded me about it. Have you seen these crazy people talking about free flow? Apparently they say that you shouldn’t use any feminine hygiene products and let your period soak your clothes (because that is just SO comfortable). And since this isn’t enough, they also use the blood to cook cupcakes and brownies. WHY would anyone do that? I’m so disturbed by it.
    Dr. Amy you should do a piece about them too, they aren’t that different from the cook the placenta folk 😉

    • Roadstergal

      Cupcakes and brownies? I don’t get it, surely spaghetti sauce would make more sense?

      • Medwife

        I’m American, but isn’t “black pudding” a thing? There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, plenty of things traditionally call for blood. Ugh, I just remembered a really gross scene in the book “Trainspotting”… non traditional use of menstrual blood in food

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          At the risk of grossing out all sorts of people: yes, black pudding is a thing, and for the record, it’s insanely and obscenely delicious. 😉
          Think I’ll stick with the more traditional recipes for it, though, thanks…

        • namaste863

          Black pudding is definitely a thing. I’ve eaten it myself in Ireland. Tastes more herbal than anything.

        • Sarah

          Yes. Very, very popular in the north of England

    • Cobalt

      The “freebleeding” campaign was started as a hoax to make fun of feminism. A massive Poe.

      The fact that some have taken it seriously and turned it into an actual thing is…unfortunate.

      • Paloma

        That makes it even worse!! lol

    • Mattie

      I’d need to see some proof of this, because it sounds like a hoax to me…

      • Paloma

        Try #freebleed on instagram. Spoiler alert: it is extremely disgusting.

    • wookie130

      Oh, that is just VILE, seriously. When does the crazy reach it’s max???

  • GiddyUpGo123

    Is it just me or does the kid on the left (the one in the striped shirt) look really uncomfortable and not at all into what he’s doing? I don’t know which one is her kid and which one isn’t, but that one in particular looks like he’s being forced to do something he doesn’t really want to do.

    • Mattie

      I thought that too, not sure what’s going on there…unless the reporter really wanted a photo so they made the kids pose.

  • Trixie

    I’m not sure I’m with you on the comparisons to sex or adult urination. Those are things that can generally wait, but a hungry infant can’t. I know from other posts that you’re cool with women nursing in public as a matter of going about their lives, but I’m not sure that’s going to be clear to the parachuters.
    To your point about the childish defiance and exhibitionism of these women, I agree totally.
    I nursed my infants wherever I happened to be, most people never noticed, and those who did were basically always neutral to positive. It just wasn’t a big deal. Granted, I had an easy time latching and nursing in general, and I’m not so super huge that the logistics were impossible. I realize it’s not that easy for everyone.

    • JellyCat

      Of course the hungry infant can wait until mother steps aside to breastfeed or take her nursing cover to cover her boob.

      • Mattie

        ok, so nursing covers are great, feeding somewhere private is great…if that is what the mother wants to do, we shouldn’t be forcing women to do things just because we find breasts uncomfortable to look at, they’re just boobs…nothing weird or gross or sexual about them, many many many men have what can be described as breasts, but they can get them out in public.

        • JellyCat

          Since when female breasts aren’t sexual? What about Victoria Secret models, lingerie, breast augmentation surgeries ?

          • Mattie

            I mean, they are not ‘inherently’ sexual, they have been sexualised by society, but that isn’t a good or beneficial thing. Many things are sexualised by society that should not be.. toys, clothes, children’s media they all overtly sexualise young women and girls. The only way to ‘unsexualise’ society is to equal out the way we view men and women, so campaigns like ‘free the nipple’ are around trying to show that girl boobs/nipples and boy boobs/nipples are the same. There’s nothing one can do that the other cannot.

            Also, you’re right about VS and other underwear brands, lots of sexualised boobs everywhere…and nobody bats an eye at those adverts, even if they’re a hell of a lot more ‘exhibitionist’ than a mum feeding a baby.

          • Amazed

            I find unsexualizing society a terrible idea. I was never fond of sexual toys and the likes but humans are sexual beings. Admitting that sexuality is part of human nature means that it’s part of society. I see it as our duty to manage it the way we could. But unsexualizing society is a mission that has as much chance to succeed as teaching teens abstinence. There are some primal trigger and like it or not, female breasts are part of those. I am not fond of seeing topless men everywhere but it doesn’t change the fact that a topless woman would equal a man who proudly waves his naked manhood walking by.

            Sexual triggers are different for women and men. As to sexualized boobs everywhere… no one is disturbed by those because they are MEANT to be erotic and exhibitionist.

            Personally, I am not disturbed by women nursing the way they see fit. The only way I cannot see as being fit is women nursing in public and looking at people defiantly, waiting for someone to look away so THEY can look all hurt. What’s wrong with me not looking at someone else’s boobs?

        • Amy M

          Women’s breasts are most certainly sexual. However, when in the context of nursing, they are not. Dual function organs, and most people can tell the difference between breasts being displayed for sexual reasons, and breasts as a food source for a baby. I agree that women should be able to nurse in public, with or without a cover. Better still would be if all busybodies left her alone to get on with it. But the lactivist argument that breasts are ONLY for feeding babies and NEVER sexual is wrong.

          • Mattie

            I dunno, I don’t think they’re any more sexual than any other body part, male nipples aren’t seen as secondary sexual characteristics so why are women’s nipples/breasts? I mean, any body part can be ‘sexual’ in that it makes the person feel good when touched (ears, hair, feet for some people) but people don’t find those body parts weird or private.

          • JellyCat

            Mattie, there is a difference between societal norm and individuals. Some people may find feet to be sexy, but unless we are in ancient China, no one will feel uncomfortable looking at or accidentally touching someone’s exposed feet.
            Also, some bady parts are sexualized and private. This is how our society evolved and there is no point denying that.

          • Mattie

            Not denying, but since when do we have to just accept/not try to change, the crappy parts of society.

          • Amy M

            Why is it crappy that breasts are sexual? There are a number of theories as to why many male (and some female) humans find breasts a turn-on, but it seems like a wide-spread phenomenon–not just Western culture.
            I would agree that there are ads and various consumer products that are using the fact that people find breasts sexual gratuitously. Just because sex sells doesn’t mean it should be the go-to for advertising. It’s inappropriate to use sexual images to sell toys (except sex toys) or food. It IS crappy that there’s still sexism and objectification of women’s bodies in America (and other places, but the US should be better than that). But humans still find breasts sexy and would even if body parts were never used in advertising.

          • JellyCat

            The breasts are a turn on, because nipple stimulation causes oxytocin release and that increases sexual pleasure. This is how our “smart” bodies work.

          • Amy M

            Sure, but some people get turned on just by looking at breasts, no touching involved.

          • JellyCat

            We, as a western society, may have some room for improvement, but I don’t think it’s crappy that breasts are sexual. And even if I thought it’s crappy, I wouldn’t go out topless or expose my breasts on public knowing that this is not societal norm and may offend others.

