Breast feeding, socially unacceptable or not?

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Re: Breast feeding, socially unacceptable or not?

Post: # 177284Post spughy
Mon Nov 16, 2009 6:52 am

Hi, I'm new to this forum (been reading the site for a while, only just noticed the forum!) and this discussion caught my eye. I breastfed my daughter for 3 years, much of it in public, and never got so much as a raised eyebrow, except for once on a train in Britain (I'm Canadian). I found it kind of weird that there are mostly naked women in newspapers (boobies galore!) in England but I never saw another woman breastfeeding in public there - but then again, many of the boobies in the newspapers didn't look exactly... functional.

My guess is, there is still a cultural/class stigma attached to breastfeeding in some places. Formerly breastfeeding was for the poor who couldn't afford formula (or, prior to formula, a wetnurse). Nowadays in some places - like where I live in Canada - breastfeeding is associated much more with affluent, educated women and perhaps consequently few breastfeeding women (although there are still some) hesitate to breastfeed wherever they need to. Now, there are of course exceptions - religious requirements for "modesty" that worked in a more segregated society but which do not serve women well in the now-normal mixed company, for one - but many women find that when a baby reaches a certain age, he or she will be hungry, but when surrounded by other people, the baby can easily become too distracted to eat and pop on and off the boob. In some places and in some company this isn't a huge problem, but when one is in a hurry, or around others who may be uncomfortable with a repeatedly exposed breast, often it's just easier to find a quiet place, and feed the child without interruption.

Personally, I would LOVE to see people get over their breast hangups entirely and be fine sitting in a cafe with a breast hanging out while baby pops on and off and has a good look round during a feed. It's not because I'm some sort of crazy exhibitionist - it's because I'm a post-partum doula and soon-to-be-qualified breastfeeding educator and the number one problem that I see when helping women learn to breastfeed is that they have no idea what a proper latch looks like! In cultures that are more relaxed about boobs hanging out, this problem doesn't exist, and I firmly believe that if more women - especially young women - saw more babies latched on to more boobs before they themselves had babies, many more women would be successful at breastfeeding. Despite having a 98% initiation rate in my region, at 6 months only about 30% of moms are still exclusively breastfeeding. MUCH of that drop is due to breastfeeding problems that could be averted with a proper latch to start with, and if women actually knew what a good latch looked like before giving birth, they wouldn't leave the hospital thinking their little nipple-nibbler was doing a good job and then wonder a week later why they suddenly have no milk.

So... those of you who think breastfeeding is something best done in private - think again! Wider public acceptance of breastfeeding - especially not-too-discreet breastfeeding - will do wonders for breastfeeding rates generally.

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Re: Breast feeding, socially unacceptable or not?

Post: # 177293Post Milims
Mon Nov 16, 2009 8:53 am

Hi Spughy, nice to hear from you - welcome. Why don't you pop onto the welcome bit and tell us a bit more about yourself!

BFing - babies eat only one thing - that's milk. Mummies of babies have a readily available supply - you could say the ultimate convenience food! Nobody kicks up a fuss if they see someone eating a Mc***alds in public! It seems to me that society has forgotten what the ultimate purpose of breasts are. That's to feed babies. Yes they do attract the male - because by nature he sees the woman as being capable of feeding a child and thereby capable of taking part in carrying on his genes. Sadly modern society seems to have forgotten that bit and focuses only on the s*x - how sad. I can think of nothing more appropriate than feeding your own child with the most nutricious food you can supply - no matter what the packaging! After all everyone else eats what they want when they want! I'm not suggesting that women whip out their boobies at every given opportunity and wave them in the faces of the general public, more that the general public take their minds out of the gutter and see it for what it really is!
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Re: Breast feeding, socially unacceptable or not?

Post: # 177298Post Jessiebean
Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:43 am

My lovely Husband wanted me to add his 2cents with "it's what they eat! get over it people!" He is baffled by debate about bfing!
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Re: Breast feeding, socially unacceptable or not?

