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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. another voice January 2, 2011 at 12:14 am

    I’d be interested in seeing that news story-where was it?. AS several people posted above
    “The right to breastfeed in any place a mother has the right to be is protected in almost all states-http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=14389 In fact 28 states, DC & Puerto Rico specifically exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws.”

  2. another voice January 2, 2011 at 12:11 am

    the law is on their side in anyplace they have the right to be. In a private home a nursing mom could be asked to cover up or move & she would have the choice to either comply as requested or leave. However this mother was not asked to do either, thus she would have no way of even knowing she had done something that was considered by her family to be immodest. And if she had never had anyone say a word to her about her nursing why would she even anticipate that it would be a problem?

  3. another voice January 2, 2011 at 12:05 am

    “it is not the biological norm to go into someone else’s house at a large holiday gathering and do whatever you want to do because you breastfeeding. Use your brain and have some respect for yourself, your baby and the others around you.”

    She wasn’t doing whatever she wanted, she wasn’t walking around in a g-string & pasties! I do not see how nursing without a cover is disrespectful to myself, my baby or anyone else. If anyone has a problem they can look away & if the hostess has a problem she can ask me to go some place else. At which point I would use my brain to realize that anyone who would ask a nursing mom to leave the room is a total moron & not somebody I would care to associate with. Then I would use my legs & walk out the door.

  4. another voice January 1, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    Butterrose-Sorry if you thought I meant YOU specifically don’t bat an eye about blatant exposure of breast, I was referencing society as a whole. Ironic that so many people get upset about a breast being used for it’s intended purpose-(we are called mammals for a reason after all) but the likes of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders are seen as a national institution to be emulated.

    I’ve seen too many women to count that are icked out about the idea of putting a baby to breast. I blame society for that mindset.

    I’m not sure how quick & efficient defeats the purpose of nursing. There are times when I sit a snuggle my baby while nursing, but when your doing something 10-12 times a day not every time is going to be that way. And if I am out & about it’s eat & keep going.

    I don’t recall anyone saying breastfeeding is the only commitment a mom should make to her child. The world is full of formula feeding moms that drink, do drugs & smoke. If you had criticized her for smoking around her baby I doubt there would be many people who would disagree with you. However breastfeeding is one choice she made that IS good. Actions do speak louder than words & your stepdaughter seems to have done a lot to make you question her commitment to this baby- I can understand that. But when she does a positive thing for baby you jump all over her for offending your sensibilities. You can have reservations about her without taking issue with her nursing.

    By saying she needed to put a blanket over her while nursing you ARE bashing every nursing mom who doesn’t meet your standard. , Same situation but instead of your stepdaughter it was your niece or the next-door neighbor who your grandson got a flash of instead? I think you would still be pushing your idea that the nursing mom was not being modest. Breastfeeding moms are such a small minority & when we read about another mom being chastised for nursing her baby it’s going to bring us out of the woodwork.
    .

  5. another voice January 1, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    admin- formula can never be more nutritious than breastmilk. Breastmilk contains over 300 known components- most formulas have about 30. 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. Most drugs are safe for a nursing mother to take & some do not even pass into the milk because of their large molecule size. And while alcohol CAN pass into breastmilk it is like blood where the levels drop. Most mothers can safely have a glasses of wine or beer & nurse her baby an hour later. If somebody is worried they can actually test their milk with for the alcohol content. Unlike a formula fed baby who is exposed to viruses & infections from just being in contact with her mother, breasted babies actually receive antibodies directly from their mother’s milk. Many times the nursing baby is the only one in the family who doesn’t get sick. A bonus for working moms who nurse is that they don’t even have to be exposed to the illness to create antibodies. So their baby is exposed to something at daycare, the minute they begin to nurse mom’s body begins to make antibodies for the baby. Pretty impressive.

  6. Butterose January 1, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    sandradee, In the news article I read about the Mom arrested in the bar while feeding her baby, the indecent exposure law was used. She was actually sitting there nursing and drinking an alcoholic beverage at the same time. There’s no law against that. Apparently nursing moms are not exempt from indecent exposure laws.

  7. sandradee January 1, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    another voice— ” And the law is on their side as well.”