          • Megan

            ” male nipples aren’t seen as secondary sexual characteristics so why are women’s nipples/breasts?”

            Because women’s breasts have glandular tissue designed to feed offspring. The term secondary sexual characteristic is not a social construct. It’s a biology term.

            Men have nipples because all fetuses start out as default “female” (obviously I mean physically and not genetically here) until the tissues are acted upon by anti-mullerian hormone. Nipples form before this process starts so men have nipples but not glandular breast tissue. That may not include all the specifics but that is the gist I can recall from embryology.

          • Mattie

            But they’re really not different, biosex males have the potential to develop breasts or even nurse if they take specific hormones, just as some biosex females are unable to nurse due to insufficient glandular tissue…yet the breasts of a biosex female are seen as sexual even when they do not have that glandular tissue or ability to feed offspring.

          • Roadstergal

            I think we’re conflating two things here – the inherent sexuality of breasts vs the societal titillation/taboo around them. Breasts are inherent sexual for many people, there’s no getting around that. The societal taboo around showing them, and the puritan bent that feeds it, is what should be addressed, IMO.

            And I used ‘titillation’ because – the suggestion of breasts is often more sexy than the outright article. The outright article is nice, but cleavage, low-cut dresses, see-through shirts with bras underneath – I think you get more bang for your buck that way… and I wonder about how that plays into – uh, what’s the portmanteau of breastfeeding and narcissism?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            The societal taboo around showing them, and the puritan bent that feeds it, is what should be addressed, IMO.

            I don’t deny the sexuality of the breast. However, that still needs to be put in context, doesn’t it? IOW, breasts CAN be sexy, then again, personally, there is nothing I find to be less sexy than a breastfeeding baby, no matter how much boob is showing.

            Just as I can find looking at vaginas very arousing, but watching childbirth is NOT sexy at all.

            Rule 38 and all that, but I’d hope that seeing a naked snatch while watching childbirth is not a turn on for most (grown) men.

          • Roadstergal

            “IOW, breasts CAN be sexy, then again, personally, there is nothing I find to be less sexy than a breastfeeding baby, no matter how much boob is showing.”

            You’re going to laugh at me, but it’s exactly that cognitive dissonance that makes all-out-there breastfeeding uncomfortable for me to watch. In general, the idea of my mouth on a nipple, or someone else to have theirs on mine, is crazy sexual, but THAT’S A BABY THAT IS THE BIGGEST TURN-OFF EVER. I’m never going to shame or bother or say anything to anyone (unless they’re shamed by my awkward silence), but that discomfort isn’t going away no matter how many models breastfeed on magazine covers or post pictures of them breastfeeding their neighbor’s little boy.

            I’m glad so many people can divorce the two so cleanly in their minds, but the idea floating around here that anyone who is uncomfortable around a woman breastfeeding is a hopeless prude or immature or Has Issues or is otherwise not a good person… it makes me a little sad.

          • Kq

            Breasticissm? Narcifeeding?

          • Roadstergal

            My breasts/nipples are very distinctly sexual. It’s the way I’m wired for sure. From conversations with friends, there are differences in wiring to the point where some feel no more strongly about loving touches to their breasts than they do about loving touches to their feet, across the spectrum to me, where the sensation is electrically, intensely, undeniably sexual. To the point where I prefer being with men whose nipples are wired in the same way (they’re out there) because it’s hard for me to treat nipples like just another body part.
            That does not make them weird or private to me. That just makes them very sexual. I can’t imagine a woman wired like me being able to breastfeed a child, whether it’s topless in the middle of the Mall of America or discreetly tucked away at home.

          • Mattie

            For me it’s people touching my hair, although it’s not exactly sexual (ace and all that) it’s definitely a lot nicer a feeling than anything related to the ‘traditionally sexual’ parts of my body. I can definitely understand a reluctance to want to relate something your baby is doing with overt sexual feeling in you.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Probably very TMI here, but long story short: you’re not the only one, and yes, it can make breastfeeding intensely psychologically uncomfortable for those of us who are.

          • Cobalt

            Breasts are sexual in a similar way to mouths. Some displays, uses, images are clearly sexual, some are merely aesthetic, some are totally utilitarian, some are non-sexually affectionate. There is also a wide range of how sexual the part is to any particular individual.

            There are also cultural rules governing behavior around both. Chewing food with the mouth open or passionate kissing in public are generally frowned upon, but talking and eating and lipstick are fine (although really outlandish makeup will frequently attract negative attention). Breasts should have similar cultural rules: polite utilitarian feeding, wearing a well fitting bra or shirt, or a bit of cleavage is no big deal, inappropriate exhibitionism or sexual displays like fondling is not.

            Just an idea.

      • Trixie

        Steps aside where? Or why? If I’m in a restaurant, why would I get up to leave just as the entree is arriving?

        • JellyCat

          I have nurses at a restaurant as well, just discretely. Although in some instances it is nice to step aside and I have done that also. Just depends on the situation.

  • Kelly

    Thank you. I know that I could not adequately put in words. I hate any exhibitionist stuff and it is getting old. It does not make me want to support what they are spouting off. I just roll my eyes and move on.

  • Mattie

    I agree with almost everything, however. I don’t think the use of the activist who ran the marathon while “free bleeding” is exhibitionism. She was raising awareness of the difficulties faced by people who get periods and don’t have access to menstrual products.

    This is not a problem that is only present in the third world, many many many homeless people face problems with adequately managing their menstruation. Bleeding all over your clothes is horrible, having no choice in the matter is even worse, when you add the ‘sick’ factor often associated with period blood (over other kinds of blood) the shame faced by these people is extensive.

    Then, there are many countries abroad where girls and women cannot attend school or are otherwise stigmatised during their monthly cycles, especially for young girls whose cycles are irregular they miss a lot of education due to something they cannot help. Or they use dirty cloths, leaves, whatever they can find to attempt to absorb the blood…that is not fair.

    Very few women free-bleed, it was in fact a made up thing by some people on reddit who wanted to make ‘feminazis’ look bad.

    We should not confuse activism (especially effective activism) with exhibitionism.

    I also disagree with shaming women who wish to breastfeed at work, while I do agree that a televised conference is a little excessive…pumping is a choice, and we shouldn’t be forcing women to pump or formula feed if they want/need to work, that’s restrictive IMO. BFing isn’t gross, or sexual, there’s no bacteria from it, it’s pretty discreet, why are work colleagues uncomfortable…it’s no worse than wearing a lower cut top,

    • Kelly

      From what I read, she just was uncomfortable wearing a pad or tampon. I only read that in the comments as to why she would do that. Also, who cares what she was supporting. It is not the way to do it and it is gross. There are so many other ways to get support for what you care about.

