Your arguments against breastfeeding in public. They are invalid.

I’m sorry, everyone. I never intended for this to be a breastfeeding advocacy blog, but – y’know. Boobs and their baggage are things that predominate my life at the moment, so…

You’ve probably read about Cheese & Biscuits cafe in Rockhampton, who kicked a massive goal for breastfeeding mothers this week by politely ejecting a customer who was frightened by the sight of a lactating breast in their courtyard. He’d already complained to management, who’d informed him they were a breastfeeding friendly establishment and that they would under no circumstances ask a nursing mother to cover up or leave. He then took it upon himself to approach her, leaving her visibly upset when the owner came out to deliver his coffee. When apprised of the situation, the owner swiftly transferred the man’s coffee to a takeaway cup and showed him the door. She later posted about the incident on Facebook: Capture14

The post went viral, was picked up by local then national and international media and at last count their business page had over 5000 ‘likes’ and hundreds of five-star reviews from all over the world. Not bad for a small cafe in a regional city. I’ve seen it suggested that this was just a really well-executed viral marketing campaign, which I guess is totally plausible – but given that nobody was hurt, they’ve publicly affirmed their nursing-friendly stance and there’s been a huge groundswell of online support for mothers who breastfeed in public, I say ‘bravo!’ anyway! Reading the article online warmed the cockles of my, er, bosom.

But then… oh, then. I scrolled down. I broke my rule. I read the comments underneath the article. And while the overwhelming majority of them are positive, supportive, and lovely (and at least a million of the bajillion supportive comments are from MEN, hooray!), a small but ugly minority are foul. And so, because I am a complete masochist, I have trawled the grimy depths of the comments section for the most ill-informed, grotesque and idiotic arguments against breastfeeding in public. I give you them here, along with my retorts. If you are of a delicate disposition, you may wish to avert your eyes:

1. The I was fed poo and wee as a baby! argument: Capture8 Aviary Photo_130777194779944941 Capture10

These poor folk are confused. They seem to believe that the observation that ‘breastfeeding is natural’ implies that all natural things are acceptable in public. Let me make it very easy to understand.

Urination = expelling waste. Illegal in public. Smelly.

Defecation = expelling waste. Spreads disease. Illegal in public. Kind of gross.

Spitting = expelling waste. Spreads disease. Usually unnecessary. Illegal in public. Very gross.

Nose-picking = a dirty habit. Spreads disease. Not illegal in public, but not well-tolerated in offenders over the age of five.

Masturbation = a sexual activity. Illegal in public.

Breastfeeding = giving a small child food and comfort. Provides protection to infants against disease. Recommended as exclusive food for babies under six months of age, according to peak health bodies. Not only legal, but protected by law.

So, unless your argument is that urination in public is natural AND provides the ideal food for someone in your care (ewww), we are talking about two completely different, equally natural things. So hush your dirty mouth, please.

2. The This is discrimination against teh menz!! fallacy: Aviary Photo_130777196119103834

OK, clearly this fellow is a bit of a loony who may be unfamiliar with the concept of ‘male privilege’, but let’s humour him for a minute. If anyone complains, they are the bad guy. Male or female. Old mate is more than welcome to go to ADCQ, where I’m sure he would be educated about the section of anti-discrimination law that protects the right of babies (both male and female babies, incidentally) to be breastfed without impediment anywhere they have a legal right to be. I doubt his own claim of discrimination/harassment would hold water. He’d probably just end up embarrassed at his own behaviour all over again.

3. The weird, pervy argument that reminds us our boobs don’t actually belong to the baby. Or to ourselves: Capture15 Capture9

Yes, us exhibitionist mothers. We’re known for our rabid urges to expose ourselves for our own (and your) sexual gratification. Because we’re certainly not tired, or sore, or distracted by the responsibility of attending to the myriad needs of a tiny baby that we’re quite possibly still learning how to keep alive. I was totally up for a bit of casual flirting with strange men when I dragged myself to town in the early postpartum days. And we certainly wouldn’t hold a man accountable if he assumed we were being provocative by feeding our infants and subsequently raped us (victim-blame, a whole other argument in itself). Or if he raped some random woman he passed on the way home, given he’d been worked into such a lather, based on how ‘MM of NSW’ believes the system works.

Seriously. I’m sure some strange people are indeed turned on by breastfeeding, possibly because it’s the only glimpse of breast tissue they’ve ever had up close, or because they are confused and completely blank out on the fact there is a BABY there. By the same token, I also know that some people are turned on by feet. Does that mean I shouldn’t ever wear sandals to a cafe, in case I provoke a foot-fetishist into depraved lust? What about Plushies? Should I forbid my children from taking their stuffed animals out in public, in case Monkey or Miss Rabbit have an undesired effect on someone who finds them unusually attractive? Please. Take responsibility for your own reactions, no matter how hot under the collar you get. If you can’t keep yourself on a leash, maybe consider covering your face with a light shawl or moving to a quieter area.

