In the last month Newsweek has published 3 articles about it. Parenting Magazine did a photo montage following a nursing mom for the day. What gives?
People are getting pissed off. And its a good thing.
For the past 20 years or so OB/GYN's and Pedis have been shoving down our throats that "Breast is Best". Which is great! Until recently, numbers of first time mothers attempting to breastfeed is way up. (Last year the numbers went down) But there's a problem with their follow through. The numbers have at least halved by 6 months and are a small (but vocal!) minority at one year.
As one of the articles in Newsweek pointed out America is screwed up in the head about it (my phrasing, not theirs) American's have this attitude of "Oh, yes, breastfeeding is best for the baby, but OH MY GOD did you see that woman expose her breast and is actually breastfeeding in public? How obscene! How dare she!!!!" And therein lies the problem. We say we are supportive, but we don't follow through with it.
Workplaces don't provide comfortable, quiet, private, "lactation rooms" for their nursing moms. Moms' get hassled by people while nursing in public. Moms and their nurslings get thrown off planes. Women are harrassed for "indecent exposure". Barbara Walters states on her national show that sitting next to a nursing mom on a plane makes her "uncomfortable".
Did you know that American women have no legal right to nurse in public (at least in most states)? Newsweek pointed out that an attempt to change this is underway. US legislators are trying to pass a federal level protection for nursing women. They are also attempting to require workplaces to provide lactation rooms and for paid breaks for their nursing employees. On one hand, this pleases me that something is finally getting done. On the other hand, its royally pissing me off that its taking federal legislation to protects babies rights to be fed when they are hungry.
It shouldn't take federal oversight for women to be able to breastfeed their children! And all these stupid modesty coverups are absolutely making the problem worse. Not only is it buying into the whole "A breast is a sexual object" crap it actually draws more attention to what you are doing! I'm sorry, but lifting up your shirt and latching a baby on is a lot less attention grabbing than draping this huge thing over your upper body and fumbling around 'cause you can't see what you are doing. And its denying the baby the one thing s/he needs besides the milk in the breast, the sight of his mommy's face!
I went out with my mom friends the other night (The Pasta Pomodoro fiasco) and we got into a rather heated discussion about it. C's argument is that a woman should be modest and cover up when nursing because it might offend other people. My attitude is (shock here) Fuck 'em! If it bothers them, its not my problem. My baby is hungry, I'm feeding him/her. And by saying that Mom should be modest is inherently not supportive. Saying that modesty is required is essentially saying that what mom is doing is sexual. Americans need to get over themselves and the idea that a boob is nothing but a sexual object.
So, Nursing Mom's of America! Whip those boobs out and feed your children openly and with pride. Hold your head high and spit in the eye of any asshole who tries to hassle you.