Breastfeeding

Get your boobs out (and help normalise breastfeeding)

14 February, 2014

I know it’s time for a post on a topic when I start bending folk’s ears about it. Pacing up and down my friend’s kitchen yesterday, gesturing like I’m conducting an orchestra, words spilling out of my mouth all over her lino, it dawned on me. “Ah. Yes. I haven’t blogged about breastfeeding for tiiiiime!”

You know, a couple of weeks ago I was involved in a conversation on Facebook. I was defending the right for a woman to nurse her baby wherever she needs to. A mother had been nursing her baby in the reception area of her older child’s school and had been asked to move into the bathroom. That’s not reasonable, I argued, politely. In fact, I believe it is illegal. It wasn’t long before someone marched in and began to blame the world’s problems on “militant breastfeeders” like me.

Duuuuude.

I had to leave the conversation. I couldn’t respond to that. There is no conversation that can happen after one party has been labeled so harshly.

*cries a bit*

But it’s where we have come to, it seems.

The polarisation of infant nursing is so extreme- each end of the spectrum doesn’t have the ears to hear the other story any more.

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“Some of my best friends are bottle feeders!”

It seems crazy to have to harness a phrase usually saved to defend a spell of racism or homophobia… But it’s true! I’ve seen the heartache of mothers who couldn’t nurse, I’ve witnessed the decision of mothers to opt for another way to feed their baby, I’ve known mothers only last a week due to pain or lack of support and I think they are all AWESOME! And I know they nurse their babies with love.

So when I defend a mother’s right to breastfeed where she wants I do it with absolutely NO attack on people who bottle feed.

Why does it have to be seen that way? Why is it even related?

You know what it IS an attack on?

A society that has sexualised breasts to the point that they should never make an appearance other than to titilate. Where nursing your baby is inappropriate because boobs are blatantly provocative.

It is the primary reason we have such a low breastfeeding rate and it is the main reason people get mad when they see a woman publicly, openly nursing her child.

We have got a behemothic issue with boobs, an inability to see them as a feeding tool. Teenagers I know are HORRIFIED at the thought of breastfeeding – that their alluring “lady lumps” might ever nurse a child.

People who speak out about breastfeeding, who post breastfeeding photos and who pressure authorities to support breastfeeding are not anti bottle feeding, we are anti the objectification of women’s bodies.

Please, please understand this thing. It matters to me…. because some of my best friends are bottlefeeders!

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Words won’t do

Did you see the United Arab Emirates has passed a law requiring women to breastfeed for two years? (Lordy, so much to say, so little time.) It’s not the answer, is it? In fact, I thought it was an article for satirical site The Onion at first. It is such an oppressive response but I’d put money on the fact that breastfeeding mothers would stop getting harassed. Even shy mums would feel happier nursing in public if they knew the fuzz had their back.

So laws handed down from a dictatorship isn’t QUITE the answer … But we need more than our words. If we are labelled “Breastapo” before we’ve even drawn breath than we’ve already lost the argument; there is no enlightening debate going to happen there.

Save your breath, eh?

It’s handy that actions speak louder

There IS a place for sensible policies that support breastfeeding (such as prohibiting aggressive formula advertising throughout maternity services) and there IS a place for people who want to point out society’s hypocritical attitude towards mammary glands.

But more important than these things are the actions of every nursing mother.

Get them out, folks, and do your bit for normalising breastfeeding.

(If you want, that is. No pressure. Someone might get gnarly at you and I don’t want to get the blame if you bop them. But at least you’d legitimately deserve the label Aggressive Breastfeeder.)

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Nurse in church, on the high street, in the cafe, on the beach, in the lounge, on Facebook, at work, on a hike, in the garden, on Instagram, in the playground, at the party and around the dinner table.

Nurse your child anywhere and nurse your child everywhere.

I was shy about it until I spent some time with more confident mums and realised that my big peachy breast is nothing to be ashamed of.

So now I don’t hide it.

I see that by responding to my baby’s need for hunger all over the place I am paving the way for other new breastfeeding mums.

Get your boobs out

Over my years I have had macho males yell at me, imploring me to reveal my breasts. The time that made me feel so SO bad was just last year when I put the bin out in front of our house late at night. A couple of men were passing my front door and stopped to aggressively suggest I show them my boobs. Yeah. It was awful.

I can understand that nursing mothers feel conspicuous in such a climate.

But to only breastfeed behind closed doors or under one of those massive shawley things (I call them a bushel but I don’t think that is their official name) we are letting Murdoch and the Sun and all the leerers continue their claim on breasts.

So my boobs are out now, guys, but only with a baby guzzling there. (Or thinking about guzzling; my nine month old is at that stage where she is happy to just look at my nipple, or poke it, or squeeze it, oblivious to the fact that there is a whole debate raging around those glorious producers of sweet, sweet milk.)

