Rally for Breast-Feeding Rights

On the busiest travel day of the year, The Washington Post ran a front page business story about a mom who had been kicked off a Delta Air Lines flight for refusing to cover her baby's head with a blanket while breast-feeding, despite any specific Delta Air Line "Refusal to Transport" justification. The article, Mothers Rally to Back Breast-Feeding Rights, described "nurse-ins" held on Nov. 21 at Reagan National Airport and Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport by more than 100 breast-feeding moms to protest the lack of support for nursing in public. The protest was important enough that individual women took time off from work to participate, according to The Post. The incident was reminiscent of last June's New York City protest by 200 "lactivists" in response to Barbara Walters's complaints on ABC's The View about a woman breast-feeding next to her on an airplane flight. According to the New York Times, several states have enacted legislation to protect moms' right to nurse in public.

What's the fuss about here? Why is it important to be able to breast-feed in an airport, a public park, the movie theater, a restaurant? Why do some people find public breast-feeding offensive enough to call for a nursing mom to be arrested, covered with a blanket or removed from an airplane or other public spot?

The medical community is clear about the rewards of breast-feeding, with the World Health Organization recommending that infants be breast-fed exclusively until at least six months old. Many pediatricians and La Leche League, a lactation support group, recommend breast-feeding for far longer. The benefits are so indisputable that many women feel pressured to breast-feed their babies even when they don't want to. Yet there are woefully few private rooms in public areas (or on planes) to breast-feed.

The message to moms is clear: You must breast-feed in order to be a good mom, but don't let us see you breast-feeding. Well, frankly, this is kind of hard. Many infants need to be breast-fed every hour or so. Many women would rather breast-feed at home or in private, but a breast-feeding mom simply cannot get on a plane or a train, go to work, watch her older children at the local park or run errands without stopping to feed her baby or pump.

So, the point of the rally: Nursing a baby is a normal, healthy part of motherhood. It needs to take place in public places sometimes. Note to Barbara Walters, Delta Air Lines, etc: Get over it! Look away if you must, but give breast-feeding moms a break.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  November 27, 2006; 9:00 AM ET  | Category:  Moms in the News
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The issue wasn't whether she should be breast feeding in public. It was that they wanted her to use a blanket so other passengers wouldn't have to look at her breast while the baby was feeding. Which, in my opinion, would be courteous on the mom's behalf.

Posted by: A mom's opinion | November 27, 2006 9:11 AM

The issue wasn't whether she should be breast feeding in public. It was that they wanted her to use a blanket so other passengers wouldn't have to look at her breast while the baby was feeding. Which, in my opinion, would be courteous on the mom's behalf.

Posted by: A mom's opinion | November 27, 2006 9:11 AM

Your article is spot on. Frankly, I don't even see why anyone would complain about breast feeding. Modesty isn't an issue when your milk is particularly exploding out because your baby is crying. Didn't we go through all this in the early 80s? Why are we going through this again?

Posted by: dotted | November 27, 2006 9:13 AM

Hear, hear! Now, if the medical community would only put their money where their mouth is and stop distributing formula in hospitals and at the baby's first doctor visit . . .

Posted by: CKPost | November 27, 2006 9:13 AM

There are still many older people in this country who were raised in different times who are very uncomfortable witnessing breast-feeding. The BF'ing moms should show a little consideration for others.

"Look away if you must, but give breast-feeding moms a break."

I don't want to see it at all - not look away after I've already seen it. Why don't the airlines designate certain seats for BF'ing so that the other passengers will know beforehand where it is that they should "just look away"? Also, public shopping areas and malls could designate areas for BF'ing (not dirty bathrooms - maybe something similar to the food courts) so that people who are offended don't have to witness anything.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 9:23 AM

to anon at 9:23

What exactly are you seeing? There isn't anything to see really! It is all in your imagination. The reality is the baby has most of the feeding apparatus in his/her mouth! Nothing is visible...particularly anything you can't and won't see if you look at whatever teenagers/young adults are wearing!

Posted by: dotted | November 27, 2006 9:28 AM

Leslie, the "baby" in question was almost 2 years old!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She didn't need to be nursed for food like an infant. For you to equate the two either means that you didn't do your research or are being intellectually dishonest, considering you are quoting the WHO talking about 6 month old babies (NOT two year olds!)

Posted by: Leslie ............... | November 27, 2006 9:32 AM

Ok - the first thing we all need to understand - and boy, am I going to get slammed for this - it that choosing to bottle feed does not make one a bad mom. What about moms who cannot breast feed for some reason? Neither my brother nor I were and we are perfectly happy, healthy, smart people (he's a doctor, I have two Masters degrees). Breast feeding does not guarantee anything - just as any other choice does not. No one has the right to be holier-than-thou simply because they breast-feed.
Second, it is not an issue of whether or not one should or should not breast feed in public - all breast feeding moms should be courteous enough to cover up with a blanket while doing so in public - I can't understand anyone who would WANT to show it all off. It just doesn't make any sense. I don't care if someone chooses to breast feed, but they don't need to put it out there in everyone's face. I find the whole sit-in thing very ridiculous - no one is trying to stop the person from breast-feeding, but there should be some decency involved - not everyone wants to see it.
That's it from me for today because I just find the whole thing so inane - really.

Posted by: WAMC | November 27, 2006 9:37 AM

To Leslie..... at 9:32

OK, so a 2 year doesn't NEED to be breastfed, but nursing is amazingly soothing for a baby, and this was probably an attempt to keep the child from having an absolute fit on the plane. It's a question of which is more tolerable on a plane: a nursing child or a screaming child. Someone will always complain about either.

That said, using a blanket to cover up isn't asking much. I'm a HUGE advocate for breastfeeding, and I plan to use a blanket for my own modesty and other's.

Posted by: Amanda | November 27, 2006 9:41 AM

Actually, if I'm remembering correctly (and I'm certain that someone will point it out if I'm not), the WHO suggests breastfeeding a child until at least the age of 2 and thereafter as long as it is mutually acceptable to both mother and child. Outsiders (such as observers on a plane who might be "uncomfortable" with seeing such a thing) are not supposed to factor in to this decision.

So are you saying there's a problem or something wrong with a 2+ year old being breastfed?

Posted by: CKPost | November 27, 2006 9:41 AM

If breastfeeding is so casual, normal and not a big deal then why make it one with "nurse-ins" and such? Is there really a need to hold a nursing protest at an airport and cause more delays for people at the airport and take up attention from security that should be spent on importiant travel security measures not breastfeeding protesting moms??? It's just another natural part of life so just go breastfeed! No need for all the protesting, just do what you need to do. If you make it a big deal, everyone else will too.

Posted by: d's ma | November 27, 2006 9:42 AM

My husband also mentioned that the 'baby' was almost two years old. That raises some questions for me:

1) was this a lap baby or a ticketed passenger?
2) was it a time when passengers were expected to be in certain positions (like belted in or sitting upright on Moms' lap?)
3) was this child spread all over Mom and the person seated next to them?

A two year old is pretty big. Airline seating is pretty small. I find it hard to believe this wasn't awkward for the person next to them.

Why is covering up a big deal? A nursing breast is a natural thing, but so are lots of other body parts that we expect people to keep covered up.

I'm all for breast feeding forever if the Mom and child want to, but I don't consider asking someone to cover up out of line. Particularly on an airplane --

Posted by: RoseG | November 27, 2006 9:42 AM


I'm with dotted--I frequently nurse my baby in public spaces, but people aren't seeing much. When I know I'm going to need to feed her while out, I wear shirts that are loose at the waist, and between the loose shirt and, now that it's winter, a boxy Polartec jacket, I'm covered.

As far as covering up the baby's head while she eats, I had originally intended to do it, but it does not work for us--my baby hates having anything over her face and trying to cover her only leads to thrashing, fussing, unlatching, and generally more of a production than it is if she's munching along quietly with her head exposed. So yes, it's obvious that there's a baby in my lap and she's feeding.

When I saw the initial article I wondered if the problem was 1) that the woman was breastfeeding in public at all or 2) that she was doing so in a particular way that was irritating/offensive to those around her. I'm a big believer in being considerate to those around you, but if the problem was #1, then I don't know how one could negotiate with that. And if the kid's hungry, well...

Posted by: BF mom | November 27, 2006 9:42 AM

I went back and found the original article: the woman and her family should definitely not have been kicked off the plane.

She sat in the almost last row, in a window seat with her husband providing a visual block for privacy from the aisle. It's not as if she whipped out her breast and pressed it into the arm of a total stranger while she was feeding. She appears to have wanted some privacy and was cognizant of the fact that not everyone might want to see her feeding her child in this most personal manner.

Despite being childless, I am behind a mother's right to breast feed in public. (And with the whole no-liquids-on-planes thing going on right now, it probably makes more sense to breast feed than to try and bring a bottle on a plane.) And I agree that there aren't many places a woman can do it in privacy, especially if she has a baby that doesn't like having a blanket on its head. But...

As with the Starbucks brouhaha a few years ago, the child in question was no longer an infant (15 months old in the Starbucks case, 22 months here). This is not a child who was on a breast-milk/formula diet - solid food was completely doable at this point in the child's life.

I know planes are hard with little ones; sometimes feeding - and the attendant sucking action - is the only thing that can help a small child through the take-off/landing equilibration process. But I can remember flying with my family when I still had toddler-aged nieces and nephews. My siblings' carry-on bags were almost completely converted into travelling comfort zones for the kids - pillows, blankets, toys, snacks (of the solid variety). "Nooks" or sippy cups were provided during take-off and landing to help clear their ears (and flight attendants were usually happy to provide juice to fill the cups near the end of the flight if we ran low).

So for those mothers who continue to breast feed past one year, I have an honest question: when you're going to be in a crowded, public situation, why does it appear to be completely and totally out of the question to simply bring some Cheerios or Goldfish crackers? I would think it would be easier for you (outside of any discomfort of not being able to express your milk in a regular time frame) and you don't have to go to extremes to breast feed (you can't tell me feeding a child in an economy window seat is *easy*).

Again - totally for public breast-feeding rights here....but compromise is good, too.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | November 27, 2006 9:44 AM

WAMC said "I find the whole sit-in thing very ridiculous - no one is trying to stop the person from breast-feeding, but there should be some decency involved - not everyone wants to see it."

Actually, the airline did try to stop the passenger from breastfeeding to the extent that they threatened (and then followed through) to kick the woman off the plane if she didn't stop.

If you don't want to see it, look away. Do you always stare when children are fed, or only when they're breastfed?

Posted by: My 2 cents | November 27, 2006 9:45 AM

Some babies refuse to wear a blanket while nursing. Would you want be completely covered by a blanket while eating your breakfast? If airlines want nursing moms to be hidden they could install a curtain rail along one side of the rearmost aisle row and hang a curtain when a mom wanted to nurse.

Breastfeeding is a comparatively short stage of life so I don't envision malls constructing breastfeeding rooms, though they would be welcome.

Posted by: m | November 27, 2006 9:47 AM

"I find the whole sit-in thing very ridiculous - no one is trying to stop the person from breast-feeding, but there should be some decency involved - not everyone wants to see it."

I totally agree! Breastfeed if you want to...but cover up.

Posted by: To WAMC | November 27, 2006 9:49 AM

I see it's going to be one of those days here. Yes, some people are not used to public breast feeding. But they need to deal. Before I had children, I saw a woman who pulled a breast out of her dress to feed her child. No cover, no nothing. I was at an outdoor festival, checking out art at a vending booth. I left immediately because I was shocked at the immodesty, not because she was about to nurse in public. Now that I've had kids and breastfed both, I am much more understanding, although most public breastfeeding moms were a lot more modest than the woman I saw many years ago.

I think a mantra may work. Something like, "She's feeding her child, not flashing me. It's not about me." But that's too long. Can anyone else think of a nice mantra that people can murmur when they see a woman publicly breastfeeding and they want claim righteous distaste?

Oh, and formula is not the nectar of the anti-Christ, so can we not go there today?

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | November 27, 2006 9:49 AM

"Actually, the airline did try to stop the passenger from breastfeeding to the extent that they threatened (and then followed through) to kick the woman off the plane if she didn't stop."

They didn't want her to stop breastfeeding. They wanted her to cover up with a blanket. When she didn't want to--they asked them to get off the plane.

Posted by: To: my 2 cents | November 27, 2006 9:51 AM

I hate these kinds of arguments, but here goes:

1. You don't "show it all" when you're breastfeeding. Have any of these complainers actually seen a woman breastfeed? I can see more of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears' boobs on page 3 of my paper today! And they're "dressed"!

2. The woman in question was sitting in a window seat in the next to last row of the plane, with her husband between her and the aisle. Not exactly out in front of everyone.

3. The plane had been delayed for hours already. I imagine the little one was cranky by that point. Would you rather hear a baby whine and cry, or would you rather have her mom comfort her?

4. Some babies won't tolerate a blanket over the head. Neither of mine would. Would you like to eat with a blanket in your face? Probably not.

5. The law applicable in this case does not require use of a blanket -- I checked. That's the law. If you don't like it, write your elected representatives to complain.

6. This is not about breast vs. bottle feeding. If you don't want to BF, don't. But don't impose your view on other moms. If other moms want to BF in accordance with the laws of the state, they're legally allowed to do so.

7. Look away if you don't like it. A simple solution.

Posted by: another BF mom | November 27, 2006 9:52 AM

I recently flew cross country and back and nursed my 7.5-month-old daughter both ways. It was very soothing for her and I got compliments on her behavior both trips. I can cover up to a degree, but my daughter is like BF mom's - doesn't like to be totally covered. Fortunately my husband and I had bought her a seat so we had 3 in a row. It would have been difficult for anyone to have seen what was going on. If our flight had been more crowded, it would have been awkward, but 5.5 hours is a long time to go without feeding. My recent experience with breast feeding has made me throw a lot of my preconcieved notions and "Oh, they can just (fill in the blank)" ideas out the window. Everyone's situation is different and it's best not to second guess someone else's decisions. As for the offended folks, it really is time to finally grasp that everything that happens around you is not about you. Try not to take things so personally, perhaps. This stance would serve well in so many instances, especially those where you are in crowded situations.

Posted by: MaryB | November 27, 2006 9:53 AM

As the husband and father of a breast-feeding mother-daughter team, I say BRAVO to the nursing mothers. Breastfeeding is normal. THAT'S WHAT BREASTS ARE MADE FOR. Jesus Herbert Walker Christ, breastfeeding is not some unnatural thing that's an abomination against both God and Ceasar.

Those of you who don't want to see it have these things called eyelids. Use them.

I do realize that not every womans can/wants to breastfeed, so to each their own, of course. I'm not disparaging how parents choose to feed their children.

Posted by: Jacknut | November 27, 2006 9:53 AM

Have you tried covering up a 2 year old with a blanket for any length of time?

Besides, it sounds like her husband was trying to shield her from prying (and prudish) eyes . . .

Posted by: My 2 cents | November 27, 2006 9:53 AM

Maybe she should have held up the latest issue of Maxim Magazine to shield herself. I am fairly certain that the cover girls are showing more skin than she was! Breast feeding just isn't sexy!

Posted by: jane | November 27, 2006 9:55 AM

Our country's ridiculous and bizarre squeamishness about public breastfeeding puts us moms in a terrible bind - stay home the entire time you are breastfeeding so as not to offend anyone with a glimpse of breastly flesh or not breastfeed at all. I don't know of a single mother who breastfeeds in public who does it in a way that is offense - most women try to cover up, try to do it as unobtrusively as possible. I have never seen a woman just letting her boobs hang out. I really don't know what the fuss is about, and I challenge anyone to come up with a story that would really shock us. To those of you whose stomachs turn at the thought of catching a glimpse of a woman breastfeeding - what have you seen that I haven't? What truly offensive behavior have you witnessed that is awful enough to make the lives of millions of women terrifically difficult?

Posted by: chicagomom | November 27, 2006 9:56 AM

Anyone who thinks that it's no big deal to cover up with a blanket probably hasn't actually breast fed an infant. They don't like it. They move the blanket constantly. If they carted off all the women with part of their breasts exposed, there would be an awful lot of emptly seats. Breasts are designed for feeding babies. Anyone who can't handle it should get off the plane and leave the mom alone.

Posted by: part-timer | November 27, 2006 9:56 AM

To theoriginalmomof2:

"Oh, and formula is not the nectar of the anti-Christ, so can we not go there today?"

Thanks for the laugh. I'm in my late 30's, and due to difficulties with every pregnancy, my Mom couldn't breast feed me or either of my two older siblings.

The result? My brother is a scientist with a lot of letters after his name doing medical research; my sister is a bright, articulate and creative SAHM mother of 2 equally bright teenagers, and I am a former paleontologist who now has her own business as an Internet consultant. So I gotta agree with you on the formula thing ;)

Posted by: Chasmosaur | November 27, 2006 9:56 AM

I think women who breast feed in public just need to accept that fact that in our society the breast has been sexualized. Like it or not, this is a fact, and it isn't too much to ask to cover up with a blanket out of respect for society's norms. Until that changes, which I don't think will, regardless of nurse-ins, when you look at movies, tv, etc., I think this seems like simple solution. Just as nursing moms deserve respect to feed their babies whenever and wherever they need too, they should also give a little respect.

Posted by: gradstudent | November 27, 2006 10:01 AM

So for those mothers who continue to breast feed past one year, I have an honest question: when you're going to be in a crowded, public situation, why does it appear to be completely and totally out of the question to simply bring some Cheerios or Goldfish crackers? I would think it would be easier for you (outside of any discomfort of not being able to express your milk in a regular time frame) and you don't have to go to extremes to breast feed (you can't tell me feeding a child in an economy window seat is *easy*).

_____________

I can answer from my personal experience. Sometimes nursing is about more than food, it's about comfort. Cheerios are not comfort food. If my DD (who is over one year) is in a stressful situation (crowded flight, it's late, she's tired, etc.), she wants comfort, not crackers. I'd rather nurse her than let her scream -- and get all the dirty looks from people who don't want to hear her scream either.

Nursing in an airline seat is actually not that hard. I've nursed walking down the street, sitting in a plane, while brushing my teeth. It's not that hard, really.

You can't bring your own juice on a plane anymore thanks to the liquid ban. And don't count on the airline to provide for you. I was recently on a short flight with my daughter, and the airline had no milk for her sippy cup and "ran out" of apple juice before they got to us in the last row. My options: nursing, or giving my baby Pepsi in her sippy cup. What do you think I chose?

Posted by: reply | November 27, 2006 10:03 AM

Gradstudent,
This ridiculous notion puts women in a terrible bind. Most babies, mine included, will not feed if they are covered with a blanket. They scream, pop off, and generally end up showing off more of their mom's breasts than if they were never covered. This is just a fact of life. So, gradstudent, what do you think women who breastfeed should do?

Posted by: chicagomom | November 27, 2006 10:04 AM

to gradstudent: I believe that ridiculous social ideas such as the schizoid sexualization/puritanism that grip the United States currently should be challenged. Why just lie down and accept that?