    Excuse me? LOL! when somone is in someone else’s home the law is on the owners side.
    The Breastfeeding mother may use some modesty or move to the other room.

  8. sandradee January 1, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    “And FTR breastfeeding is NOT healthier for the baby- it is the biological standard, just the bare minimum a baby’s body expects.

    Yes, I know Breastfeeding is not healthier than formula feeding, it is not the biological norm to go into someone else’s house at a large holiday gathering and do whatever you want to do because you breastfeeding. Use your brain and have some respect for yourself, your baby and the others around you.

  9. sandradee January 1, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Just as butterose said use some common sense.

  10. sandradee January 1, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    another vioce–“Sandradee- who would you put in charge of policing how women nurse? Some people would say a blanket met their level of modesty but other people would say that nursing moms should go to another room because just the IDEA of a baby nursing icks them out.

    Why people get their undies in a twist over a momentary unintentional flash of a nursing moms breast but don’t seem to bat an eye at the HUGE amount of breast being flaunted on the field & courts of professional sport really speaks volumes about how screwed up our society is.

    You are missing the entire point sweetie and your mantra has nothing to do the point. THIS mother was not in her home PERIOD!

  11. Butterose January 1, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Rut roh! Better watch out that someone doesn’t jump on your case for this statement. 😀

    “The downside to mother’s milk, beyond the social implications as suggested in this thread,”

    I honestly don’t think that public breastfeeding is bad, just that it should take place with basic commonsense. And there was smoking going on in that room. That house isn’t a smoke free environment. Just occured to me that I should have been pissed off about that too. Oh well, anger does not lend itself to clear thinking.

  12. Butterose January 1, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Who says our family doesn’t “bat an eye” over intentional displays of breasts? There’s a lot of careful screening of the media that goes on in that house before grandson is allowed to view anything. Unfortunately, peer pressure, according to studies, plays a significant role in how children and teens behave. They do want to fit in among their friends. Not all their friends have the same type of parents. Some great, some not so great. It makes for a precarious mix, and sometimes in behaviors that aren’t as desirable as they could be.

    I honestly have NEVER met a woman who is “icked out” by the idea of a nursing baby. Afraid that they might do it wrong, or be inadequate maybe, but not icked.

    And, wouldn’t feeding in the most quick and efficient method defeat the purpose of breastfeeding? Doesn’t that reduce breastfeeding to the level of stuffing a bottle in the mouth and shouldn’t it be more than that?

    I’m sorry, breastfeeding is not the only commitment a Mom should make to her child. The world is full of breastfeeding women who drink beer while feeding, who smoke cigarettes while feeding, who do drugs while feeding. This past weeks news contained an item that a breastfeeding mother was arrested in a bar. She was drinking while she fed.

    I rant about someone I know who has a history of bad decisions that in some cases have been costly financially and physically dangerous. She’s been a butterfly flitting from interest to interest without EVER making any kind of commitment to any of it. She suddenly decides to have a baby and breastfeed, so I’m supposed to what? BELIEVE despite evidence to the contrary that she’s had an epiphany and will actually honor her commitment to this child SIMPLY because she chose to breastfeed? Where I come from ACTION speaks louder than words, and her ACTIONS are all I have to make my decisions by. I have serious reservations, very serious ones. If that makes me a wicked step-mother then so be it. It does NOT make me someone who bashes breastfeeding mothers.

  13. admin January 1, 2011 at 11:51 am

    I’m no expert but…formula can be more nutritious than breast milk however breast milk carries with it the mother’s antibodies that can combat disease. Also mother’s milk contains less curd and more whey. Curd is harder to digest than whey is, so a baby on formula will generally throw up more. As well mother’s milk changes in composition to the specific needs of that baby, whereas formula, obviously, never changes to meet the needs of any particular baby.
    The downside to mother’s milk, beyond the social implications as suggested in this thread, is that things such as alcohol, drugs ( prescription or otherwise ), viruses, possibly bacterial infections, the flu, and other harmful things that the mother is exposed to, or exposes herself to, can be transferred to the baby.