By nursing in public I am doing my bit in shifting the framing of breasts back to feeding rather than sexing and it’s important enough to me to risk Death Stares and Facebook rants.

It’s not militant, it’s not aggressive, it’s no Gestapo-like boob army. It’s just a mother breastfeeding her baby when the baby needs it. It’s a natural, normal activity that has been done since time began and shouldn’t be hidden under a bushel.

Let your boobs shine. Let them shine, let them shine, let them shine.

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59 Comments

  • Reply Kate 14 February, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    Here here! (Stands on chair, cheers, claps, waves etc)

  • Reply LondonHeather 14 February, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    Here here!

    I don’t speak from personal experience (more on that in a mo), but it was brilliant watching my ante-natal group friends grow in confidence breastfeeding out and about and no longer feeling the need to hide it. And actually, our ante-natal teacher encouraged it – she told us that when she was breastfeeding her baby she took the view that her being brave might encourage another woman to be brave, and I think that’s definitely true.

    And thank you for encouraging those of us who bottle feed our babies. I desperately wanted to breastfeed (so so soooo badly), but it wasn’t to be, and for a while I couldn’t read anything pro-breastfeeding as it just felt like a huge judgment on me (and mostly this response was my issues at play rather than any agenda of the authors themselves). I’m still a huge advocate of breastfeeding, but I’m an even bigger advocate of feeding with love, however that looks, and it just made a huge difference that you mentioned that in your writing. Felt like a reassuring hug. Thank you.

  • Reply Rachel Barnes 14 February, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    Such a beautifully, articulately written blog.
    I hate the polarisation of any “hot topic”
    I wish I could hug you!

    You said all I have been feeling for a while.

    Whatever decisions we make as women, we should do it with love and respect for our bodies and the babies we raise… and hope that makes an impression on the sons, partners, husbands and male family members around us so they can love and respect our bodies too!

    Bravo! xx

  • Reply ThaliaKR 14 February, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    ‘Bushels’!! Brilliant :)

    Thanks for this!
    ThaliaKR recently posted…Sacraparental Lent with KidsMy Profile

  • Reply Brian Scott 14 February, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    Hi I am a Dad to be. My Wife is currently two days overdue and we are going to bottle feed. The simple reason being it is so I cann help! From my point of view I would be gutted to miss out on getting chance to feed my baby and being able to take a little pressure of my Wife. In saying that i think it is a good idea to breastfeed as it’s natural and i was when i was a kid. I would welcome any tips you may have for anything kid related which will help us in future. I think your blog is very good and you should be able to feed your child how you want and where you want. Good on you! :-)

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 15 February, 2014 at 7:25 am

      Woohoo, EXCITING!! You know you can do a combo, of bottle and boob? That way baby feels benefits of breastfeeding AND you can help :) In fact you sound AMAZINGLY hands on and supportive- which means your wife might be able to take on the challenge of breastfeeding well! But however you do it, just nurse babe lovingly! Keep baby close, don’t worry about spoiling :) If you google search Lulastic Parenting you will read my many thoughts! Hehe. Sending prayers and good vibes for the birth and first few days!

    • Reply Mrs_scholes 15 February, 2014 at 8:10 am

      Hi there, I just wanted to say I agree with Lucy, that some breastfeeding and some bottle feeding (some people called this ‘mixed feeding’) can work really well. This is what we did with our daughter and it meant my husband could help but my daughter and I still got some of the benefits of breastfeeding. But you should choose what is best for your family.

    • Reply Andrea 15 February, 2014 at 9:34 am

      Hi Brian,
      I never ever took a part in any discussions before, however I feel I need to answer to you! I’m not English even though I live in England for last 20 years and I just had a second baby 6 days ago abroad for various reasons. However I’d love to say and so strongly advice you to let your wife to breast feed PLEASE! To my surprise no one ever mentions the incredible benefits of breast feeding and the motherly satisfaction of doing so! That’s what we suppose to do, that’s why we have the boobs, that’s what gives the best start to our children to build their immune systems, that’s what is the most natural for the babies to eat and connect back to their mothers with whom they spent 10months with. I’m not pro showing your boobs all out at breast feeding, even though I breast fed my first one in public, but it can be done discreetly. Unfortunately England is not the most supportive in public places to do so, by supplying adequate areas.
      If you want to help ( and my husband felt the same, so I know what you are thinking ), then why not cook dinner or bath your baby or take her/him out for walk and spend some your time with your baby and give your wife a rest, I’m sure she would love that.
      I hope that help. All the best and enjoy your baby it’s the most amazing thing to do in life!
      Andrea

      • Reply Brian Scott 15 February, 2014 at 8:19 pm

        Hi Andrea

        Thanks for your reply! I will speak to my Wife again as we welcome all comments and advice, especially seen it’s our first time. Hope you and new baby are well.

        Regards
        Brian

  • Reply Maria 14 February, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    Hello!
    Firstly, congratulations on penning such a balanced piece – mothers need to support each other!