Posted by: MaryB | November 27, 2006 10:05 AM

Overweight people who ooze into my already airplane space offend me. I wonder if the airlines would kick them off. Also, people who bring too much stuff with them, people who slap on too much perfume/aftershave, people who don't wash often enough, people who constantly have to use the bathroom, people who never get up to give me a break from their mouthbreathing.

Actually, I am so much more interested in getting to my seat and scanning the crowd for potential crazies that a woman bfing her kid would hardly register. Of course, that WOULD be a great disguise. But the upshot is that during your lifetime you will probably run into this situation fewer than 100 times. Try to deal with it with grace and sensitivity. You will have to deal with rude drivers not using their turn signal 100 times a DAY. Good thing I am not packing a hood mounted car-melting laser. You know, if you would all just USE that damn thing FIFTY PERCENT of the time, I could excuse any of the other above behavior.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 10:07 AM

Hi Dotted -- your comments are incredibly on target. Why is our culture still so twisted up about breast-feeding in public and so many other motherhood issues? Sometimes it seems we've stalled out for the past 20 years. Why can't the Motherhood Police move on?

Also, excellent points about what you really "see" when a woman breast-feeds. Nothing more than the cleavage exposed by a bikini or a v-neck shirt. And if you happen to glimpse a little nipple, why is that so incredibly offensive? Surely there are more important things to be offended by in an average day in America...

Re: those offended not by the breast-feeding but by the age of the child. Please think hard about this one. Is it really up to Delta Air Lines (or strangers nearby) to decide when a child should stop nursing? I happen to believe that's the province of the individual mom and child.

Re: blankets. Some babies do not tolerate being covered while feeding. Maybe they like to see mom's face or get some fresh air. But blankets simply don't work for all babies and are not a solution.

Basic issue remains: it seems reasonable that our country, which protects individuals' basic freedoms, should defend the freedom to nurse a baby in public. What is the big deal here?

Posted by: Leslie | November 27, 2006 10:08 AM

You ask, "So for those mothers who continue to breast feed past one year, I have an honest question: when you're going to be in a crowded, public situation, why does it appear to be completely and totally out of the question to simply bring some Cheerios or Goldfish crackers?"

I'm the parent of a still-breastfeeding 2.5 year-old. At this point I minimize our breastfeeding-in-public, though I was not at all shy when I my daughter was an infant.

Anyway, bringing a snack and nursing are not mutually exclusive. I do not, at this point, nurse my daughter as a subsitute for her eating. If she were hungry on a plane, she would get a solid snack. But I might nurse her 1) to soothe the pressure on her ears or 2) to help her get to sleep in an unfamiliar environment. Both of which would certainly make the trip easier on fellow passengers, even those fellow passengers who chose to be offended by a breastfeeding toddler.

(And thanks for your reasoned, respectful question.)

Posted by: To Chasmosaur | November 27, 2006 10:10 AM

To reply:

Thanks for your polite answer - right after I posted I thought to myself "Oh lord, now I'm just gonna get flamed".

I agree - nursing vs. Pepsi is a no-brainer. I take it water doesn't work? (My oldest niece preferred water over juice, which is why I ask.) But really, you'd think the airlines would be smart enough to hold back some milk/juice for little ones - not like they need a gallon.

But for the comfort aspect - cuddling and general soothing doesn't work? (not being judgemental, just curious.)

Like I said, I'm for public breast-feeding, but it just seems to open parents up to more aggravation than benefit sometimes.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | November 27, 2006 10:10 AM

Thank you, WMAC! I did a lot of research before my baby was born and decided on formula for many reasons -some medical (ensuring a medication I take would not be transferred to baby), some emotional and some rational (working mom). My husband and I, along with our siblings were all bottlefed and gasp... are all doing just fine. While making my decision all of my doctors - ob/gyn, ob specialist, pediatrician, and my general doctor were all supportive of this decision and didn't encourage me to breastfeed. I felt very good about this decision, until after my daughter was born and suddenly the barrage of "BREAST IS BEST" came. The questions from strangers/family friends/coworkers.. 'oh you're not nursing?" It took me a few months and I am again comfortable with this decision... my daughter is thriving - good natured, good sleeper, good eater. she's had a couple colds and ear infection - similar to her friends who were nursed. We are happy and healthy parents with a happy, healthy baby. it's ironic how oftentimes us formula families are the one who feel we are being attacked and made vulnerable.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 10:11 AM

The root of this whole thing is our society's total inability to recognize the 2 functions of a woman's breast...the sexual side and the nourishing side. To people who can't get the sexual component out of their brains, breastfeeding has a huge "ick" factor, the way that incest does.

I've breastfed 3 kids and after about 3 months of practice with the first, I got really good at getting my kids latched with a minimum of breast showing. Really, unless you are STARING at the very beginning of the feeding, when I'm trying to get all the parts in the right spot, you are not going to see anything. And, once I've gotten things situated, you can STARE all you want. The most offensive thing you might see when I'm breastfeeding is a glimpse of my love-handles along my waist.

And, yeah, a blanket led to nothing but fury with my kids. Restless thrashing and flailing, and sometimes even an accidental bite. Then you've got both baby and mommy screaming and that's just not good.

Get over it folks!!

Posted by: threeXmom | November 27, 2006 10:14 AM

"I think women who breast feed in public just need to accept that fact that in our society the breast has been sexualized. Like it or not, this is a fact, and it isn't too much to ask to cover up with a blanket out of respect for society's norms. Until that changes, which I don't think will, regardless of nurse-ins, when you look at movies, tv, etc., I think this seems like simple solution. Just as nursing moms deserve respect to feed their babies whenever and wherever they need too, they should also give a little respect."

Gradstudent, you have obviously never had kids, and I think it is YOU and all the other oversexed whackjobs who have to get over the idea that the breast is sexualized. Mom and baby are fine thinking otherwise. With your open mind and tolerance, I imagine you are going to be in school for a long time. Or are you just a troll? And "out of respect for societies norms"? Are you completely stupid? I suppose Afican-americans should have been more respectful of societal norms in the fifties and sixties and not fought for civil rights, as it was NORMAL for them to be second class citizens in their own country. You are a tool.

Posted by: to gradstudent | November 27, 2006 10:15 AM

I would love to see Kelly Ripa and Christie Brinkley breastfeeding. Ooo lala!

Posted by: Thierry | November 27, 2006 10:16 AM

This point has been made and ignored already, but some babies will not tolerate a blanket on their head while nursing, and while I am certainly stronger than my baby, I only have 2 hands, and keeping a blanket on would take a third. For now, I use a sling (actually a selandang-- essentially a large scarf knotted at my shoulder). However if it were uncomfortable for my baby/toddler to have his head covered (sometimes planes on the tarmac are awfully hot) I'd do the best I could to be modest while making him comfortable.

I'm not sure what "Nurse-ins" accomplish, aside from giving the impression breastfeeding moms are nutcases with a lot of time on their hands. However I do think the flight attendant in the Delta case was WAY WAY out of line. This mother and child weren't hurting anyone-- my guess is the flight attendant was having a bad day and took it out on these passengers because Delta's lousy rules meant she could.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM... | November 27, 2006 10:16 AM

Since we are being respectful of each other today for the most part, can I ask the formula feeding moms what factored into their decision to not breastfeed? For me, I truly felt that breastfeeding was the right thing for me and the baby, and I continued to nurse even though I returned to work full time when my daughter was 5 months old and nursed her until she was 2 years and 2 months. I am wondering whether you decided to not breastfeed before your child was born, whether you tried it and didn't like it or whether you had a medical problem, etc.

I hope that I have worded this respectfully enough because I mean no offense to anyone.

Posted by: NCMom | November 27, 2006 10:17 AM

"But for the comfort aspect - cuddling and general soothing doesn't work? (not being judgemental, just curious.)"

It might--different things work for different children. But why shouldn't I use the most effective (for our family) means? Your question is a little like saying to someone using a pacifier, "But why not just let him suck his thumb?"

Posted by: To Chamosaur, again | November 27, 2006 10:18 AM

this is good for the lawyers, non?

Posted by: Thierry | November 27, 2006 10:20 AM

Do you really think that this kid can't survive a bottle feeding in lieu of breast feeding in public? I think kids should be breast fed but I also think women should show some decorum and cover up in public. Good grief! Where have our manners gone?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 10:21 AM

I was exclusively formula fed from day 1 because I was born at a time of war in the 60s. grew up fine.
my 3 kids were mostly formula fed too by choice. grew up fine. case closed

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 27, 2006 10:23 AM

I think that some of the fuss about public breastfeeding is not caused so much by prudery, but more by a sort of anti-child attitude that I've noticed among some (unfortunately vocal) people without young kids. It's not so much that mom is flashing her boobs (which most bf moms are not doing!) but that she has dared to bring a small, needy child into an "adult" space like a restaurant, airplane, etc, and this child may disturb the adults by crying, pooping, making noise, etc. As a mom of small children who sometimes have occasion to venture into "adult" spaces, I find this attitude difficult to deal with- while I try to keep my kids' behavior in line, they're still little kids.

Posted by: randdommom | November 27, 2006 10:23 AM

To 10:10 reply:

Again, thanks for your polite response.

I guess I should have added to my Cheerios/Goldfish part of the question "sippy cup" as well. It's just that so often I've heard this argument devolve into "do you want my child to starve?", so the feeding aspect was on my mind when I wrote the question. I know sippy cups worked well for the little ones in my family...and they thought it was the coolest thing to have a sippy cup when the adults had to put all their food and drink away ;)

As I posed to the other reply - is feeding the only way to comfort? General cuddling and soothing doesn't work?

As I stated - breast feeding in public shouldn't be a big deal, but it does seem to cause more aggravation than benefit, especially when the child is over 1 year old. (Trust me, I would rather see a breast feeding child than hear it screaming, since I had a bad flight experience once and am now a bit on edge when I fly.)

Breast feeding should definitely not be a reason to force someone off a plane, but to avoid the hassle, aren't there other ways to deal with the stress of travel? I guess I'm fascinated by the choice (and dedication to it) that some parents make when there's the lurking knowledge that someone is going to really screw up your day because of it. Guess that can be said about a lot of things, though, now that I think about it ;)

Posted by: Chasmosaur | November 27, 2006 10:23 AM

But Mr. Honda, you might have been Mr. Mercedes or Mr. Bentley or Mr. Rolls-Royce if you'd been breastfed.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 10:24 AM

Re: covering with a blanket

The short answer about covering with a blanket is that it's just a pain and gets in the way. And once you get used to breastfeeding, it's pretty easy not to show everything while feeding. I was recently feeding my (now) 6-week-old son in church and a woman sitting right next to me asked if he was sleeping. Point is, she couldn't tell and I wasn't covering with a blanket.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | November 27, 2006 10:25 AM

I breastfed both of my kids for about 2 years ten years ago. I did it because it was good for them, cheap and easy. Of course, it wasn't easy the first month or so! babies don't like blankets over their head, but in a baby catalog was a thin, apron type cover up that tied around the neck and had a stiff collar to keep the apron far enough away from the baby that it wasn't smothered, but private enough that you would have to be standing up to get a glimpse of anything. You can really only use a blanket for a short time--as soon as the baby is strong enough they will pull it down. They want to see mom!

Posted by: my memories | November 27, 2006 10:25 AM

Sheesh! Just cover up! That's all anyone's asking.

Secondly, it's rude to tell others to just "look away" if it offends them. We all have to make concessions to each other in one way or another and it's in the best interest of everyone to take others' feelings into consideration.

For example, I'm sure most of you wouldn't care to see two teenagers REALLY going at it at the local park while your kids are playing. They have every right to be doing what they're doing (provided clothes stay *mostly* on), but it's inconsiderate to you and is going to prompt some questions for the kids. In short, the teens should have found a better place to make out (or, heck, covered themselves with a blanket to stick with today's discussion).

Same for BF moms -- I don't have a problem if you breastfeed in public, just please keep in mind I don't care to witness all of it (back to point one -- Just cover up, please!)

Posted by: ilc | November 27, 2006 10:25 AM

TO anon 10:21

My babies have never taken a bottle. I guess if I made it a major priority they would, but the hassle involved with pumping breastmilk for a baby who is almost always in the room with me is considerable.

Seriously, why can't you just get over this? It's a baby eating-- and the vast majority of breastfed babies are weaned certainly by the time they're a year old, and probably by the time they're 6 months. Of all the crap we deal with in public nowadays why on earth would anyone focus on this?

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM... | November 27, 2006 10:28 AM

Just to add a note of compliment, IKEA has a wonderful room for taking care of babies. It's near the restaurant and restrooms, but is a separate room with a comfy chair, changing station, and sink (to wash hands as needed) decorated with kids things, even an extra chair for an older child. You can go in and comfortably nurse, or dad can go change a diaper or whatever (many places only have changing stations in the womens restroom). More stores or malls should do this. Not a lot of expense, but worth it for the good will on both sides. (they also have bottle and baby food warming options).

Let's all give IKEA a hand for their good business practices!

Posted by: FYI for moms | November 27, 2006 10:28 AM

To 10:18 reply:

>>>>But why shouldn't I use the most effective (for our family) means? Your question is a little like saying to someone using a pacifier, "But why not just let him suck his thumb?"<<<<

Good point. I guess the difference here is that most people couldn't care less about the pacifier/thumb issue, but breastfeeding is such a public sore point. I agree with many other posters: get over it. The breast was designed to feed babies; that it has been sexualized is not its fault.

Like I said in my latest reply to a different poster - I guess I'm more interested in why someone sticks to their public-breastfeeding guns (so to speak ;) ) when it could cause such a horrendous problem in your day. The total inappropriateness of the Delta flight attendant was probably of very little comfort to the family when they got thrown off their already delayed flight, you know?

These are honest questions, not judgements. I'm childless (hopefully not forever), and I live halfway across the country from the remainder of my family, so I consider it reasearch :D

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 10:30 AM

Breastfeeding should NOT be another thing to divide moms/parents! Some choose not to breastfeed, some choose to breastfeed for an extended time (i.e., until a child is two or older). All of these are valid choices, individually made for what best fits their personal situation. No one is hurting their child by giving them formula, just as no one is doing harm by breastfeeding openly. We don't need to justify our choices to strangers. We're all doing the best we can, and we need to give each other a break.

Posted by: writing mommy | November 27, 2006 10:31 AM

Oops - the "To 10:18 reply" was from me...

Posted by: Chasmosaur | November 27, 2006 10:31 AM

However, (putting on some armour) I'm really suprised and offended at the entitlement some moms/parents have here. While some of you seem to think the rest of us can just get off the plane if we don't like what you're doing, I say that table can flip both ways. Since YOU'RE in the minority (breastfeeding), why don't YOU get off the plane? Secondly, it is not anyone's God-given right to do whatever they please regardless of how that affects others around them.

You have a right to breastfeed; other people have a right to not want to see it. You can call them all the names you want, but it's not going to help anything.

Posted by: ilc | November 27, 2006 10:32 AM

Nothing hurts a good cause more than extremists.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 27, 2006 10:33 AM

I'm not sure about what the right age is to start weaning a child, I guess it depends on the situation.

In any case, I don't find it offensive or think women should "have" to cover up. I can see why the baby might not like it, since they probably feel a bit suffocated if they are.

I think this crosses a dangerous line that suggests women who are mothers lose their identity as women. Therefore, it's alright that they show cleavage and such when they're not mothers, but once that is their status, they're supposed to cover up--even to feed their child. (The purpose of breasts in the first place!!) I guess it would be one thing if society provided even semi-private locations for mother's to feed in public. Different from bathrooms, because public restrooms are just nasty.

If that's the case, then I guess we need to go into the museums and art galleries and cover up all the nudes! Really though, if you don't want to see it, just don't look. Didn't your mother tell you it's not nice to stare, anyway?

Posted by: RaiseYourOwnKids | November 27, 2006 10:34 AM

I can't believe people are actually offended when a mom is nursing around them. Help me, and explain why this bothers you?


Posted by: lol | November 27, 2006 10:35 AM

"For example, I'm sure most of you wouldn't care to see two teenagers REALLY going at it at the local park while your kids are playing. They have every right to be doing what they're doing (provided clothes stay *mostly* on), but it's inconsiderate to you and is going to prompt some questions for the kids. In short, the teens should have found a better place to make out (or, heck, covered themselves with a blanket to stick with today's discussion)."

Maybe I would! Free porn! I don't even have to get on the internet to look at what purportedly is 90% of internet content!

But actually, I wouldn't want to see anyone going at it, regardless of age. You are comparing apples and oranges. One is about sex, the other isn't. Or is it? As long as we are covering up things that are offensive to see, please: stop picking your nose at the light, wearing clothes that are too tight, too small, show your cleavage, your butt crack, your camel toe, your hairy chest (a big YUCK for that one?), your comb-over, bad teeth, muffin tops, gut, multiple piercings, tattoos (You know you don't have health insurance, why are you wasting thousands of dollars on so called body art?), your acne, your insecurity, intolerance, and general obnoxiousness? I think all of those things should be covered up.

I don't care to witness your small mindedness. Please cover it up.

Posted by: to ilc | November 27, 2006 10:37 AM

Perhaps my information is wrong - but I thought following the first wave of press Delta reprimanded the employee & reminded all workers that the mother was in the right. I am sure that the story also reached the other airlines and served as a policy reminder there as well.

Once you have won the argument, it seems like a nurse-in to disrupt a busy travel day is a really counterproductive PR move?

Posted by: Smart? | November 27, 2006 10:38 AM

I've been posting as "To Chamosaur" today but didn't want to keep doing that in case it came across as an attack or that I was only talking to you. :)

"guess I'm more interested in why someone sticks to their public-breastfeeding guns (so to speak ;) )"

Because of the responses of some of the commenters here and the Delta flight attendant. The same reason anyone sticks to his or her guns on something they believe strongly in that other people criticize without knowing much about it.

Most women who breastfeed in public are, or try to be, discreet. Yes, some aren't. But, really, I think the people who behave in entitled and inconsiderate ways using their children as an excuse for it are the largely the same ones who would behave that way if they were childless: they'd have loud public cellphone conversations, cut you off in traffic, refuse to stand to the left and walk to the right, etc.

Posted by: PA Mom | November 27, 2006 10:38 AM

I BF both my kids until they were 1yo. Nursed them whenever and wherever and no one noticed, no one commented. You can do it discretely. However I have seen other moms who either haven't figured out or aren't interested in discretion. A few months ago I was in a restaurant where a mom practically took off her top to BF her little one. Even I was shocked. And I was BF at the same time! In recent cases, I do wonder if there isn't something more provocative going on that we don't hear about. If the woman on the plane was in the last row at the window, how did the flight attendant get involved?

Posted by: NY | November 27, 2006 10:40 AM

What many seem to have missed is that the Post article specifically states that it was the FLIGHT ATTENDANT who was offended. Having flown with and breastfed both my sons many times, I feel quite confident pointing out that only the flight attendant standing in the aisle was likely to see anything at all. Last time I checked, no flight attendant was required to stand over someone for more that a minute or two at most. Given the information we have, the flight attendant was clearly at fault.

