TIME Widening the Gap

I’m sure that by now, you have all seen the cover of this month’s TIME magazine.

My initial reaction was “That’s awesome! Showing an older nursling on the cover of a magazine! I’ve always believed that the more people are exposed to nursing, the more they will accept it. But wait… there’s something wrong here.

I first noticed the camo pants on the child. He looks much older than the almost-4 that the article proclaimed him to be. Why does he look so much older? And this particular mom’s website is called I am Not the Babysitter. It’s supposed to be a play on how young she looks. So why a boy who looks older than she is an a mom who looks younger than she is?

And why on a chair? That’s a really awkward way to nurse. Being a mother nursing a 3 year old myself, I can see the problems with that. My child would bounce and wiggle and probably try to jump off the chair with my boob in her mouth! This doesn’t show a normal nursing relationship.

And, while I do it myself, nursing from over the top of your shirts is, by definition, more revealing. Most moms I see, even the ones who don’t use a cover, don’t do it. I obviously have no problem with it myself and think it’s much more convenient, but it certainly adds to the shock value of this photograph.

That’s just it: shock value.

That’s what TIME magazine was aiming for–shock value. They weren’t trying to get the message out there of this lovely relationship and older child can have with their mother. They weren’t trying to say that attachment parenting is a valid method of parenting. They were trying to shock us. They were simply trying to sell their magazines by making you either hate or love this mother based on this one photograph.

My initial reaction was excitement at bridging the gap between nursing others and those who find nursing to be private, disgusting, or even pornographic. The gap caused by a system who won’t help mothers nurse, but still touts it as “best”. A system that causes guilt and outrage and isolation.

Instead, TIME magazine was trying to shock us. They were trying to cause such a reaction that could cause more magazines to sell. They weren’t trying to bridge any gaps, they were taking advantage of those gaps and widening them. They were trying to put us against each other in order to make a profit.

Shame on you TIME magazine for causing more hate. 

Whole Foods Nurse-In

It’s difficult to get into words how absolutely shocked I was to hear that a Whole Foods in my area discriminated against a mom for breastfeeding her son while shopping. Whole Foods where it says right in the store’s name their philosophy of eating discriminates against the whole-est food of all? It just doesn’t make sense.

What this really brings to light is how little breastfeeding mothers in my area (Utah) are protected in these types of situations. This article in the Salt Lake Tribune has quotes from Jake Aryeh Marcus explaining the flaws of Utah’s law. The basic problem is that it protects women from something they don’t need to be protected from–being charged for public indecency. She talks about how this is a phoney law because no mom has ever been charged with such a thing and moms still can be harassed or even kicked out of a business for feeding their child.

This is all just so outrageous that I can’t even wrap my head around it. I can’t believe that our government will spend countless dollars promoting “Breast is Best” (which is wrong because breast is normal), but they can’t create a law that protects the moms who are currently breastfeeding. So we should do what is best, but not leave our house during that recommended 6 months that a baby stays exclusively breastfed and only leave around feedings when they continue to breastfeed at least another 1.5 years beyond that? And don’t even tell me to pump and use a bottle because if you say that you obviously haven’t ever been in that situation and I’ll tell you where to stick that bottle.

So what can you do? First off, attend your local Whole Foods Nurse-In tomorrow (mine is at 3:00PM in at the Trolley Square location). Even if you’re not currently nursing, you can come just to show your support. You can bet my husband will be there with me wearing his “Real Men Support Breastfeeding” t-shirt (which everyone loved at the Big Latch On and Babywearing Flash Mob). There are events in nearly every state and you can find them through the Whole Foods National Nurse-In Facebook page. You can also boycott Whole Foods and write them telling them how you are disappointed with the situation and you won’t be shopping there until they have developed a policy that supports breastfeeding.

The other big thing you can do is write your local representative and tell them to change your law. If you’re not sure of what the law is in your state, here’s a list. Just because your state is listed under the 45 that have some law related to letting a woman breastfeed anywhere she’s legally able to be doesn’t mean that you’re in the clear. I’m not quite sure why Utah is under the list when we don’t have such a law. Here is the email that I plan on sending to both my State Senator and Representative (which should be easily editable for you to send in to yours):

Hello __________,

My name is __________ and I am one of your constituents in ________. I am not sure if you are aware of the recent harassment a mother nursing her child was subjected to at Whole Foods store in Utah, but it has called into light a lack of protection in our state laws. Our current law prohibits a mother from being charged for public indecency, but this law is insufficient because there has yet to be a case of a mother being charged in such a way.

