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Should Modesty Apply To Breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding-Close-upToday was day 3 of Christmas for our family.  There’s a lot of us so we don’t all fit neatly into the 1 day designated as Christmas. Sometimes we can manage it with Christmas Eve and Christmas Day itself, this was not the case this year.

Middle step-daughter and family spent Christmas at the baby Daddy’s parents.  They live together, but I see no sign of marriage in the immediate future which is their business, but leaves me wondering what will happen in my baby granddaughter’s future.  I understand that marriage doesn’t guarantee there will be a Daddy in the baby’s future, but I still feel that if you want to start a family, there should be some commitment that takes place between the Mom and the Dad.  Yeah, I know, I’m a dinosaur.

As a dinosaur I also am wondering when public breastfeeding without any attempt to preserve modesty began. I’m used to seeing a receiving blanket or towel draped to cover the breast being exposed to the babies mouth. Today I witnessed step-daughter pull up her shirt, unclip the maternity bra cup and place the nipple in the baby’s mouth without any attempt at covering up.

I was facing my 13 year old grandson when it happened and to say he was uncomfortable is putting it mildly. I was 13 a few thousand decades ago and I distinctly remember that 13 year old males of the species were afflicted with dirty mind syndrome. NOTHING has occured since I was that age to indicate that today’s 13 year old male is any different. I don’t care how many ways we try to explain that breastfeeding is necessary part of sustaining a baby’s life, all he knows is he saw a BOOBY! A BIG booby at that.  Oh well, at least he’ll have a tale designed to impress his friends when he returns to school in the new year.  I wish you could have seen his face.

Breastfed babies get hungry wherever they are. I think the Mom should not have to remove herself and baby to another room away from everyone to feed, but I do believe that some form of modesty should apply. Not everyone in public places has the maturity to handle seeing a naked boob no matter what the reason for it is. That applies to some adults as well as adolescent boys.

It seems to me that a simple rule of thumb should apply. If you wouldn’t sit in a public place with your breasts exposed as a matter of course, make some attempt to cover up while nursing. My grandson spends far too much time in the bathroom as it is.

70 Responses to Should Modesty Apply To Breastfeeding?

  1. Naufal December 17, 2015 at 6:50 am

    It was possibly the most diuficflt thing I have ever experienced.When pregnant I always had the mindset that I would try it and if it didn’t work out I would use formula however after going to breastfeeding classes I was convinced it was going to be the most natural and easy thing to do why would I need to use formula?Jessica was born by emergency c section under a general anaesthetic.We had problems with latching sometimes she would sometimes she wouldn’t however I was discharged from hospital by the midwives 3 days later.The next day when the midwife visited us at home they told me Jessica had lost 13% of her body weight and we needed to go back in to hospital Because of latching issues and low milk supply (which I feel was due to the c section under general) I was expressing and tipping up with formula as advised by the doctors 5 days after Jessica was born a midwife came to visit me and spoke about how she could see Jessica had a tongue tie and once it was snipped she would latch a lot better she didn’t!After we went home I decided to keep with expressing an there was no chance Jessica was latching on I did this for 2 weeks I was so down, tired, in pain and bleeding from the breast pump and my family were worried about me I made the decision to switch to jut using formula probably the hardest decision I have ever made which sounds daft as this was the only was I could feed my baby without feeling like crap but it was!What annoys me the most is it took 5 days for the midwives to notice the tongue tie maybe if they spotted when she was born we would have been fine also what upsets me is the guilt you feel when you end your breastfeeding journey and also the comments you hear from people when they of course don’t know everything I’ve just explained above.In the end I wanted to loom back at the first few weeks with my daughter with fondness and not remember how miserable I was and how much worse it could have gotten.

  2. Aly October 26, 2015 at 6:30 am

    This is great. I don’t think I ever told you but that picture took of K and myelsf nursing in the park hugely inspired me not only to keep going, but to be more forthright with baby#2 and her access to mama milk. Getting K to nurse was a rough road, less so than some others but hard none the less. Your picture reminded me, and still does, why it is so very worth it.