As for the nurse-in "giving the impression breastfeeding moms are nutcases with a lot of time on their hands," how is this protest any different from any other political or social protest? I suppose the fact that no one was blocking major thoroughfares, preventing others from going to work or school, or throwing things counts. If my youngest had still been breastfeeding, I would have been there - NOT because I'm a lactivist (I'm not), but because what happened on that airplane was just wrong. How can we expect society to change if we do nothing to help it along?

Posted by: two terrific boys | November 27, 2006 10:40 AM

I nursed my first, formula fed my second. My husband was very grossed out by nursing, he seemed to have this crazy idea breasts were for men, not babies. I will echo what other mothers have already said, babies do NOT like being covered up when feeding. A little mechanics here. Their little noses are snuggled right up to the breast, there isn't to terribly much airflow to begin with. Second, it is hot being held that close to a large body radiating heat. Thirdly, babies are far more sensitive to temprature fluctuations than adults. So, when they have to cover their heads with a blanket, they tend to overheat and thus, not eat. When was the last time you wanted to drink body temprature liquids in 90 degree weather? Not fun for you, not fun for baby.

Lastly, I would remind people that babies are, well, babies. Adults, whether they have children or not, have two choices regarding the needs of babies. Ignore it, or cater to it. Breastfeeding is nature (or design, however you want to look at it) as it was intended.

Posted by: LM in WI | November 27, 2006 10:41 AM

I second those who point out that bf is good for comforting a toddler. My two-year old cries and whines when he gets cranky on a long flight. Sometimes I wish he was still bf so I could quiet him down!!! So what do fellow passengers prefer? A quiet bf kid, or a sippy-cup-fed, screaming, seat-back-kicking kid? Yeah, I thought so.

Posted by: m | November 27, 2006 10:42 AM

To PA Mom:

Excellent point. I guess the inconsiderate folks ruin it for everyone else.

My friends and family who have breast-fed have all done it in the most discreet manner. Unless you were staring (which would be rude in itself) you couldn't tell when they were breast feeding in public.

But none of them have breast-fed past one year (and if I have a child, I doubt I'll breastfeed longer than one year myself), so that's why I have questions today.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | November 27, 2006 10:45 AM

ILC said "You have a right to breastfeed; other people have a right to not want to see it. You can call them all the names you want, but it's not going to help anything."

EXACTLY. Women have a RIGHT (protected by law in almost every state) to breastfeed. Therefore, if you don't like it, then you have the right to remove yourself, or (the cheaper option on a plane), don't watch!

The beauty of your silly argument, ILC, is that you can be offended all over the place by a breastfeeding mother and you can't do anything about it but post on message boards. Legally, you have no standing. I suggest you and all the other naysayers get over yourself and GET A LIFE.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 10:45 AM

Seriously, for those of you who find breastfeeding offensive, etc (I'm talking to you ilc), please explain why! If you have no other argument than it is just wrong or some other moral hyperbole, then perhaps you need to reconisder your stance on the subject.

Posted by: to the naysayers | November 27, 2006 10:48 AM

Breast feeding in public shouldn't be a big deal, but it does seem to cause more aggravation than benefit, especially when the child is over 1 year old.
------------

I guess it's hard for a non-BF'er to understand, but BFing is much MUCH easier than any of your proposed alternatives. It's fast, easy, free, zero mess, always available. Why would I want to struggle with a sippy cup full of something that she doesn't like as much when I could just nurse her? She doesn't really want it, it could spill while I'm trying to get the top on the cup and she's climbing all over me trying to nurse instead, then I'll be toting a dirty cup around for the next few hours until I can wash it. Nursing? No prep, no spills, no clean up. Why would I let her wail and irritate everyone while I try less-effective ways of comforting her when I have this guaranteed-to-work method readily available?

I don't get all the posts on here about how BF women fail to cover up. I've never seen anyone showing more than is absolutely necessary, which is just a sliver of skin at the most. I've BF my daughter all over the place, and most of the time people don't even realize what's going on.

Also re: someone else's question about pumping a bottle to feed the baby on the plane instead of breastfeeding. First I have to figure out when to work in an extra pumping session to fill the bottle (it's not as simple as turning on a faucet, you know.) Then I have to haul the pump along with me to the airport -- an extra 8 pounds and bulky. Then I have to be delayed at Security while they "inspect" the bottle of pumped milk, which I can't keep cool as recommended because ice packs are banned on the liquid list. Then I have to convince my baby to take a bottle, which she doesn't like as much as direct nursing, and to drink room-temperature milk instead of body-temperature warm that she's used to -- you can't head breast milk in a microwave (ask your doctor, it's true), and the airline personnel are not always equipped with other methods to warm a bottle. Then I have to take over the airplane lavatory for 15 minutes during the flight to pump (if you don't nurse regularly, you have to relieve the painful accumulation of milk somehow). Then I have to dump this milk down the drain because, as I noted, I have no ice packs to keep it cool. Now THAT's a hassle. Wouldn't everyone be happier if I just nursed discreetly? Jeez.

Posted by: reply again | November 27, 2006 10:49 AM

Worth noting... and in no particular order...
1. Apparantly the airline apologized to the family and compenstated them with tickets and hotel stay. Aparantly the mistake was made by a young flight attendant and not a policy of the airline.
2. Nursing places -- Buy Buy Baby in R'ville has a nice room and even better Nordstrom at Montgomery Mall has the best ladies lounges and nursing rooms anywhere. I formula feed my baby and we go there for diaper changes and bottles. It's a nice camaraderie between us mommies and it's so relaxing!
3. Nurse in... why bring your baby to the airport at the busiest time of the year... filled with germs, commotion, frustrated people, etc? If you're nursing to give your baby the best, why would you put your baby in this situation if you're not travelling. Ugh! Aren't there other ways to make your point?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 10:49 AM

I think a nursing mother should have the legal right to breastfeed their kid anywhere, anytime, with or without blanket, bra, shirt, sweater, shoes, no matter the age of her child, no matter what!

And how somebody can possibly find breastfeeding offensive is way beyond me. I think it is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen on God's good planet.

Posted by: Father of 4 | November 27, 2006 10:51 AM

to ncmom: You asked why someone would formula feed their child. One of my friends did not simply because her family (parents, siblings) saw breasts as a very private thing -- not for bfing. I did both. Had to stop bfing my first child after 3 months because my milk dried up over a 24-hour period due to an infection (something most experts say never happens). Same thing happened with my second child, but I could not stop because he was allergic to all formulas -- even the $500-a-month hypoallergenic one. After working with a lactation consultant, the La Leche league, drying up two more times, and pumping for 8 months for a child that absolutely would not breastfeed, I was truly joyous the day an allergist found a formula my child was not allergic to. While I am a firm believer in breastfeeding, both of my children did fine with formula. And all the books that say, "Don't worry. You will make enough milk for your child," and "breastfeeding does get easier over time," are not always true, and very frustrating to a struggling mom.

Posted by: stlmom | November 27, 2006 10:53 AM

to two terrific boys: Doesn't the fact that the FA was reprimanded and declared by the airline to be wrong BEFORE the Thanksgiving protest ever took place make a difference? The incident took place in VT - a place that is not really mean to BF Moms - so adding mayhem for traveling VTers seems like some misplaced anger.

I want to make it clear that I think the Mom was fully in the right... BUT I also think the discretion line is not as clear as some here are stating. The breast as a nonsexual entity argument runs up against the privacy is a must for pumping argument. The difference as far as I can tell is that the first activity can be discreetly and the second cannot be.

Posted by: murkier? | November 27, 2006 10:54 AM

The next time I see a nursing mother, I think I'll sit near and pick my nose.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 10:55 AM

I have seen (and smelled) many offensive human body parts (covered and uncovered) at airports and other public places. None have included a woman breast-feeding. And I've never seen anyone chastized or kicked off a plane for showing too much leg, stomach, runny nose, chest hair, arm flab, etc. Why can't we just be nice and respectful to moms who are trying to take care of their babies (and keep them quiet)?

Posted by: Leslie | November 27, 2006 10:55 AM

Look, if anybody is offended by breast-feeding, it's because our society over-sexualizes women (and their breasts in particular) and because people who've bought into that over-sexualization can't possibly stomach the thought of watching a mom nurse her kid because it's "gross" in some way, as if it's some sort of sexual act. My wife breast feeds our son, and I have long gotten over any minor discomfort I might have had initially watching her do so in public. Breast-feeding is a completely natural act, and no one has a "right" to not be exposed to it, at least not one that trumps a woman's necessity of feeding her child in a way humans have been doing for millions of years. If you have a problem with breast-feeding in general, or think woman should have to hide themselves or their kid while doing so, then I have two words for you...grow up. Our society was was in error to ever marginalize breast-feeding women in the first place, and it would do us well to let MORE women breast-feed as they see fit, in public.

Posted by: Xanthippas | November 27, 2006 10:56 AM

Amen to Father of 4!
Haven't you seen in Africa those women have breasts that are as long and slender like papayas. They hang down to the waist and their 4yr old runs up, takes a sip and runs off again to play ball!

Posted by: Thierry | November 27, 2006 10:57 AM

I am amazed that so many people are offended by breastfeeding. It's a natural, healthy, non-sexual process. We Americans have some real immaturity in our collective psyche if this many people can't cope with a glimpse of a breastfeeding baby.

It strikes me as similar to Taliban ordering women to cover up from head to toe, becuase showing your ankles or your face is too sexually provocative for society to handle.

I'm with the person who's more offended by cell phone yappers and "muffin tops"! ;-)

Posted by: 2PreSchoolers | November 27, 2006 10:59 AM

Walt Disney World has the best nursing mother center I have encountered. They have set aside a dedicated cool, quiet, dark room with rocking chairs in a baby care center. It was a great location to escape to when the hustle and bustle of the park became too much to get a good feeding in.

Posted by: drmommy | November 27, 2006 10:59 AM

To stl:

Thank you for your response. It's such a loaded topic that it is hard to bring it up even with very good friends. Some people I've spoken with had decided against breastfeeding before the baby was even born, and I was too scared to dig deeper. (Like I said, it's a loaded topic.) I'm in agreement with the poster who said that formula is not the nectar of the anti-Christ and that it's a good thing (and sometimes the only thing) for some moms/kids. I'm glad your situation worked out well for you. It sure sounds like you were tenacious during what must have been a horribly painful time!

Posted by: NCMom | November 27, 2006 11:01 AM


Funny, when I travel out of the US - I never get a second look when I would BF in public. In fact, while here, people are reluctant to start conversations while we were hanging, outside of US, people ask about baby, much like when we are playing at home....

Ok, to spell this out for those of you who do not get it: mom is the source of nourishment and comfort! Toddler was in unfamiliar place, toddler went to the most basic familiar place for comfort. (ok, or was hungry) - Mom was not walking around with g-string on, and a pasty on the other side.

Sometimes infants, and toddlers do not want a blanket over them. Bottles do not always do the trick. Pacifiers do not always do the trick. I am sorry this happened.

I am VERY sorry Delta couldn't handle it, and pulled a "it's a breast=nudity=porn" move.

(They will probably be the last airline I look to book when I travel with my youngins - unless they apologize sincerely to this family.)

For those of you who do not get it: The boob is not just an entertainment center!!

(AND AMEN to the poster who wondered why the husband didn't hold up a copy of Maxim mag to provide privacy)

Posted by: OY!! | November 27, 2006 11:02 AM

If the person who was offended was your father or grandmother, would you tell them to "grow up" or would you show some respect and ask your wife to be more discreet?

My grandmother is not comfortable with the language in a lot of movies, even though it has become very commonplace in our society. I would never have one of those movies on in her presence because of the love and respect I have for her, regardless of my own feelings of what is or isn't appropriate.

Whether it is a woman's right or not, many people are still uncomfortable, and showing respect when possible does not take that right away.

Posted by: to Xanthippas | November 27, 2006 11:05 AM

"Do you really think that this kid can't survive a bottle feeding in lieu of breast feeding in public? I think kids should be breast fed but I also think women should show some decorum and cover up in public. Good grief! Where have our manners gone?"

I am sorry, but in our society, where we see lots of cleavage, leg, bare navels, and sometimes even more, in everyday life, magazines, tv, movies, etc., the decorum thing just doesn't fly. We see more breast in the checkout line at the grocery store than what is visible when a nursing mother breastfeeds. So to all you prudes who keep calling for modesty, do you avert your eyes when you see the Cosmo girl and ask the grocery store manager to take out the display? Please, the hypocrisy of it all sickens me. Breasts are made for breastfeeding. That is their most important function. So suck it up and deal.

Posted by: Emily | November 27, 2006 11:05 AM

I have seen (and smelled) many offensive human body parts (covered and uncovered) at airports and other public places. None have included a woman breast-feeding. And I've never seen anyone chastized or kicked off a plane for showing too much leg, stomach, runny nose, chest hair, arm flab, etc.

--------------------------------------

I have never *seen* a BF mother kicked off... it happened once, in ERROR, due to an employee MISTAKE. This is not a war against mothers it was a one-time mistake!

Posted by: to Leslie | November 27, 2006 11:05 AM

To NCMom who (very politely, may I add) asked about formula feeding - I did for a number of reasons, the most basic being I just didn't want to (it skeeves me out personally, although it just wouldn't occur to me to say something mean or give dirty looks to women who do nurse and do so in public), it seemed to make everyone I knew who did it miserable, I wanted my husband to split feedings with me 50/50 (not me pumping then him feeding) and I wanted ownership of my body back after 9 months of "renting out the ground floor" so to speak. :-) Also, I was formula fed and turned out OK (if I do say so myself), and that probably helped start from a perspective where I truly thought either FF or nursing was an ok choice. Hope this helps and thanks for being so polite in your inquiry!

Posted by: Gail | November 27, 2006 11:06 AM

Oops. The pun was completely unintentional.

Posted by: Emily | November 27, 2006 11:07 AM

I'm surprised people are still taking offense over a child being breastfed. If it's not offensive to see a child being bottle fed (and that's fine, if people want to pump or use formula), why would breasfeeding be any different?

The point about the blanket has been made but I have to add to it: from 6 months old my son would thrash, scream, and expose any part of me he could if there was a blanket over him. A loose shirt or a nursing top is way more discreet, and unless someone's *trying* to get a look, it's unlikely they will.

He's 15 months old now and I didn't think I would BF past a year, but we are (weaning very gradually). He's been very healthy and happy and it works for us. Mostly we don't nurse in public but occasionally we do, if his sippy's run out or he's had a scare.

I don't ask other people to clap and cheer and marvel at that, but that's what works for us.

I don't like to see kids being threatened or called stupid, but those parenting practices won't get people thrown out of anywhere.

There is no right not to be offended. Otherwise a lot of currently fashionable clothing would probably be criminal. :-)

If an airline is going to have a rule (assuming they can legally; my understanding is that in this case they couldn't) against breastfeeding that should be made clear before parents buy their tickets.

Posted by: Shandra | November 27, 2006 11:11 AM

to Gail -- Thank you for your response. LOL about renting out the ground floor. I agree with you about the miserable stories. I had an awful time with my first -- it took me 4 months before the searing pain went away and to this day I don't understand why I didn't quit (except that maybe it was good for me to have something to be mad at at the time)!

Posted by: NCMom | November 27, 2006 11:11 AM

NCMom - you're a stronger woman than I! Also, was in NC from up north for Thanksgiving. I sure envy your weather down there! Happy holidays to you and your family.

Posted by: Gail | November 27, 2006 11:16 AM

I am sorry, but in our society, where we see lots of cleavage, leg, bare navels, and sometimes even more, in everyday life, magazines, tv, movies, etc., the decorum thing just doesn't fly.

-------------------------------

But then why the privacy for pumping? Is it just the noise? Or is there something to the decorum side... I think the argument in favor of nursing in public is tied to how discreetly it is generally done. ... the natural argument doesn't work for me - clothing is an entirely artificial construct - but (even though some push the limits further than I'd like) I am glad clothing is not optional on flights.

Posted by: to Emily | November 27, 2006 11:17 AM

In response to your politely worded question regarding why formula feeding parents -- it wasn't exclusively my decision -- decide to formula feed rather than breast feed . . .

with both of our children, we read all the literature, and talked with our health care provider/s (including pediatricians). We decided to formula-feed our firstborn because, after weighing the pros and cons, we determined that our son would be healthy either way but if we formula-fed, I'd be an emotional basket case due to chronic sleep-deprivation and his dad would miss out on being a truly equal partner in the feeding process. Our choice enabled us to alternate feedings during the night and give each other a solid 7 - 8 hours every fourth or fifth night. Our son was in the 75% percentile for height and weight for the first 2 years and wasn't sick until after 2.

with our daughter, we initially attempted to breast-feed but it did not go smoothly and quickly lead to stress and anxiety for our family. We took the breast-feeding issue of the table and settled down to truly enjoying our new addition to the family. She also was (and is) a healthy and happy child.

These were the right decisions for our family. As always, your mileage may vary.

Posted by: to NCMom | November 27, 2006 11:19 AM

All personal stories aside...

I'm concerned that most here don't seem to realize (though Leslie does) that BF should be a non-issue. We fought this battle already.

The issue is we have to keep re-fighting what we already won...re-fighting for BF, re-fighting for balance, re-fighting for everything. The same old story but change the date to 20-30 years later.

Why do we have to keep refighting? I'm frustrated at the lack of social progress. To me, that is the real issue.

Posted by: dotted | November 27, 2006 11:19 AM

Even in my old age when I can enjoy wine, women and song, I prefer the breast to the bottle any day!

Posted by: Thierry | November 27, 2006 11:20 AM

I concur heartily.

I breastfed my two daughters a combined 3 years and 5 months. Though I seldom had a need to breast feed in public, and would tend to be modest out of my own sensibility, and have never been involved in activism of any kind, I still think that there's no reason to turn a breast---which we routinely see 3/4 of (all but the nipple) on Hollywood stars on Oscar night and bulging from carboard beer cutouts at the 7-11---into an object of derision or shared embarrassment.

Infancy and motherhood are supposed to be revered in our culture. There's nothing even remotely skittish about the practice of breastfeeding. In fact, the nipple itself is largely covered up when breastfeeding occurs as its in the baby's mouth, making a breastfeeding breast no different than the Hollywood breast described above, and seen on TV every night and day.

Just let mothers be, we've got it hard enough on so many other fronts. Let us feed out babies the best way possible without all this neoPuritanism.

Posted by: Dignity for Single Parents | November 27, 2006 11:21 AM

>If the person who was offended was your father or grandmother, would you tell them to "grow up" or would you show some respect and ask your wife to be more discreet?<

Breastfeeding is NOT the same as using bad language or engaging in sexual acts in public. Why should I "respect" a prejudice against breastfeeding that's based on ignorance or mental hang-ups?

My grandmother was an anti-semite, but I was not about to show "respect" for her prejudice just to make her more comfortable. I'm not going to "respect" your grandmother's prejudice against breastfeeding by denying my child's needs, either.

The law in my state says I can breastfeed in public. If you don't like it, move to another state or stay home. Or, grow up.