While we would like to believe that businesses have the decency to allow a mother to simply feed her child, this event along with many others has proven otherwise. We can not trust businesses to do what is right and it has therefore become necessary to pass a law that affirms “a mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, except the private home or residence of another, where the mother and the child are otherwise authorized to be present.”

Please consider the mothers out there who are hiding in their homes for fear of persecution when all they are doing is feeding their child. Please consider all of the babies who are prematurely weaned because of their mother’s lack of support. Please consider all the tax dollars that are spent on the Breast is Best campaign that are wasted because the state does not back-up such a program with laws that support these mothers. Please do your best to make sure that mothers who are feeding their children in the best and most natural way possible are protected from discrimination.

Thank you for your time,
___________

 

My Nursing in Public Journey

Welcome 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 your first experience nursing in public. Please read the other blogs in today’s carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st!
 


 
I don’t remember my first time nursing in public and I don’t remember seeing any moms nursing in public before I had a baby. What I do remember is my first times nursing in public without a cover.

I started nursing in public when Peanut was less than a week old. At first I used a blanket my mother-in-law had given me as a baby shower gift, but with Peanut being born in March, the temperatures soon started rising, which made the cover much too hot. So next I got one of those specialty nursing covers. While it was much better than the blanket, it was still horribly inconvenient. Screaming infant while I’m searching through my bag for the cover that had a bent rim from being in my bag (you can’t fold those covers entirely in half).

Peanut soon solved this dilemma for me by refusing to nurse under the cover. It was probably around June and she was 3-ish months (though honestly, now that I think about it, it could have even been May) when she started kicking and hitting and scratching me whenever I tried to nurse her under the cover. I don’t know if it was the heat or just that she was annoyed, but she simply refused.

I remember the last time this happened was when we were out to eat with another couple who were childless. I managed to nurse her under the cover in the restaurant, but when we got back to their place and she was hungry again, I just didn’t feel like fighting her. They had accidentally left their keys in their apartment and were trying to get in, so we were outside in the dark waiting for one of them to climb through a window. When she started fussing, I just decided “fine, whatever” and started to nurse her. I believe my husband gave me one surprised glance and the male half of that couple also gave me a surprised glance when we got back inside, but there was no mention of it. It just simply was.
 


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

How It Should Be

Welcome 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 18th through the 31st!
 


 
A few days ago, Peanut and I traveled into town on the train. We almost always take the train, but this time I decided to do something different. I thought bringing a stroller rather than just our Boba would be easier, so we tried it out. It turned out to be immensely more difficult, but that’s not the point of today’s post.

Since we had the stroller, we had to sit at the very front of the bus. It was just around Peanut’s nap time and I knew that if I nursed her she would pass right out. Of course, I happened to be wearing just a thin strapped dress with no sweater or anything (it’s July!) and the bus driver was already grouchy about the stroller. Needless to say, I was ready for some confrontation.

So there I sat, nursing my 28 month-old at the very front of the bus in the most showing way possible (I won’t say immodest because breastfeeding is not an issue of modesty). I knew the bus driver could see us because I could see myself in his mirror. On the other side of the bus sat a mom and her probably less than 2 month-old son who was currently having a bottle. I looked up the breastfeeding statues of my state so I could readily read them allowed. I got on my lactavist hat so I would be ready to respond with my handful of facts on breastfeeding. I tried to look as confident (though nonchalant) as possible, even though I was feeling terrified that this was going to be when someone reacted.

Then something amazing and unexpected happened, the mom on the other side of the bus looked at what I was doing and then smiled at me.

And that’s how the rest of the bus ride went. I nursed Peanut for probably 20 minutes before she finally passed out and almost every person who got on the bus just smiled at me. Maybe it’s just because I smiled at them. Maybe they didn’t even notice I was nursing. Either way, there was zero confrontation (even from the mean bus driver). Just a wonderful, happy experience nursing my child on the bus. It put me in a wonderful mood for the rest of the day (even when Peanut woke up the second we got off the bus because of that ridiculous stroller… which I already sold).

Of course, it doesn’t always happen perfectly. There are people out there who are willing to harass a mom just for feeding her child. Such a thing happened last month in a Whole Foods in the same city I was visiting. Needless to say, there will be a nation-wide nurse-in on August 20th at 3pm at all Whole Foods stores. Hope to see you there.
 


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

Covering Up is NOT Proper Ediquette

Here is a link to a news story that was recently aired on a popular news station in my state. Watch the video. I am horrified.

