I don't want to see your boobs: Military Moms Breastfeeding or Super Models on Time

I don't want to see your boobs: Military Moms Breastfeeding or Super Models on Time

Tabloids, celebrities, La Leche League and other media outlets have really jumped on the recent breastfeeding in public trend.  This comes and goes every year, but it started making news again once the article in Time magazine came out asking if You’re Mom Enough.

The latest newsmaker comes from Mom2Mom Breastfeeding Support Group that started a breastfeeding awareness campaign featuring women breastfeeding their babies.  Normally a little controversial.  But Mom2Mom notched it up a bit by having the moms in military uniforms.

I don’t have anything against breastfeeding.  I don’t have anything against Military Moms Breastfeeding.   I’ve done the breast as well as the bottle with my kids, and I agree completely that it is in the best interest of the child.

My problem is, I don’t want to see everyone’s boobs everywhere.  Maybe I’m a little traumatized by my first breastfeeding experience, but I just don’t want to see them whipped out and on the cover of magazines.

My first baby was born in Southern California where the La Leche League is out of control.  As I was still recovering from the 8 pound bowling ball that was just ripped out of me, they pounced and said I needed to go into the instruction room as soon as I was mobile with my baby.  I was wheeled down and pushed into a room with 14 other women and their new offspring.  While they all looked eager to learn, I was terrified.

We sat in a large circle, a woman walks in and her opening line was, “OK mommies, I need you to bare your breasts.”  What?  I look around and all of a sudden everyone started ditching their shirts and it was like a horrifying porno.  Remember, these women just gave birth.  I’ve never seen such incredibly enormous boobs.  I was completely surrounded by smiling faces and 28 orbs that were bigger than my head.  It was like a bad accident.  I just couldn’t stop staring with my jaw dropped.  I finally composed myself, stood up, started to push my baby back to our room and just said, “I’m sorry, but I’ll need a lot more drugs to do this.”

I’m completely okay with breastfeeding, but can we do it in private?  Or at least discretely?  I am not saying go hide in a closet, I’m just saying asking for a little more modesty.

I know the argument is that it’s completely natural.  But if you think about it, so is urinating and defecating, but I’m not going to do it in public, or put it on a magazine, right?  But it is natural, so what’s the big deal?

Passing Gas?  Natural.  Runny Nose?  Natural.  Menstruation?  Natural.  Belching?  Natural.

Yet all those things are not really appropriate in public.  All I’m asking is if you are going to breastfeed that’s great, can you just do it discretely?  Nobody even needs to leave the room like you do for those other natural occurrences.  There’s just no need to whip them out, or post pictures on facebook.

Maybe my first experience did traumatize me, but I can only hope that I traumatized my lactation coach a little bit too when she came back to my room and asked me to drop my top.  I just said, “The last time someone asked me to do that, I ended up here, so can you just give me a little bit of a break?”

We’re happy you all have boobs and babies, but do we have to see them all the time?



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  • I wanted to get all boob nazi on you, but I just had to laugh at "I was completely surrounded by smiling faces and 28 orbs that were bigger than my head." Daunting indeed!

  • Thank you for being gentle since I think you can appreciate the inevitable shit storm I'm most likely going to experience today...

  • In reply to kirby:

    Well you gotta say what you feel. Is there a bit of animosity about this because the women with her breasts actually showing has Playboy bunny hair and perfect breasts? Maybe she feels porny to you or something?

    My thoughts are that we need these more "out front" type of women to make those who are discreet but nervous (like myself) edge toward confidence. I'd never just whip out a bare breast in public either, but seeing women like that who do makes me less squeamish about the possible accidental flash.

  • I want so much to be supportive of your post but it actually makes me sad. We should be supporting other women in their quest to feed their babies, not telling them to cover up, which implies that they're doing something others should not see. A breast is not sh*t, urine, or snot. It's just a breast.

    I'm really glad no one ever wanted to shove me in a corner or told me to cover up when I was nursing. Given that I was already feeling pretty insecure about my new role, being scolded for feeding my baby would have been really hard for me.

  • Thanks for the feedback. I might not have made my point effectively enough if you walked away feeling like I wanted you shoved in a corner. I went through it 5 times without a multitude of people needing to stare at my breasts. I'm just asking moms to be conscious of their surroundings.
    I also wasn't trying to scold for breastfeeding. I'm actually in support of it, I just don't think we need it on the cover of magazines - there are PLENTY of ways to make it simple and discrete.