Posted by: to anon | November 27, 2006 11:23 AM

Why was there so much outrage regarding Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction"? Doesn't that prove that many people in this country are uncomfortable with seeing a woman's breast?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 11:24 AM

I brestfed both of my kids and no one ever saw my breast. It's so amazing that the only time American women want to be compare with women in Africa is when they are breastfeeding.Well, go live in Africa and noone will care. Feeding your baby in public with your breasts hanging means one thing " look world, I am a perfect mother;Look bottle feeding women, I am better than you, I am breastfeeding my baby." It's pure showing off.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 11:24 AM

I'm glad this conversation doesn't seem to be deteriorating too badly. I think that women have a right to breastfeed where they need to do so, and I'm with Leslie in saying that it's not up to someone else to determine how old is too old to be breastfed.

As for the pumping question, and why that's done discreetly (as opposed to nursing the baby), pumping is not discreet, or at least it wasn't when I was doing it. Noisy, yes, but I never found a good way to do it other than lifting up or unbuttoning my shirt, holding the "containers" up to my breasts and not letting go until I was done. Maybe the technology has changed, though.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | November 27, 2006 11:25 AM

About privacy for pumping - Pumping is a lot different that breastfeeding. When I pumped, I was much more exposed than when I nursed. When I nursed, I simply pulled a breast out of my shirt (I would wear those shirts with the slots in them), and as soon as the baby latched on, all you could see was his head. It was obvious he was nursing, but in reality, his head pretty much covered up my breast.

Posted by: Emily | November 27, 2006 11:27 AM

Why have a protest? First, because it's not just the flight attendant -- she had to go up the chain, and those people up the chain had to agree that the passengers should be removed. Anyone with any sense should have realized that kicking them off the flight was a tremendous overreaction.

Second, because people only find out that crap like this is still going on if you do things like hold protests to publicize it. Personally, I only heard of this incident when I read a blurb on the protest. You think it would have been in the Washington Post otherwise?

Why would she stick to her guns given the huge hassle that resulted? I don't know. Maybe because it just never occurred to her that some idiotic airline employee would actually resort to kicking her off the flight, in clear violation of airline policy, simply for breastfeeding -- and that the necessary higher-ups would back up that decision.

On the comfort issue: my little guy LOVES to suck -- has since day 1 (as I discovered during hrs 30-36 in the hospital -- eesh). And it's the only thing that comforts him. But he had trouble latching on properly, so for quite a while, our doc didn't want him to have a pacifier. So if I'd been in that situation early on, nursing would have been the only way to calm him down. (And he was another of those kids who'd flail until the blanket was off, even at 2 weeks old. Thank God for the mothers' room at Nordstrom's!).

Finally, some folks seem to be missing the point that there is no "right" not to be offended. You can talk on your cellphone right next to me in a restaurant, and if I don't like it and the restaurant won't deal with it, I can't call the cops or sue you just because I don't like what you're doing. On the other hand, in many states there IS a right to breastfeed. Yes, you try to avoid the situation, you do your best to be discreet (which to my mind this mother clearly WAS, given where and how they were sitting). But if all else fails and someone else doesn't like the result, that's really just too bad.

Posted by: Laura | November 27, 2006 11:28 AM

I wouldn't cover myself with a dirty airline blanket let alone the most important thing in my life. Also, the age of the child does not matter, she has a right to do it if she wants too. Who was she offending? Her husband was the one sitting next to her. Give me a break, if you are that offended by a small child nursing, maybe you are the one who should not be on the plane or perhaps the one who is in charge of customer service on the plane. I hope she sues.

Posted by: scarry | November 27, 2006 11:28 AM

I can see this argument is going nowhere (and, for crying out loud, if you're going to yell at me, sign your post!!!). All the parents think they have every right to do whatever they want, regardless of anyone else's feelings.

I, obviously, upset someone with me just stating that, no, I don't care to see it, BUT (and if anyone would let me finish before jumping on the keyboard), the sad thing is, I really am a 'middle-of-the-roader' on this one. If your discreet (as many of you claim to be), I have no problem with it.

For me, it's just the attitude SOME in this forum hold that if anyone, God help them, speaks up about their views on breastfeeding, they get pounced on.

Posted by: ilc | November 27, 2006 11:29 AM

But then why the privacy for pumping? Is it just the noise? Or is there something to the decorum side... I think the argument in favor of nursing in public is tied to how discreetly it is generally done. ... the natural argument doesn't work for me - clothing is an entirely artificial construct - but (even though some push the limits further than I'd like) I am glad clothing is not optional on flights.

Posted by: to Emily | November 27, 2006 11:17 AM

Pumping and breastfeeding are too entirely different things when it comes to doing it discreetly. I don't think there is any way on this earth to discreetly pump when you have to hook up to something that looks like a medieval torture device. Unlike the baby who can do his thing without people even necessarily noticing.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | November 27, 2006 11:30 AM

If the person who was offended was your father or grandmother, would you tell them to "grow up" or would you show some respect and ask your wife to be more discreet?

Both my stepfather and brothers were appalled that I would breastfeed in front of them, but I was not about to give in to their childishness when I knew very well that they had all seen breasts. My stepfather learned to look away. My brothers stopped complaining when they learned that I could defend myself by squirting milk at them.

Posted by: Emily | November 27, 2006 11:31 AM

There is no right not to be offended.


Thank you for this very important point! It applies way beyond breastfeeding, too.

Posted by: yay Shandra | November 27, 2006 11:31 AM

ilc - When have you been offended by someone breast feeding? What do you find not discreet?

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | November 27, 2006 11:34 AM

Emily,

"My brothers stopped complaining when they learned that I could defend myself by squirting milk at them."

That's just too funny. Maybe that will be my secret weapon should anyone ever complain to me.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | November 27, 2006 11:34 AM

"I am sorry, but in our society, where we see lots of cleavage, leg, bare navels, and sometimes even more, in everyday life, magazines, tv, movies, etc., the decorum thing just doesn't fly. We see more breast in the checkout line at the grocery store than what is visible when a nursing mother breastfeeds. So to all you prudes who keep calling for modesty, do you avert your eyes when you see the Cosmo girl and ask the grocery store manager to take out the display?"
========
The thing is, a lot of us don't think these things are appropriate either! Just because SOME people show off their bodies in a completely immodest way doesn't make it OK. Why does a nursing mom get a pass if what she's doing makes others uncomfortable? Yes, it's natural...so is dropping your pants and peeing - but we don't let people do that in public, now do we??? The purpose of etiquette, as defined by Miss Manners and Emily Post, is to make others feel comfortable - NOT to make yourself comnfortable AT THE EXPENSE of others' comfort. The current feeding status of your child doesn't take precedence over the comfort of others in your vicinity. I don't have kids but I don't ever remember my parents behaving as if my needs or my brothers' needs were more important than being considerate and polite to other people.

That said, the flight attendant could have handled the situation better. I fly almost weekly and it's obvious that most flight attendants are being taught to use a no-tolerance policy - in other words, "do what we tell you and if you protest we have the power to remove you from the plane." That's fine if the person appears to be a security risk - but not in this case.

Posted by: NoKids | November 27, 2006 11:40 AM

do big breasts hold more milk?

Posted by: Thierry | November 27, 2006 11:41 AM

In China, kids wear pants with a hole in the backside. When they need to go, they just squat by the roadside and poop and pee. You should not be offended. They have a right to perform a natural bodily function.

Posted by: Thierry | November 27, 2006 11:43 AM

In response to the post asking to hear from women who choose to bottle feed. (Sorry for the length of this post, but every little cold/ear infection my kids have had has been blamed on formula by "well-meaning" breast feeding advocates.)

We adopted our first child and we had very little notice (days) to prepare for her arrival. Bottle feeding seemed like a no-brainer to us. However,we received an awful lot of disapproving "advice" from family/friends about how we really could have breastfed her if we (I) wanted to make the effort.

My husband loved being able to feed our daughter and he felt that those late night feedings helped create the strong bond they have. I agree. She was always as easily comforted by her dad as by me.

Our son is our biological child, so breastfeeding was an option. My husband wanted to stick with the bottle because he didn't want to miss out on that experience with our son.
We could have pumped, but I don't think we would have stuck with it and I'm not sure a breastfed baby would have tolerated a late night bottle when mommy could have rolled over and fed him.

We were also concerned about creating any problems for our adopted daughter and her relationship with her brother. Mixing biological and adopted siblings can be difficult already without adding breast vs. bottle into the mix. My nurse/midwife and pediatrician were completely supportive of our decision.

I ended up having complications, terrible labor, c-section, needed transfusions, baby in the NICU. It was almost a week before I could sit up without help or even focus long enough to read a short paragraph.

My husband is a physician. Even though the OB who performed the c-section was pressuring me to pump and freeze, my husband begged me not to even try. His reason - our kids needed a mom who was well. Pumping and round the clock feedings with a hemoglobin of 5 was not going to work.

His female colleagues criticized him for not "supporting" me in my need to breastfeed. Co-workers we barely knew felt free to visit my hospital room and express their disapproval ("Oh, you're not pumping?"). My very supportive midwife banned the lactation consultant.

I'm always surprised at the vehemence with which people approach this issue. Worse than religion and politics. I guess I'm turned off by the pro-breastfeeding people because they seem so intolerant of the other choice. They also seem to look at the breast vs. bottle decision as if it exists in a bubble and that the needs of other children and the parents are trumped by the value of breastmilk over formula.

Posted by: BottleFeedingMom | November 27, 2006 11:45 AM

I still challenge anyone on this board to offer up an outrageous story about seeing a mom breastfeeding. Most of the posts here are about the idea of breastfeeding in public, but nobody, as far as I can tell, has offered up some really offensive situation they had to endure. Come on, folks, tell us how you've suffered in the presence of breastfeeding moms.

Posted by: chicagomom | November 27, 2006 11:45 AM

Leslie,

I am thoroughly disappointed. The breast-feeding issue has been discussed ad nauseum on this blog in the past. There is nothing that you have said today that addresses anything new regarding balance. I do believe that you enjoy posting to create controversy and for reaction that results in a high number of postings.

Posted by: xyz | November 27, 2006 11:46 AM

Emily, you are a hoot! Hope everything is going well, and I'm still hoping to bump into you someday and do coffee.

But remember Rockville mom, the sign in the train clearly states No eating, drinking..., That probably goes for a 1 week old and I wouldn't put anything past the Metro police based on their history. .

Posted by: Father of 4 | November 27, 2006 11:47 AM

You rock Emily...

Posted by: dotted | November 27, 2006 11:48 AM

those african moms are awesome. they can flip their breasts over their shoulders! i have seen some in algeria.

Posted by: Thierry | November 27, 2006 11:50 AM

[do big breasts hold more milk?]

Yes!

Posted by: Father of 4 | November 27, 2006 11:50 AM

Amen.

For all the BFers who want their right to BF in public be respected, please respect those who have the right to formula-feed if they so choose.

Posted by: to BottleFeedingMom | November 27, 2006 11:50 AM

Still waiting for a reasonable if not logical argument against breastfeeding in public, ilc. And what is your definition of discreet - especially when baby will scream until the blanket is pulled off. Nobody is being sexual in this situation - mom feeding hungry baby. Period. I'm not pouncing but you must have some reason for your opinion - even if you are in the middle of the road on this one.

Posted by: to the naysayers | November 27, 2006 11:51 AM

To NCMom--in my case it wasn't not wanting to, but not being able to. My son (now 3) was delivered via emergency C after both forceps and a vaccum extraction and needless to say was disoriented for the first few days. By the time he was ready to feed, my milk was non-existent. I came up with a compromise that worked for me--pumping for six weeks--but even then I would pump for 30 minutes and get maybe an ounce.

I have a follow up question for the gallery--I'm now 36 weeks pregnant with #2 who will be delivered by scheduled C. Did anyone have success with #2 after #1 didn't work breastfeeding?

Posted by: PTJobFTMom | November 27, 2006 11:51 AM

To NCMom--in my case it wasn't not wanting to, but not being able to. My son (now 3) was delivered via emergency C after both forceps and a vaccum extraction and needless to say was disoriented for the first few days. By the time he was ready to feed, my milk was non-existent. I came up with a compromise that worked for me--pumping for six weeks--but even then I would pump for 30 minutes and get maybe an ounce.

I have a follow up question for the gallery--I'm now 36 weeks pregnant with #2 who will be delivered by scheduled C. Did anyone have success with #2 after #1 didn't work breastfeeding?

Posted by: PTJobFTMom | November 27, 2006 11:51 AM

chicagomom // Come on, folks, tell us how you've suffered in the presence of breastfeeding moms//

watching 300 breasts at a breast-feeding sit-in and not being able to taste that sweet nectar myself.... that is suffering!

Posted by: Thierry | November 27, 2006 11:54 AM

For some, offended is not the right word. Uncomfortable might be more like it. I am uncomfortable seeing older children brestfeed. I'm ok with infants, but after about a year, it makes me uncomfortable. Why? I can't put it into words. Its partially because I feel its about bonding and comfort at that point, and that is something that should be done in private. I don't french kiss my husband in public, because that is a private bonding thing that other may not want to see. Not that its a good comparison, but its what came to me.

Another point, its really not someone's right to tell someone else what should and shouldn't offend them, or that they need to get over it.

And finally, to those who say "look away." I've been across a restraunt dinner table from several family members when their 2 or 3 year old crawled into their lap to breastfeed. Its very hard to carry on a conversation when I'm supposed to look away because it bothers me.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 11:55 AM

[do big breasts hold more milk?]

Yes!


Thank you Father of 4, I have to get me some big bon bons!

Posted by: Thierry | November 27, 2006 11:56 AM

>>I, obviously, upset someone with me just stating that, no, I don't care to see it, BUT (and if anyone would let me finish before jumping on the keyboard), the sad thing is, I really am a 'middle-of-the-roader' on this one. If your discreet (as many of you claim to be), I have no problem with it.

ilc, that's the thing. There really is nothing. to. see. Really. The back of a baby's head. Period.

Have you ever really seen a mother breastfeeding in public? Probably not. You know why? Because you've walked by a mom nursing and never noticed it.

And if you did see something it would, as so many people have said here, be nothing more than you would see on the newsstand. So avert your eyes and keep walking.

Posted by: To ilc | November 27, 2006 11:56 AM

ilc: "You have a right to breastfeed; other people have a right to not want to see it."

Ah, but a "right not to want to see it" is not the same thing as a "right not to see it" or a "right to make them stop." Put differently, I have every right in the world to WANT all the slowpokes at the 14th Street Bridge to use a different road, but I have no right to demand that they actually do so. The principle here is the same.

Posted by: Rich | November 27, 2006 11:56 AM

xyz,
Perhaps, Leslie brought this issue up again to emphasize how things haven't changed or how much reiteration truly is necessary.
One thing I learned in a negotiation class: one must reiterate a statement 3 times before the opposing side realizes the sincerity of the statement/request. 1st and 2nd time go in one ear and out the other. Use this next time you have to deal with customer service by the way...
Thus, reiteration appears to be necessary.

Posted by: dotted | November 27, 2006 11:57 AM

I haven't read all the posts, but some of the kids being nursed in the these 'nurse-ins" are 2-3 years old. I have a friend that still nurses her 7 year old to sleep. At some point it becomes disturbing.

FYI: I breast fed both my kids till they were almost 1 yo. I tried to be discreet and hopefully didn't offend anyone in public, however I was able to arrange my day so that I wasn't nursing in public too much.

Posted by: cmac | November 27, 2006 11:57 AM

I always attempted to be a modest breastfeeder. (And I think that sitting in a window seat in the back of a plane with your husband blocking view from the aisle certainly qualifies as modest.) I usually would find a secluded spot to feed. Neither of my kids would tolerate being covered. They wanted to look at me while they fed.
The only place I ever felt free to just feed away without regard to those around me was the zoo. I really felt that if you were willing to watch all the other mammals feeding their young then you were just going to have to deal with me as well. And if feeding as God and nature intended offended you then get out of the zoo.

Posted by: Raising One of Each | November 27, 2006 11:57 AM

If it's OK for you to breastfeed in public, is it OK for a man to stare at you while you do? How about if he starts doing something equally personal in response? If your reaction to that is: how gross and inappropriate!, then you understand how some feel about public breastfeeding.

Posted by: Publius | November 27, 2006 11:57 AM

I hope you all read the Sunday Times Magazine piece entitled "What it Take to Make a Student." It has a lot to do with parenting and emphasizes the importance that parenting has to with a child's development, IQ, and success in life. It is, in many ways, an argument for parenting early on as a full-time job.

If you don't feel like reading through 10 pages online, I summarized some of the key points at:

http://woodstock.typepad.com

Posted by: Woodstock | November 27, 2006 11:59 AM

To PTJobFTMom:

I do not yet have a second child, but I can tell you that I had a horrible time getting started breastfeeding with my first. He was delivered via C-section also (breech 10 pound baby) and I did not seem to have any milk at all for the first week. I was nursing and pumping and very little was coming out. The baby was screaming with hunger all the time, so we we formula fed, and through my pediatrician, I found a great lactation specialist who helped me through the first few weeks. About a week and a half after the birth, my milk came in and we began weaning the baby off the formula and getting him to actually nurse. Luckily, he adjusted easily and always preferred the breast after that, although he would take the bottle in my absence. I would suggest that you find a good lactation consultant to help you through, perhaps one that is not averse to a little supplementation with formula if things get dicey. It does not have to be all or nothing in terms of breast versus formula.

Posted by: Emily | November 27, 2006 12:02 PM

Publius: If it's OK for you to breastfeed in public, is it OK for a man to stare at you while you do? How about if he starts doing something equally personal in response?

You know me? I do that all the time, at the mall. I look, I smile. My hands are in my pockets. You know the saying,
"Man with hole in pocket....
feel cocky all day long".

Posted by: Thierry | November 27, 2006 12:02 PM

If you want to BF, great. All for it even if in public. But just cover up . . . even if it as best you can. If I saw a woman trying to feed a child and trying to cover up somewhat, I would have no problem. I have a bigger problem with someone who you can see everything. (and, SORRY, with some women I've seen recently you CAN see quite a bit).

It is a matter of courtesy. On both parts. People should not stare (esp. if offended) but nor should BF moms be allowed to put it all out there. And the BF moms who claim that we need to "get over it" are not making it easier for themselves. We do we have to have to get over YOUR choice to BF? Why are our own sensitivities secondary to yours? Sorry, that sort of statement serves no purpose other than to further alienate people from your point of view.

The answer seems simple enough (as articulated above) and that is a little courtesy on BOTH sides.

FWIW, I don't think that woman should have been kicked off the plane based on the facts of that situation.

Posted by: JS | November 27, 2006 12:03 PM

>If it's OK for you to breastfeed in public, is it OK for a man to stare at you while you do? How about if he starts doing something equally personal in response? If your reaction to that is: how gross and inappropriate!, then you understand how some feel about public breastfeeding.

Absolutely. If I am breastfeeding, a man has every right to look at me just as long as he would if I were not breastfeeding. And he has every right to do something "equally personal." May I suggest eating a sandwich or adjusting his shirt? You seem to be implying masturbation, however, which is in no way equivalent.

Posted by: To publius | November 27, 2006 12:03 PM

To Publius

"If it's OK for you to breastfeed in public, is it OK for a man to stare at you while you do? How about if he starts doing something equally personal in response? If your reaction to that is: how gross and inappropriate!, then you understand how some feel about public breastfeeding."