First off, I’d like to say I can understand where the argument comes from in thinking that women should cover up while breastfeeding for their company’s sake. I thoroughly believe that if I’m standing somewhere, it is incredibly rude for someone to come up and start smoking next to me, repetitively swearing in front of my toddler, etc. I understand how someone may try to apply that same rule to breastfeeding in public. The problem here is that nursing in public is not a question of etiquette.

Breastfeeding is feeding a baby. Period. That is all. There is no question of someone getting uncomfortable about it because it’s not an issue of modesty or indecency. If someone is feeding a baby with a bottle, they are not asked to cover up. It is the exact same situation. A baby is eating. That. Is. All.

This is, once again, a problem of our society. Breasts are sexualized. This is something unique to our society. In other countries (beyond the “Americanized” nations) there isn’t a second thought given to nursing a child where ever they may be. It is only in our country where it is normal to have swimsuits that show nearly every inch of skin, but it’s not okay to breastfeed where anyone can see you. I’ve seen people go as far as to say that in my own home if someone is visiting, I need to leave the room to nurse. Are you kidding me?

This is absolutely disgusting to me that women in my state are being told that they’re being impolite by nursing in front of anyone beyond their significant other and children” and possibly your mother and sisters. Are you kidding me? I know I’ve said that phrase multiple times in this post, but I can’t sum it up any other way. I feel that shell-shocked that such a prominent news company in my state would air such an outrageous story.

I am all for mothers having the option to cover up if that makes them more comfortable, but a woman should never be told that she has to cover up. You all know my story of Peanut kicking and hitting me when I tried to cover her when she was only 4 months old. If I hadn’t had the courage to nurse without a cover, I wouldn’t still be nursing today. I wouldn’t have even made it to six months.

What hurts me the most is that the women who gave me the courage to nurse without a cover are the ones that are shown nursing at the end of that story. Specifically I see a leader of the Salt Lake La Leche League that I remember looking up to as she so casually nursed both of her daughters while running the meeting. The first place I breastfed without a cover was in that meeting. That specific video a shot of the breastfeeding cafe. How dare they use video of the cafe to tell women that breastfeeding is essentially wrong. That is the exact opposite of the purpose of that event. I am literally typing in tears because I am so angry that they would do this.

Breastfeeding is not sexual.

Breastfeeding is not immodest.

Breastfeeding is not rude.

Breastfeeding is normal, natural, and the absolute best way to feed your child. Period.

How to Avoid Comments About Breastfeeding

This is a tricky subject, but one worth addressing. With my recent post about Kourtney Kardashian weaning and subsequent comments (plus the fact that it’s been on my mind with Peanut now two), I figured that I may have some information to share regarding the subject. I have managed to make it 2 years without any real negative comments about breastfeeding. I am constantly surprised that one fellow mom’s mother/mother-in-law/grandma/pediatrician tells her to stop. I am baffled by the stories of moms who are told to leave Target, Ikea, or swimming pools because they’re nursing. I am thankful every day that I haven’t had to be in one of those situations.

I know a lot of it has to do with luck. Yes, I am lucky for not being confronted about nursing Peanut. I am lucky that people around me are at least tolerant of breastfeeding. I am lucky that I haven’t been around the wrong stranger at the wrong time. Beyond that though, I believe there are some things that help you to avoid getting harassed for doing such a beautiful thing.

1. Get educated. As I’ve said many times on here, I am not a very verbal person. I think I feel the need to keep repeating myself because I am such a blab online, but if you’ve ever met me in person I think you know how little I actually speak up. Even in a one-on-one conversation, I am the person who often forgets words I’m trying to speak of, gets nervous and starts to do things like stutter, and even just avoid the conversation in general (watching a toddler is a useful way to do this). If you’re one of the people that hasn’t noticed this about me, you’re either one of the few that I don’t feel uncomfortable speaking around or you’ve caught me on a subject I have knowledge about.

That’s it, knowledge. Having actual facts ready and at your disposal helps immensely when dealing with a verbal opponent. If you walked up to me and started arguing with me about coffee beans that are destroying the rain forest, I would likely have some opinions about it, but not be able to back them up. This goes for even things that you feel so strongly for, but you don’t have the facts. So do yourself a favor and come up with at least one argument against any and all things people may say to you against breastfeeding. If someone were to tell me that nursing my toddler didn’t provide any nutrition, I would tell them that even if it didn’t, it would still provide immunities. If someone were to tell me that nursing my toddler will stunt her emotional growth, I would tell them that studies actually show that babies and toddlers who are securely attached are more likely to show independence later in life. I have little “comebacks” prepared for every reason someone could possibly come up with for telling me I shouldn’t nurse my toddler. Beyond these comebacks, I don’t really know where I’d go, but hopefully I never have to get that far. Which brings me to my second point.

