Friday, August 15, 2008

Breastfeeding with an Audience

I'm not writing this post because it is/was World Breastfeeding Week, but my story is quite timely in that sense.

I absolutely HATE HATE HATE breastfeeding in public. I can appreciate that I have the right to breastfeed wherever I want, or so I would like to believe, but the gliding chair in my baby's room with the assistance of a nursing pillow will always be my first choice. I've learned to make peace with the fact that I have to do it in front of my mom since she is usually here, but even that makes me a little uncomfortable. Recently, some inlaws came over for a visit to meet the new baby, so I felt obligated to spend time with them and not hide away in the baby's room when it was time to feed her. I found it stressful, especially since the baby doesn't stay latched for long periods of time. She is always pulling away and re-latching, which certainly leaves me exposed for all to see. Despite knowing that breastfeeding is completely natural and non sexual, I'm still not comfortable letting other people see my boobs. I didn't like my boobs being seen back in the locker room in Jr. high, and I don't like it now. Most people are polite enough not to stare, but there was a ten year old boy in that pack of visiting inlaws who could use a lesson in manners. This past week, I was on the phone with his mother who suggested that I cover up when I feed the baby when her son is around because ever since that visit, he has not stopped talking about my boobs, their size, their colouring, etc. Great. I love that he has created a visual for the rest of my inlaws. Given that this kid was just busted by his parents for surfing adult sites on the net, I can see why my rack got him talking. My guess is that my set scarcely resembles the perky and probably artificial ones that he saw on line. Hey, the porn industry gave me false expectations too. The first penis that I ever saw belonged to a porn star on a movie that I found in my brother's room. The "actor's" name was Raul, and his schlong was the size of Manhattan! Reality catches up to us all eventually, but I don't want to be the one who teaches this little boy what that reality is, especially if he is not mature enough to understand that boobs in this context are not sexual. (my husband will attest to that) Under these circumstances, I am quite happy to cover up, which I was trying to do in the first place, and I don't mind that it was suggested that I do so. The boy's mother may or may not have used the incident as a teaching opportunity, although that isn't my concern. I just learned that on a more recent visit with my inlaws, the same boy peeked around a corner to catch another glimpse of me nursing my daughter, even though I made a point to do it in a separate room. He was silly enough to brag about it to his mother, and consequently got in trouble for it.

In no way am I saying that women should cover up or hide away while breastfeeding. In the words of HBM, "BOOBS ARE NOT DIRTY. BOOBS ARE NOT SHAMEFUL. BOOBS SUSTAIN LIFE. OF BOOBS PUT TO THEIR NATURAL PURPOSE WE SHOULD BE PROUD. OF ALL BOOBS WE SHOULD BE PROUD." Nonetheless, if this boy is going to gossip about my rack to my inlaws, and possibly noodle himself under the covers as he replays the memory, I'm coverin' up, thankyouverymuch.


motherbumper said...

That noodling-self line just gave me a fit of giggles. Reading this gave me a rush of memories (of the mammaries - couldn't resist) - memory of how uncomfortable it made my FIL whenever I whipped the girls out to do their job. And I say hey, what ever you are comfortable with and as long as you have the right do to it where ever you need to do it. Boobs are BEAUTIFUL. And I'm sure you have a nice rack.

kgirl said...

Sounds like that mother needs to talk to her kid about a few things.
If anyone ever suggested that I take my breastfeeding elsewhere in my own house, I'd kick 'em in the nuts. But that's just me. I also routinely forget to do my bra back up when I'm done, and have answered the door for the pizza guy, boob agape. I think he shoulda tipped me ;)

accidental irish said...

I think I finally figured out this posting thing! After reading this blog - I get what you are saying. I am also feeling kind of creapy, considering my two boys!

Blog Antagonist said...

Yannow, that fact that he was so mesmerized by your rack (though I'm sure it's lovely) demonstrates that the puritan attitudes towards breasts that still exist, as well as our inisitence of sexualizing them...creat a sort of "forbidden fruit" syndrome.

If breasts were something ten year old boys saw every day, yours would not be anything special.

It drives me crazy, this backwards thinking.

I'm with you though, I'm pretty modest and only fed my babies in public if there was no other option. I tried not to feel ashamed, but I often did.

Anonymous said...

Funny how "mores" have changed over the years...and not in the direction you might think..

When I was a 10-year old boy...more years ago than I'd care to state...breasts were indeed something I saw every day and thought nothing of. Always babies around at home and in the neighborhood...suckling away for the first 1-2 years of their lives.. bottle feeding unheard of..

Only as society "advanced" and became more "broad-minded" did I become aware that breasts ...female breasts only, of course...were shameful and to be kept out of public view......LOL

nomotherearth said...

I hate feeding in public too. Not because I'm ashamed - I fully claim my right to feed whenever and wherever and WOE BETIDE people who give me dirty looks. BUT, the Little Guy is so distractible that it takes an agonizing amount of time to feed him, IF he will feed at all. Easier to do it where it's quiet and calm. (Plus, I don't think my boobs are any great thing to look at...)

kittenpie said...

Okay, that boy needs some serious talking to because that is just rude. I knwo that it is partly his age and developmental stage that makes them so, um , titillating to him and curiosity is part of that game then, but still. Not respecting someone's privacy when they clearly mark out by LEAVING that they desire it is just not cool. (And personally, I would resent being told to cover up in my own home, even if I agreed that it would be a better situation for the next time - that would just get my back up, y'know?)

And on the other note, I worry about that, too. I tend to be a private person, someone who is not comfy showing myself off. I didn't wear bikinis, even, because even when my stomach was flat, it seemed like too much skin. I can't possibly see being comfortable with having my boob visible. It's just me, it's not that something's wrong with it. It sounds like we are on the same wavelength, there. I could totally see that I will be covering Bun with a blanket or moving to another room when I'm at the in-laws' house for my own comfort. Take heart,lady, you're not alone, and you are also totally within your rights to feel how you like about it and to feed your babe how and when you like, without being harrassed by squicky cousins.

Mamalooper said...

I was not shy about breastfeeding in public but did have a similar experience with a 10 year old boy.

I was discreetly breastfeeding at a dinner party (in another room) when the 10 year old son of the host practically crawled onto my lap to see what was happening. It was REALLY cReEpY. And when Monkeydad was changing her diaper, he was trying to get a little too close.

It just had a weird vibe of more than just run of the mill curiosity.

petite gourmand said...

I hated b-feeding in public. I remember sitting in my car in a parking lot just so I could feed lulu, and then a car pulls up beside me and looks in my window and Tsk'ed me.
can't say I ever had a 10 year old trying to sneak a peak at my girls though.

scarbie said...

I totally bfed in public, but was far more comfortable with it with child #1 than with child #2. Probably because child #2 would constatnly pull off and look at what was going on around her, while child #1 still has an obsession with my breasts. Strange.

The weird thing about nursing your second child is how your first is suddenly old enough to get how weird this is. Somewhere out there, there is a photo of my boy trying to bfeed his baby sister at three weeks old. I hope no one blackmails him with that in the future.

Nora Bee said...

I appreciate your honesty. I minded the boobs less than all the rolls of post-pregnancy flab that also hung out while I bfed.

Barrie said...

Your post brought back memories of Child #3 (who is currently 12 y.o.!). He was a really really noisy nurser!