Again, you're equating breastfeeding with something gross and inappropriate. It's not, it never will be. And anyway, as a previous poster said, there's NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT. And when I read posts like yours, I want to say "ha ha" in my best The Simpsons' voice.

Posted by: My 2 Cents | November 27, 2006 12:04 PM

Telling women they should breastfeed, but then saying they shouldn't do it in public is basically putting bfing moms on house arrest. I think this is a huge reason for the big dropoff in the percentage of women breastfeeding once babies hit six week to three months or so in this country. Women aren't stupid. Even knowing breastfeeding is better for the health of her and her babies, and often much easier (no bottles to mix, etc), I can see why any mother would be reluctant to abdicate the right to move freely in the public sphere to bf, if that's the choice society is going to offer. I think that dichotomy is rubbish. In a true mother-and-child-friendly society, it would just be a given that women could BF anywhere they were allowed to be -- not just in private areas at commercial establishments catering to their specific shopping needs a la Babies R Us.

And yeah, I think people who are offended by NIP should grow up. And that would include my "sensitive" relatives. In my family the oldest generation is the most supportive of bfing. My peers seem to be the ones freaked out by it; they almost all FF.

In fact, as luck would have it, the two least-pleasant people in my immediate family are also the ones who are most vocal about being anti-bfing in "public." My sister, who told my bfing SIL in the hospital immediately after she had her C-section that she thought nursing was "gross" and that she "better not" do it around her, and my father, who harrassed my mother into not bfing her two older children because it was "gross." When my sister attempted to invite herself to the upcoming birth of my child, it was fairly easy to squelch that notion. Squirt her in the eye, indeed!

Posted by: Brookland | November 27, 2006 12:07 PM

The argument could be made that urination and defecation are natural, and more so than breastfeeding. Everyone, regardless of age or gender goes to the bathroom; only certain people nurse at certain times. Just because something is natural doesn't mean that people want to see it in public. For that matter, nudity is natural. In the Bible, God created Adam and Eve naked and intended for them to stay that way; hence wondering why they were "naked and ashamed". Do we really want people walking around naked because it's natural? Didn't think so.

Posted by: anon | November 27, 2006 12:13 PM

We do we have to have to get over YOUR choice to BF? Why are our own sensitivities secondary to yours?

because it's our legal right to breastfeed, and you have no legal right to be sensitive about it. Sorry. Write your Senator and agitate for a "sensitive persons protection act." Good luck.

Posted by: this is why | November 27, 2006 12:13 PM

I have no problem with mothers breastfeeding their infants any time and anyplace they want...when a kid is hungry they need to eat and that what breasts are made for.

But the issue with breastfeeding older children like toddlers just because it provides "comfort" doesn't make sense. These mothers need to think of other ways to soothe their toddlers instead of just relying on breastfeeding as a crutch. Other adults do not want to see your 2 or 3 year old being breastfed whenever they start getting cranky because you have not thought of other ways to soothe them and the easiest thing to do is to give them your breast.

You are not properly socializing your toddler or developing their coping skills by just sticking a boob in whenver they get fussy, worried or anxious in a new situation.

Posted by: another grad student | November 27, 2006 12:14 PM

And ENOUGH with the comparisons to defecation and urination. Breastfeeding is FEEDING. It's not a waste product. There isn't a hygiene issue here, people. In fact, if you're on a crowded plane or in a restaurant, a nursing mom's nipple is probably the cleanest square inch or two in the room.

Posted by: brookland | November 27, 2006 12:17 PM

Look out! The Puritans have now decided that breastfeeding is on the same level as urinating and defecating.

I'm guessing these are the same twisted souls who argue that gay marriage is equivalent to condoning beastiality.

In either case, if you can't perceive a difference between the two scenarios, you are seriously disturbed person. It scares me, the way some people think.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 12:18 PM

Oooohhh, Publius, how dare you broaden the discussion on such a logical basis.

This comedy playing out is not about breastfeeding, it's about power. Logic has no place in it; it all about emotion delivering power.

Did the airline handle it properly? It appears not. But that's not what the protests, as they are being reported, are all about. It's about "rights."

Publius, in a normal debate your points should have to be considered; but this is not a logical debate, and hasn't been for 30 years. You lose, because the proponents won't give your points the logical merit which they deserve. Their demand is to have the cake and eat it too.

You have to be a dummy to not realize that there are ways to breastfeed discretely, even in public and on planes. But that isn't part of this protest. The self-centeredness of the proponent's position just makes what has become an already difficult job for airline attendents, even more difficult

It was good to see somebody at least make the effort to bring a broader logic to the discussion.

Posted by: Duh! | November 27, 2006 12:18 PM

Dude, formula is EXPENSIVE!! I breast fed for 6 months due to all the hoopla about how good it is for the baby. Mind you, I had to pump the milk b/c after 4 days of trying, I had cracked nipples and it was just too painful to have her go au natural. So I bottled my milk for her. Anyway, after 6 months, my milk started to dry up (I was trying to diet and lose weight, nursing wasn't helping me drop the poundage at all!) and had to purchase formula. She wouldn't take the regular stuff, only the soy formula and let me tell you, after nursing for free, it was a big setback to my paycheck (in addition to disposable diapers).

I am due in a couple of days with my second and I will try harder, but the response of my coworkers has me worried.....we are moving to a new building and only the old building had a lactation room. They think it is more important to have some suit have an office than to allow me some privacy to nurse/pump. One of them had the brilliant suggestion of having me put a curtain up on my very short cubicle and pump right there. I told her that the pump is pretty loud and that everyone on the floor would know what I was doing and that the bathroom is pretty unsanitary.....sheesh, the things a working mom has to go through.

All of the posts pretty much echo what I would say; to each their own, covering up sometimes doesn't work, be respectful and look away if it bothers you, breasts are meant for feeding, etc. The only reason why men ogle breasts and large hips is b/c it is an inbred, natural desire to seek out women who are capable of producing healthy children (which large breasts and wide hips help you do). And the younger you look, the more children you could produce (interesting Time Magazine article a few years back on the ideal facial features of men and women....ideal women looked like they were barely out of puberty with wide round eyes, oval face, etc).

So, do as nature intented and feed your children!! Hooray for moms!

Posted by: tlawrenceva | November 27, 2006 12:18 PM

Still waiting for someone to offer up a story about being truly offended by seeing someone breastfeeding in public. Still waiting.

Posted by: chicagomom | November 27, 2006 12:20 PM

You are not properly socializing your toddler or developing their coping skills by just sticking a boob in whenver they get fussy, worried or anxious in a new situation.

Really? See, I think that nursing is still a completely developmentally appropriate way to comfort a toddler. You say "crutch"; I say "best tool for the job." Differences in parenting philosophy, I suppose.

Posted by: Brookland | November 27, 2006 12:21 PM

"If it's OK for you to breastfeed in public, is it OK for a man to stare at you while you do?"

Depends on how you define "OK," doesn't it? If you mean it in the sense of whether a man is entitled (legally) to stare, then the answer is yes. If you do something in public, you can't insist that others not look at you or otherwise notice it. Kind of like streaking--if you strip off, you have no basis for complaining when someone takes a picture. Or if you wear a low-cut top to work, people will look. Likewise, if you do breastfeed, you have to accept that some people will stare. It's a fact of life.

But if you mean whether someone "should" stare--that is, the sense of "OK" as "is it the right thing to do"--then the question is tougher. It's certainly juvenile to stare at a breastfeeding mother in public. It's the old maxim whereby just because you're entitled to stare doesn't mean you should.

As far as jerking off while staring goes, I believe that falls under other laws applying to lewd and lascivious conduct and thus constitutes a separate issue.

Posted by: Rich | November 27, 2006 12:21 PM

You are not properly socializing your toddler or developing their coping skills by just sticking a boob in whenver they get fussy, worried or anxious in a new situation.

Another grad student, please tell me what to do. I have only raised two bright, sociable, well-adjusted children and you sound like such an EXPERT. Can you refer me to your research on childhood development, or just reply here to let me know how I can be a better mother? I can't wait to hear from an anonymous stranger how to improve my mothering skills.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 12:28 PM

You say You are not properly socializing your toddler or developing their coping skills by just sticking a boob in whenver they get fussy, worried or anxious in a new situation.

You simply don't know what you're talking about. If you are, in fact, a grad student, I assume you know something about how to do research. Why don't you see what's out there on the benefits of nursing toddlers (for both mother and child) and report back to us?

Posted by: To another grad student | November 27, 2006 12:28 PM

TO another grad student and Brookland

I agree with boht of you. A 2/3 year old needs to learn to calm himself. However, all bets are off on planes! If you're 4 and need a binkie on a plane to keep you from screaming, a binkie you will get. Same for the 2 year old and the boob. A 7 year old on the breast, though? Can someone defend this? How is this good for the kid?

Posted by: Amanda | November 27, 2006 12:28 PM

i remember one mother in the mall. she fed baby on left breast, then switched to right breast. the left one exposed to air it out, husband was fanning it. some passersby looked offended. i was so happy i got to see the whole breast.

Posted by: Thierry | November 27, 2006 12:29 PM

It's about "rights."


Why put rights in quotation marks? It IS a legal right to breastfeed in public, not a made-up right sought by a fringe group. The law is there defining that RIGHT, whether you like it or not.

Posted by: to Duh! | November 27, 2006 12:30 PM

To to the naysayers:

I said I had no problem with people (well, women) breastfeeding if their discreet. And this means when the woman used her shirt/jacket/whatever to cover up most everything. Like so many have said on this blog, they have perfected it to a point that you can barely see anything, and for those people, I HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH IT.

I'm not against women who breastfeed, I'm against the (from what I've seen) attitude some of them hold that no one is allowed to say, 'You know what? I don't care to witness this.' People have a right to say that!

Posted by: ilc | November 27, 2006 12:32 PM

so. look. away.

Posted by: to ILC | November 27, 2006 12:33 PM

>>>>I have a friend that still nurses her 7 year old to sleep. At some point it becomes disturbing.<<<<

The first thing I thought of is a general opinon my mother - a former nurse who studied child physiology and psychology - holds towards children breast feeding past the age of 3 or so (she does recognize that some people breast feed that long):

If they can unbutton/rebutton your shirt and open/close your bra, they should probably get some milk out of the fridge by themselves. ;)

Posted by: Chasmosaur | November 27, 2006 12:33 PM

Amanda, you've seen a 7 yo nursing in this country? Or somewhere else? Seriously.

Posted by: brookland | November 27, 2006 12:33 PM

chicagomom - I have a story! I mentioned my friend that STILL breastfeeds her 7 year old. They moved about 3 years ago, but her son was 3-4 years old and running up to his mom outside and demanding to be breastfeed quite frequently. She usually gave in, sat wherever she was, pulled her shirt up and he latched on. Usually it was just the mothers out with the kids, but not a one of us thought this was normal. As a matter of fact - most of the other kids on the block - all ages - thought this was weird. Guess what, because it WAS! There was no coaxing opinions from the adults, the kids were right.

Now, when the dads were out and this happened they usually walked away - and yes, all of them thought is was weird too.

My friend has every right to breastfeed a 4 year old, but we have every right to think it is weird.

And before anyone tells me what a**hole neighbors I have, most of us breastfed our kids. We were used to seeing babies nursing, but not little kids demanding it. Quite frankly we all agreed the mother was doing this more for herself and was socially crutching the boy. And yes, this kid was weird and abnormally attached (in many ways) to his mother.

Like I said - it can become disturbing. At what age is it inappropriate?

Posted by: cmac | November 27, 2006 12:38 PM

Anytime, Chasmosaur. I've done it both ways, because my breasts couldn't produce quite enough for my kids, especially my son. They're both bright, healthy kids. The hospitals also included an ice pack and a container to store bottles of breast milk, and I used those just as much if not more than the formula.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | November 27, 2006 12:39 PM

there is nothing wrong with the careful observation of a nursing mother. After all, almost everybody is mesmorized by magic. However, I would suggest that you be discrete about it and maybe strike up a conversation or something. Suggestion: "My, what a beautiful baby!"

Posted by: Father of 4 | November 27, 2006 12:39 PM

I don't have time to read all these posts today. But the SHO recommends BFing up till 2 years old. As a mother, who choose to BFeed and pump, till my DD was 2 years old, I am a strong supporter. I have no issues with being asked to cover up with a blanket. If the women is wearing a shirt and the baby is nursing from a push up shirt, you really can't see anything. Also, why the double standard? Why are men allowed to walk around topless and women aren't? I find that equally offensive too. But there is no laws against that.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 27, 2006 12:41 PM

Brookland- It was in response to another post. I've only ever seen it on Dr. Phil, though I live in Takoma Park, so it's only a matter of time, I think. FYI, I'm digging through PubMed looking for ANYTHING on BFing kids older than 24 months...

Posted by: Amanda | November 27, 2006 12:41 PM

FYI, Bristol-Myers Squibb the parent company of MeadJohnson the maker of Enfamil formula, one of the 2006 Working Mother 100 Best Companies by Working Mother magazine.

Abbott Labs the parent company of Ross, maker of Similac formula was also named to the "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" by Working Mother magazine 2005.

Guess formula feeding 'aint too bad a thing for working moms, then.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 27, 2006 12:43 PM

I agree that issues about bf deal in large part to the cultureal oversexualization of women...and I also think that organized bf in public places could be considered organized re-approbation of women's breats for, god forbid, breastfeeding. It is really sad that there is even a debate about this...

Posted by: Columbia, MD | November 27, 2006 12:45 PM

I agree that issues about bf deal in large part to the cultureal oversexualization of women...and I also think that organized bf in public places could be considered organized re-approbation of women's breats for, god forbid, breastfeeding. It is really sad that there is even a debate about this...

Posted by: Columbia, MD | November 27, 2006 12:46 PM

I already know about the nutritional benefits of extended breastfeeding, thanks.

I am just saying that relying on the breast as the primary means of COMFORT for a toddler is over-reliance. It's the easy way but not the best way to promote their development to the next stage of childhood. I'm sure it's fast and easy to comfort a child by giving them your breast and yes, it does takes longer to comfort them by talking to them, giving them a hug, and having them express their feelings in any way they can, ...but it will help their social emotional development so it's best for them in the long run.

Posted by: another grad student | November 27, 2006 12:46 PM

I already know about the nutritional benefits of extended breastfeeding, thanks.

I am just saying that relying on the breast as the primary means of COMFORT for a toddler is over-reliance. It's the easy way but not the best way to promote their development to the next stage of childhood. I'm sure it's fast and easy to comfort a child by giving them your breast and yes, it does takes longer to comfort them by talking to them, giving them a hug, and helping them express their feelings in any way they can, ...but it will help their social emotional development so it's best for them in the long run.

Posted by: another grad student | November 27, 2006 12:47 PM

The courts have continued to support the argument that there is no inherent right to privacy in public places. I will therefore continue to capture women breast-feeding in public places on my cell phone camera. What I do with that, or where I send it out on the Internet, remains my right as well.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 12:48 PM

chicagomom is Still waiting for someone to offer up a story about being truly offended by seeing someone breastfeeding in public.

Here's your response; me and most of the men I know.

To begin with though, let's not blow this out of proportion, but keep it in perspective. It all depends on how it's done. Fortunately, most women are intelligent enough to know how to do it without making it a spectacle. But, not all are.

Social mores demand that I don't stare, yet if I happen to look and do a double take, I don't always get the benign friendly smile. Sometimes it's a look of daggers. Gee, I didn't do anything, but I'm being looked at as if I'm guilty of something perverted.

That makes me uncomfortable.

Move "uncomfortable" into the workplace and you have all that's needed for grounds for harrassment.

The point is, and it's obvious from the posts above, that not all women handle this the same way. It doesn't take much to be discreet about it, and the vast majority of women are.

But, not all are. They make me, and other men I've spoken with about this, uncomfortable. You might say that, we're being harrassed by the indiscreet women.

Posted by: Duh! | November 27, 2006 12:49 PM

"so. look. away.

Posted by: to ILC"


when i pee on the side of the road just. look. away.

Posted by: dc | November 27, 2006 12:50 PM

We just came back from visiting family for Thanksgiving and had a total of four flights with a 2 1/2 year old and a 10 month old. I breastfed on all the flights without a blanket covering the baby. He hates it if I try to put a blanket over him and will sit up and yank it away, leaving me 'hanging out there'. No one said anything to me but I'm sure there were plenty who probably offended since I had to BF while everyone was boarding.

As to the comforting a toddler issue, there was a screamer on one of our flights, I think we all wished there was some way his parents could have soothed him!

Posted by: maija | November 27, 2006 12:51 PM

>>It's the easy way but not the best way to promote their development to the next stage of childhood. I'm sure it's fast and easy to comfort a child by giving them your breast and yes, it does takes longer to comfort them by talking to them, giving them a hug, and having them express their feelings in any way they can, ...but it will help their social emotional development so it's best for them in the long run.

And your opinion is superior to a breastfeeding mother's knowledge of how to handle her own child because...why, exactly? And how exactly does your "method" enhance "social emotional development"?

Still waiting to have your credentials explained.

Posted by: still to another grad student | November 27, 2006 12:52 PM

To NCMom:

Thank you so much for your question. I am a huge supporter of breastfeeding -- and can't believe this situation with Delta -- but I have a hard time communicating with breastfeeding moms about this topic because I find they often make incorrect assumptions about why I formula feed my baby. They typically assume there was some sort of "choice" involved.

I had planned to breastfeed. I REALLY wanted to breastfeed. I tried breastfeeding and it didn't work. There were a number of issues going on, including a child with health problems and an inability to stay awake while feeding and breasts that were not well-suited for BFing.

But I was committed to breastfeeding, so I pumped 8 to 10 times a day for 7 weeks, while trying to get the baby to learn to breastfeed. My breasts bled from all the pumping and I was exhausted -- my maternity leave was spent holding a baby, all the while I was attempting to pump. It was ridiculous.

Even still, I cried the first time I gave my daughter formula. It was extremely difficult for me to give up breastfeeding, and it took me months before I didn't cry every time I saw a discussion about this topic on the internet. I never expected the switch to formula to be so hard -- I knew that some women and some babies had trouble, and I thought I was prepared for that.

What I wasn't prepared for was how women would assume that because BFing was easy for them (well, not easy, but much easier), it must be easy for everybody. I've witnessed many of my friends breastfeed -- even in the early weeks -- and it looks nothing like what I was going through. I wasn't looking for something that was simple. I was looking for something that didn't involve a baby screaming in hysterics everytime I tried to nurse her. But the fact that I feel I have to prove that I didn't "give up" easily should give you a sense of the level of judgment I've faced about this situation.

So it hurts me a great deal to have people talk about mothers who "choose" formula. I do agree wholeheartedly that this society is not supportive enough of mothers who breastfeed. And there are certainly mothers out there who never consider breastfeeding as an option for any number of reasons.(Personally, I am hoping that it will take with #2). But I also think many women have no sense of how many mothers try to breastfeed -- really try -- and are not able to make it work. The "choice" these mothers make is to protect their own mental health and their relationship with their baby, both of which correlate far more strongly with childrne's well-being than breastfeeding.