4. Think of the CHILDREN!!

Capture7

How awful! Imagine, if children got the idea that boobs were intended for feeding babies, instead of thinking they’re for selling things! What would be going through a poor child’s mind? I’d hazard a guess it would be along the lines of ‘Cute baby. Wonder if I can get close enough to sneeze in its face once it’s finished drinking?’.

Or, if the child isn’t familiar with breastfeeding, experience tells me they’ll simply march up to the mother and ASK:

Kid: Why is your baby doing that?

Me: She’s having a feed. She drinks milk that I make for her in my body.

Kid: Oh. Why doesn’t she drink it from a bottle?

Me: Because it’s easier for me this way, and I get to give her a cuddle at the same time.

Kid: Cool. Does she like bacon too? I like bacon. *Sneezes on baby*

Which leads us to…

5. The completely misguided personal hygiene argument:

Capture12 Capture13

Wait, what? So, there’s dangerous airborne bacteria that can enter my baby’s lungs, right? But I only need to worry about those while she’s feeding? Or do I need to have a hankie covering her mouth and nose at all times while we’re in public? Because I really don’t know if she’ll be down with that…

Or are you worried about my breastmilk somehow spurting across the room and landing in your coffee, poisoning you? Pooling on the floor beneath my seat, creating a slip hazard? Let me assure you, it’s fairly unlikely. My goal is generally to get most of it into my kid’s mouth. It’s probably more likely everyone will be subjected to a bit of baby spew at some stage, but that’s going to happen regardless of the feeding method.

Maybe you guys are confusing breast- and bottle-feeding. There’s lots of sterilisation and so on involved in feeding a baby out of a bottle, which is one of the many factors that makes breastfeeding the right choice for me: always on hand, always sterile, always the right temperature and quantity. And all those immunity-boosting antibodies will, I’m sure, offset the risk of her inhaling any airborne diseases should her hankie slip.

6. The It wasn’t acceptable in the old days, you need to respect your elders mistruth:

Aviary Photo_130777194419254813

Really? Are you sure?

enhanced-31888-1391392673-2
Everyone looks pretty scandalised, don’t they? Clearly, mothers didn’t feed uncovered in ‘the old days’.

In any case, no. Even if things were different in his day and he was embarrassed, he had the option of accepting the seat that was offered to him inside when he first complained to the staff. Depending on how old he was, in his day Aboriginal people may still have been classified as ‘fauna’ under Australian law and denied access to many facilities. Does that mean he has the right to object to an Indigenous guy ordering a coffee and sitting at the table beside his today? Nope, nope, nopity nope. Some change is for the better, especially when the principles have been enshrined in the law. Sorry, not sorry.

7. The I can’t see what’s happening right in front of me dummy spit:

Aviary Photo_130777195367256061

Yes… they’re clearly leaving in droves.

Capture16

As you say: ‘Oh well’… I’m sure the proprietors won’t miss one or two customers now. Chances are they wouldn’t welcome your business anyway. But remember, there’s no guarantee if you go elsewhere that some other mother isn’t planning to ruin your day with her tits:

Image credits: Breastfeeding at Chattanooga Bus Stop 1943 via thederangedhousewife.com

Breastfeeding at an Outdoor Meeting via buzzfeed.com – I couldn’t find the original source, please let me know if you can.

Flawed arguments against NIP courtesy of visitors to The Brisbane Times, The Morning Bulletin, news.com.au and Cheese & Biscuits’ Facebook page.

‘Ruin Your Day’ is by Sparrow Folk and will do the opposite when you listen to it!


So, it seems this post is going to be receiving a lot more attention than I’m used to, sometime in the next few days! Thanks for reading. If you have a comment, please leave it below – I’d love to hear from you. Comments will be moderated so may not appear immediately – but I’ll happily publish any comment that isn’t obscene, abusive or obviously spam. (Yes, even if you disagree with me!).

If your comment starts with ‘I’m all for breastfeeding, but…’, please read this post before you proceed.

If you imagine my staunch support of breastfeeding means I look down on parents who bottle-feed, please read this post and think again.

You can find out more about me (and how this very amateur blog came to be) here.

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351 thoughts on “Your arguments against breastfeeding in public. They are invalid.