      • Mattie

        A lot of articles actually left it out, which IMO is really crappy reporting. She wrote her own article about her decision, which is more accurate (unsurprisingly). Yep, part of it was about her own comfort and her own feelings of the shaming culture that surround menstruation, but she also did it to raise awareness…and it worked. https://medium.com/absurdist/going-with-the-flow-blood-sisterhood-at-the-london-marathon-f719b98713e7

        It’s not that gross, if she cut her leg and carried on running people wouldn’t care, or if she got a nosebleed…like just cause the blood is coming from her vagina, it’s not any grosser than a nosebleed. It’s also not exactly running on to the ground, in the photos it’s pretty contained.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          While I found the whole thing a bit silly, I quite agree that the reporting on it was ludicrously bad.

          • Mattie

            Yeh, I wouldn’t do what she did (although I think more power to her for it) but the reporting on it just made me cross.

        • Amazed

          It IS gross. It isn’t like getting a nosebleed at all. And I am saying this as someone who finished an exam with blood running from both my nose and my vagina right down my white trousers. And I finished it knowing it would be like this. I’ve always had very painful periods (until I started zumba classes) but this particular day, there was no pain and I needed to be told by someone else that I was bleeding down there. A week earlier than expected. So uncomfortable. I knew I had no time to go back home and replace the blooded thing, not if I wanted to sit for the exam. So I stayed. It was worth it but it was horrible. The streak was there for everyone to see and it was getting longer, wider and so wet.

          I don’t post selfies as I have sex. Routinely, I do not notify the world about the state of my vagina. And I certainly don’t want to know about a male friend’s morning arousal. I am sorry I imposed such a thing upon the world that had no choice but look away awkwardly. I am even more sorry that I basically shared some very intimate information with anyone with eyes to see. It was worth it and the exam was my first priority. But it doesn’t make what I did less gross. It was just necessary and I placed myself first. I was not failing an important exam just because.

        • Valerie

          Yeah, I don’t see what the big deal is. Distance runners already do “gross” things, like sweat tremendously and pee their pants. Bleeding nipples from constant chafing is another issue runners can face (image search that one). If she felt more comfortable without a pad/tampon/cup, I don’t see why she should have to wear one just so others don’t have to look at it.

          • fiftyfifty1

            Yeah, I skied behind someone for kilometers in the Birkebeiner who had obviously shat her pants (I’m thinking the whole time, Why can’t I seem to pass this lady who has crapped her pants? Oh, because I’m feeling on the edge of either barfing or crapping my pants myself. I did eventually pass her though.)

      • Roadstergal

        Sports figures doing stunts to bring awareness to a cause they care about is very common when we’re talking male sports figures.

        • Mattie

          Actually in comments on the article about Kiran, someone posted an article to a marathon runner quite a while ago who pooped his pants while running, he’s been mocked since but not faced half as much backlash over completing the race with literal shit running down his legs than Kiran has for her tiny blood spot on her trousers…

          • Julia

            He didn’t face backlash because he didn’t do it for some higher cause. And neither would this runner if her period had started accidentally while she was running.

          • Gatita

            Tegla Loroupe shat her pants too while running the NYC marathon, it’s known to happen but not it’s something that’s done intentionally. She wasn’t mocked for it, either.

        • Kelly

          Yes, and I hate them just as much. I think they are overdone. Yes, it may raise awareness for the moment, but it is never long lasting.

    • Julia

      Agree that the bleeding marathon runner’s cause is worthy, but what she ended up doing is drawing attention to her stunt rather than the cause. So in that sense I do think it was exhibitionism. It was for shock value.
      I can’t quickly come up with a better way to raise awareness for her cause, what she probably did the cause a disservice: it is just simply gross.

      • dbistola

        I can. Start a website. Promote it on twitter and facebook. Use hashtags.

        Done. And you don’t have to buy new running shoes, which aren’t cheap. Also, this stunt is very unhygienic-bloodborn pathogens are no joke.

        • Valerie

          I think it would be unhygienic to intentionally get blood on stuff in a public place or somebody else’s property (or other people), but if you look at the photos, it’s not dripping anywhere. It’s a crotch stain.

          It looks like, from what she wrote, that she was personally more comfortable running a marathon without a pad/tampon/cup/whatever (chafing?), so she went without and used it as an opportunity to raise discussion. These kinds of athletic events have their own context where people intentionally do a lot of things that would otherwise be inappropriate- like peeing on themselves and spitting. I really don’t see how some visible blood is that much different. It’s just photons.

          • dbistola

            If it were me, things around me would be soiled and it would be a very bad thing. It would also interfere considerably with my running.

          • Valerie

            I can imagine that moisture-wicking running attire, which is designed to be comfortable despite copious sweat and likely urine, is probably more comfortable than a pad.

        • nomofear

          Serious runners will poo and pee themselves, so blood doesn’t seem too awful in comparison!

      • Fallow

        When I want to talk to someone about that issue, I tell them about this guy right here. As an example of someone addressing that issue the best he can: http://www.menstrualman.com/

        • Gatita

          Thank you for linking to that movie! I’m watching it tonight. That man’s story looks amazing.

    • JellyCat

      Looking at the athlete with menstrual blood running down her legs doesn’t make me want to donate for the menstrual products for all.
      Also, I somehow doubt that there is no way to manage your menstrual flow unless you have an acces to modern sanitary pads.
      I was born in Soviet Union and there wasn’t an access to sanitary products, even the toilet paper was in deficit and not available. While inconvenient, my female relatives got their university degrees and held their jobs.

      • KeeperOfTheBooks

        It depends on the situation, really. In the Soviet Union, for example, I imagine one would have access to old rags and sewing machines, meaning that while the washing would still be rather a nuisance, cloth pads were feasible. On the other hand, if you’re living at not-really-subsistence-level poverty, pulling out Ye Olde Sewing Machine, plugging it into the wall, and making menstrual pads isn’t really feasible, and neither is spending hours upon hours hand-sewing pads when you’d otherwise be spending that time getting food and water for the family.
        While in college and giving new meaning to the word “broke,” I once made myself some pads out of an old, ragged towel. They took a LONG time to hand-sew, and I’m a fairly experienced seamstress. Though far from ideal, they did work…though I hasten to add that I didn’t have to wash them by hand, either, and was delighted when I could finally throw them away.

        • JellyCat

          KeeperOfTheBooks, actually people held plots of land given them by the government where they were able to grow produce. Typically, these plots were decently far and only accessible by train. Maintenance of these it’s was time consuming, and a hard work. We were growing potatoes, beets, carrots etc. then harvest them and store during the winter, so we could eat. All of this is on top of having kids, and holding jobs.
          Of course, there are two types of poverty relative poverty and absolute poverty, and I would say that many people lived in relative poverty bordering with absolute.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Right. What I’m envisioning is like in an African country my husband used to go to for work, in which a majority of the people live in dirt-floored shacks, trying to scratch a living out of, well, anything they can. Water generally has to be carried long distances, and any sort of hygiene, by Western standards, is very difficult to attain or maintain as a result. And washing clothes, much less “dirty” things like menstrual pads, is backbreaking, labor-and-time-intensive work.