  • In reply to kirby:

    you "support" it as long as you don't have to see it?

    That's the same as saying you think it's ok to be gay as long as they all stay in the closet.

  • In reply to paranoid, android?:

    Thanks for reading, but I couldn't disagree with your assessment of me more. It's absolutely not the same as being gay is ok as long as I don't see it.
    The analogy would be a little closer if you said I support homosexuality and heterosexuality, but I really don't want to see people having sex, no matter who it is with, in the middle of the street.

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    How many breastfeeding moms are you encountering in a given day, week, month that you are seeing them all the time???

  • In reply to Britt Anderson:

    All I need to do is walk past a news stand these days and there it is. Also, with my youngest in preschool, I see breastfeeding constantly. We all know it's happening and I'm not sure everyone got the part where I'm in support of it, I just would like moms to be discrete - I went through it, it's not difficult at all.

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    In reply to Britt Anderson:

    Nicely put Britt. When I see a Mother breast feeding, I see all the things she has given up to provide the best possible nutrition for her child, I see the commitment and dedication she has given her child.

  • Thank you, Britt and Wendy for your sanity.

    There's a simple and elegant solution. If you don't want to see moms breastfeeding in public, stay home.

  • I agree with you completely, Kirby.

    Any breastfeeder knows how to do it with discretion. I don't see why this has to be a big, public issue. We use discretion to do a lot of things. This can be one of them. You can breastfeed out in the wide open, and still do it discretely. I know. I did it. (I preferred to excuse myself and feed privately, but it's not always an option.)

    The thing is, it's all really a non-issue. I have yet to see someone who is publicly calling for an end to breastfeeding. Why is there such a public campaign? What are we fighting for?

  • In reply to subwayduck:

    THANK YOU!!! I am so glad someone got my point!

  • In reply to subwayduck:

    100% agree

  • 1. There was the news story yesterday about someone suing the county because the sheriff's deputy wouldn't let her breastfeed in the lobby, but with the unexpected response (in that the usual response is that we haven't seen the complaint) that no one had bothered her.

    2. Speaking of "Cheaper than Therapy" seeing this is "cheaper than therapy" for about 45% of the population, but your 4th paragraph indicates that you are in the other probably 55%.

    3. The mother on the left illustrates why there are two breasts, but what does the mother of triplets do? Borrow the spare one of the mother on the right?

  • I agree with you, Kirby. Also, the "hey, it's natural" argument doesn't work for me. After all, going to the bath room is "natural" and you can't do that in public. Sleeping is "natural" and you can't just lie down and do that wherever you want. There is a time and place for everything and breastfeeding, while there is nothing wrong with doing it, has a place, too, and that place is in private.

  • In reply to publiusforum:

    Yes - But I don't even think it has to solely be private - it just should be discrete. It's actually fairly easy to be in public without exposing yourself.

  • I am with you all the way Jill. I agree that breast feeding, for most people, is the best choice for the baby...and that it is a mother's right to be able to feel comfortable nursing in public. And I certainly don't think that they should be relgated to the washroom or anything. I have nothing against nursing in public. But I think it is fair to ask for a modicum of discretion. Or, at a bare minimum, not being blatently obvious about the whole procedure. I have no desire when strolling through a park with my young child to see a new mom lift her tank top up in order to feed her baby, flashing my kid. I just don't. That's what nursing bras, baby slings etc are for. Sure I can just look the other way ... it is a different story with a little one. What if I hadn't had the talk with her about where milk for the baby comes from? That is my choice as to when it is best for me to allow my child to be exposed to other people's anatomy. This choice is removed from me, when in the middle of a playground conversation, mommy whips out her boobs & lets the baby fuss, then suckle, fuss some more...reposition the baby, etc. Is breast feeding natural? Sure it is, and it is a great thing for baby and mom. Sex is beautiful and natural, too ...but I don't want to see people copulating in public either. Somethings are intended to be a bonding mechanism between two individuals (baby & mom, man & woman, etc.)...not those two individuals and the public. And if the argument is that this is "what nature intended" ...then why do we even bother with clothes at all? Should't we just all walk around nude all the time then? At some point in our evolution, we decided that a little bit of modesty & discretion were beneficial for all of us. BTW, I feel the same way about seeing scantily clad women & teens & men in public...not limited to breastfeeding moms.