  14. another voice January 1, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Breastfeeding moms are so maligned it should not be any surprise that when you criticize one others get their ire up too. As a society we send such a mixed message- breastfed your baby but then turn around offer little to no support or worse chastise & criticize. I often wonder if some bloggers make inflammatory statements with regard to breastfeeding just to get traffic to their blog up. I am NOT saying this bloogerr did, but that many times it feels that way.

    Mom’s that choose to breastfeed are worried about just nursing their babies. In the end it is about the BABY. Ginger perhaps you have babies that are content to nurse under a blanket or one of the tents like a hooter-hider- great for you & your baby. Many babies are not. A mother needs to nurse her baby in what ever manner is best for them & many times that is without a blanket. So the previous poster was right when she said it is the mother’s comfort level- you have the option to turn you head or leave the area. And the law is on their side as well.

    Nobody suggested that breastfeeding gives somebody carte blanche to do anything they want anywhere they want. I also love the big-old breastfeeding meanie everyone seems to refer to that goes around “whipping out ” her breast around for all to oggle over. So few moms are actually breastfeeding they must be really busy running all over exposing themselves & accosting formula feeders. Nursing moms are concerned about feeding their baby in the most quick & efficient way possible.

    Sandradee- who would you put in charge of policing how women nurse? Some people would say a blanket met their level of modesty but other people would say that nursing moms should go to another room because just the IDEA of a baby nursing icks them out.

    Why people get their undies in a twist over a momentary unintentional flash of a nursing moms breast but don’t seem to bat an eye at the HUGE amount of breast being flaunted on the field & courts of professional sport really speaks volumes about how screwed up our society is.

  15. Butterose January 1, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Something has occured to me this lovely New Year’s Day.

    I’ve always thought that breastfeeding provides better nutrition for the child. It would also seem to me that it would increase the bond between Mother and child. In some of the comments in this page I’ve been told that it’s adequate nutrition not necessarily better.

    “And FTR breastfeeding is NOT healthier for the baby- it is the biological standard, just the bare minimum a baby’s body expects.”

    My question would be that since formula can be fortified to exceed the biological standard why wouldn’t someone wish to avail their child of that advantage?

    Another person suggested to me that babies past the age of 4 months are easily distracted and that the failure to latch didn’t mean the baby wasn’t hungry.

    Since the purpose of breastfeeding is nutrition for the baby, why would any Mother continue to try and feed among all those distractions when the purpose of insuring adequate nutrition would be better served in privacy?

    My last question is, what effects do stressful moments have on breastfeeding and isn’t trying to feed in a room full of people with a lot of noise and movement occuring, something of a stressful moment? There are positive and negative stresses, but is the biological mechanism of breastfeeding capable of adjusting to the type of stress involved?

  16. Butterose December 31, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    I see what you mean. Thanks for providing the link.

  17. sandradee December 31, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    If you read many of these posts most of their rants are about the mothers needs, not the babies needs. I almost chocked when i read them. I was sent over here from a site on the web. I village, Someone posted this link on a formula feeding/ breastfeeding debate board.. Here is the link. If you take the time to read the board you will see the menatliy I speak of, its scary.

    Fodder-for-Debate-Newsstand/Should-Modesty-Apply-to-Breastfeeding

  18. Butterose December 31, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    sandradee,

    I didn’t say anything to her or anyone else, but I did ask myself who she was trying to impress? She never held the baby, nor did she pay any attention to her until she decided to feed. It struck me as being more about her than it did about the need of baby. Then again, that’s probably just me being judgmental.

  19. sandradee December 31, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    “Again modesty & discretion is based on the nursing mother’s comfort level because it is the only constant”

    oh please, when you are not in your own home the mothers comfort level is not first and foremost. What a selfish thing to say. I guess we all need to just do whatever the nursing mother thinks is best for us b/c of her comfort level. Give me a break!
    Some of you seem to think the world revloves around you and your needs. GROW UP!

  20. Butterose December 31, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    Situations like this remind me of the Women’s Rights Movement. I always thought that equality was originally supposed to mean the right to make the choice to enter the workplace or not and be respected for that. Unfortunately, many of the feminists belittled the women who chose to be stay at home moms. Working women chose to call their opposites “mere housewives” as if that in itself wasn’t a proper occupation. In this case equality isn’t extended to non breast feeding women. Sadly, in many cases our own worst enemies are women.

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