          • JellyCat

            I highly doubt that African society described above would happily accept hygiene products brought in by the outsider while people. We have incredibly hard time fighting EBOLA, never mind distributing menstrual pads …

          • Mattie

            That’s a ridiculous argument. You are literally saying ‘they don’t need them, and even if they did they won’t want them’.

          • JellyCat

            I already mentioned that even in western cultures some prefer menstrual cups or cloth pads. So it is not unreasonable to suggest that some may not want them. I would also not make this my priority. I would more likely vaccinate and fight malaria than distribute sanitary pads 🙂

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            I suspect that would vary from nation to nation, and even from culture to culture within a nation, much of Africa still being as tribal as it is. While I’m not going to mention the name of this country–personal security, and all that–suffice to say that it isn’t a country which was too terribly affected by the worst of colonialism. It’s also one of the more stable African countries. Thus far, modern advancements in healthcare and the like have been welcomed with open arms by much of the population. That there seems to be a strong focus on educating the locals in that sort of thing and handing them the reins, rather than the whole “white savior” model, is probably responsible for a lot of it.
            I can’t imagine any program ensuring that all women will receive the education they deserve, but this may help a lot of them who otherwise wouldn’t attain that goal. Leaving aside anything else, from a psychological standpoint “here are some cloth pads to catch menstrual blood” is a lot easier to accept than “you can’t take care of your dying relative without catching what’s killing them” or “let us inject your healthy baby with a dead virus that causes X horrible disease.” (NOT bashing vaccines, you understand, only expressing a reasonable point of view of someone who’s not terribly up on disease transmission and the like.”

          • JellyCat

            We are excessively ethnocentric, and should stop imposing our values on different cultures. There are cultures that want to be left alone. They don’t need us to tech want’sin our opinion best for them.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Wait…whaaaaa? I wonder if there’s a bit of a language barrier here, but I’m not really sure what your point is.
            If a culture doesn’t want Western medical help, then it shouldn’t be forced on them, sure, but I hardly think that “Society X has one in ten women die in childbirth/of childbirth related causes and doesn’t like that at all, so a teaching hospital gets set up at which women and babies get good healthcare and new doctors/nurses/midwives get good training on how to help their patients and teach the next generation the same” is “imposing our values on different cultures.” I can tell you for certain that my husband’s coworkers think it a very nice thing indeed that their children don’t die of vaccine-preventable diseases, and wish more than just about anything that they could say the same thing about the other children in their country, too. It would be quite different to walk into a country and tell them that they *must* do X, Y, or Z when they don’t want to. In point of fact, Not Dying is high on most (note I say most, not all) societies’ wish lists for themselves and their kids.
            We don’t need to be saviors, and we shouldn’t be: it’s bad for everyone. The ideal aid scenario gives the local population, should they want it, the tools to fight Very Bad Things like Ebola (look at that nursing student who, thanks to her education and determination, a roll of trash bags, a box of IV fluids, a face mask, and a hell of a lot of nerve and bleach successfully nursed most of her family through Ebola) and then lets them get on with it. That’s hardly ethnocentrism; it’s basic humanity.

          • JellyCat

            I’m talking about sanitary pads. Why did we decide that sanitary pads are superior? Even in our own culture there are people who prefer menstrual cups and cloth pads 🙂

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            But surely, when you’re talking about women who don’t have access to any of the above (cloth pads, paper pads, tampons, sponges, cups, whatever), criticizing an organization that gets them something that a) helps the situation and b) isn’t a one-time use item, so could be used for years to come is a bit like criticizing someone for offering their starving neighbor a beans-and-rice meal rather than some soup and bread?
            Again, I honestly feel like I’m missing something here, and don’t want to take your words out of context, so please let me know if I am.

          • JellyCat

            I’m not criticizing any organizations. Just pointing out that we cannot assume that all may want out western sanitary pads even if it looks ridiculous to us.

          • dbistola

            Women who do not have access to sanitary pads use rags, and have done so historically instead of free bleeding. Free bleeding would interfere with pretty much anything someone is trying to get done.

          • Guest
      • Mattie

        That’s great, but the very fact that your family had jobs and attended university puts them in a more privileged position than many women who live in poverty, on the streets, or cannot attend basic schooling while on their periods.

        The fact that her actions didn’t make you want to donate is irrelevant, if they made some people aware of the issue and caused them to donate, then it was worth it.

        I do encourage you to read her personal blog about her decision, it might help you understand her reasoning a little better.

        • JellyCat

          Mattie, no you’re wrong, some of them lived in poverty. In the houses without plumbing even. However, the education was accessible and many held post-secondary degrees. Cuba is a great example 🙂 they don’t have sanitary products easily available or affordable, yet everyone is educated.

  • Amy M

    Those two women know perfectly well that breastfeeding on the job, or wet-nursing your friend’s son for several years will never be “normal” in this culture. Should women have the right to breastfeed wherever babies are welcome? Of course. Should they breastfeed as long as both mom and child are down with it? Sure. I don’t even think there’s a problem with a friend or relative nursing a baby whose mother can’t, as long as everyone involved is ok with it. But will nursing on the job or wet-nursing ever be commonplace in our society? No, I don’t think so. “Normal” is getting baby adequately fed, either with breastmilk or formula. That’s all.

  • jenn

    “The photos above have nothing to do with normalizing breastfeeding and everything to do with normalizing exhibitionism.” THIS is what I have been thinking but incapable of verbalizing. Thank you.

  • demodocus

    A) It’d be really cool to have a woman president who has a baby while there, and maybe in a book about her afterwards there’s a picture of her nursing her baby during a quiet moment, but not when she’s having a conference with the joint chiefs or hosting a state dinner with the Prime Minister of France.
    B) Good Lord, I wear pads because I find cleaning bloodstains out of my clothes irritating.
    C) Everybody who is not a young child realizes what’s going on if the baby is crying and then stops when you shift the baby just so, even if you use a cover.
    Can you imagine a pilot pausing in flight to bf her baby at her seat in the cockpit? Even if her co-pilot has the controls? That would be seriously stupid.

    • Nick Sanders

      Well, the minimum age for president is 35 years, by the Constitution. And the youngest person ever elected president was JFK, at 43. That’s already kinda risky. And then when you throw in the incredible stress of being president, (seriously, look how fast their hair goes white,) it just seems like that might be pretty bad for the pregnancy.

      • demodocus

        True enough, but it could happen. Sarah Palin had an infant when she was running for vp.

        • Nick Sanders

          Yeah, but that would have required having Palin in office. ::shudder::

          • Roadstergal

            Maybe she would have wet nursed one of Bristol’s tykes?

  • Gatita

    OT: Mayim Bialik launched a lifestyle website. Her first post was about why she’s homeschooling her kids. Wonder when she’s going to wade into vaccines?

    • sdsures

      Shouldn’t be too long.

    • Sarah

      Vomit.