  • In reply to LRBS:

    I couldn't have said it better myself

  • In reply to LRBS:

    You are worried about telling your delicate kid about breastfeeding? How obnoxiously prudish you are. Heaven forbid that those tender eyes would spy a litter of puppies or kittens at the tap. The poor thing would be traumatized and scarred for life because she had not been prepared by having "The Talk."

    And spare me the "bonding mechanism" red herring. Would you be horrified to see the "bonding" of a mother feeding her infant with a bottle? I suppose a father "bonding" with a bottle would be right out then, eh?

    Why don't you try something. Instead of your counterexample of listing other natural things that should not be done in public, what don't you rationally state what is to terrible about public breastfeeding? Remember, I said RATIONALLY, so arguing that you merely don't want to see it will not make the cut.

    If you don't want to see it, mind your own business and look away if a boob horrifies you. If that isn't acceptable, become a shut-in.

  • I think all you're saying is be discrete, right? Use a blanket to cover your book, unlike the double-dipper in the photo above. Very simple. Good for all!

  • Be discrete if it's an option, but it's not always an option. Those babies get hungry and they need to be fed whether there's a private room or a blanket to cover available.

    But legally, if a mom wants to whip it out and breastfeed on a park bench on Michigan Avenue there's nothing anyone can do to stop her.

  • In reply to Jimmy Greenfield:

    Et tu Brute? I understand that legally someone can whip it out, but I don't necessarily agree with it socially.
    I think discretion is always an option. Mom's are THE most resourceful group I know and if they want discretion, they'll figure out a way to achieve it.

  • I didn't want to leave a giant comment on your blog, so I decided to write a post over at Pluck at Rebellious to explain my problems with your argument. http://www.rebelliousmagazine.com/_blog/PLUCK/post/Rant_cream,_part_deux/

  • I am in total support of breastfeeding and even doing it in public, (currently breastfeeding baby #4) but I am also in support of modesty. I don't think it's acceptable to expose something that would not normally be exposed, just because I am feeding a baby. You can be discreet and breastfeed comfortably. You don't have spend a fortune on nursing clothes or cover baby completely with a blanked, a simple burp cloth will do and you're not suffocating your child and at the same time your not exposing yourself to the world. Breastfeeding is natural, but that does not mean that all the sudden modesty has to go out the window. Breasts are multifunctional, and just because they are being used for the non sexual function doesn't mean they should all the sudden be totally normal to see and that everybody should be comfortable seeing them. Most people cannot just forget their other (pretty important) function. Most peoples brains just don't work like that. Not that people are turned on by seeing random boobs, it's just...awkward. And just because someone is uncomfortable and wishes you'd cover up, doesn't make them anti-breastfeeding. I understand that many people don't (and probably never will) agree with me, which is why I will always have to deal with the occasional, uncomfortable situation. But no one said we can't vent a little now and then.

  • I breastfed my 2 daughters, each for about a year. To me, it was more than nourishment. They deserved a quiet, private moment with me. I never gave them bottles (others did), but that too would have been a quiet private time for us. No big deal as far as others were concerned. If I had to feed them publicly, I guess I may have but I never did. That time was important to me. I feel sure that private bonding will last forever. I'm not offended by public breast feeding, I just don't understand the need to do so. Good blog. Thanks for sharing.

  • You said that there were 14 other women in there, and they were clearly able to deal with the class. But you were "traumatized." Did you ever stop to think that juuuuuuust maybe the problem is with YOU?

    The basis for your argument -- the very title of your article -- is squeamishness about seeing breasts and that is clearly because you can only think of the sexual aspect of them. It is very telling that you said the class reminded you of "a horrifying porno." What is even more telling (and frankly, disturbing) is that you compare breastfeeding to urine and feces. I again remind you that you alone had a panic attack, but the other 14 were fine.

    Do you want to know what is most telling of how horribly twisted your thinking is? YOU SERIOUSLY ARGUE THAT MENSTRUATION IS "not really appropriate in public."

    "Cheaper Than Therapy" doesn't seem to be as effective as therapy. I hope your insurance has good mental health benefits because you need a lot of work.

  • In reply to ricotorpe:

    Thank you so much for the medical assessment. I'll check into the whole insurance coverage thing - perhaps you're right about me needing a lot of work. I sure hope my therapist doesn't show me her boobs.

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