My Nipples Will Not Corrupt Your Children

I don’t care if my breastfeeding offends you. I don’t care if your child sees my nipple while I’m trying to get the baby latched on. I don’t care if you think I should use a cover. I don’t care if you think it’s “gross” or “nasty” or “immodest”. I don’t care if you complain. I don’t care if you glare at me. Simply put, your objections sound like a personal problem to me. We can talk about it if you want, but don’t expect me to stop nursing the baby while I school you.

With all the pro-breastfeeding talk and ad campaigns and information out there, you’d think breastfeeding was something people actually supported. It turns out it’s not breastfeeding. It’s just breastmilk. Sure babies should drink human milk – it’s just such a shame it comes from those dirty, disgusting boobs. The worst part is it’s often women, even other mothers, whose delicate sensibilities are so offended by the sight of nursing. Women who themselves have been driven to bottles, either intentionally or subversively, by the sexualization of the word “breast” or the formula industry. (A whole other topic – from shady marketing techniques all the way to influencing government agencies to tone down support for breastfeeding.) Women who are so ashamed of their own bodies that they can’t stand even a glimpse of a breast doing what breasts are supposed to do. You know who was breastfed? JESUS. And I bet Mary didn’t use a Hooter Hider.

“Well then, go ahead. Of course you can nurse in public,” most people will say, “Just be discrete. There’s no need to go flashing your boobs around everywhere.” HAVE YOU EVER ACTUALLY SEEN THAT HAPPEN? EVER? Before I had a baby, the only person I had ever seen breastfeed, anywhere, at any time in my life, was my own mother feeding my baby brother. And you know what? I DON’T EVEN REMEMBER IT. I was seven when he was born and her nursing affected me SO LITTLE that it doesn’t even exist as a memory in my brain. Now I attend a breastfeeding support group, where 8 to 12 women all nurse their babies at once and not a single one of them uses a cover…and I can still count the number of nipples I’ve seen on one hand. Next time you see someone feeding her baby in public, try looking at her face instead of her chest. It’s not that hard, and might keep you from seeing those nipples you’re so worried about.

Part of the stigma of breastfeeding is the straight-to-the-baby delivery system. Our culture is obsessed with food preparation. It’s just how eating is done. You buy food at the store, you bring it home, you mix it and you heat it. Formula is prepared the way we’re used to, the way we’re comfortable with, the way we’ve been raised to understand. Food preparation is so ingrained in our society we think things like unpasteurized milk and the raw foods diet are crazy. But why force a mother to add or subtract or mix or heat something when the perfect food at the perfect consistency and the perfect temperature is available on demand? IF SHE WANTS TO BREASTFEED, let her do it. (And you know what, if she wants to bottle-feed, just keep those opinions to yourself as well. I’m sick of that debate too.)

Believe it or not, my right to feed my child is an actual right. Your right to be offended is not. (Link to breastfeeding laws by state here.) EVEN IF the baby looks “too old” to be doing that. EVEN IF he’s old enough to ask for it. EVEN IF it makes you uncomfortable. EVEN IF you hate babies and never want to have any. EVEN IF ANYTHING.

The next time you see a mom nursing in public – and I challenge you to find one – tell her you admire that she’s doing the best she can for her baby and you support her. I guarantee you will make her day.

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9 Responses to “My Nipples Will Not Corrupt Your Children”

  1. AGreenEyeDevil says:

    Yeah Suzanne! In all my years around maternity care issues, I’ve never seen someone flagrantly expose their boob. If it showed, it was just a matter of a fussy baby or BF technique still in development for the mom. The boob is SO fetishized by society its absurd! Porn boobs are “ok”, but BF boobs are “bad”….so sad.

  2. lalaland13 says:

    Brava on this post. You’re totally right-there’s all these weird contradictions about a woman’s body and it comes out when a mom tries to, heaven forbid, breastfeed in public. And I hate preparing food. So it just occurred to me how great breastfeeding is for the lazy. See, it’s right there-it’s easier than a frozen dinner! Don’t even have to pop a boob in the microwave.

    I can see having body hatred issues, though. But if I can get through a pregnancy, I can get through those.

  3. afteriris says:

    This is spot on, Suzanne.

    I always find a sharp ‘would you rather he was screaming?’ comes in useful when someone gets tutty about me breastfeeding.

  4. Audrey says:

    Go you! I hate mixing formula. HATE. I wish Project Breastmilk had worked out for us. And you could be darned sure I wouldn’t be hustiling to my car to feed him.

  5. Other Erin says:

    Agreed. Although the woman I saw who whipped out her entire boob and then had her 4 year old latch on while riding the T in Boston will still get those looks from me.

  6. Brigid Keely says:

    My mother in law has 5 kids and only successfully breastfed the youngest. That was also the only time she didn’t have nurses feeding her infant formula and/or sugar water (sugar water? seriously? how is that a good idea? UGH.).

  7. Sara says:

    hehe… hooter hider…hehe

  8. Tarah says:

    Sugar water is used for infants with constipation……. My daughter was EBM fed for four months. She only pooed once every 7 days, or two weeks if I was desperate and fed her formula mixed with breast milk. We later found out she was intolerant to milk, soy and wheat proteins. She now is on a special formula called neocate LCP.
    Your lucky you can breast feed!! You never should write something about hate when considering infant feeding practices. Every mother who loves their child will try everything to supply their baby with the nutrition that he or she needs.
    The use of terms like hate can cause mothers to feel inadequate and just give up trying altogether. That’s coming from a variety of mothers I’ve spoken to. My daughter would latch on and then pull off screaming in pain. She couldn’t handle any pressure on her stomach. When she went into hospital the doctors were shocked at how badly constipated she was.
    I exclusively used the pump for four months to feed her the right thing which turned out to be the wrong. FOR HER. Putting up with pain and mastitis because as we all know breast pumps are no where near as efficient as your gorgeous baby.
    I would get judging looks everywhere I went by mothers because I was feeding her with a bottle until she looked older than six months. Judgement from other mothers is just so much more damaging. You think well they know and they are just like you. Mums.

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