Post: # 177311Post JulieSherris
Mon Nov 16, 2009 11:13 am

Look.... I was watching tv the other night & on Emmerdale, they were having the whole breastfeeding in public debate too - a girl was feeding her baby in the local cafe & some other folk complained - she was then told to go home & do it in private.....

Now.... when my youngest was little, I fed her in a cafe - was upstairs & facing the corner, so no-one got an eyeful while this was happening, but it still got a few comments & I was very loudly tutted by a couple of elderly women behind me.... my response at the time was 'Well, YOU'VE had lunch here, so why can't she??'....

Anyway, I think my point is that breastfeeding is highly recommended and highly promoted & should be carried out wherever & whenever necessary - yes, it should maybe done as discreetly as it can be, but hey, it's normal, it's natural & it's convenient.
So, I would side with the BF'ing mums - and long may it continue!!
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Re: Breast feeding, socially unacceptable or not?

Post: # 177313Post Brij
Mon Nov 16, 2009 11:36 am

Bit of a no-brainer to me. It does annoy me when people react to a mother BFing her baby in public, however I do think that the 'whip it out and wave it about' attitude is inappropriate too : some of us are more prudish than others, and it is unfair to make us feel uncomfortable. So I am grateful to those BFing mums who try to be discreet (which, all that I've ever witnessed have been). That's not to say that I imagine it is easy, but there are covers, shawls or just the pop-the-baby under your top strategy, or turning so that you aren't facing other people, if you don't want to/can't use some form of cover. But of course, if you don't want to see, don't look! It's kind of rude to stare if a woman is BFing anyway, surely!?

I actually have more of an axe to grind with couples who start 'pashing' in public - a kiss and cuddle is nice, but especially in public sunbathing areas, it does get really OTT! :angryfire:
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Re: Breast feeding, socially unacceptable or not?

Post: # 177320Post TheGoodEarth
Mon Nov 16, 2009 12:37 pm

Breast feeding, socially unacceptable or not?

Depends what they look like! :wink:
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Re: Breast feeding, socially unacceptable or not?

Post: # 177321Post Millymollymandy
Mon Nov 16, 2009 12:37 pm

People snogging in front of me is a no-no! However I've got so used to French men peeing in public that I don't bat an eyelid - I just laugh although if the old geezer across the road peed in my garden like he did in my neighbours when we were all in the garden at a do, when there was a perfectly good and clean toilet inside, I'd have a bloody go at him! That does annoy me. But they are always to be seen at the side of the road or in shop carparks relieving themselves with no shame whatsoever.

So when my mum reported that her over 80 brother got caught short and peed in a car park (discreetly!) in England, both she and my brother were absolutely horrified and disgusted. I said, so what, did you want him to pee himself inside your car? 'But he could have got arrested' was the reply. :roll:

I think it is what you are used to, and I don't think I've ever seen anyone breast feeding in all the time I've been in France/Switzerland, and back in the early days I had friends who had babies in France and Geneva. They must have just not done it out in public. :dontknow:
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Re: Breast feeding, socially unacceptable or not?

Post: # 177326Post contadina
Mon Nov 16, 2009 12:59 pm

Goodness Durgan - do you really think breastfeeding should only be done at home? Two years confinement on top of 9 months gestation seems a bit extreme.

Thankfully, breastfeeding in public seems to be the norm in Italy. People will gladly chat away with mum whilst baby is feeding. There are no embarrassed shy turn of the head or ogling of breasts.

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Re: Breast feeding, socially unacceptable or not?

Post: # 177335Post red
Mon Nov 16, 2009 2:03 pm

I BF in public all the time when my son was a baby - and that was a while ago now.. my son being a teenager now and all.

I'm not one for flashing to all and sundry, but it is so easy to do it discreetly - once they are latched on there is nothing to see.

equally if the woman herself perfers privacy there is no reason why she shouldn't have that if she wants.
Durgan wrote: Mostly the debate is of academic interest only and is of importance only to those who have to breast feed, which is usually only done at home.
this is rubbish. you can be feeding every couple of hours and on demand feeding is far more the natural way. The notion that you should stay at home for what.. 2-3 years is laughable.

is breastfeeding still frowned upon in Canada?
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Re: Breast feeding, socially unacceptable or not?