    Secondly, I hope you’ll be heartened by my experience. I have a 5 month old who I have breastfed everywhere we have been together since she was born. Shops, cafés, pubs, park benches, museums, other people’s houses, my nanna’s nursing home etc. At no point has anyone been anything other than completely supportive. Strangers regularly stop to congratulate me which, although I love the sentiment, has taken some getting used to!

    As a big busted girl, I was used to my boobs receiving leery unwanted attention and I am delighted to say that breast feeding has made me a lot more comfortable in my own skin and celebratory of the female body’s abilities. Whenever I have my daughter weighed I get a massive kick out of thinking ‘I did that!’

    I have never posted on a blog before but felt moved to say that I think things may be getting better at least in this small corner of South East London!

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 15 February, 2014 at 7:14 am

      Wow, feel honoured to receive your first comment! *high fives for all the breastfeeding love in SE London*

  • Reply Cassandra Hodges 14 February, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    Yes!!! You have just conveyed every thought that spins around in my head about nursing in public!
    What frustrates me about those who throw out the “breastfeeding police/mafia/nazi” card is that they fail to recognise that those who breastfeed are actually the minority! Perhaps sonetimes we might kick up a bit of a fuss. But thats only because some people just refuse to understand where a breastfeeding mother is coming from. I have formula fed my first born and breastfed (and continue to) my last two babies. So obviously I’m all for feeding a baby whichever way works best.
    Thank you for writing this xo
    P.S. I have one boob out right now as I type :)

  • Reply Alexis 14 February, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    Can I hear a hell yeah! I live in Portugal and find people are usually very open and encouraging. They are unphased about breastfeeding, to the point of bringing over their kids to say hello to the baby mid- suckle, and engaging you in lively conversation. It’s great to experience such a positive response to public breastfeeding. Brilliant blog post. Thanks for writing it xxx

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 15 February, 2014 at 7:11 am

      Go Portugal! X

  • Reply Katy Beale 14 February, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    You’ve hit the nail on the head there – “A society that has sexualised breasts to the point where nursing your baby is inappropriate because boobs are blatantly provocative.”

    I am *way* more confident breastfeeding in public now, in my 30s with my 2nd child than I was in my 20s with my 1st. Hey, I’m probably more confident all round!

    Give a warm, genuine smile to the woman you see breast feeding in public – it really helps!

  • Reply Caroline 15 February, 2014 at 12:11 am

    This is a fantastically well-written post and vocalises everything I want to say about breastfeeding but can’t. The minute anyone has a pro-bf opinion we are labelled “militant”, which has actually made me less likely to weigh-in on the topic. I combi-fed my twins, as the feeding schedule was too punishing after about 4 months of sole bf – expressing so that my husband could bottle-feed once a day whilst I got some sleep. But when I spoke to friends about it, most of whom were formula bottle-feeding, it turned out that I had been the topic of their conversations, and I had been labelled an “earth mother” – said with a sneer – because of my opinions on breastfeeding and reusable nappies. Why must I be labelled at all? And all this because I had excitedly shared some of the health benefits of breastfeeding with a friend whilst pregnant. It made me feel really self-conscious about the whole thing.

    And then there was the family party last summer where, having been “given” the spare room specifically for feeding babies, I felt I was missing out on the party entirely, so took the twins downstairs. When one started crying for food I began to nurse, and was asked to please go back upstairs, as I was embarrassing my uncles and male cousins. I spent most of the party confined to the spare room with my babies.

    But worst of all was the attitude at the hospital, where my prem boys spent the first three weeks of their lives. The hospital was seriously pro-breastmilk. They loaned out pumps to all the multiples-mummies to encourage them to express at home. But I was determined to nurse my babies directly, and for those first few weeks they were just not able to latch on. The pressure from the nurses to bottlefeed so that I could take the boys home was just so intense – it took all my strength to stick it out.

    Ok, enough from me. Thank you for a great post, and for giving me a chance to vent my spleen on this very sensitive topic!
    Caroline recently posted…Just one year…My Profile

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 15 February, 2014 at 7:27 am

      Woah, what challenges! Thank you for sharing your story x

  • Reply Sue Denim 15 February, 2014 at 12:32 am

    Lovely article. I just fed my 8 month old to sleep. I love breastfeeding so much, it’s one of the most delightful experiences I’ve ever had. Half way through writing a song to celebrate it. Who knows if I’ll ever finish it – too busy feeding. Thanks for your blog – love from Bangor, North Wales.