  3. Harris October 26, 2015 at 5:38 am

    I would say you didn’t use a cover since for the sake of the poll I am talking more about bteaknls and purposely-made nursing covers that cover up the baby and the breast area.@Robyn and Elita No problem Elita. Thanks for passing this on for me. I am a bit behind here! I know when I was a mom for the first time I had this idea that once I startedmy dd on solids she wouldn’t need breastmilk anymore either. We learn as we go hey?@Naomi Ah car nursing! Sometimes so much easier but oftentimes so much more uncomfortable! And you girls with the tank top plus shirt over top idea brilliant!Melodie’s last blog post..

  4. mom of many July 15, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    omg i can not beleave how heated people get about this. my oldest is around the same age as the grandson and my youngest is near the age of the baby i do breastfeed and have done so with all my children. now regardless of how the writer feels toward her step-daughter. the question seems to be “should she have been more modest” now my son has seen me breastfeed all four of his younger siblings he knows the purpose of it and does not even notice when he walks in the room. but that does not mean that when out in public he doesn’t notice other women (and yes he will look and no its not in a how cute the baby is eating sort of way) just because my baby is hungry does not mean that other people’s comfort or feelings are any less important i will feed my baby discretly.and for all the people nagging that the mothers should be able to do what they want because its not meant to be sexual. its just feeding a baby something that your child needs of course. but let me point out if i wanted to shave my pubes .in public thats not sexual for me but a 13 year old boy would not agree. also if someone ran into you on the street and exposed their breast (without breastfeeding) everyone would be upset (well maybe not everyone 😉 ) and im sure thats what she meant when she was talking about being arrested for indecent exposure. so i think all the people complaining just haven’t stopped and considered how selfish they are for not considering other people. be modest not a nun its not to much to ask

  5. Harmony08 January 4, 2011 at 8:06 am

    I always covered up the way you described but that was my preference, as it sounds as though it is your preference.  A nursing mother needs to follow her own preference.   If it makes us uncomfortable then that is something we have to wrestle with and come to terms with – it’s OUR issue.  It’s good to ask ourselves what about it makes us uncomfortable.  More breast tissue is splashed on the covers of magazines in the check out isle than we ever see from mothers nursing in public, yet it is the breastfeeding we complain about.  Would anyone be surprised if a 13 year old boy had a sexy magazine stuffed under his bed?  But we want to censor mothers feeding their infants.  This is why there are so many laws to protect nursing mothers.  Nursing mothers do get chased into the back rooms and shamed out of breastfeeding, creating increased health risks for countless members of our society (health risks go up for mothers and babies when women stop breastfeeding in favor of more socially acceptable and less squeamish inducing bottles).

    13 year olds locking themselves in the bathroom is as natural and appropriate as your stepdaughter breastfeeding.  I think if he was uncomfortable, it wasn’t because he was turned on (one only need to have a cute girl sneeze around a teenage boy to turn him on), it was probably because it was new, different, and he may have been picking up on the discomfort of the other adults around him.  Discomfort can be contagious, so can comfort.  As soon as everyone else is accepting of nursing mothers, so will kids.  And it won’t mean teenage boys are masturbating more.  Teenage boys were masturbating long before we had national geographic and sports illustrated, and will do it whether young mothers nurse around them or not.

  6. another voice January 2, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    I wonder what the out come of most of the cases of “indecent” exposure with regard to breastfeeding are. Since there usually isn’t follow up I would think most are thrown out. I know that in years ago in Oklahoma there was issues with it & that’s why breastfeeding moms are explicitly exempt from indecent exposure there. But in the states the don’t specifically exempt nursing moms that does not mean that they are breaking the law-which makes me think when it comes before a judge in those states most must roll their eyes & toss it out.

    With regard to breastfeeding while drunk- I think the issue is being drunk & trying to care for a baby not matter the feeding method. No person under the influence of drugs or alcohol should be responsible for the care of a baby or child. When was the last time a paper ran the headline “drunk mother bottlefeeding”?

