Baby Hints & Tips

I have one word for you: Enough

Support-choiceBy Sarah

2013 is a time to stop worrying about judging other parents and start supporting their choices. Its time to end the debate about whether or not mothers can or should be able to feed in public. Or from a bottle. Or in high traffic areas as opposed to ‘out of the way’. Or while standing on their head, for that matter.

Unless you’ve been away camping deep in the Flinders Ranges, you will have heard about David Koch’s comments on Sunrise about what he believes is appropriate when a mother chooses to breastfeed in public. If you did miss it, you can watch the segment here. But, basically, while discussing the recent case of a mother who was asked to leave the side of a public pool as her breastfeeding was offending other people in the area (details here and here), he said that while he fully supports a woman’s right to breastfeed in public, he believes that it needs to be done discreetly and out of the way. If possible, turned towards a wall. Cue the collective cries of outrage from the breastfeeding sympathisers, and just as loud calls of support from those who wholeheartedly agree.

I recently shared on the Baby Hints & Tips facebook page about my own first hand exposure to some of the nonsense that is levelled at mothers who choose to feed their babies in public. While sitting next to a playground that was being enjoyed by my two eldest children, I had found the only seat in the shade, which was the wall of the garden which lined the walkway next to the playground. It was my daughter’s feed time and I decided to let my boys continue to play while I breastfed her – win-win as far as I was concerned. While I sat there, minding my own business I might add, a man walked past and decided to let everyone within earshot know how “disgusting” it was and informed me that “there are rooms for that.” Now, while I wasn’t using a cover, I had lifted my shirt, so the top of my breast was covered. The nappy bag was next to me, so my side was covered. And I was holding my daughter’s hand, so the side of my breast was covered. There was nothing exposed.

So what really is the issue here?

For some reason, the idea of breastfeeding hits a nerve with some people, and because of that they want us to hide away out of sight. Or, if they’re feeling really generous, insist we cover up regardless of how hot it is under there or the fact that it prevents our babies from making eye contact with us. Is it the possibility of exposure? Or is it the desexualisation of the breasts that hits a nerve. Whatever the reason, I have one message for all those represented by the man that I encountered the other day: enough.

Enough of the assumptions that you get to decide how women feed their children.

Enough of the expectations that breastfeeding mothers will hide in a corner, just so you don’t feel uncomfortable.

Enough of the debate.

It’s 2013. Let’s finally move forward.

We’d love to hear what you have to say about the topic, as well as your own experience of feeding in public (breast or bottle)

If you live in Sydney and are interested in participating in the Nurse-in being organised for Monday morning outside the Channel 7 studios, there is more information here

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  1. AvatarWillowbel says:

    You as an individual have totally contradicted yourself here you. are basically saying that enough of the backlash and tips on bf and bottle feeding and then your having ago at koshie about having an opinion. Stop making excuses about bf it’s not that hard to be discreet in public and stop the excuses about covering up when it’s hot there is a thing called a muslin it’s cotton it breaths. Once again your a typical mother who thinks the entire world has to bow at your feet because you have a child and suddenly your entitled to respect yet refuse to show any. Some people really don’t like a woman exposing their breast in public and as for the woman at the edge of the pool feeding her child what danger is she putting herself into by doing such a thing. Not even I’m that reckless in feeding my child while sitting on the edge of the pool. A bit of common sense would go a long way.

    • AvatarBabyHintsandTips says:

      Thanks for your reply, Willowbel.

      I think for the main part you have misunderstood the point of my article. Firstly, I wasn’t “having a go at Kochie about having an opinion,” I was disagreeing with his opinion and sharing mine. There is no contradiction in that. I actually have a lot of respect for him and continue to do so. But I can not agree with the ideas that he expressed during this segment.

      Secondly, I am not “making excuses about breastfeeding”, and I’m not sure why you assume that I am advocating lactating mothers sit around with their boobs on display. If you actually knew me, you would know exactly how modest I am. It isn’t the expectation of discretion that I have a problem with – for the most part, breastfeeding mothers are as discreet when feeding as they are when they get dressed in the morning. It’s the idea that breastfeeding mothers should sit out of the way or in another room or turned towards a wall. It is the EXCLUSION that I take issue with.

      The reality is, some babies simply don’t like to be covered when they are feeding. Would you like to have a cloth sitting a couple of centimetres away from your face? My first baby didn’t mind but my second one did, to the point where I showed more of my breast trying to keep him attached and the cloth in place than I did when I finally ditched it. I feed in a way that is comfortable for me and comfortable for my baby. They are my priorities. Not whether someone is going to recognise that I am feeding and decide that it is disgusting and they don’t want to be exposed to it. Because I can guarantee they aren’t exposed to my breasts.