  • Reply Rosealys 15 February, 2014 at 1:34 am

    Great post! You do write things so nicely! I haven’t got to a breastfeeding stage in my life yet, but I feel so frustrated that what are basically utilitarian parts of the female body have had a completely different meaning forced onto them. Actually your line “A society that has sexualised breasts to the point that they should never make an appearance other than to titilate. Where nursing your baby is inappropriate because boobs are blatantly provocative.” Summed up what I’ve thought for a long time perfectly. (Lulastic: putting my most rambling, inconcise thoughts into snappy phrases.)
    Straying slightly from the topic of breastfeeding, but the “get your boobs out” post reminded me off it, I wonder if you’ve come across this short film: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/womens-blog/2014/feb/11/oppressed-majority-film-women-eleonore-pourriat?CMP=fb_gu

    Rose
    Rosealys recently posted…Plums, the third.My Profile

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 15 February, 2014 at 7:05 am

      Thank you! I’ll take a look x

  • Reply Gill 15 February, 2014 at 2:03 am

    I’ve been a subscriber to your blog for about a year but this is the first time I’ve posted – I couldn’t not! I was starting to feel a bit stalker-ish anyway :-)

    I wish wish wish this blog had existed before my first child (and that I’d found it before my second). Breastfeeding was so difficult for us, both my babies had tongue tie and although both had it ‘snipped’ I think we got into bad habits which we couldn’t resolve. I fed both my babies until 8/9 months, but it was a murky, painful, embarrassing, sweaty time; grappling with breastfeeding covers and hospital stays (IV ABs for mastitis) and generally feeling that getting my boobs out was just all wrong.

    I generally felt judged by breastfeeders (for wanting to cover up) and judged by bottle feeders (for feeling strongly enough about bf that I pushed on regardless and must therefore be judging them) and could never get my own head straight about any of it.

    Anyway. This post is how I feel about it. You’ve articulated my own view before I was able to even construct it properly myself. Another big YES shout out from me – it’s a great post.

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 15 February, 2014 at 8:35 am

      *waves* Hi Gill! Thank you for your comment, I’m so sorry you ever felt so judged :( 8/9 months is good innings, especially when it was so tough. Love to you x

    • Reply Rachel (RooPaprika) 16 February, 2014 at 6:45 am

      Oh Gill! I wanted to send you a huge internet hug – it is the feeling judged and the fact a few people are very polarised that makes people feel this way.

      When my son was nearly 2 months old a woman in a cafe made a passing comments about it being a ‘shame’ I was bottle feeding him. What this woman didn’t know was that he had severe tongue tie (that at that time was still undiagnosed…) and I was feeding him a bottle of breast milk it had taken me literally hours to express due to my own milk supply issues. Anyone who has exclusively expressed will know the fact I had made it out the house at all was a small miracle. We moved on to formula soon after, I spent weeks crying over her words, over feeling judged, over ‘failing’ and wondering what the point of it all was. A few months later, my son is the happiest little man I have ever met. Why? Because I nurture him with all the love I have in me, even if I can not nurture him with my own breasts. And that is all that matters. Boob, bottle, whatever – let us just feed our children with love and respect anyone else that is doing so.

      Great post Lucy Xxx

      • Lucy
        Reply Lucy 16 February, 2014 at 7:22 am

        And I want to give *you* a big hug.
        I’m so, so sad that lady made a comment. Awful.
        Feed with love, however you do it.

      • Reply Gill 16 February, 2014 at 10:24 am

        Ah Rachel, a huge internet hug back at you x

        My son couldn’t latch at all at first, I expressed and bottle fed entirely for the first 10 days. It’s bloody hard work! The fact you were still doing that at 2 months is truly amazing.

        I eventually managed to get my boy latched with shields, but that’s where the cover came in – juggling big boobs, too much milk, slippery shields and a baby with poor latch in public is not for the shy and sleep deprived.

        I followed the link to the I Support You campaign and cried, I had no idea those feelings were still so close to the surface.

        I’d never seen a baby being breastfed that I could recall when my son was born. That’s crazy! I’d seen plenty of breasts on magazine covers, film, TV but had very little idea what a true latch (or even feeding position) should look like. And I shared that discomfort. This blog has not only challenged but completely changed my perception of nursing mothers.

        It’s a great blog, Lucy – did I mention that?! x

  • Reply emily 15 February, 2014 at 3:17 am

    Absolutely, well said. That is why we have breasts, end of.
    emily recently posted…Taking stockMy Profile

  • Reply Mrs_scholes 15 February, 2014 at 8:17 am

    I have to say I don’t necessarily agree with persuading as many people as possible to get their boobs out. Mostly, my brothers and father and family-in-law don’t want or need to see them. So I would cover them up when they were around for everyone’s comfort, otherwise it was just plain odd. (I should add the caveat that I found breastfeeding really, really difficult, so latching on was never a quick or discreet affair!)

    However, in general, I Support You, and having given up breastfeeding long before I wanted to, because it was so hard , this ongoing campaign made me cry and cry and cry. Who was judging me when I breastfed, and who judged me when I stopped? Answer: Nobody I should care about.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/01/i-support-you-breastfeeding-_n_3685881.html

    Happy feeding.