I can't figure out why people have to experience something so directly before they can empathize with others.
Case in point: my lactation consultant (whom I saw for weeks and weeks over this situation) mentioned to me that she never believed a mother-baby pair "couldn't" breastfeed. But then one of her colleagues couldn't breastfeed her fifth child -- after successfully nursing the other four. Now she believes differently.

Anyway, thank you again for asking your question -- it means a lot.

Posted by: NonBF mom | November 27, 2006 12:52 PM

"we're being harrassed by the indiscreet women."

I think all women should just have their breasts removed entirely, so men won't have to feel bad about being compelled to stare at them.

Hey Duh, why don't you start a men's movement to eliminate distracting female body parts? You should also ask for a ban tight t-shirts, low-cut blouses, and short skirts.

gosh it must be hell for you to walk around in public, what with all the harrassment women are giving you, what with them being female and all.

Posted by: Puhleeze | November 27, 2006 12:58 PM

I really don't want to have to defend my choice to breastfeed my child past infancy. Frankly, I never really expected to, but I am one of those wackos who nurses a toddler, for better or for worse, and I'm not going to get into an argument on the Internet about its impact on her social or emotional development.

Anyway, "Another Grad Student," nursing is certainly not the _only_ way I offer comfort to my daughter. I do things like "talking to [her], giving [her] a hug, and having [her] express [her] feelings in any way [she] can." But one of the first rules of parenting is "different things work for different kids, and for the same kid in different situations." Nursing is one thing in my parenting toolbox, and I, not you, will be the judge of when and in what situations it's the best one.

Posted by: PA Mom | November 27, 2006 1:00 PM

Wow, I've been gone awhile and everyone's still here doing their thing. Good to see.

FWIW (not much), I'm in complete agreement with Duh at 12:49. It does not make me uncomfortable to notice my wife BF'ing.

But, I've been on a plane with a woman who began BF'ing with me in mid-conversation, because her little guy basically 'knocked' on her shirt. She let him go at it right then, with no blanket.

What do I do there? I continued to have the conversation with her, but did not look at her while speaking (which is normally considered rude.) I outlined the situation for my wife later, and she thought I was in a no-win.

So, for those who are in favor of BF'ing at any age, with nothing blocking the breast, please publish some kind of handbook for what the heck the rest of us are supposed to do when you and the baby are having a meal.

Posted by: Proud Papa | November 27, 2006 1:00 PM

To Brookland:

My Mom's opinion (noted above) was formed after attending a family wedding.

One of the cousins had a 6 year old boy that came up to his mother (one of the many cousins in my large family) and actually undid her blouse and bra while she was in the middle of a conversation at the dinner table. Not discreet at all, and the mother didn't even miss a breath in her conversation.

My parents said that the cousin/mother was notoriously spoiled and entitled and capable of making a huge scene, so nobody said anything to her - they didn't want to ruin the wedding day for the couple. Though that is the wedding that everyone remembers because of this incident.

Some people still BF that long. And I looked up the WHO report that the La Leche League likes to quote - they only study up through the age of 3 - I saw nothing about BF past that age.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | November 27, 2006 1:00 PM

Maybe I've been out of the country too long, but I can't believe much of what I'm reading here. What is offensive about breastfeeding? And why is it viewed as incredibly perverse when the child is over 1? I breastfed my daughter (in the States) until she was 3. After the first 15 months or so, she only nursed in the morning and at bedtime (ie, just at home). Once when she was about a year old, I was nursing her in the restroom/ladies lounge of a department store and an older woman came in and scolded my daughter for still nursing. I just laughed at the woman. She started speaking in full sentences when she was 18 months old and when she was 23 months we took a flight to Paris. She grew increasingly restless until she yelled "I want nursie" loud enough for the people in the back of the plane to hear it. No mistaking what happened next (she immediately was quiet). And no one complained.

Posted by: bernerin | November 27, 2006 1:00 PM

To NonBF mom, it sounds like you went through hell to try to do what you wanted and thought was right. I remember the despair I felt in the early days when my child was dehydrated and the lactation consultant was telling me there was no good reason why I shouldn't be able to feed him. It was awful. People have this image of a lovely, peaceful mom breastfeeding a beautiful sleeping baby when really it can be more like take the painkillers right before the feedings so you can get through without screaming for the first however many weeks!

I wish you the best of luck with your second. You sound like a great mom, one any kid would be lucky to have.

Posted by: NCMom | November 27, 2006 1:01 PM

What is wrong with trying to be discreet? We all know people aren't discreet using their cell phones and people have lost a sense of decency about everything.

I don't want to see you pull out your breast. I'm a woman and I'm seriously trying to understand why you'd want to show it.

Plus, your breasts were sexual before functional. You wouldn't have that baby now if they weren't sexual first. Most people do see breasts as a sexual function and our society won't get over it.

Be polite for those around you and quit pushing your needs one everyone else.

Posted by: H. | November 27, 2006 1:01 PM

Brookland - I'm not amanda, but yes, I have seen a 7 year old in this country. In Virginia. My nephew and neice. And you can find pictures of them both being nursed (at age 7 and 4, respectively) on line by googling their name. But I won't share that.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 1:05 PM

H said "Plus, your breasts were sexual before functional."

Where are you getting this information? I'm sure that any anthropologist would heartily disagree with you. That statement is flat out wrong. Look it up.

Posted by: CKPost | November 27, 2006 1:07 PM

I have to agree with one post that mentioned overweight passengers bleeding into their neighbors' seats as being a far more common and displeasing distraction on an airplane than BF moms. I know that I sound mean spirited for saying as much, but really, the physical discomfort for both passengers in question are of far greaster concern to general passenger safety and civility. Be honest, those of you who disapporive of airplane BF, what would you prefer: spending a few hours sandwiched next to a quietly nursing child, or next to a large person who is taking over your seat? Each individual has the right to be there, the question is which would we most prefer to share space with.

Posted by: perspective | November 27, 2006 1:09 PM

H said "Plus, your breasts were sexual before functional."

You have got to be kidding me. How old are you?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 1:11 PM

To the wapo.com people: The troll on the board today (see 11:54 and 12:29) has gone beyond icky into scary and definitely inappropriate. Please consider taking action.

Posted by: Tom T. | November 27, 2006 1:12 PM

To PTJobFTMom:

We also had some better success with no. 2 than no 1. Our daughter's birth sounds a lot like your situation -- no C-section, but 2 transfusions and 4 days in the hospital, so my milk didn't even start to trickle in until a week later. I remember breaking down in the hospital, sobbing hysterically, because I couldn't do this most basic thing to feed my child. I ultimately managed some breastfeeding, supplementing with formula, for almost 6 months before the supply gave out and the blisters/bleeding from trying so hard to pump just got too painful.

With no. 2, though, it was a different story -- easier birth, so milk came in a lot sooner. It still wasn't easy; he wanted moreMoreMORE all the time, so we had to supplement with a little tube of formula early on, and I still had to fight supply problems (if I missed a pumping session, my production would drop off immediately and never go back up). But it was such a relief to know it was physically possible and didn't have to hurt so much all the time. So I'd think, if you have a less traumatic delivery, your body might have some energy left to send toward milk production, and you have a better chance of success.

But I'd also encourage you to be gentle with yourself if you can't. Hindsight being 20/20, I just can't believe the hell I put myself through trying to force my body to do something it just wasn't up for (because I felt it was my responsibility to do what was "best" for my baby no matter the cost to me), and how I felt like such a failure over something I could not control. My sister-in-law went through the same thing when she just couldn't get breastfeeding established. You already know from experience that you can raise a happy, healthy kid whether you breastfeed or not, so please cut yourself some slack whatever happens this time through.

Posted by: Laura | November 27, 2006 1:14 PM

And your opinion is superior to a breastfeeding mother's knowledge of how to handle her own child because...why, exactly?

Are you saying that just because a person is a mother, they automatically know what is best for their child? That reproducing automatically makes YOU an EXPERT on child development?

Posted by: another grad student | November 27, 2006 1:15 PM

I have to ask, what did women do before formula was created? They breastfed, and I'm sure they did it in public! Children whose mother couldn't breastfeed them were probably fed by someone else who was doing so at the time (i.e. a "wet nurse").

I'm a BF mom of a 4 month old and just completed a holiday flight from Ohio yesterday. I had to breastfeed on takeoff and landing because the altitude change was painful to my baby's ears. No blanket! There's not a lot of room to do so and my daughter hates being covered because she gets hot under there. I WISH someone would say something to me about feeding my children in public!

Posted by: Jennifer in NJ | November 27, 2006 1:18 PM

I believe that flight attendants are generally not supportive of moms anyway. I have had several problems with flight attendants not wanting to correct seating issues (thanks, airline, for attempting to seat my (non-nursing) 2 year-old 6 rows away from me when I had reserved seats together).

Posted by: Silver Spring | November 27, 2006 1:19 PM

Are you saying that just because a person is a mother, they automatically know what is best for their child?


(What an absurd question.) Yes, absolutely! I am a much better judge about what's best for my children than a stranger is.

You still haven't explained YOUR qualifications on child development.

Posted by: still to another grad student | November 27, 2006 1:20 PM

I'm a woman, a mom of 2 and, yes, I find it offensive to see boobs in public. and for all the other, "it's her right - that's the law" jerks, you are correct but that doesn't mean we all have to support her right to do what is permitted in every circumstances and without regard to the sensibilities of others. The zealots have ruined bfing for the majority of moms.

we ask that bfing moms consider, when possible in the best interests of the child, the sensibilities of others and opt for the seat facing away from the aisle or public view, and choose clothing that permits discreet bfing instead of clothing that does not, etc.

Be discreet means, face away from the flow of traffic, perhaps stay in your car instead of in the store, etc., choose appropriate garments, and don't whip out the breast mid-conversation with another adult.

Not everything permitted by law is a good idea.

Posted by: to chicagomom | November 27, 2006 1:21 PM

Thank God and the nurse who gave me baby formula at the hospital. If you don't want the formula, throw it out. But at least I was given an option when my baby would not latch on and I was a very stressed out new mom. I bonded beautifully with my baby when he rec'd his nourishment from me - bottle or breast. He is now a healthy, smart (above average) nine year old who has had only one ear ache so far. Breast feed if you want to, if you don't that is o.k. too.

Posted by: Thank God for Baby Formula | November 27, 2006 1:24 PM

Look, even if the plane left on time, today's heightened security makes travel with a toddler daunting. Certainly, if the liquids ban still is in effect, it's likely that nothing suitable would be provided by the airline. I remember reading that no one should ever drink the water offered from a pitcher on an airplane--they're rarely cleaned.

Recently, I read an article that airlines have reduced thorough cabin cleanings from once a month to once every three months, so I wouldn't trust the cleanliness of the blanket either (plus, an experienced bf mom can do a much more discreet job of things without trying to drape a blanket).

Having experienced a couple of flights with a nursing one-year-old daughter, I can say that nursing really can help the kid get through without much crying. In terms of needing comfort, why would a nursing almost 2-year-old deserve less comfort?

I believe the WHO recommends breastfeeding to two years in the developing world due to lack of potable water. While I agree that nursing a 7-year-old raises plenty of questions, it seems reasonable that the physiological instinct to nurse would be present at almost two.

To compare bf'ing in public to public urination or masturbation is just plain inflammatory. Besides, as others have pointed out, the right to breastfeed in public is protected by law in many states. I can't imagine a jurisdiction in the United States that permits public urination or masturbation.

By the way, in Fairfax County, no one can stop a person from carrying a weapon in a public place as long as it's not concealed. I would much prefer to see a mother breastfeeding at my local park than see a person with a sidearm exposed.

Posted by: Air Travel is H--- | November 27, 2006 1:24 PM

I read through this long page of posts partly to avoid returning to the world of work after the holiday-- and find that no-one mentioned the common problem of babies who will not accept a bottle, ever. I had two interruptions in nursing (which I did for my daughter full time for a year, then mainly at home-- or on airplanes to keep ears from hurting-- til age two)for medical reasons and my baby just starved herself for days rather than accept pumped milk from a bottle, a spoon, an eyedropper, a finger, or any other way. So for anyone who thinks moms should bf at home and bottle feed in public to save the sensibilities of the ignorant, please know that this is not an option for lots of kids (and mine would never allow a blanket on her head either. Wise child).

Posted by: formerbfer | November 27, 2006 1:24 PM

I'm not sure why the woman was asked to get off the plane, afterall she was in a row occupied by only her family. No one was sitting next to her. Women shoul be able to breastfeed.

In my own case (I breastfed each of my children until they were 4 months old), I never felt inclined to breastfeed in public, i.e. right in front, across or right behind another person. I was able to do so in the privay of a bathroom etc... I guess, my feelings have to do with how I was raised and that was that other people's feelings should be taken into consideration when we make decisions especially those that are made in a public place. Therefore, if I had been on a plane in an aisle with other people I would not have breastfed, I would have brought along a bottle. It is not just exposing your breast (we all know you don't see much) but also the little and not always quiet slurping noises that baby makes while feasting away. Now, if I was in an aisle by myself or with just my husband, no problem.

Posted by: Hmm | November 27, 2006 1:25 PM

Puh-leez, people. Get over all of it. Of course, there's nothing wrong with breast-feeding! However, in this country, it is a basic consideration to cover your breast, or find a corner or room or otherwise be discreet when nursing. Because many people are offended by it, you as an individual, should take their feelings into consideration. Just as, when you go to certain Middle Eastern countries, it is considerate to wear a scarf over your hair. Just as in this country, we do not change on the beach or lakeside, as is done in many European countries. Or go topless, for that matter. It all has to do with context.

And, yes, I've raised 4 children, breast-fed all of them and traveled extensively with them. I always took the people around me into consideration, thereby eliminating uncomfortable situations and possible confrontation. Did I have the 'right' to breast feed whenever and however I wanted? Of course. But did I also have the right possibly to offend others or make them uncomfortable? I don't think I did. Ultimately, it was much easier on me and everyone else when I found a quiet, discreet spot for nursing.

BTW - nursing older children, while unusual in this country, is not bad. It's not something I ever chose, but a friend of mine nursed her two children until they were nearly 4 (just morning and evening).

Posted by: Pam | November 27, 2006 1:26 PM

Back to the original topic, I have to say that Flight Attendants seem to have been given more power than befits their training. I have no doubt that FAs are well trained at evacuation and safety procedures, but giving them unlimited power to make decisions about was does and does not constitute a security risk seems to lead to some ugly situations. Whether it's a breastfeeding mother or the imams in Minnesota who were booted off a plane for the "crime" of praying. It seems better security training is in order before we allow any FA (or pilot) to order someone off the plane on a whim.

I sympathize with FAs -- their pay stinks, their jobs are under a lot of pressure, and they have to deal with planeloads of cranky people all day long. But that does not excuse them from respecting the rights of law-abiding passengers.

Posted by: About Flight Attendants | November 27, 2006 1:27 PM

What Jennifer in NJ said about wishing someone would say something to her while she was breastfeeding made me laugh. It's like "Bring it ON". I used to feel the same way during the time I was breastfeeding when there'd been an incident like the Delta airline one. And it never happened over the 4+ total years I breastfed.

I think the overwhelming majority of people are supportive of whatever choice women make about breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, and as well they look away and don't really care when breastfeeding is done in public. There are people on this board who feel strongly about things and other people who like to get everyone riled up I guess for their own amusement, and these are the people I tend to avoid in my personal life (and I frequently skip or ignore their posts on this blog).

Just my thoughts.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | November 27, 2006 1:27 PM

I have a two year old who is in the process of weaning, and an airplane is pretty much the last remaining public place where I will still nurse her, because of the premium that I place on trying not to disturb other people on the plane. I always take a range of toys, snacks etc on flights, and she frequently can be distracted or calmed without being nursed, but if she is really tired and cranky, nothing else works as well and quickly as breastfeeding. I have flown more than a dozen round trip flights with my daughter since her birth, and we have never had a single complaint or even dirty look from anyone on the plane due to her behavior, and that is largely due to the fact that I have always stuck her on my breast before whining escalated to full-out screaming.

Unlike most public places (e.g., a movie theater or a restaurant), a parent does not have the option of taking his/her child out of the airplane if the child gets cranky and starts acting out. In that contained situation, I think that people (including the unlucky person who happens to be sitting next to the nursing mother) should be appreciative that nursing mothers of toddlers are doing everything that they possibly can to make the flight more pleasant for others, rather than critiquing their child raising choices.

On the nursing toddlers issue: Typically, according to La Leche League, most children who nurse into toddlerhood will wean fairly easily between ages 2 and 3, with a bit of encouragement.

Posted by: still breastfeeding | November 27, 2006 1:31 PM

I think everyone is much agreement that breastfeeding should be socially acceptable because for health reasons the breasts here function in feeding a child. Now, whether a mother should be discreet when breastfeeding... Can the state really regulate "how" a mother breastfeeds? Or how much of the breast she can show? Should there be a standard--a standard technique, blanket, etc? All ridiculous questions with impossible solutions. Yes, there will be people who don't want to look at a nursing woman's breast, but they are not physcially endangered by the action, like for instance with second-hand smoke.

So then the question really is should there be a law against PUBLIC breastfeeding? Or, assigned breastfeeding areas in public places? I imagine that there would be many family advocates, for instance, protesting over the state mandating how/where a child is nursed, something that should be left up to the parents. Should public breastfeeding be so socially unacceptable, like smoking, that there should be designated "breastfeeding areas"? If breastfeeding is a natural function and something encouraged for health reasons, then what kind of message would we sending to parents by banning it?

Posted by: is it publicly acceptable? | November 27, 2006 1:32 PM

To all the moms stressed about BFing: If you can get in 6 weeks, you're just fine. If you can't, you're just fine. A grad school friend of mine who now works with biological weapons asked his wife to BF for 6 weeks, and I trust his judgement over most. No need to kill yourself and your poor nipples for 6 months.

BTW, it's like Lake Wobegon in here: all the kids are above average. What are the chances...

Posted by: Amanda | November 27, 2006 1:33 PM

C'mon, people! Don't you know that breasts exist only for men to ogle! Feed a child? That's obscene!

I agree with what some others have said...it's not so much what people see when a child is breastfed, it's what they perceive they're seeing. They know that what is going on is a child with its mouth on its mother's breast. I've nursed all 3 of my kids, and there is really nothing to see -- my shirt is pulled down to the baby's head and I'm holding the child close. It would be obvious that I'm nursing, but nothing is visible.

That being said, I guess this mom could've had her shirt pulled up to her neck with both breasts hanging out as if to say, "Look at me, and I dare you to be offended as this is my right!" Shame on her if that's the case. I know I don't want to share my body with the world -- if I was showing too much, sure -- I'd cover up with a blanket. My point is, though, I find it amazing that for some, breastfeeding involves showing all that much...

Posted by: maryland momma | November 27, 2006 1:34 PM

Those who formula feed for whatever reason, whether by necessity or by choice, should just ignore the criticisms of the "everyone-must-breast-feed" camp. They don't walk in your shoes and they don't have any understanding for your situation. They have a problem with formula feeding, that's their problem. Don't make it yours.
Be the best parent you can be.

