Friday, August 27, 2010

Going Against the Norm: Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding in Laughlin, NV.
Breastfeeding at the beach.

Breastfeeding on the Amtrak.

Breastfeeding with a breastfeeding friend.

Breastfeeding in line at Disneyland.

Breastfeeding at the hospital.

Do these pictures make you uncomfortable? I am not exposed, but I am breastfeeding in public. It is very easy to breastfeed in public without exposing yourself, even without a blanket.

A fellow breastfeeding friend brought a recent news story to my attention about a Mom that was asked to leave a Cost Plus World Market in Orange County because she was breastfeeding her child in public. I knew I didn't like that stupid store.

When I was pregnant with my first daughter I was pretty scared about breastfeeding, but I made up my mind that no matter what I was going to deal with the pain and discomfort of breastfeeding to feed my child. If I made the mature decision to have a baby, then I better be ready to deal with the discomfort of breastfeeding my child. I committed before I had my baby that I was going to exclusively breastfeed for at least 6 months. If only the pain and discomfort was my only obstacle in breastfeeding my daughter. It all started at the hospital. I literally had a nurse tell me, "You had a c-section, so your milk won't come in for awhile and you need to bottle-feed." My mother-in law (a nurse and lactation specialist) put them in their place, but I couldn't believe the power of the formula companies in hospitals. You know what I am talking about. The doctor's office gives you free diaper bags and formula samples. The hospital gave me free bottles filled with formula, a free diaper bag, and car seat filled with coupons and advertisements for formula. When I was breastfeeding at the hospital with my daughter the lactation nurse didn't come to help me for two days. That is plenty of time for a new mom to give up.

I was reading a breastfeeding medical journal and I read an abstract about how formula companies provide the growth charts for pediatrician's offices. The journal stated that formula fed babies gain weight faster then breastfed babies at first, then it tapers off. They also have bigger heads then breastfed babies. The breastfed baby catches up after 2-4 months. So doctors tell their Mom's you aren't producing enough milk and then make them supplement formula when it is all a BIG HUGE SCAM! Sound like big tobacco to you?
My mother in law also told me that breastfeeding organizations tried to put out public service announcements about the dangers of formula feeding. The formula companies wouldn't let them ever be aired on television. That is how much power formula companies have.

One more conspiracy theory! Why does WIC give money to Mom's for formula, but not to Mom's that have chosen to breastfeed. I don't want our tax dollars supporting formula companies. I don't want a single penny to go to them. If a Mom is unable to breastfeed (which is very rare), or if a Mom adopts a baby, they need to give money to breast milk banks to feed their babies. Keep your free diaper bag formula companies.

I am not even breastfeeding anymore, but I will be again very shortly. I breastfeed in public. I am not the hippy mom that pulls her boob out for the whole world to see, but it is impossible to not breastfeed in public and it is my right to do so. There are California Civil Codes in relation to breastfeeding, so check them out. California Civil Code 43.3 protects a mother's right to feed her child in public. I am outraged by the weirdness with breastfeeding in America. I don't care if you choose to formula-feed your baby, that is your prerogative, but don't mess with mother's who make the braver, the harder, the less comfortable choice to breastfeed their children. I am not going to lie to you, breastfeeding is a lot of hard work. In the end I wouldn't trade the 17 months I breastfed my daughter for anything. See my other blogs about breastfeeding for those thoughts. Power to you breastfeeding Mama's. Don't give up!


Today's Mom


  1. What a great post, Janelle! I'm so glad you cited the CA law about breastfeeding in public, because I always wondered where/how to find it if I ever needed it. Seventeen months is a long time to nurse-- what an accomplishment! I am actually nursing my 3-year-old through this pregnancy, which is something I never thought I'd do. But I'm glad for it. I might even end up tandem nursing, who knows. We'll see how that flies in public!

    I am also as passionate as you about breastfeeding in public. How can breastfeeding ever become the norm if people are constantly cringing at the sight of it? It is a matter of public health for breastfeeding rates to increase and public breastfeeding simply MUST be a part of that. I always try to smile or give a thumbs-up to a mom I see breastfeeding in public. We need to encourage each other. I think we all have a sense of modesty that compels us to either use a shawl, or to just get good at the whole double-shirt thing, or whatever. But the occasional slip of the boob is impossible, especially if baby has latch issues, or is just particularly active.

    Are you into podcasts? There is a great one called The Feminist Breeder and she has a really great broadcast covering public breastfeeding. You'd enjoy it.

  2. Thanks Lana. I will check the podcast out. I do a lot of commuting, so I like to have my ipod full of good podcasts. I was so enraged when I found out about the woman who was kicked out of Cost Plus. Thanks for reading my blog. I didn't know you were pregnant. When is the big day? I was going to nurse until Audrey was 2, but I was having too many contractions. I thought she would be so hard to wean, but she quit cold turkey. It may have helped that I weaned her during a 7 day cruise. Lots of other good food to eat. Anyway, thanks for reading.