      But I imagine she might want to stay out of the whole vaccine thing, given her previous inconsistencies on the matter.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        previous inconsistencies on the matter.

        She’s not been inconsistent. She tried to cover her ass, but it didn’t actually deny anything.

        • Sarah

          I seem to recall she mentioned not having vaccinated in that shitty book of hers, then said a few months ago that she actually had. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve read it, though.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I think she went more with the “Oh I’m not anti-vaccine”

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Her first post was about why she’s homeschooling her kids.

      Because it’s all about her.

      That’s all you need to know about Bialik and the things she does.

    • fiftyfifty1

      Her reason #4 was interesting: She didn’t want her sons exposed to porn or to girls dressed like Ariana Grande. OK .

      • KeeperOfTheBooks

        Well, I’d prefer my kids not be exposed to porn, either, but statistically they’re more likely to find it by using the home computer or mobile devices.
        As for women who dress in a revealing manner…well, I might not dress like that myself, and I may be concerned about what it can sometimes imply, but the fact is that unless I never let my kids so much as go with me to the grocery store, they’re going to see women dressed in certain ways. I can pretend that doesn’t exist or happen, or I can teach my kids to look people of both sexes in the eye when speaking to them and to be respectful towards other people. I know which I prefer, and it ain’t the “pretend it doesn’t exist” method.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Well, I’d prefer my kids not be exposed to porn, either, but statistically they’re more likely to find it by using the home computer or mobile devices.

          I wasn’t exposed to any porn at school at all. It was in my friend’s dad’s closet.

          Keeping a kid out of school isn’t going to keep them from being exposed to porn. To do that, you are going to have to isolate them from having any friends at all. If that.

          But that’s what she wants, I’m sure. Her kids can’t have friends, they have to worship her instead. All the time.

      • Gatita

        Neither did the Duggars and we see how that turned out.

    • Mattie

      She like John and Hank Green, not sure how that works but sure…

  • LibrarianSarah

    My issue with breastfeeding “stunts” as well as putting picture of breastfeeding on social media pages is that one day that baby will be a middle schooler. And middle schoolers know how to google and are by and large ruthless, merciless creatures that will take any chance to cut down a classmate. Why give them any additional ammo?

    There is a place for breastfeeding, potty, and bath time pictures and it is called a baby book not Facebook.

    • sdsures

      Oh god, yeah. 🙁

    • RMY

      I completely agree. I feel bad for my cousin’s kids who have never had a day of their lives not documented on Facebook.

      • Megan

        This is why I refuse to allow my kid’s picture to be put on FB. She has no say in who gets to see her pic at this point. Maybe when she gets older she won’t want a web presence. My mother hates this rule of mine but I told her she is welcome to share her pics with her friends via email. There’s no need to post them to a public site. And just because her privacy settings don’t let anyone but friends look at the photos does t mean that those friends or the friends’ friends have the same settings. I feel bad for his generation who has had no privacy since they were an blip on the ultrasound.

        • demodocus

          It annoys me that my stepmother loves to share my pictures. Occasionally, her daughter does, too. (Whom I’ve never actually met; our respective parents met when we were in our 20s). If I email them to stepmom, however, she freaking sends them on!! AAARRRGGGHHHH

          • Megan

            Yeah I don’t get how people think it’s ok to share someone else’s pictures without asking. It’s one thing if you post it to a public FB page, it’s another if you send it to an individual’s email address.

          • araikwao

            I’ve recently found out a relative of mine has a mummy blog, and I found a photo including my son on there (there may be others, I haven’t looked through it all). Given that I do post some photos of my kids on FB, I’m not sure if it is hypocritical of me to ask that she seeks permission before posting. I do know that I felt a bit squirmy about it when I found out, and still do.

        • RMY

          I see posting occasional pictures where everyone is happy , posing, and fully dressed is okay. It’s when I’m looking at a topless seven year old girl, a three year old having a melt down, or hearing about how long a kid is grounded for that I wonder if sharing it on Facebook is really the best choice.

  • namaste863

    I have to be honest, I find the idea of bfing someone else’s kid actually pretty creepy. Maybe I watched The Hand that Rocks the Cradle once too often. Oh, and the thing with the lady running the London marathon without a tampon was super gross. Just my 2 cents.

    • sdsures

      Oh, that movie was super creepy.

    • Gatita

      Agree on the bleeding marathoner. Hello, blood borne illnesses! Plus how does that make people more comfortable talking about menstruation? Also, do we need to be more comfortable talking about menstruation? Are women ashamed of it? Is this a big issue? IDGI.

      • namaste863

        Totally o/t, but that is one gorgeous Siamese on your profile pic. Is he/she yours?

        • Gatita

          No, but I get asked all the time! I feel a little guilty for using the photo.

      • Kelly

        She just wanted her fifteen minutes of fame. I don’t see how it normalizes periods. People were talking about how in other countries women who are on their period have to go away until they are done bleeding but it had nothing to do with this. Even if it did, this is the same as the people above with their breastfeeding. She just did not want to be uncomfortable with a tampon or pad.

      • Mattie

        That wasn’t the point, she did it to raise awareness of the many many people around the world (including wealthy countries like the UK and US) where people don’t have access to menstrual products, and have to resort to crude methods of absorbing the flow, or have to just bleed on everything…homeless communities, women in poorer countries etc…

        It’s something that’s rarely talked about, and that people don’t know/talk about, the stunt was designed to be shocking and to get people talking, it worked very well.

        • Roadstergal

          It’s a barrier to education for girls in many areas.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Yep. I recently read about a group whose focus is to get a “period kit” to African girls who would otherwise miss school during their periods. IIRC, it included reusable/washable pads, several pairs of underwear, and so forth–possibly even instructions on how to make your own pads with what rags and such may be available. I remember thinking that a rather excellent idea.

        • Gatita

          I didn’t know that was her point so I don’t think it worked very well. All I saw were pics of her with bloodstained pants and no mention of the cause. Great cause, BTW, I live in a community with a large homeless population and it is absolutely an issue. But this stunt didn’t do much to raise awareness, I think.

          • Mattie

            I think that’s an issue with the reporting of it, not with what she did…she was very open about her reasons on her personal blog (I linked above) so it’s even worse that reports didn’t specify that.

    • JellyCat

      I would BF someone else’s child, specifically infant, only in the case of natural disaster when acces to formula or safe water was temporarily unavailable …

  • sdsures

    I think I know where Colletti got the term “milk brothers”. She read “The Red Tent” by Anita Diamant, which is a fictionalized autobiography of the Biblical character Dinah – daughter of the Old Testament patriarch Jacob. This isn’t the first time that book has been used as inspiration for NCB stuff, women’s retreats, and what have you.

    It’s a very good read. It happens to be one of my favourite books. I was named after my grandmother Dena (just a different spelling of “Dinah”, pronounced the same way), so the story in Diamant’s book has a special feeling for me. Dinah is no longer just a victim of rape, but has a whole history behind her. Diamant’s incarnation has it that Dinah was not raped, but that she married Shechem (“Shalem” in the book) willingly, and that they loved each other.