I think breastfeeding in public is just fine. I look away because I'm afraid the woman will be embarassed that I looked at her breasts. If it is at work, I am extra careful for fear of sexual harassment lawsuits. I also keep the woman a good 6ft away, and try never to be alone with her lest I be accused of groping. These days a woman's word tends to trump a man's word.

Women who breastfeed in public could try to be a little discreet, how that is implemented is up to you. I have seen some moms just whip out their bazookas and fire away. I just look away and wish they'd do it a different way, some would say that that is my problem, so be it. However, I do not go up to her and tell her to stop or change the way she does it.

"Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way." Romans 14:13 from the good book.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 27, 2006 1:34 PM

I agree that there's nothing discreet about pumping. Ever seen a cow milked by mechanical apparatus. It's pretty much the same. Breastfeeding is much more discreet. I think people are misled by the way breastfeeding is portrayed by the media. e.g. the big up-close-and-personal image of a nursing baby and naked breast on the front of that magazine a few months ago, that caused such an uproar. They should show what it really looks like, which is: a woman holding a baby. Yawn!!!!

Posted by: m | November 27, 2006 1:34 PM

My credentials?....I'm a grad student in child psychology. But it's strange that you are even asking. That shouldn't matter to you since becoming a mother makes you the expert.

If a mother said 'I think it's best for my infant to cry himself to sleep... I won't respond to his cries because it builds independence', would you say that she's the mother so she knows best for her child...and it's 'absurd' to assume otherwise? Ridiculous.

Posted by: another grad student | November 27, 2006 1:38 PM

Not everything permitted by law is a good idea.


I don't agree with every law, either. But if a person wants to exercise their legal right to do something, well, that's their legal right until/unless the law is changed.

I really can't believe how worked up you are about the relatively rare indiscreet breastfeeder. Can't you just look away for the very few times in your entire life this will ever be an issue?

Sincerely,
One of those "jerks" who believes in legal protection

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 1:38 PM

"Plus, your breasts were sexual before functional. You wouldn't have that baby now if they weren't sexual first. Most people do see breasts as a sexual function and our society won't get over it."

Holy Crap! That's a really weird comment. For one, depending on preferences for any given male or female, they might not offer any sort of pleasure or stimulation during the act.

For two, they're not necessary to create life (like the processes of ovulation or ejaculation are). They are there to help sustain life, if it is the choice of the mother to do so.

The more your comment rings in my head, the more it shows me just how sexualized we make everything to be these days!

Posted by: RaiseYourOwnKids | November 27, 2006 1:39 PM

Of course I believe women should be as discreet as possible, as I believe people should be polite and considerate about all sorts of other things, many mentioned today. However, I also find it shocking that so many people seem to think breastfeeding is offensive or feel uncomfortable about it. It becomes very difficult to legislate "degrees of appropriateness" and I don't understand why we would want to. It should come as no surprise that there are less discreet, in-your-face breastfeeding moms, just as those people are found in grocery stores and restaurants - but why should we change laws because of those specific individuals?I agree that it is disappointing to still be having this discussion (about breastfeeding rights).
By the way, Thierry, whoever you are, I personally don't find your comments icky, sick, or scary and they usually make me smile.

Posted by: TakomaMom | November 27, 2006 1:41 PM

"BTW, it's like Lake Wobegon in here: all the kids are above average. What are the chances..."


None
Stats show 10% of the population....

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 1:43 PM

In response to NCMom, it isn't so simple to chose to or not to breastfeed. My sister-in-law didn't produce enough milk and was starving her daughter so she had to move to formula. I had enough milk to feed an entire street of kids but my daughter just wouldn't breastfeed. And I get tired of every woman assuming I didn't try hard enough when I say that. I went to two breastfeeding classes before she was born, one while in the hospital and to a lactation specialist after she was born. She would latch on for 4 minutes and eat and fall asleep and then be hungry 20 minutes later. And it wasn't so simple as working to keep her awake while breastfeeding. Her frenulum (attaches tongue to mouth) was so tight and she was so little (5 pounds) that it was too much work for her to breastfeed. The bottle was just easier for her to eat. I could have taken her to a specialist to get it cut but that just seemed too extreme. I tried to breastfeed at every feeding for one week and then tried once a day for 4 weeks and then I gave up. I pumped for 3 months and she ate out of a bottle. But the entire process was very hard on me as I became just a cow and had no emotional connection with my child. As a result I hate breastfeeding. I felt so pressured by the nurses in the hospital and every woman out there who could easily breastfeed and assume I didn't try hard enough that I hate breastfeeding (and yes this is a personal issue). The lactation consultant was wonderful and told me that the main goal was to feed my child even if that meant formula out of a bottle. Breastfeeding isn't for every child or woman. It is a huge commitment and everyone can say it is the best thing for a child but 35 years ago mothers were told that breast milk was bad for children and they should only use formula. So I say every woman should do the best they can if they opt to breastfeed or not.

Posted by: J | November 27, 2006 1:44 PM

Did those nurse-ins allow other moms who weren't nursing (for whatever reason) -- or others for whatever reason -- to join with the nursing moms to support the cause?

I agree that Delta was wrong. And I am all for demonstrations. But it seems like having a large group of women hang around and nurse sends the wrong message. It should be a pro-nursing rally -- with just your everyday folks who want to rally for more support for breastfeeding. If some of the moms are breastfeeding -- just like in normal everyday life -- great. But it seems odd to get together and have a nurse-in. Just adds to the sense that mothers are nursing for the purpose of causing discomfort for others. It also isolates nursing moms versus everyone else, when really most people are in support of nursing moms -- even those of us who didn't nurse our babies.

Posted by: United Support? | November 27, 2006 1:45 PM

To PTJobFTMom: Your body does react differently after different pregnancies/deliveries/babies. You may be able to bf the second, or maybe you won't. If you're up to it physically and emotionally after the delivery, you may well want to give it a try. I found that bfing my son (second child) was easier than with my daughter (my first), although it took him longer to start (little booger kept falling deeply asleep in the hospital, leading to painful engorgement b/c my body was producing with gusto already). My daughter was supplemented w/formula until she was weaned (at a year and change), b/c I just couldn't pump enough to keep up with her while working; my son never had formula at all (bf for a little longer than his sister), partly b/c I was producing more for him in the first place and partly because I had some pumping tricks to help me keep up with him.

So, the second time may work. Then again, it may not, and that's fine. You'll make the best decision for you and your child, and that's all there is to it. Godd luck.

Posted by: another mom voice | November 27, 2006 1:46 PM

:::I'm a grad student in child psychology.

I a bit skeptical of this one! You sure aren't a parent, I know that.

::: But it's strange that you are even asking. That shouldn't matter to you since becoming a mother makes you the expert.

Just curious what makes you so confident, given that you don't know my children at all. If you know so much, you tell me: will the younger one sleep better with or without a night light? Come on! You're an expert grad student! You MUST know what's best for her!

And I repeat, being their mother ABSOLUTELY makes me the ultimate expert in these children. I have been their primary caregiver day in and day out for YEARS and I know more about their personalities, emotions, and bodies than anyone, even a "grad student" ever will.

::: If a mother said 'I think it's best for my infant to cry himself to sleep... I won't respond to his cries because it builds independence', would you say that she's the mother so she knows best for her child...and it's 'absurd' to assume otherwise? Ridiculous.

Not ridiculous at all. Do you think because you read something about baby sleep in your textbook that you have the answer for all babies? No one understands the meaning of a baby's cry like the baby's mother (and father) do.

You need to get out of the classroom and into real life. Then you'll see the limits of your "knowledge."

Posted by: to another grad student | November 27, 2006 1:52 PM

Hey Amanda,

My kid is above average - that is the odds

Posted by: THFBF | November 27, 2006 1:52 PM

Hey Amanda,

My kid is above average - that is the odds

Posted by: THFBF | November 27, 2006 1:52 PM

Unbelievable! People who have a problem with breastfeeding in public need to simply get over it.

This is the 21st century, in a civillized country, and your discomfort is something you need to take to a psychotherapist... instead of making babies, children and mothers suffer because of your anxiety and discomfort.

Breastfeeding is essential to infant health in the first year of life, and a valuable supplement in the 2nd and 3rd years of life. I know some women who breastfeed through the fifth year. Nothing wrong with that at all.

Being against women breastfeeding in public is simply being against women and children being part of life, which of course takes place in public and often involves eating.

To associate BF with "peeing" (above) or sex is just mind boggling. Who ARE these people? Do they understand the damage their attitudes do to infants and mothers, and to our children?

Glad I live in Oregon which has the highest breastfeeding rate in America. You don't get this kind of negative attitude much in Portland. It's not unheard of, but it is rare.

Posted by: Oregon guy | November 27, 2006 1:52 PM

Still waiting for someone to offer up a story about being truly offended by seeing someone breastfeeding in public. Still waiting.

Ok, here goes. I worked for a woman who brought her baby into the office. She closed the door then proceeded to completely unbutton her shirt and bra to BF, all the while talking to me. Since I was junior to her, I didn't feel I was in a position to ask if I could come back later. I just kept thinking "eye contact, eye contact." My eyes were glued to hers (I'm female). That's the only time I have been truly uncomfortable.

Posted by: To Chicagomom | November 27, 2006 1:52 PM

xyz complained that this subject has been discussed here before. true. however i find there are a number of subjects that need to be discussed repeatedly here, especially when a relevant event occurs, is covered prominently in the media and elsewhere. i'm finding a lot of new opinions here today and thoroughly enjoying the discussion.

go Walt Disney World and IKEA and Johnson & Johnson other companies who support breast-feeding! you make motherhood far easier.

Posted by: Leslie | November 27, 2006 1:56 PM

Your "stats" are wrong.

Posted by: TGFBF | November 27, 2006 1:56 PM

To NC mom, I know there have been multiple responses to your great question about not breast feeding. But at the risk of piling on, here comes another. I had two reasons for not breastfeeding longer than the 5 weeks I did. The biggest one is that I needed to go back on medication that cannot be taken while breastfeeding. It was really hard while pregnant, and even after, hearing all of the "breast is best" arguments knowing I couldn't do it for long. Sorry folks, but the small print disclaimer about women who can't breastfeed doesn't get past the hormonal guilt trip.
But truly, I was glad to have that external reason forcing me to quit. Breastfeeding was a fight for me. My daughter was a bad eater until she was 7 months old, taking 45-60 minutes PER FEEDING - breast or bottle. Ugh. Bottle feeding didn't change the time, but it at least let me know that she was eventually eating what she needed to eat, vs sleeping, "sipping," etc. Maybe with future kids I'd be more able to trust her (though I will still have the medication issue.) But for my first, with doctors hounding me to feed my skinny kid more, more, more, breastfeeding was a frustrating fight. Bottle feeding was still frustrating, but it wasn't personal.

Posted by: Another nonBFmom | November 27, 2006 2:00 PM

I breastfead my kids for nearly a year, of which the first 6 months was exclusive BF and then I only BF at night or in the morning and bottle fed expressed milk at all other times. I had highly irregular babies who wanted to eat at irregular times and pretty much all the time. If I had been prevented from BF them in public, I pretty much would have had to spend the first 6 months of their lives in a virtual prison of my house. However, I was always very self conscious and went out of my way to conceal everything. I think Delta overreacted. They kick suspected terrorists off the planes. I really don't think that a BF mother deserves the same treatment.

Posted by: support breastfeeding but tolerant of others | November 27, 2006 2:02 PM

A couple of responses:

"If it's OK for you to breastfeed in public, is it OK for a man to stare at you while you do? How about if he starts doing something equally personal in response? If your reaction to that is: how gross and inappropriate!, then you understand how some feel about public breastfeeding."

Sure, as long as what he's doing isn't illegal (i.e. masturbating). I mean I wear high heels and makeup sometimes too and trust me, I get more oggling at those times than when I'm out after a rough night and wearing my sweats.

Actually someone has oggled me and although I thought it was a little pathetic, there was something oddly refreshing about it since I was otherwise feeling about as sexy as a sack of potatoes.

I did find it odd though since there was no skin showing - I mostly wear nursing tops that have a nifty flap on them.
I agree with other posters that it must be the idea of it.

I don't particularly want to flash anyone, but I also don't want to have to drag a screaming, hungry child around for 10 minutes to find a nursing room. Some kids have regular schedules and you can plan, or give a lot of warning signals. My son does now, but from the age of about 5 months to 9 months he would just suddenly be ravenous at strange times, and that's when I got used to finding a bench and parking the stroller in front of us and going for it.

I won't use public washrooms; I wouldn't feed my kid crackers on the toilet so I wouldn't nurse there. There is a huge difference between breast milk and feces.

I really still don't understand why it's okay to give a child a bottle in public but not breastfeed without contortions. Both children get hungry. My son wouldn't take a bottle at all (I cried with joy when he learned to take a sippy cup).

For the record I think it's a parent's job to make sure their kids are well fed and hydrated, way before not offending anyone else - and that can be formula or breast milk.

foamgnome - in Ontario Canada women have won the right to go topless, but they don't. :) Still, it's a good point.

Posted by: Shandra | November 27, 2006 2:05 PM

Men's naked chests: acceptable in many public places. Constructed as the norm.

Women's naked chests: Different from the norm, from men's, and therefore threatening, shameful, and subject.

Seal's chest: Sexy.
Janet Jackson's chest: Obscene.

And they say feminism is dead!

Posted by: Rita | November 27, 2006 2:09 PM

What does breastmilk taste like? I can tell you, it is much sweeter than even organic cow milk, goat milk or sheep. I have tried all.

Posted by: Thierry | November 27, 2006 2:13 PM

Oregon guy- I'm guessing you're using the info that La Leche puts out. In the US, there really is no "need" to BF. Looking through the literature, you can find papers saying that BFing is better than FFing and others saying that there is no difference between BFing FFing (for diabetes, obesity, etc). It's best for fighting infections, I'll give you that. I just hate to see anyone guilt anyone who doesn't BF. BTW, I would think the financial aspect would be enough!

TGFBF- Unless you get the joke, I seriously doubt your kids are above average. That is my favorite part of the the Lake Wobegon motto.

Posted by: Amanda | November 27, 2006 2:15 PM

Come the heck on people. Stop comparing breastfeeding to defecating, urinating, picking your nose, making out, etc. It's feeding/comforting a child. That's all it is. That's what breasts are for. I fully support all women's right to choose whether to breast feed or use formula, but no one can argue against the fact that, biologically, breasts exist to produce milk and feed young. They don't exist to fill out a tight shirt.

If *you* have a problem with breastfeeding, then *you* need to deal with it. Don't make a breast-feeding mother, most likely not particularly joyous at the thought of having to breast feed in public anyway, responsible for your out-dated sense of decency. And for all those sure to chime in with "Well, my stars, why can't they just be more discreet?" seriously...what constitutes "discreet" in your book. As many mothers/posters have stated, some babies HATE having blankets over their face while feeding. Should we force this on a young child so we can protect our delicate sensibilities? Maybe we should just construct child-sized restraints like Hannibal Lecter had to wear in Silence of the Lambs so the kids can't cry or move and there's no need to feed or comfort them at all! Or better yet, let's just impose a law forbidding breast feeding mothers from venturing into public places? No, wait! We could try just behaving like rational adults and recognize that many things happen in this world that we don't like but are forced to ignore, and if a woman lovingly feeding her child is the worst, then we're damn lucky. Nah, that last one is probably too radical.

Posted by: law | November 27, 2006 2:21 PM

To gradstudent:
Social norms only change when enough people over a long enough time make them change.

IMO it's far beyond time to accept nursing as natural and completely not worth any real attention- just like someone reading a newspaper.

Cell phone users need far more attention than any breast feeding mother. Unless the mother/baby is being as annoying/rude as a cell phone user, it's completely ridiculous to give breast feeding ANY thought whatsoever.

Posted by: Liz D | November 27, 2006 2:26 PM

I live in Canada where it is legal for women to go topless in public whether BFing or not. While almost no one actually takes advantage of this law (after all, this country can get pretty chilly), I think it does make it easier for BFing moms to be in public without hassles. The other day I saw a mom on the subway with a 2-year-old nursing: people around her gave a couple of curious glances but no one looked upset or asked her to stop.
And no, Canadian society has not fallen apart: whether you believe it's despite or because of the more socially liberal attitudes here, crime continues to be low, and people continue to be pretty happy.

Posted by: worker bee | November 27, 2006 2:27 PM

I'm relatively new at breastfeeding--just three months now, but my baby and I don't work as well breastfeeding together when I have her covered with a blanket. She doesn't seem to like it, and I can't see if she's latched on, choking, etc. When she is actively feeding, truly all you can see is the top of my breast, no more than exposed when wearing a bikini top. I don't think it's what people see vs. what people don't see, they see you breastfeeding and they know you are using your breasts publicly, and that's what sticks in their mind's eye.

Posted by: lovea | November 27, 2006 2:31 PM

Are you kidding about not understanding that breastfeeding is better for babies than formula? I'm pretty sure everyone agrees on that one, even the formula feedings moms. I don't think there's much of a debate there. On a per child/mother basis, it's a matter of choice, but as to what's best overall, the reseach has been done and the results are in. Breastmilk wins.

Posted by: To Amanda | November 27, 2006 2:36 PM

"I think a nursing mother should have the legal right to breastfeed their kid anywhere, anytime, with or without blanket, bra, shirt, sweater, shoes, no matter the age of her child, no matter what!

And how somebody can possibly find breastfeeding offensive is way beyond me. I think it is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen on God's good planet."

You're supposed to be blind Father of 4, remember?

Posted by: ralphmouth | November 27, 2006 2:38 PM

a blind man sees by touch.
oh, to "feel" a mother breastfeeding, i say that is beautiful!

Posted by: Thierry | November 27, 2006 2:43 PM

I honestly don't get what the big deal is. I nurse my 9 month-old daughter when she needs it. I prefer at home, in a comfortable chair, but if she's hungry/fussy, then I nurse in public. Actually, I have no idea if others approve/disapprove generally, since I'm so busy looking at my daughter's face. She's a real wriggler (and always has been), so I've never been able to really cover up, but I try to be discreet.

I would actually prefer a nice, clean, private room to nurse in (all nursing mothers would), but very few places actually have them.

Posted by: tiredmommy | November 27, 2006 2:45 PM

Before Father of 4 lost his sight, he happened upon a beautiful, young, Swedish (?) woman with braids calmly breastfeeding.
(See previous BF posts).

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 2:47 PM

I got a slightly different vibe from the Delta incident. Since 9/11 passengers get kicked off or worse if there is the slightest disagreement with the flight staff. This seems incident seems like an extreme case of this. Logic and reason are no longer passengers.

I've nursed my kids on many a flight, and suspect that none of the other passengers were ever aware of it.

Posted by: drmommy | November 27, 2006 2:47 PM

Cloth diapers win.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 2:50 PM

Okay -- had to post -- "Breast feeding is best" -- best for what? What about these mothers that can't breastfeed -- its not best for them. Listen, the studies (I think) show breast milk is medically better for the baby than formula. But BF is not "best" for all. Give these woman a break -- they are beating themselves up and we dont need to pile on. Everyone do what is "best" for their family.