2. Act more confident than you are. I’m sure it works to my benefit that I have this blog. I think most people who know me also know about it (and a few even read it! Ohaithar!). I don’t know if having the blog makes people understand I’m serious about this stuff or if they just don’t want me to talk bad about them on it. :-P You don’t have to have a blog about breastfeeding to avoid being hassled though. Just make your opinion known. I’m not talking about going around screaming “I breastfeed my child and you better not talk crap on it!!!!” There are simplier ways to make your opinions known. Being myself, if a conversations steers anywhere near breastfeeding, I tend to start awkwardly spouting facts about how great it is (I didn’t learn all these facts for nothing!). Simply making it clear that you’re not budging on your opinion may even help the “helpful” mother/mother-in-law/grandma/pediatrician/etc. understand that they can’t “help” you.

Now lastly,

3. Expect the worst. Quite pessimistic, eh? Not really. I don’t sit around dwelling on the fact that I may be confronted, but I just let it cross my mind. It’s a fact. As I adjust myself for Peanut to latch on while we’re sitting in the rec center watching Daddy play basketball or she’s cranky at the store or she hurt herself or any other reason a toddler may suddenly decide that she needs milk right now, I acknowledge the fact that I could be confronted right then and there. Sometimes I think about the laws of my state regarding breastfeeding in public. Sometimes I just remember a couple of the facts that I know. Sometimes I do nothing at all beyond being aware.

It seems like most moms who are confronted about nursing in public by a stranger are taken aback. If you’re not prepared for “the attack”, you won’t ever see it coming. You’ll be bamboozled and even the biggest breastfeeding advocate may find herself at a loss for words. So just know that it could happen to you at any time. It doesn’t matter if you’re nursing a newborn or a 4 year old. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a cover or not. You could get some snarky comment from an idiot who thinks they know more than you, so be prepared to show them how much of an idiot they really are.

Have you been confronted when nursing in public? Have you dealt with “well-meaning” (or possibly not even attempting to be “well-meaning”) family telling you it’s wrong to nurse? How have you handled situations of being confronted? Do you think any of these things help to avoid getting confronted or am I just a very lucky Mama playing Russian Roulette?

Nursing Manners

Peanut has suddenly had a dramatic change in her nursing manners. She’s always been “bad” when she’s going to sleep. For whatever reason, no matter what I do, I can not get her past twiddling one side while nursing on the other while going to sleep. I tell her no. I threaten “no more milk”. I actually stop giving her milk. None of it has worked and it’s incredibly frustrating, but I deal with it. I just keep telling her no and such until she gets sleepy enough that she doesn’t do it anymore or that I can hold her hand away.

The problem is now in the daytime. I feel like we’ve gotten to the point in our nursing relationship where I don’t have to give her milk every single time she asks for it. I’m not trying to wean or anything, but sometimes it’s just down right inconvenient. For instance, while I’m trying to have a conversation with someone and I know that she’ll just pull off if I let her nurse because she wants to talk too. Or when I’m in the middle of doing something on the computer. Or even just when I needed to delay it tonight until we got everything situated for bed.

Seems reasonable, no? Well, Peanut would say “no”. Actually, she’d probably say “NO!!!!!”

If I tell her no, she has a fit. Most of the time, it’s just a bit of whining which is fine. She does that whenever she doesn’t get her way. Then, if I continue to say no, she’ll start pulling at my shirt. She’ll pinch my breasts like I do to try to decide which side I nursed on last. She’ll even lick either any bare skin she can find (generally my arm or neck) or even my shirt. Not that I think this is her intent, but I find all of these behaviors very disrespectful and outright embarrassing.

What I’ve been doing is setting her on the floor and telling her that she can’t get back up because she’s being mean to Mama. I often explain to her that those behaviors don’t get her milk, asking nicely for milk gets her milk (also often with the stipulation that when Mama says no, you do not get milk). I even sometimes resort to leaving the room because she is so persistent.

Alas, the behavior is not improving. Actually, if anything I would say that it is worsening (she hadn’t done the licking of my shirt thing until today). This isn’t a deal breaker, but I greatly feel the need to make it stop. I know that patience is a big thing to ask of a 21 month old, but she needs to at least learn that when Mama says no, she means NO. Period.

Any suggestions? Has anyone else dealt with these kinds of behavior before? Possibly it’s just a stage?