    But one has to remember that it’s only fiction. Many concepts are explored in it, particularly ancient midwifery, the culture of ancient women, and how their society among Jacob’s family functioned as a mini-unit, symbolized by the “red tent”, a place where the women of the tribe would go each month when they were menstruating; women also labour and deliver their babies in the red tent. Unlike Jacob’s monotheism, they were polytheistic. There are descriptions of Rachel’s and Dinah’s calling to midwifery, the births they attend, and sometimes, the deaths of the mother or the baby. Deaths are romanticised, as being “the shadow of birth/new life”, and that every midwife “knows that death can lurk in the corner of the red tent”. Fine, for ancient times. But we know better than that now. Diamant was asked in a FAQ about some of the practices in the book, and although she researched them, she would never advocate actually practicing them in the 21st century. Example: the use of herbs for inducing a miscarriage. That would get you an attempted murder charge now.

    Again, it’s a really enjoyable piece of fiction. It’s very popular in women’s book clubs, I hear. But it’s NOT a how-to midwifery manual*!

    I see many parallels with events in the book that have been co-opted by people like Colletti: “milk-sibling” is but one of them. (Dinah and Joseph, for example, are “milk siblings”).

    Sorry for such a long post, but thanks for reading.

    • Cobalt

      I’ve seen the term “milk brothers” in a lot of fiction. Mostly pseudo-historical fantasy or sword and sorcery books. It works well in context, but it’s Not For Real Life.

      • FormerPhysicist

        The decision between two women that one nurses both children doesn’t even bother me. Well, I’d prefer the fathers were also involved in the decision and medical screenings were done. But that photo – pure exhibitionism.

        • Cobalt

          A friend of mine with a baby a bit younger than mine and I have talked about it, but in a “if something awful happens is this a potential back up plan” kind of way. Not that it is at all likely, but an extra layer of planning doesn’t hurt.

          I also had a few cans of formula in the emergency kit. Just in case.

          • sdsures

            That’s a very kind and sweet arrangement you have. It’s nice that women can trust each other in this day and age to do that for their children. Sort of like a feed the kid godparent arrangement?

          • Cobalt

            Sort of, only with added dystopia. The idea wasn’t so much “avoid formula” as “if formula isn’t an option.

          • Young CC Prof

            During wartime, a relative of mine and her friend actually did that, only one had milk, there were no substitutes available. Both babies survived, so, win.

        • sdsures

          That was my next question: what about the dads?

          • jenn

            Fathers no longer have any rights in making decisions about the birth, feeding, or vaccine safety of their children. If you read any of the posts, they are all “my husband is against it” or “my husband wants to vaccinate” or “my husband wants the breast milk screened”, etc etc. And the woman is always asking how to get around his objections. And she is always answered by hundreds of voices telling her it’s her body, her child, blah blah.

          • Nick Sanders

            Her body? Yeah.
            Her child? Not in the sense of ownership. The child belongs to itself.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            If the issues are really “”my husband wants to vaccinate” or “my husband wants the breast milk screened”” then the “her body” retort is complete bullshit, and the “it’s her child” is downright offensive.

      • sdsures

        Yep. In the desert in Biblical times, water was scarce. So it would make sense for a group of women in a family unit to nurse each other’s kids.

      • demodocus

        Mom had enough to share, she actually did co-nurse my fairly healthy for a premie self with a little boy who’d been born addicted to crack for a little while.

        • demodocus

          He probably got both Mom’s and formula

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          Now that just plain makes me smile. Not from a “clearly the kid wouldn’t have a chance without Teh Magic Milk” position, but from a “aw, the kid started off his life with love and snuggles from someone, I’m glad” position. (I’d feel the same way if someone snuggled him while giving him a bottle, for the record.) That was really kind of your mom.

          • demodocus

            I suspect was her motivation. She had a maternal streak a mile wide.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            She sounds like a lovely person. 🙂

          • demodocus

            Overall, yeah, she was. I’m glad I was able to get past my adolescent irritation at her faults before she died.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            I am sorry for your loss, and glad that you found peace.

          • demodocus

            Thank you.
            It’s always complicated; we paid for our round of IVF (which was successful) with her life insurance.

    • T.

      My great-grandmother had a milk-sister. Her mother couldn’t breastfeed her. My great-grandmother would have likely died (it was the mid of 1800 in rural Italy) had one of her client (my great-great-grandmother was a midwife) offered to breastfeed the baby.

      Milk-sibling used to exist when another woman breastfeeding your child was the only thing that would keep your baby from dying, but formula is better IMHO.

      • Mattie

        In the article about Colletti it stated that her friend’s child could not digest formula, if that was the case then perhaps her BFing him was the cheaper option.

      • E

        It didn’t bother me at all that she was nursing someone else’s kid with the approval of the parent. I don’t the picture would’ve made anywhere near such a splash if the boys had been 3 months and 6 months instead of 16 and 19 months. Really, the shock factor is about extended breastfeeding and not really about wet-nursing.

        • T.

          Feeding somebody else child is a great hassle if done from the beginning. It would mean leave the newborn with the woman who is breastfeeding him (as happened in the bygone times).

          Somehow I doubt it is what happened. Methinks it was that her friend lost her supply later on (6+months) and instead of completely weaning him they decided to do this tandem-nursing thing.

          I am personally very, very glad I can’t remember suckling from my mother’s breast. That is all I can say on the issue of extended breastfeeding.

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      Interestingly, back when I was into the woo big-time, I had been talking to a midwife about becoming an apprentice. She recommended “The Red Tent” as a book I had to read to Really Understand Midwifery.
      I did, and loved it at the time. Looking back on it, I shudder, because it *does* pretty much sum up the way a lot of midwives see themselves.

  • Cartman36

    Thank you for this post Dr. Amy! You are absolutely correct.

  • NoLongerCrunching

    You have to be kidding me. Comparing feeding a child to overt sexual displays, urination and menstrual leaking?? Sexualizing breasts and comparing feeding to emitting waste products is an act of discrimination against women. Breastfeeding in public should continue until women FEEDING their children is seen as nothing more than feeding their children. While I usually support what you have to say, I am saddened by this post.

    • Cobalt

      But these women aren’t making breastfeeding into something very commonplace and unremarkable that women do because it’s a good way for them to feed their babies. They are doing it to draw attention to themselves, much the same way that someone deliberately bleeding or being sexually inappropriate would be.

      If you want breastfeeding to be unremarkable to the public, you shouldn’t be staging ever more elaborate stunts to the public to remark on the act.

    • Gatita

      I disagree with the comparisons but I agree with the gist of her message which is that stunt nursing doesn’t normalize a damned thing. It’s like that magazine with the supermodel cover photo of a woman fully made up with perfect hair, wearing a suede (!!!) blouse and nursing an infant. That’s not normalizing, that’s fetishizing. And it does nothing to help the average woman who may be getting crap for BF in public.