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 15 February, 2014 at 8:31 am

      YES! The I support you campaign is WONDERFUL!

  • Reply Lilybett 15 February, 2014 at 11:20 am

    I’m not sure how the breastfeeding rates differ here in Australia but I actually had the opposite experience where I was harrassed for bottle feeding in public. I fully support breastfeeding and assumed I’d be able to do it – that’d it’d be easy and awesome but it was neither for us. We ended up pumping and bottle feeding breast milk for months before making the switch to formula when my supply gave out. Giving my boy a bottle in a foodcourt, I got harangued by a middle aged lady who was apparently “sick of people taking the easy way out and using a bottle”. Well, eff off lady. None of the feeding options were easy for us. The breast/nipples didn’t happen no matter how many holds or nipple shields or tricks we tried; pumping was so awkward and took so long I hardly got to hold my baby; and formula-feeding was full of sterilising and strict measurements and never the right temperature and stinky vomits. Where exactly was the easy way out?

    Ugh. It’s women like that that give pro-breastfeeders a bad name. I’d still try breastfeeding again and encourage others to do it, but I’d never harrass anyone for doing something different.
    Lilybett recently posted…On Valentine’s Day: My heart and brainMy Profile

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 15 February, 2014 at 3:54 pm

      Oh Lordy, HORRID! I am so, so sorry. Bottle feeding is by NO MEANS the easy way out! What planet was she living on?
      I bet that was SO frustrating, especially after such an intense pumping period. Jeez.
      Breastfeeding rates are super low in UK. I think people have a massive opinion on whatever mothers choose to so and the best we can think is that the people who judge are the people whose opinion I don’t care about!

  • Reply Hannah Olley 15 February, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    Is a totally natural and beautiful thing to do. I did and still am feeding my babies and get my boobies out when ever and whereve!! So come on ladies don’t be shy set a new trend and be beautiful. xxxx

  • Reply Sarah 15 February, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    Great article! Just a quick comment on the difference between attitudes in UK vs Australia. I’m from the UK but live in Melbourne and I was lucky enough to get loads of support when BFing my first baby, which seems to be really lacking for UK mums. My mums’ group and I regularly sat in cafes feeding our babies without any harassment; however some of my friends in the UK were on the receiving end of pretty nasty comments. On a flight to England a lovely Australian woman told me her English mother in law was horrified by her decision to BF and actually said ‘that’s not how we feed babies in this country’! So sad. I’m looking forward to BFing baby number 2 when he/she arrives in a few weeks. I strongly feel that breastfeeding should be normalised, while recognising that it’s not always easy, and hope that the support system can be improved for everyone.

  • Reply Brian Hoskins 16 February, 2014 at 2:32 am

    I am torn both ways on this argument. I can plainly see and accept both points of view. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I’m on the fence (I see ‘on the fence’ as a refusal to be drawn on an opinion, rather than a failure to reject one opinion over another) but I can definitely understand the issues from both sides and I’m not certain about which side I should pitch my tent.
    Given that I am able to see both sides, though, I’m definitely [i]not[/i] the person who is going to launch an attack on someone if they do decide to breast feed in public.

    I think the main reason I am torn on this subject is as follows:

    I can accept that the natural purpose of breasts is to feed young. This is true not only of humans, but of the animal kingdom in general. The reason that females evolved to support breasts in the first place was undoubtedly as a means to feed their newborn babies. Breasts are costly (in terms of energy for milk production) and nature wouldn’t endow women with them just for the fun of it. That’s not how evolution works. Evolution works by providing survival advantages, and for this reason it is absolutely 100% clear that the original (and enduring) purpose of breasts is for raising young.

    However, there is also a natural consequence to this evolution. Once we’ve accepted as a species that breasts are for feeding our young, then instantly it is going to become the source of desire for males looking for a mate. A confident male, looking for the best mate to raise his offspring, is going to be attracted to a female with the assets for the job. So, in the same way that males have evolved to find shapely women attractive they have also evolved to find breasts attractive. It’s sexual selection, which is a form of natural selection. You can find similar examples of sexual selection throughout the animal kingdom – and women use sexual selection just as much as men.

    We have to accept, therefore, that breasts are an object of sexual interest for men. They are now, always have been, and probably always will be. And it’s perfectly natural that this should be so.

    If we accept that it’s both natural for breasts to be a newborn feeding tool, and also an object of sexual interest for men (the two things are related) then we’re never quite going to escape the opinion that breast feeding – where it involves exposing the breasts in public – should be done with consideration for other people in the vicinity. So… would a school reception be an appropriate place to openly breast feed, when there is likely to be young boys around who will undoubtedly (and naturally) view breasts as an object of sexual interest, and who will be going through puberty?
    Well… again, I can see the opinions both ways. Breast feeding is a natural process so women should be able to do it anywhere and everywhere. But breasts are also naturally viewed as an organ of sexual interest for males (and, dare I say, some females) so there should also be some care taken to ensure that it’s appropriate in the time and moment. It’s a conflict, for sure.

