Breastfeeding in Public

breastfeedingcafecarnivalWelcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of the Breastfeeding Cafe’s Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com. For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today’s post is about nursing in public. Please read the other blogs in today’s carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 22nd through August 4th!
 


 
Breastfeeding in public: virgin, mother and whore

 

Yes, you need to reveal your nipple (and sometimes your whole breast) in order to nurse, and that may make you feel uneasy at first, or make other people feel uneasy because they’re not used to it.

 

Our nipples are parts of our body that we – North American women – want to hide under padded bras and nipple covers shaped like flowers, making sure they never show through our clothes. We usually expose our own breasts only in the intimacy of a bedroom, but we see breasts in paintings of the Virgin, where she often nurses her baby, and in European movies where women publicly bathe topless. But mostly, we associate fully exposed breasts with pornography and this is why uncovering our breasts in public is not something most North American women feel comfortable doing. None of us wants to be mistaken for a whore. However, the breast exposure required in order to breastfeed has nothing to do with sexuality. Very few acts are as beautiful, pure and motherly as breastfeeding.

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Aside from a small piece of flesh that others might chance to see, what exactly is controversial about breastfeeding in public? It’s hard for me to come up with any valid concern, since there is no question: breastfeeding in public is an integral part of being able to function as a mother in contemporary society. Busy moms need to be able to circulate freely and to feed our children when they are hungry. In my opinion, nursing clothes put an end to the “breastfeeding in public” debate, because they completely eliminate the worry of public nudity. We don’t have to hide under a blanket or crouch in a toilet stall, as if nursing were some shameful act. That said, we do not have to make it a political act, either. We can simply be ourselves and feed our babies without attracting any side-glances apart from smiles.

 

It is important for us mothers to overcome our fear (and wearing well-adapted clothes, I believe, is key), because otherwise we end up oppressing our needs and feeling guilty. We end up staying at home, or setting up camp in a ladies room. When we nurse in public, we not only practice a democratic right, but also set an example of self-respect for our daughters, our sons, and all of our family. Breastfeeding is a beautiful motherly act, wherever it happens, but especially when it allows women to concentrate on nurturing their children, without worry that others may judge them in the process.

 


 
Here are more post by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

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