As a nursing mother this subject is particularly important to me so I thought I'd share my views. I am a huge breast feeding advocate and it both saddens and sickens me how taboo breast feeding is in America. It just doesn't make sense to me. Breasts were made to feed babies, it's the most natural thing in the world. Yet people are "grossed out" "weirded out" and otherwise negative about the whole concept. WHY???
Well, for one thing, America over sexes everything. Breasts are no longer seen as baby feeders so much as sex toys. I get it, they are an object of attraction, people love them. But, that is not their sole or even main purpose. Their main purpose is to nourish a baby. I don't understand parents who say they don't want their child seeing a baby nurse or they ask how are they supposed to explain it to their kid. What's so wrong with seeing a baby eat? What's so hard about explaining to your child that the mother is feeding her baby in the way they were intended to be fed? Maybe if someone had explained it to those parents they wouldn't have such an issue with it now.
There are women in this country who are harassed every day because they are trying to feed their baby. That's really sad. Women are frequently told to go nurse in the bathroom. That's really gross. Would YOU want to eat in the same room where people poop? Of course not, so why expect a baby to do so? People say they don't mind it as long as the woman is using a cover. And some Moms use a cover, or try to. But some choose not to and for some it just doesn't work. It gets hot under there, the baby can't see their Mom and they're just all around uncomfortable so they refuse to nurse. They scream, cry and fight and you're left with an unhappy, hungry baby, a frustrated mother and a room full of people staring at the crying baby.
Personally, I don't use a cover. But, I am discreet. I simply wear a cami under a regular shirt. The top shirt goes up, the cami pulls down and voila. Discreet nursing without a cover. Unless you're staring a hole through my chest or happen to glance over as the baby shifts or pulls off for a second, chances are you wouldn't even know what I was doing. Which brings me to another point. Is it really so hard to avert your eyes if nursing makes you uncomfortable?
I've been lucky. In the 29 (combined) months that I have breast fed so far, I've gotten too many dirty looks to count, but there's only been 1 person who was obnoxious about it. We happened to be in a restaurant and the baby was hungry. So, I fed him. A woman at the table next to ours glanced over as I was getting him latched on and nearly had a stroke. All of a sudden I hear this very loud voice exclaiming "That's disgusting! Look at that! Why is she doing that here?" I look over to see her nudging her husband frantically. As I'm giving her my best "May I help you?/Go to some place very hot and stay there" look, her husband glances over, sees that I'm feeding my son discreetly, turns back to his wife and tells her to shut up. I had to laugh but she wasn't amused.
I traveled to Egypt via Air France/Paris while nursing my son. And NO ONE batted an eye when I nursed him. Why? Because it's natural and ordinary in other countries. There's no taboo, it's simply a mother feeding her child. Quite frankly people in Egypt would have thought it odd if I hadn't nursed. To them, it's much stranger to feed a baby formula. Here is an example of how important and admired breast feeding is in other countries. One day while we were out shopping my son wanted to nurse. My mother-in-law asked the shop keeper if there was a place I could sit to nurse him. The shop keeper promptly shooed everyone else out of the shop so *I* wouldn't feel uncomfortable and brought her own stool for me to sit on. How awesome is that?
*I should add a disclaimer here that I have nothing against people who use formula. I am perfectly aware that there are reasons some people can't or choose not to breast feed. It might surprise you to know that my oldest was on formula. He had a milk/protein intolerance among other issues and had to be put on hypoallergenic formula.