So tonight someone posted on facebook about a group that was started when two women (and their 6 children) were thrown out of a McDonald's in Arizona and then threatened with calling the police when several people complained that one of them was breastfeeding their baby. Here's the link if you want to check out the details: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=139416576097533
Seriously?!? You have got to be kidding me! What the heck is sooo offensive about people breastfeeding in public? As the person who posted the link said, "If you don't like it, don't look!" I remember a story I read in one of my La Leche League (a breastfeeding support group for those who don't know) magazines about a mom who was with her father, I think in a train station, and she was nursing her baby while waiting for the train. Obviously her father had been around her while she was nursing before, but he remarked that the older gentleman sitting close by might be offended and maybe she should cover up. She happily replied, "Oh, he's more than welcome to move, I'm quite comfortable where I am!" I thought that was the best response! If people are offended by someone nursing in public, they should move or not look. Women should not be made to feel ostracized or feel like they have to sit in a dirty public bathroom to nurse their baby. Would you want to sit in a dirty bathroom to eat your dinner?
My family and I have spent many hours at the local waterpark this summer where my favorite pasttime, while nursing the baby in public - he, he ;), is people watching. And oh, boy are there some people to watch! To give you some perspective of the clientele of said waterpark, my husband often jokes that he feels left out because he doesn't have a tatoo. I would like to tell a lot of them "Ok, just because you can wear a bikini, doesn't mean you *should* wear one." or "Does anyone else think that's attactive?'Cause really, not so much." There are some people that are just not meant to wear bikinis. And I stop and think - there are people there who are doing the best they can to show off as much skin as possible (and then some!) and nobody kicks them out of the waterpark! What has our society come to that people can walk around with nothing but a triangle of fabric covering their nipple and we can have half naked women plastered on billboards and yet people get offended when a women is nourishing her child with her breast. That's what they were made for, people!! It's really sad too that so many people find breastfeeding in public to be "disgusting" as I've heard it quoted because we would have a lot more breastfed babies if women would encouraged to nurse wherever they were and not made to feel ostracized.
I personally have never been asked to leave or cover-up or really had any negative comments made to me when I'm breastfeeding in public, but I know people who have. I had a friend get offered a sweaty towel to cover her baby's head with! Eww! I'm surprised I haven't yet, since I nurse everywhere, and I've been nursing for over three and a half years now. Though my grandma was "embarrassed for me, because people might be looking," (at which point, my aunt who has nursed five children including twins chimed in that it was too bad for them and the baby needs to eat!) I am a very discreet nurser in public, though I am not one to use a "hooter hider" because I think that just draws more attention to yourself. No offense to anyone who uses one, but I think it's like putting a big Bulls-Eye over your head and saying "Yoo hoo, here I am, look at me, I'm nursing!" And it just brings more stares. Usually people have no idea what I'm doing or just ignore me. I think the fact that I act like it's perfectly acceptable to be sitting on the floor among the clothes racks in Target nursing is part of the reason that nobody bothers me. And most of the time, nobody can tell what I'm doing anyway since I'm so discreet about it. I had a friend's husband get ready to look away when he knew I was going to sit down and nurse my daughter and then he had to do a double take because all of sudden I was nursing and he didn't even see me get her latched on. He said I was "the most discreet nurser he'd ever seen." My favorite though, is when people walk up to me and want to talk to the baby and don't realize that she/he is nursing until they're about a foot away and then they get this really embarrassed look and stutter and back away. It's really funny to watch! :)
In case you were curious, here is a link to the breastfeeding law in Illinois on The National Conference of State Legislature website:
Women in most states, including Illinois, have the right to breastfeed their baby anywhere they otherwise have the right to be, public or private. However, Illinois is actually one of only two states that places some type of limitation on breastfeeding in public. While women do have the right to breastfeed their baby anywhere they have the right to be, they can be asked to leave if they are in a place of worship and not following the "norms appropriate within that place of worship." So the only person that can tell you you can't nurse where you are is your pastor/rabbi/priest, etc. or a member of the staff. So be extra discreet while in church (which you should do anyway), and otherwise, nurse away! And if anyone other than the above mentioned people ever asks you to leave, stand up for yourself and the rights of breastfeeding women everywhere.
Well, this post is getting quite long, so I'm going to sign off. Hope you enjoyed my take on breastfeeding and feel free to leave comments. And be careful, if my baby looks like he's sleeping, don't get too close, he's probably nursing. ;)