    Developing my argument a little further… okay a lot further…. alright then maybe taking it out of the ball park… you could say the following:

    Sex is a [i]natural[/i] process. It has been going on since time began. Using one of the arguments being made for public breast feeding, we should also be able to have [i]sex[/i] wherever we want, and if anyone happens to be around at the time then they should just accept that we’re doing what comes naturally to us and which goes on openly in nature all around us.

    Of course, I don’t actually believe that. We have developed as a society to keep matters of sexual activity private, and (for the most part) behind closed doors. We have also developed as a society to keep our sexual organs (for the most part) covered up. Even though our sexual organs are quite natural, we’ve decided that there’s a time and a place for revealing and using them.
    Breast feeding is a long way from needing to have this kind of restriction placed on it – I don’t think that breast feeding in public should be off the table – but at the end of the day women’s breasts [i]are[/i] going to continue to be viewed with sexual interest among men and women. That’s a fact, and that’s perhaps why some people are sympathetic to the view that there’s a time and a place for revealing breasts, too.

    I guess there’s a distinction to be made between revealing breasts for sexual attention, and revealing breasts for feeding of young. That distinction is important to the argument, and I don’t think it [i]quite[/i] comes out that way in your article.

    Anyway, food for thought!

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 16 February, 2014 at 7:17 am

      Thank you for this response :) The distinction is vital, in fact, my friend tells me that in her mainly Muslim country there are different words for breastfeeding breasts and sexual ones.
      I’d be interested in hearing your perspective on how other cultures avoid making breasts an object of desire? Although your line of thought makes sense, I can observe that in other cultures breasts are no more sexualised than elbows.
      And even in British culture bold, breast revealing nursing has occurred historically. It seems to me that we are struggling with a modern, Western issue…

      • Reply Brian J Hoskins 17 February, 2014 at 12:52 am

        Hi Lucy.

        I agree that breasts are sexualised to a greater or lesser extent in other cultures. This is because society amplifies our perception of breasts in terms of their sexual importance. In fact, society amplifies our perception of sex in general. And not always for the better! So I guess it makes sense that in different societies these influences will be different.

        I’m not sure I agree that there are cultures where breasts are not sexualised at all?
        Perhaps you’re talking about the small cultures of men and women who literally live in nature; forging lives for themselves without any interest in technology or modern society at all. In these cultures it can be considered perfectly normal to walk around completely naked. And being naked is not considered a sexual state.
        Does that mean that their sexual parts are not sexualised? No, I don’t think it does. Men and women in those cultures will still be exercising sexual selection when they choose who they want to mate with, and their preferences will still be governed by the same things on some basic level. It’s just that their sexual parts are not considered offensive in their society, and its not considered a sexual act if they are naked in their society.
        In our society we have chosen to make our sexual parts ‘private’, and as such it *is* considered a sexual act if we are naked in public. To be honest I see that as *generally* a good thing. I don’t think I’d really want to live in a society where people de-robed on the bus into town, for example.
        Living in a society like ours, where sexual parts are censored (private), does create some conflicts though – and one of those conflicts is breast feeding.

        I definitely agree that it’s a difficult conflict. I can see why you want to be able to breast feed wherever and whenever you need to, because breast feeding *is* completely natural.
        But unfortunately, as a direct consequence of the type of society we live in, there’s a conflict.

        When I mentioned the distinction between revealing the breast for feeding purposes and revealing the breast for sexual attention, I did not mean to suggest that you completely missed this distinction in your article. You definitely *do* make the distinction yourself, although I find the distinction is weakened by statements such as “let’s get them out in public.” I saw a similar comment on this matter recently where one lady was proud that she had caused someone to choke on their tea cake after she ‘whipped them out’ in a cafe. Personally I understand that her intension was not to cause any offence to anyone at all; she probably just wanted to feed her child in the natural way, and it would be her preference if this act was normalised. I have no problem with that. But I guess I find these sorts of statements which appear to promote glee at the causing of offence unhelpful to your argument in general. The reason I point it out to you is not to suggest ill intentions on your part, but purely to be constructive.

        I think that if I was forced to pitch my tent somewhere, in the here and now, I would end up on the border; but on your side of the fence.

        Perhaps in the future, when society’s issues with this have been tackled, I will be able to move further in-land :)

      • Reply Amy 17 February, 2014 at 8:08 am

        A different term for breasts with a different role sounds interesting, we already do that with our genitals. I think breasts can be sexual and used for breast feeding, just like the vagina can be used for pleasure and reproduction. It’s our choice but the modern western world is muddling it up.

        Long time reader! Xo

    • Reply Gill 16 February, 2014 at 11:28 am

      Actually, I think the distinction *is* made in the blog post.