    • Fallow

      I also think that women should be able to breastfeed just about whenever or wherever works for them. Sounds great o me.

      But that milk-brothers woman, especially, really is just wanking about her greatness and her ideology. That was the primary reason for her to spread such a picture around. I think it’s okay to call out narcissism.

      • NoLongerCrunching

        Well, that’s debatable. I think it’s just as reasonable as a picture of bottle feeding twins, or wearing a skimpy bikini at the beach or a low cut shirt in a public place. Why are the latter two no big deal, but as soon as there are children attached, it’s a narcissistic stunt? Because we have been conditioned to see anything breast related as sexual.

        I personally don’t feel like I need to be quite as out there with nursing, but I can understand those who do. Once when I was discreetly nursing my toddler at my 1st grader’s school, the pricipal came over and chastised me, because “what if a 5th grade boy walked by?” That should not happen, and as long as it does, I support women doing what is in those photos.

  • Young CC Prof

    It absolutely should be fine to nurse a baby anywhere it’s appropriate to bring your baby in the first place. On the job, (with a few exceptions) it’s just not appropriate, and does interfere with work.

    • Cartman36

      I pumped in my (private) office with the door locked and a DO NOT DISTURB sign. I once had someone ask me what the noise was in the background and I blamed it on that the fax machine 🙂

      I would NEVER have considered nursing or pumping during a meeting or in front of my colleagues. I want them to see me as a professional woman and not have a picture of me nursing in their mind.

      • sdsures

        “I once had someone ask me what the noise was in the background and I blamed it on that the fax machine :)”

        LOL! They need to make breast pumps that sound like R2-D2.

        • Cartman36

          Or maybe the old dial up noise. 🙂

      • Young CC Prof

        Pumps don’t scream, don’t have diapers and don’t crawl around tearing the office apart. They just sit there quietly when you aren’t on a pumping break.

        Some workers can actually find childcare close enough to take nursing breaks, and I think that’s awesome. (My employer has onsite childcare which my work schedule doesn’t allow me to use, alas.)

      • Kelly

        I pumped in an office that was inside of a classroom. I do wonder if the students knew what I was doing in there. No one said anything. I loved the medela bag. My male co workers did not even know that I had gone to pump every day until I had quit.

    • Elaine

      My husband used to every so often bring the kids to visit me at work. (I work in a retail pharmacy.) I’d bring them back to my work station when we had a lull and nurse the baby for a few minutes and chat with my daughter, out of sight of patients. Sometimes my daughter (she was 3 at this point) would also interact a little with other coworkers or patients, all of whom seemed to think she was very cute. Then they’d be on their way after a little while. If someone else had had a young kid in for a brief visit when we weren’t busy, I wouldn’t have thought anything of it, but maybe it wasn’t appropriate. I dunno. I certainly wouldn’t have had them there all day, but in some work situations people do do that, it would definitely not be suitable in mine though.

  • guest

    I am sorry, but I have to thoroughly disagree. — regarding the breastfeeding and working, that is. Women should be able to work and nourish their children in a way that works for them and their work-environment. For some that will mean having access to nursing/pumping rooms with all associated paraphernalia, and a legal right to breaks to pump/nurse. For others that will mean being able to nurse their baby whilst doing various aspects of their job; nursing can be compatible with listening, talking, running a meeting, etc – and for some having to take or schedule breaks to pump would work much less well and be much more demanding. So our environment should indeed learn to just be comfortable with women visibly doing stuff whilst nursing baby; our brains do not reside in our breast, we can multi-task. So, yeah – deal with it.
    I find your post very strange, Dr Amy – by insisting there is only one way to feed and work – namely discreetly and out of sight – you are doing EXACTLY the kind of thing you (rightly) criticise so many for doing: insisting there is only one way to do things right, and criticising anyone who does it differently as ‘taking away’ from your cause. Guess what – women are different. they do things in different ways. That includes combining work and motherhood. We should support that and NOT have a ‘one size and one size only’ fits all approach.
    You might also want to think more carefully about your general comments considering the appearance of public women. I trust you know enough feminism to be aware of the gendered nature of the extreme and much more demanding policing of women’s public appearance. Men at wimbledon do change their shirt.

    • Cobalt

      Having an infant with you in the office is not compatible with the overwhelming majority of jobs. Scheduling a 20 minute pumping break is easier than having an infant on site on demand.

      And the post in no way demands that women feed out of sight. It does call out public STUNTS for what they are. Stunt feeding, like stunt birthing, is about drawing attention to the individual, not to the actual needs if mothers and babies and families.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Stunt feeding, like stunt birthing, is about drawing attention to the individual, not to the actual needs if mothers and babies and families.

        I would compare it to the woman who sits in the corner section of the mall and discretely breastfeeds (covered or not) and the one one who pulls off her shirt to be topless and sits in the middle of the walkway.

        I fully support breastfeeding in public, but oppose the second example, which isn’t about breastfeeding, it’s about making a spectacle.

        • Cobalt

          Precisely.

          And the spectacle making isn’t just rude to everyone who didn’t sign up to be a part of your show, it gives the public the impression of breastfeeding moms as attention seekers instead of baby feeders.

          Which means the next 99 moms, who just want to feed their kid in peace, are more likely to either feel the need to hide or get unwanted attention from guilt by association.

    • KG

      So can I advocate that I get to bring my infant to work to bottle feed her? I mean, feeding is feeding…and just because you breastfeed doesn’t mean you should have any more privileges than me, right? So it’s not about breastfeeding at work, it’s about being able to care for your baby and work at the same time.

    • Cartman36

      Many women have to fight just to be provided a private comfortable place to nurse or pump on the job. Breastfeeding is natural but that doesn’t mean it is appropriate in every situation.

    • Sarah

      There are quite a lot of workplaces that just aren’t safe for a baby though, however they’re being fed. I don’t really agree with Dr Amy’s post in this instance, neither photo evokes any more then a ‘meh’ from me, but I also think it’s silly to pretend there are loads of jobs compatible with looking after a baby. Mine is 6 months, and would be an utter distraction in a meeting. She shouts when people are talking, or listening- just joining in with the conversation, but would be a nuisance. There are also insurance issues.

      • Gatita

        I’m sure Walmart checkout workers would love to breastfeed their baby in a sling while scanning bar codes and loading bags (sarcasm, in case anyone can’t figure it out from context) (which a lot of folks are incapable of doing)

        • Roadstergal

          I was a Starbuck’s barista for a while. I’m imagining doing that with a baby attached to me… I’m sure it’d find the running around and slinging milk crates calming, to say nothing of the godawful screech and spitback from a breve latte (thanks, Atkins).

          The PacNW being what it is, I’m sure someone has requested a breastmilk latte. And maybe gotten it.

          • sdsures

            There are lots of moms at the Costa I frequent. Makes me wonder if breast pumps sound like thw whoosh-whoosh of whatever machinery they have there.