  1. I loved this!

    I’m 6 months along with my first and I want to breastfeed. Definitely an excellent post and I think it should be receiving more traffic than it currently is! Very well said!

    When I started to think about breastfeeding, it made me really nervous (still does sometimes) and uncomfortable—but I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to leave the house with her shoulders uncovered, and for no other reason than because it purely makes me uncomfortable and I feel exposed. I do want to breastfeed, although at this point in pregnancy, it still makes me squirm a bit a) because of my discomfort with showing more skin than say my face, hands and below the knees? B) because breastfeeding in public gets an enormous amount of negative comments and backlash and it’s tough to cope with when you’re already dealing with a host of other worries from post baby body, to learning how to keep a baby alive, and realizing that said baby is completely dependent on you. And having to worry about the backlash of abuse simply because you want to feed your little one isn’t something we should have to add to the list worries and doubts!!

    So again, where I was going with this, is thank you for this post. It was funny, true and very well written!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! Great to hear how it’s resonated with people. Congratulations on your pregnancy, and good on you for making the decision to breastfeed. The early days of breastfeeding were tough for me (but worth it, so worth it!), and I was definitely shy about latching on in public as a beginner. Something I found helpful was feeding in front of a mirror at home so I could see exactly how much (or how little, as it turns out) flesh was visible in the process.

      I can honestly say in 4+ years I’ve never had any nasty comments about NIP personally, and hopefully your experience will be the same!

      Oh, and if you think my post is worthy of more traffic, please feel free to share it widely on your social networks! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I had 4 children. Due to circumstances, I could not nurse the first 2 girls beyond 3 weeks. I got sick & the milk was bad & even though I was pumping, neither wanted to go back to the breast, they’d had a bottle for a week. They got the colostrum & that was as much as I could do. I was thankful for that. The last 2, a son & daughter, were nursed for 8.5 months & 17.5 months. I did cover up in public but not so that I wouldn’t be embarrassed but so the public wouldn’t have reason to complain.
        I remember bringing home my first daughter & going to her Great Grandmother’s home. Of course, the baby was hungry. Mimi said, “oh, no! Honey, don’t cover her up! It’s the most beautiful & natural thing in the world! I love seeing babies being fed naturally!” Well, thank you, Mimi for being the first to “criticize” my covering her up because it put me on the right mindset. And now I love seeing babies fed “naturally!”
        I commend those who are able to nurse & I understand those who don’t or can’t. You feed your baby as is best for you & your baby. Everyone has their own opinions. We all have a right to them. Until they have walked in your shoes, don’t allow their passing judgement on something they know nothing about.
        Take it from a Mother who has been there~on both sides of the fence!

        Like

  2. Well done! As a mother that was 1) never going to breastfeed for very long (six weeks ought to do it), 2) certainly not going to pump while on the road, and 3) heck no, couldn’t imagine breastfeeding in public, I have done them all! Two years! I figured out how to make it work for that long. The part that people miss is that it is not about the mother or anyone else, it is just about doing the best thing for the baby. It is truly the sweetest thing in the world. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Creating Human Life? and commented:

    As a mom-to-be who wants to breastfeed my child, this is a highly relevant, well thought out and well said post. As a new mom, there’s already enough that I’m sure I will already be worrying about enough things; I shouldn’t have to worry about offending people with my life giving boob while also worrying that I’m supplying my tiny human with enough sustenance to survive. Definitely worth a read and you’ll probably get a laugh out of it as well!

    Like

  4. Reblogged this on Un chou ou une rose and commented:

    Un fait divers qui a pris de l’ampleur en Australie il y a quelques mois. Un homme s’est gentillement fait raccompagner vers la sortie après avoir demandé à une maman allaitante de se couvrir alors que le personnel ne voulait rien faire. Il faut dire qu’il était dans un café “ami de l’allaitement”. Le patron du café a donc posté l’histoire sur Facebook pour confirmer leur politique. Ca a pris de l’ampleur, etc.
    Cette blogueuse s’est amusée à reprendre les “meilleurs” commentaires des anti-allaitement en public et à démonter leurs arguments. J’ai beaucoup aimé la petite chanson qu’elle a mis en fin de note de blog.
    Si ça vous intéresse, bonne lecture (le post est en anglais).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Women breast feeding in the streets?? Thanks obama!!!!!! And what about the real story here that the media doesnt want u to know about? Its all propaganda from the big breast industies! Global brest warfare. Im willing to take a stand against this! Also these breasts are making drinking fountains obsolete. Think about the men and women who make and insall drinking fountains and soda machines. We willl all be drinking from boobs and swaddled up for nappy time before u knownit.

    Like

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