    I’d like to see as well the outcome of the trespassing arrest- especially the one in the Justice Building- now that’s ironic especially if it was federal since there is a federal law on breastfeeding. Lets say a mom is in a restaurant nursing & is told by the manager to “do that in the bathroom or leave”. She knows her rights & does not cover up or leave & the cops are called. The cops are ignorant of the breastfeeding law & arrest her for trespassing- seems to me there could very well be a case of unlawful arrest.

    I can certainly understand that you were all caught off guard & that it was uncomfortable for your grandson. But if she had no way of knowing you’d all be concerned about it or that it would freak her nephew out. . If you would have wrote about it being an awkward situation I think your responses would have been very different. Instead you focused on how she should have nursed under your definition of modesty & linked that to her history of bad choices & threw in your grandsons puberty to boot. What if the scenario had been that at a family gathering your grandson witnessed his gay uncle holding hands & sharing a kiss with his partner(that had it been shared by a straight couple caused no reaction) & the title of your blog was “Should modesty apply to gay couples?” I think you would have seen similar comments from the gay community that you received from the breastfeeding community.

  7. Loving parent January 2, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Yes, all those examples show how many breastfeeding mothers are harrassed and subjected to terrible discrimination for doing what is the normal thing for their children. It really is a social issue that needs to be addressed. No wonder some women are put off the idea breastfeeding their babies at all when they hear how dreadfully some women are treated.

  8. Butterose January 2, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    The article I read was over a year old, I didn’t check the dates, but I did find more than one of them plus an interesting article in the Feminist Ezine.

    1-12-2009 Allanah Early arrested in Durham, Connecticut for breastfeeding in a bar. She was drinking while nursing. Among the charges against her were child endangerment and indecent exposure. Her bail was set at $10,000. BF advocates ignored the child endangerment considerations to support her right to breastfeed in public

    7-4-2009 “Police responding to a domestic disturbance arrived at Stacey Anvarinia’s home to find the mother breast-feeding her 6-week-old baby in front of them. And she was drunk, they said.

    Officers arrested the woman, who later pleaded guilty to child neglect and faces up to five years in prison. Now her case has touched off a debate among moms about breast-feeding, alcohol — and privacy.”

    I can’t find anything on what happened as a result of these arrests.

    Suzanne MacNevin in The Feminist Ezine reports that 12,000 women annually are arrested for breastfeeding in public. She also says another 30,000 annually are arrested on “indecent” exposure laws. Some of these women have been escorted out of restaurants and if they put up a fight, get arrested for trespassing. One woman was escorted out of a Justice Building during court procedure for breastfeeding. She too was threatened with a trespassing arrest.

    None of us would have ever asked her to cover up or leave, we were caught off guard. I understand that she’s been told that while breastfeeding is a good thing, her brother would have preferred that she had handled it with more discretion in front of his son.

  9. Loving parent January 2, 2011 at 2:37 am

    admin  – curd and whey are types of protein. The particular balance of these proteins in cows milk is very different from human milk. Also the exact composition of each of them in human milk is a more suitable easier to digest form that\n the ones in cows milk, and therefore most formulas. 

    All.  When breastfeeding is described as the biological norm, it is saying that with all its hundreds of ingredients is exactly what  a baby’s body is expecting, and needs. All formula companies can do is produce a product that contains some ingredients (around 30) that will keep a baby alive and growing.  But because it is missing so many ingredients such as antibodies, stem cells, and others we probably still have not discovered, as well as the ones that protect the digestive tract and switch on genes in the baby’s body, then formula will NEVER be as good as the biological norm. As well, formula is contaminated with whatever the cow ate, whatever the can is made of, whatever else may happen to it in processing. It can even contain dangerous bacteria.

    Formula fed babies on the whole (statistically in large groups) will be sick more often, and even die more often from SIDS and other problems. If all the babies in the US were breastfed for their infancy, and extra 900 lives per year would be saved. 

    Formula companies know they are a long way from ever matching/meeting the biological standard. They also know that they will never reach it as breastmilk is a living product.

  10. admin January 2, 2011 at 1:02 am

    another voice – ” A human is not a cow & thus curd & whey do not come into play for a breastfed baby but would for a baby drinking a cows milk based formula “…curd and whey is how any digested milk breaks down.

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