      Breasts are sexy due to culture, not evolution. They’re no more essential to the continued existence of the human race, in the sexual sense, than ankles were a couple of centuries ago.

      And cultural perception is something which can be changed.

      Loving the irony in your argument though!

      • Reply Brian J Hoskins 17 February, 2014 at 12:54 am

        Hello Gill,

        I agree that society’s perceptions can be changed, and that some of our perceptions SHOULD be changed.

        I also agree that the distinction was made in the article. I merely wanted to emphasise the importance of the distinction when making your argument. Sometimes I feel the importance is lost in the argument, though not necessarily in the intentions. I explained this in my reply above.

        I’m intrigued… where is the irony in my argument?

        • Reply Gill 17 February, 2014 at 12:36 pm

          The irony: The primary function of breasts is to raise our young… therefore as part of natural selection men find them sexually attractive… therefore using them for their primary function should really be hidden unless “appropriate”.

          I have absolutely nothing against sexy. Honest :) Lips are sexy. Eyes are sexy. Forearms are verrrry sexy (that might just be me). But these things are not objectified in quite the same way. How can we justify a culture which freely allows breasts to be seen in a male-approved capacity in any local newsagent or supermarket (or a hundred other places), whereas catching a glimpse while being used for their actual biological purpose causes disgust/outrage/discomfort?

          It’s why I agree so strongly with this blog post. Breast, bottle, mixed; I support you. In spades. But there needs to be a culture shift when it comes to breastfeeding and I’m pretty certain it’s already begun – go on, pack up your tent and join us :)

  • Reply Laura 16 February, 2014 at 8:41 am

    Nice to read a balanced viewpoint and clarify it’s not breast vs bottle. As a mother of a 4 year old and a 3 month old, I have breastfed, mixed fed and then finally accepted my body did not meet my babies’s requirements and bottle fed both my boys. Once reaching this emotional decision and learning to be confident in my choices as a parent, I have met with discrimination against that choice on a number of occasions and thought it would be interesting for you to hear.
    I have never been body confident and, therefore was keen to breastfeed discretely, in the same way that I would not want to reveal my belly flab or varicose veins whilst out in public. This was always respected in public places and room would be found to allow me a calm, comfortable place to feed my baby at the doctors, local farm etc. Now I am bottle feeding my very nosey baby who needs quiet and calm to feed well, it seems that I am not entitled to a comfortable chair, a quiet room or space where I can hold him close and engage with him, instead I am expected to shove a bottle at him whilst he’s in his car seat or in a crowded place with nowhere to sit.
    At soft play this week, whilst queuing and told there was a half hour wait- one out,one in situation I asked if I could have a corner or use of a chair to feed my baby. I was asked if I was breastfeeding and when I replied ‘no’ was met with a raised eyebrow at my request and ‘we don’t have anywhere for you’. Now I wish I had replied ‘why should it matter?’ instead. A mother feeding her baby with love should be respected and treated the same regardless of how she is feeding him- it works on both counts as I am sure you would agree.

  • Reply Danielle 17 February, 2014 at 9:51 am

    I’m currently breastfeeding my 3 month old son, and whilst I haven’t found it easy, having experience a number of physical complications, I’m proud to say I have persevered and we’re finally there! Yay!

    No matter how natural breastfeeding feels to me, I still find it extremely difficult to breastfeed in public, to the point I don’t want to leave the house encase my son needs feeding. It’s not the fact of people seeing my exposed breasts, I really couldn’t careless, but it’s the thought of me causing someone else embarrassment. I’ve tired covering myself, and my son, with muslins, scarfs and various other covers designed for feeding in public, but he gets flustered, I get flustered and then the whole thing ends up being a huge ordeal. How can I blame him, I Can’t say that I would want to eat my dinner under a blanket!

    After reading your blog, I realised the problem shouldn’t be mine, so today, after a crisp Sunday walk, my husband and I headed for breakfast IN PUBLIC with my son! Yes he needed feeding, and yes I did it in PUBLIC! I didn ‘t use a cover, or a scarf, and whilst I was discrete, my son was happy, I was happy and we did it! My husband even took a photo to mark our accomplishment.

    I’m not now a militant of breastfeeding, I’ve given my son a bottle and will be happy to do so again, but I am a mother, and hope that I will continue to feel able to feed my child, the way I choose, in public without feeling conscious or judged.

    Thank you for your inspirational blog! We’ve now achieved yet another milestone in our little adventure as a family.

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 17 February, 2014 at 10:22 am

      Woohoo *massive high fives!* That is awesome, enormous congratulations – a milestone indeed!

  • Reply Laurenne @ This Mummy 17 February, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Great post. The first few months with my first daughter I was way too nervous to feed in public. None of my family or friends had ever breastfed so the lack of the support left me with little confidence. I avoided going out and rushed back to my car or a (usually RANK) little nursing room. It was a really isolating and stressful experience.