    • DiomedesV

      Breastfeeding is appropriate wherever the presence of babies is appropriate.

      For the most part, babies do not belong in the workplace. They are inherently distracting. I have brought mine when it was the lesser of two evils for me *and my coworkers* but I was ready to leave with the baby at a moment’s notice if it became distracting for other people.

      Because it’s just not all about you.

    • demodocus

      Breastfeeding while teaching high schoolers would be a mite distracting for the high schoolers.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Yeah, but a nun in a full habit is a distraction for high schoolers….

        • demodocus

          true, but why help?

      • Mattie

        Unless they were so used to it because they saw it so often that it was no more distracting than anything else that distracts kids in school.

        • demodocus

          Maybe. Seeing cleavage is pretty normal, but we’re discouraged from wearing any tops that might show ours, at least in my region.
          Besides, its hard to focus on other people’s kids’ problems when yours is hungry and needs a diaper change.

          • Mattie

            That’s definitely true, I don’t think teachers should be doing anything that distracts THEM from teaching, I imagine nursing would include that. But if there were on-site childcare facilities in the school, then nursing breaks would be fine, or nursing while marking work, or in meetings where you don’t need 100% focus =P I think balancing baby care and going back to work is important, and nursing at work should be a valid and supported option.

        • Mac Sherbert

          Having taught school I can tell a baby all by its little self is a huge distraction! Forget the BF. People and children in general love to baby watch. Last time I took my toddler to my sons school every kid wanted to push the stroller or talk to her. Aside from that when I was teaching going to the bathroom was a luxury and I Couldn’t imagine loosing my precious planning time for nursing.

          • demodocus

            Oh yeah, the bliss of the bathroom break.

    • moto_librarian

      In a pinch, I would occasionally bring my sons into the library when they were babies. And you know what? As enjoyable as it was, it made it very hard to get any real work done. They were a distraction to me and to everyone else that I worked with. My colleagues enjoyed seeing them, but I would never have made it into a habit or a regular form of childcare. If your baby is asleep, you might be able to run a meeting or do other tasks, but you will always be distracted. It’s unfair to the people you work with and to the people that you serve. Period.

  • E

    I breastfed my daughter for the first seven months and no one discriminated against me and I never covered up. To be completely fair, at the time I was living in Portland, Oregon and criticizing a nursing mother there is an evil tantamount to lynching a person of color. That said, there were mothers in my inner circle who bemoaned being discriminated against. All of them were nursing toddlers.

    That was what struck me about the picture of the woman nursing her son and her friend’s son. At 16 and 19 months, they’re both toddlers and it seems that more and more of the pictures of normalizing breastfeeding seem to be of women trying to normalize extended breastfeeding.

    I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it’s a free country. Nurse your kid till pre-school if you want for all I care. But on the other hand, I’m not so keen on the idea of normalizing something that is radically fringe especially on the coattails of something that most people do support. Most people do think that nursing mothers should be supported and that nursing a baby shouldn’t be thought of as sexual, but that doesn’t mean we feel that way about nursing toddlers and preschoolers. It feels a bit like bait and switch to me.

    • guest

      radically fringe in the west – utterly normal in many cultures. Spend one week travelling around in public transport in southern africa and you will be forever cured of your mixed feelings.

      • sdsures

        Subject to the availability of uncontaminated water?

      • E

        There are a lot of things done in Africa that I would hate to see normalized in the US where I’m from or in Europe where I now permanently live. I get a little tired of people hold third world countries up as the ideal.

        • Sarah

          Same, but speaking as a formula feeder through choice, extended breastfeeding isn’t one of them. Can’t see any great problem with it becoming unremarkable, personally.

          • E

            It depends on your definition of normalize. If normalize means unremarkable, then yes, I agree with you. But if normalize means typical, expected, or even ideal, then not so fine.

          • Sarah

            The former, yes. The latter, not expected or ideal, but typical is perfectly fine if that’s what the majority of women want to do.

      • Fallow

        Africa is a very diverse continent. What do you mean by “southern Africa”? Which countries in particular?

      • SuperGDZ

        I’ve lived in “southern Africa” for over 40 years and I’ve never seen anyone breastfeed a preschooler publicly or otherwise.

        • E

          You raise a really good point. I’ve noticed after moving to Germany that there seems to be a lot of beliefs in the US about what Europeans (as if they considered themselves to be a homogenized group) do or don’t do that as often as not turn out to just be speculation.

          One thing that I heard over and over again in Portland was that Europe was going to be a paradise for nursing mothers and that nobody there was going to ask you to cover up and that midwives are respected and used by everyone. There is some truth to this, but it is completely misleading. Here in Germany, the public insurance covers midwives as well as obstetricians. But midwives don’t take the place of obstetricians. My OB care for my second has been identical to my OB care with my first in Portland. Midwives act in tandem doing all the things that doctors don’t generally cover. They teach breastfeeding, lamaze, and general childbirth and childcare classes in addition to providing doula services and prenatal and postpartum fitness courses. After your baby is born they will make house calls to help with latching or position issues. I have never heard of anyone using a midwife to deliver their children at home in lieu of an actual doctor and a hospital.

          As for breastfeeding, it’s true that Germans don’t seem to give one hoot about an exposed nipple here or there. It’s common to see women sunbathing topless and the checkouts at gas stations are full of porn magazines without black covers. Television has toplessness on it all the time and there is just a general shoulder shrug in regards to it. I participate in three different momma baby groups. In those groups combined, there are probably around 30 German moms, 1 French mom, 1 Luxemburger mom, 1 Irish mom, 1 Japanese mom, and 1 Polish mom. I understand that that is still a very small sample size and this is just my personal experience but it does have something over people who haven’t actually lived and parented anywhere in Europe. Out of that combined group, I have never seen any mom breastfeed a child over 12 months and exactly one mom nurse to the 12 month mark. She is super sweet and loved by the group, but the group has teasingly joked that she is the token crunchy mom. She also is the only mom in the group to sport dreadlocks.

          In addition, unlike in Portland, I have never heard anyone discussing their empowering birth stories. Most of the conversations revolve around soccer, politics, and occasionally how cute our kids are. Once, I brought up the topic of breastfeeding. I had been nursing for about 7 months and the last month had become intolerable due to teething, biting and a nasty bout of thrush. I asked the moms in one of the groups if anyone had suggestions. This group contained about 10 German moms, the French mom, and the Luxemburger mom. They wanted to know how old my baby was. Seven months?! Why are you still nursing? The German moms all said 6 months was all that was necessary, the French and Luxemburger said 3 months. The French mom touched me on the shoulder and looked pleadingly into my eyes. “It’s okay. You did well. You can stop now.”

          I quit cold turkey the next day.

        • TT

          Yes, I have lived in “southern africa” for 31 years before migrating relatively recently and my experience is the same as yours. I suspect that a lot of people who have never been to the country rely on images they have seen in movies.