Post: # 177343Post thesunflowergal
Mon Nov 16, 2009 2:44 pm

This will be me very soon lol!!

I personally believe that BFing in public is fine, it’s completely natural so why not? I BF my eldest, but I found the more I tired to cover up the worse it made people. Men and women where trying to look, I haven't a clue why. BFing is made so difficult for Mums in the UK, due to other people attitudes. I have friends who have some seriously nasty comments made about them, whilst they were feeding. My In laws are unbelievable, they think it’s disgusting and I have to go out of the room if I wish to feed. They have even left restaurants etc because a woman is feeding :pale: So many people think that attitudes need to change, but its such a difficult thing to do.

There was a woman on a bfing programme a few weeks ago, that had been told to move from a park bench by the police because she was bfing. :angryfire
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Re: Breast feeding, socially unacceptable or not?

Post: # 177380Post Helsbells
Mon Nov 16, 2009 8:29 pm

Thanks so much for your reply Spughy. This is how I feel exactly. It is no wonder there are so many women out there who give up breast feeding at the first hurdle. Women shouldn't have to cover up or hide and the more people saw women openly breastfeeding, nipples and all, the more socially acceptable it will become.

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Re: Breast feeding, socially unacceptable or not?

Post: # 177404Post lovelygreenleaves
Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:26 pm

Helsbells wrote:Thanks so much for your reply Spughy. This is how I feel exactly. It is no wonder there are so many women out there who give up breast feeding at the first hurdle. Women shouldn't have to cover up or hide and the more people saw women openly breastfeeding, nipples and all, the more socially acceptable it will become.
I value your opinion, but this is mine: I really wish that it would work this way, but I doubt it would. I think everyone showing nipples would make matters worse. However, if more women were brave enough to breastfeed, openly, but covered well, then this would really help make the whole thing more acceptable.

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Re: Breast feeding, socially unacceptable or not?

Post: # 177420Post Durgan
Mon Nov 16, 2009 11:05 pm

I muse about those ladies in the UK who wear burkas. It would be interesting to determine if they have an opinion.

The girls in a small town wanted to go topless in the Summer in a small town near me, so she walked down the street to test the local authorities. The outcome was she got her 15 minutes in the sun, and the issue went back to sleep.

I consider breastfeeding in public to be basically non-issue.

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Re: Breast feeding, socially unacceptable or not?

Post: # 177425Post Bonniegirl
Mon Nov 16, 2009 11:26 pm

Durgan it might be a non issue for you, but obviously it is an issue for many others. I'm not sure I understand your line of reasoning at all! :dontknow:
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Re: Breast feeding, socially unacceptable or not?

Post: # 177429Post Urban Ayisha
Mon Nov 16, 2009 11:56 pm

i think durgan meant as in its obvious what the answer is.

its sometimes hard to be discreet what with getting a latch and balancing the weight without crippling your back and/or arm, the first few days after baby was born i took a massive cushion around with me everywhere to put under my arm! i would be as discreet as possible only because i know i'd feel a little uncomfortable if i was faced with a boob and didnt know where to look. it has nothing to do with being prudish, i dont think i'd call myself prudish, i do just think BFing is quite a special and private thing shared between mama and baby, it doesnt need to be broadcast!

i sometimes get the feeling that some women like to flaunt it and can be exhibitionists about the whole thing, and i think thats unfair on the general public. Why purposely make other people feel uncomfortable just for the sake of making a point?! i think this cheapens what i consider to be quite a sacred and personal bonding between mother and child!

i really miss BFing because of how close it made me feel to baby but to be honest i dont miss the whole palava of wearing minging maternity bras and having to slip your boob uncomfortably and at different angles out of layers of clothes when out in public!

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