    Then all of a sudden I grew up about it, got myself some confidence after having the huge realisation that by hiding away I was contributing to the fact that breastfeeding just isn’t normalised. Now I make a point of getting em out wherever and wherever my (now second) daughter needs or wants it.

    I want to do as much as I can to help normalise breastfeeding and change how we view boobs. Reading your blog has made me want to take more action, I started with this: http://thismummy.com/breastfeeding-welcome-here-in-our-toilets-a-ranty-letter-to-our-local-shopping-centre/)

    Love reading as always :) L x
    Laurenne @ This Mummy recently posted…Lemon and Poppy Seed Muffins RecipeMy Profile

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 17 February, 2014 at 10:55 pm

      AWESOME!!

  • Reply Tasha Batsford 18 February, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    I have myself a high five for having nursed in every one of the places on your list.

    Just so you know, there’s an awesome hashtag #normalizebreastfeeding if you choose to post any of your photos online.

    Personally I can’t get enough of posting NIP pictures, especially as I use an SNS, and I have yet to hear a negative comment.

    Maybe it’s the big “F OFF” I have tattooed on my forehead ;)

    Awesome post as always missus!!
    Tasha Batsford recently posted…Baby Led Weaning the Third Time AroundMy Profile

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 18 February, 2014 at 12:54 pm

      Hahaha love it! Hey we are in Wellingron today!

      • Reply Tasha Batsford 18 February, 2014 at 1:38 pm

        No way!! I’m in Christchurch today, sod’s law!

        What brings you down to Wellington?
        Tasha Batsford recently posted…Baby Led Weaning the Third Time AroundMy Profile

        • Lucy
          Reply Lucy 19 February, 2014 at 11:40 pm

          Flat whites, mostly :) We are about tomorrow too if you are?

          • Tasha Batsford 20 February, 2014 at 8:31 am

            Awesome choice, I’m rocking one as I type.

            I’m in the centre of town today at work. If you’re about and fancy some lunch, let me know. There’s an amazing veggie Indian by my office – http://highertaste.co.nz/
            Tasha Batsford recently posted…Please Nominate Maybe Diaries for a MAD Blog AwardMy Profile

          • Lucy
            Lucy 20 February, 2014 at 9:33 am

            yeah, let’s lunch! Can you do an early one, like 12 ish? We are picking a camera up from cuba street x

          • Lucy
            Lucy 20 February, 2014 at 9:41 am

            My number is 022 429 1049 x x

          • Tasha Batsford 20 February, 2014 at 9:37 am

            Yup, midday it is.

            Do you fancy the indian (veggie buffet noms, fairly child friendly) or I’ll meet you up on Cuba. Just drop me a text, I’m on zero two one, one double two, double zero, eight three.

            XX
            Tasha Batsford recently posted…Please Nominate Maybe Diaries for a MAD Blog AwardMy Profile

  • Reply Jess @ Let's Do Something Crafty 18 February, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    Yes! Brilliant post and I have just pinned the photo of you breastfeeding on the bench, such a gorgeous photo x
    Jess @ Let’s Do Something Crafty recently posted…How To Make A Toy Camera Out Of An Old Egg BoxMy Profile

  • Reply Katy Beale 20 February, 2014 at 3:50 am

    Look at all the responses this post has fired up! Amazing…

    It also inspired me to create this blog post with images of breastfeeding in the past:
    http://ofthesimplethings.com/2014/02/09/breastfeeding-in-the-past/

    (originally collated by Buzzfeed http://www.buzzfeed.com/southerndisposition/25-historical-images-that-normalize-breastfeeding-jlw6)
    Katy Beale recently posted…Kids Clothes: The Gender WarsMy Profile

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 20 February, 2014 at 10:50 am

      Awwwesome pictures!

  • Reply Viv 3 March, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    Really good post! Inspired me to finish this post, a slightly different take on the feeling of embarrassment some are made to feel, but shouldn’t have to! Thanks

    http://mindfulmam.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/embarrassed-to-feed-my-baby/

  • Reply The Smugness of Criticising Parents | Sacraparental 22 March, 2014 at 7:57 am

    […] If you are a breastfeeder at the moment, breastfeed in public, please! […]

  • Reply Proud father. 28 August, 2014 at 8:20 am

    The world is up side down. Breastfeeding is THE best way of feeding a baby. (Since when do cows, dogs, cats, etc. have more rights than humans?) No one can understand how I felt when the mother of my son could not breastfeed due to a cosmetic breast operation (she really wanted to breastfeed, too).

    In my home country women are free to breastfeed in public. But they do it in a decent way (not showing the whole breast) and nobody make any ill comments. BTW, some women even cover their breast and the baby’s face with a tiny towel.

    To conclude, women must be allowed to breastfeed anywhere the baby needs to be fed. Those people who do not agree with this should complain to their own mothers!

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