Posted by: MArie | November 27, 2006 2:55 PM

While I don't agree that breastfeeding mothers should have to hide themselves away to feed their children, I would definitely support infant care rooms in public places.

All the idiots who say that public urination or defecation is the equivalent of public breastfeeding need to consider that there is no sanitary facility provided in most places for breastfeeding. There are public toilets everywhere. (And don't you dare suggest that a toilet is a good place to feed an infant. Yuck.) So. Support the creation of plentiful private, comfortable, clean places for mothers to breastfeed, and I bet you'll see a lot less of it in public. Not that we see lots of it now, but sheesh, some people get worked up.

Of course, most people would rather get all up in arms on the internet than take a hit to their bottom line, when it comes to increased construction costs and therefore increased prices for goods. Ahh, hypocrisy.

Posted by: WDC | November 27, 2006 2:59 PM

I agree that BFing is better, but so far most of the outcomes measured in FF vs. BF studies show the difference is marginal. For certain, according to my research, BFed babies digest better and have fewer infections, and it's cheaper. I've been in science too long to put much confidence in studies that rely on trends in data. I also tend to automatically respond negatively to any group of militant people, lactation nazis included. I have every intention of BFing my baby (who's due in a month). I even bought the swankiest breast pump for when it's time to milk me. In the unlikley event that I can't, I will be upset to miss out on the bonding (and to have to pay for unbelievably expensive formula). On the other hand, I'm terrified of having a child who won't take a bottle. I'd like Daddy to be able to feed the kid too, especially after I go back to work.

Posted by: Amanda | November 27, 2006 3:04 PM

Cloth diapers. You little instigator.

Posted by: Amanda | November 27, 2006 3:06 PM

Big deal about nothing. Exposing ones breast is not indecent except to people with their heads up their behinds. They show bare-chested men on TV at football games that many times have bigger breasts than some woman and no one cares. Good grief, what an uptight and sick society we have created.

Posted by: Riain | November 27, 2006 3:06 PM

To: ToAmanda
Putting this type of pressure on formula feeding moms is cruel and judgmental. What's best overall is the loving relationship between parents and their children. Read the posts above and look at the guilt and anxiety some of these women have experienced because breastfeeding was not a good option for their family.

To imply that they're providing substandard nutrition to their child because they use formula is just mean spirited.

Regarding the studies about IQ etc. Does anyone know if they correct for babies fed with a propped bottle vs. being held, spoken to sung to, etc. What about crawlers/toddlers cruising around with a bottle of formula or juice? Do they correct for socioeconomic status and health problems associated with lower socioeconomic status. Do they correct for nutrition/diet once solid foods are introduced?

Is it possible that the manner in which breastfed babies are fed accounts for the difference?

Posted by: BottleFeedingMom | November 27, 2006 3:15 PM

As a European, I am astounded by what some of you are saying here. Look at it this way: if the choice is between your prejudices and a mother feeding her baby, what should give? If we have to choose between your discomfort at seeing any fraction of an exposed breast or a mother half suffocating her nursing baby under a blanket, what should give? Have you ever even considered covering your head with a blanket when you eat, so that no-one need see your tongue (as if a tongue has no role in sex...)?
All this opposition against public breastfeeding boils down to one basic issue: the assumption that if something makes you uncomfortable, it's wrong. Face your prejudices squarely: there is nothing more vital and nothing more natural than a mother feeding a baby (or a toddler) when it's hungry. If that makes you uncomfortable, you've got a problem. But explore that problem reasonably - don't assume belligerently that the other's at fault. That means asking yourself what is more normal: a mother using her breast for what it was intended, or you being offended by it.
The mere fact that you are uncomfortable doesn't make you right. Jews used to make many people uncomfortable, and were forced to live in ghettos and hide their Jewishness in public. Was that reasonable?
And no, that's not an unfair comparison. Because here we're talking about mothers, fulfulling one of their most fundamental tasks in life: nurturing and comforting their baby... And you're saying "that's fine so long as they do it in a separate place or cover up so that I don't have to see it". Is asking a mother to hide her mothering just because it makes you uncomfortable really more reasonable?

I don't doubt your discomfort, and don't deny the cultural factors that made you so. But none of that makes the discomfort right, nor does it make it reasonable to demand that mothers curtail their mothering out of deference to your misguided sensitivities.

O, and to that person that suggested that breastfeeding is like sex and neither should be done in public. The comparison is ridiculous, of course (how is eating like sex?), but leaving that aside, are you saying that it's no more difficult for a mother to control the hunger of a baby than it is for two adults to control their sexual urge...?
As for urinating, that comparison is also too puerile to deserve comment. Of course, if you could urinate without leaving any mess or stink, you might have a point... But as it is, using arguments like that simply betrays how desperate you are to blame your discomfort on others rather than on yourself. These arguments are truly and frighteningly pathetic. What kind of a country do you Americans live in?

Posted by: To Ilc and others of that ilk | November 27, 2006 3:16 PM

I am all for women showing their breasts in public as often as possible. ;)

Posted by: pATRICK | November 27, 2006 3:20 PM

I'm sorry, but I have to giggle at this story. Someone stated this "scandal" is the product of a puritan society refusing to march brazenly into the 21st century.

I see it differently: this conflict is the direct result of two immovable forces of personal entitlement in modern America society: the entitlement of a mother to breastfeed anywhere she pleases; and the entitlement of a working woman to be free from a sexually harassing environment as she defines it.

That's right: as she defines it. That's the law thanks to a perversion of jurisprudence of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Any behavior or event is harassment under the law if (1) the complaining woman views it as such; and (2) her perspective is reasonable. The intent of the breastfeeding mother is of no consequence under the law.

So, let's play lawyer: clearly (1) applies; the flight attendant was offended. Check.

But, what about (2)? Is her taking offense "reasonable"? That's the sticky wicket here. First of all, men are not permitted to weigh in on this discussion. Sorry, but a number of federal circuits have ruled "reasonableness" must be determined from the perspective of women (not surprisingly, no court has ever extended this courtesy to blacks in cases alleging racial harassment). So, gals, is the flight attendants' reaction "reasonable"?

Given the opinion of the blog is split right down the middle, it's impossible to say the flight attendant was not "reasonable." Many women agree with her. Maybe you don't, but many do. That, under the law, may be enough to carry the burden she must prove to prevail in a sexual harassment claim against the airline for failure to provide a sexuality-free workplace.

This is the stuff litigation is made of.

Thus, Delta Airlines' quandry: either offend the breastfeeding mother and the chattering class who help create the sense of entitlement women readily invoke and enjoy, or get sued by their female employee for failure to provide a sexuality-free workplace--again, as she defines sexuality-free. Not an easy choice.

So, despite the press accounts to the contrary, I don't think for a second this employee got reprimanded. Not a chance. Her name hasn't even been released in the media (Imagine if the male pilot tried that; his name would be in the press and he would be branded a pig, no doubt). I don't think Delta issued any corporate directives reaffirming their policies (whatever they are). I don't think Delta did a thing other than trot a media relations representative out to a lecturn and parrot whatever nonsense would make lactavists happy.

Because, at the risk of being slapped with a sexual harassment suit, I doubt the airline changed a thing. Not as far as that flight attendant is concerned.

If anything, I bet she got a raise.

Posted by: DCTemp | November 27, 2006 3:26 PM

Some people's reaction to seeing a breastfeeding woman is discomfort or embarassment. I can understand this reaction but I don't share it nor can I mandate how they should feel. I can call him or her prudes but what difference does that make? With increasing social acceptance of public breastfeeding that perception will of course change, which I believe was the point of the rally. Therefore, I support those parents who rally, because they are working to create a more acceptable environment for breastfeeding, educate the public on the pros of breastfeeding, and change the perception of the nursing mom and her body.

Posted by: for the rally | November 27, 2006 3:26 PM

does that include all women, even democratic women, or only social conservatives?

Posted by: to pATRICK | November 27, 2006 3:26 PM

Just to echo the thoughts expressed by many--breastfeeding is fine, just be discreet. It is a natural function not a sacred one and those who b/f should respectful of others and their surroundings.

Posted by: pnina | November 27, 2006 3:33 PM

"Fortunately my husband and I had bought her a seat so we had 3 in a row. It would have been difficult for anyone to have seen what was going on."

This is a really good solution in tight spaces like airplane seats.

No, technically parents shouldn't have to buy an extra seat, but doing so probably makes a long trip more bearable for everyone.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 3:33 PM

I've been thinking about it, and I believe this is one of those issues where 95% of the public agrees-- breastfeeding ought to be permitted anywhere, and ought to be done discreetly. But there are vocal fringe groups who believe that either no discretion is necessary because breastfeeding is oh-so-beautiful, or that its not possible to be discreet enough to hide such a disgusting act. I vote for ignoring the fringes and going on with our lives.

I am currently nursing my 3rd child, and it's worked well for us, but I wonder about the ff vs. bf statistics, and if I eliminated any "advantage" my kids may have had the first time they got a happy meal or Froot Loops. Its definitely cheaper though-- I'm always amazed when a first time mom decides to formula feed without giving breastfeeding a shot considering it could save them $20+ a week.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | November 27, 2006 3:33 PM

To Ilc and others of that ilk :
well said - better than I could have articulated it.

Posted by: to the naysayers | November 27, 2006 3:37 PM

The problem, DC Temp, is that the flight attendant cannot claim she was sexually harassed if the behavior which offended her is protected by law. And I doubt she got a raise. She can hardly hold Delta Airlines responsible for something that the law upholds.

Posted by: to DCTemp | November 27, 2006 3:37 PM

To PTJobFTMom: My first son would not latch on; I pumped for him for a year with some supplementing. My 5 month old (also a C-section) was nursing an hour after delivery with the help of the nurse and lactation consultant (AND a lot of determination on my part.)

I nurse in public, but try to be as discreet as possible. Unfortunately I have to travel across the country next week for work without baby. I will have to pump on the plane (and dump the milk). I'm sure people will be ticked but what am I to do? I chose a window

Posted by: momof2boys | November 27, 2006 3:38 PM

YetAnotherSAHM - what she said. thanks for being the voice of reason today.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 27, 2006 3:38 PM

Yet Another SAHM, I completely agree!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | November 27, 2006 3:40 PM

"Re: those offended not by the breast-feeding but by the age of the child. Please think hard about this one. Is it really up to Delta Air Lines (or strangers nearby) to decide when a child should stop nursing? I happen to believe that's the province of the individual mom and child."

Well, yeah. But maybe mom, in anticipation of holiday travel, should be weaning her over-one-year-old kid.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 3:41 PM

To PTJobFTMom: My first son would not latch on; I pumped for him for a year with some supplementing. My 5 month old (also a C-section) was nursing an hour after delivery with the help of the nurse and lactation consultant (AND a lot of determination on my part.) Explain the situation to the nurses etc. I think the LCs were proud they could help me this time.

I nurse in public, but try to be as discreet as possible. Unfortunately I have to travel across the country next week for work without baby. I will have to pump on the plane (and dump the milk). I'm sure people will be ticked but what am I to do? I chose a window seat in the back and am bringing a big shawl so you won't be able to see anything (and planes are loud). I am really nervous about this, especially in light of what's happening but if I have to fly for 5 hours (plus security etc. I have no choice but to pump).

Posted by: momof2boys | November 27, 2006 3:41 PM

To all those who say, just cover up the baby, that can be really hard to do when he's already freaked out by all the noise and people around him. I tried to do this on a recent flight and failed miserably. I felt awful because I was trying so hard not to be somehow offensive. Babies just aren't always amenable to what we think ought to be done.

Posted by: PDX | November 27, 2006 3:46 PM

To all those who say, just cover up the baby, that can be really hard to do when he's already freaked out by all the noise and people around him. I tried to do this on a recent flight and failed miserably. I felt awful because I was trying so hard not to be somehow offensive. Babies just aren't always amenable to what we think ought to be done.

Posted by: PDX | November 27, 2006 3:46 PM

"Also, excellent points about what you really "see" when a woman breast-feeds. Nothing more than the cleavage exposed by a bikini or a v-neck shirt. And if you happen to glimpse a little nipple, why is that so incredibly offensive?"

I really don't think it's as simple as "what you see." The context is an incredibly intimate exchange -- bodily fluids, if you will -- between two humans, which can be very uncomfortable for some people to see.

It's a little like sitting next to a couple who are kissing deeply. You don't really want to watch the kiss or what their lips are doing; you're just really uncomfortable that they're doing this intimacy right there.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 3:46 PM

Yet Another SAHM, nicely said.

Also, I BF not just to save money but more to save on cleaning up. I supplemented with formula at first but gave it up because of the mixing-prep and then cleaning up hassles of it. I don't have a dishwasher and washing the bottles and plastic nipples by hand with the little brushes and everything is so aggravating! BF helps me avoid that particular chore.

Posted by: BFMom | November 27, 2006 3:47 PM

I didn't choose to formula feed as much as formula feeding chose me. In fact, I was absolutely, undeniably AGAINST formula feeding - until my first baby was about 4 days old. I could not get her to latch on for a full 24 hours. I was convinced that she was deathly ill - why else would she not eat?

Naturally I rushed her to the doctor. He looked her over and said, "There doesn't appear to be anything wrong. Is she refusing bottles, too?" As I mentally slapped my forehead, I had to admit that I hadn't thought to try a bottle. I thought she was sick, not picky. The doctor said that the choice was mine, but if I wanted to get something into her that night I should try a bottle. We took her home, used the formula that we had gotten from the hospital, and for the first time in her 4 days of life watched her fill her little tummy and relax. Our cranky baby turned into a happy little rag doll and slept for 3 hours straight.

I actually went into a profound period of mourning after that, though. I felt like I had failed some motherhood test. Took awhile to get over that one. I tried pumping, but never got more than an ounce at a time, so I still had to give her formula. I kept trying to get her to latch on, and she did finally take an interest when she was about a month old. I probably could have weaned her off the bottle and gotten her to nurse exclusively then, but my maternity leave was winding down and I didn't see the point. After I went back to work, I continued to nurse once or twice a day and rely on formula the rest of the time. That lasted until she was about 5 moths old, when she went on another nursing strike. After a couple of days of her refusing to nurse, I gave up and welcomed caffiene back into my life.

I saw my second child as my second chance to get the nursing thing right. But I got very ill toward the end of my pregnancy, continued to be very ill for awhile after she was born, and have had to take several medications since her birth. We enjoyed about 3 days of nursing until the 4th "harmless" medication was added to my chart. At that point it just didn't seem right to pass on all those chemicals to her. She's been formula fed since then, and she's a happy, healthy 8-month-old now.

Looking back, there's a lot I could have done differently with my first child to succeed at breastfeeding. But to be fair to myself and any other overwhelmed, sleep-deprived new mother who is trying to figure out her very first newborn, I did what I thought was best at the time. And I learned how valuable it was to respect other people's choices. Until then I looked down my nose at women who chose forumla over breastmilk. My own experiences taught me that I didn't know everything, and that I had no right to criticize another mother for making different choices than I do.

Posted by: To NCMom | November 27, 2006 3:49 PM

BottleFeedingMom- I'm telling you, every week a study is released saying BFing is better, and immediately a paper comes out saying there is no difference. (Again, with the exception of infection fighting, digestion, and economics)

I'm trying to figure out why the lactavist groups get so upset with FFing. Clearly there are very vocal and powerful pro-lactation groups, and people parrot what they say rather than look into themselves. They say BFing is best, so it must be true. I hate that kind of herd behavior because it promotes an agenda rather than the scientific truth. On the other hand, it's very upsetting to me to hear of a woman choosing formula because her husband/father/sister/self is "disgusted" by BFing or her husband "doesn't allow" her to. That's so misogynistic.

So, I see the villians as those in the fringes: those who are appalled by FFing and those who are appalled by BFing. When are the villians not the the fringes?

Posted by: Amanda | November 27, 2006 3:50 PM

"While making my decision all of my doctors - ob/gyn, ob specialist, pediatrician, and my general doctor were all supportive of this decision and didn't encourage me to breastfeed."

It's one thing to be supportive of a decision, and quite another thing for a medical professional to not encourage a new mother to breastfeed. I find it hard to believe that 4 doctors separately decided to not try to educate you on the benefits of breastfeeding; it sounds like you heard what you want to hear. And if they really did do that, I would greatly question their competence.

And can we stop already with the "my siblings and I were bottlefed and we're fine/smart/healthy/educated" bit? My siblings and I were also bottlefed; we're also fine, smart, healthy, and educated; but that has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not breastfeeding is superior to formula feeding.

Posted by: bottlefed breastfeeder | November 27, 2006 3:50 PM

It's a little like sitting next to a couple who are kissing deeply


No, it's not like that at all. Kissing is sexual and optional, and happens between grown people who have the coping skills to delay their urges.

Breastfeeding is NOT sexual, not optional when the baby needs it for nourishment or comfort, and is done to fulfill the needs of a *baby* who cannot defer his own needs the way an adult can.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 3:50 PM

If you look online, there are all sorts of stories about extended breastfeeding. There's one on BBC about a mum in Britain that still breastfeeds her 9 year old!

Posted by: If you look online | November 27, 2006 3:53 PM

Why I loved breasfeeding
-It was healthy for my son
-It was FREE
-It was easy
-I got really skinny, yeah!!!

What was rough about breastfeeding
-My son wouldn't take a bottle (even of breastmilk) so I had to have him with me all the time
-I got very sick with breast infections twice
-I leaked at embarrasing moments

All things considered it was worth it and I'd recommend every new mother at least give it a try. By the way I lived in a little hick west Texas town at the time (1987) and never felt comfortable BFing in public. They probably would have called the cops!

Posted by: B's Mom | November 27, 2006 3:53 PM

"But for the comfort aspect - cuddling and general soothing doesn't work?"

It seems to me that any 2.5-year-old child who is still being soothed by nursing is going to have some behavior problems in a few years.

Why, as a parent, would you want to encourage this dependency? A 2.5-year-old kid should be learning self-soothing skills by this point.

It's easy to say that you BF your toddler on a plane in order to sooth him and keep him quiet. But, if you'd weaned him earlier and begun teaching other ways of becoming calm, it wouldn't be necessary.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 3:57 PM

i read once that a study was done comparing humans to other mammals, ie measuring gestation period, sexual maturity, appearance of first teeth & other measures. the conclusion of the study was that if humans nursed as long as other mammals the average age a human baby would wean would be 8 years old. in cultures where the breasts are not sex objects it is quite common for a child to nurse to that age.

my 6 year old still nurses. he understands the word "private" & he only nurses at home. explain to me what exactly you think my problem is in allowing him to continue to nurse?

Posted by: 6 year old still nurses | November 27, 2006 4:06 PM

To all the folks who want to know why others are uncomfortable around breastfeeding, let me try to explain. As a female, I was raised to show some modesty, and that included covering my breasts in public (yes, I'm THAT old). So while I don't find breastfeeding in public offensive, those who aren't discreet about it do give me pause.

Posted by: RM | November 27, 2006 4:06 PM

"Of all the crap we deal with in public nowadays why on earth would anyone focus on this?"

Maybe it tells you something about how much this bothers people?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 4:07 PM

Brookland - I'm not amanda, but yes, I have seen a 7 year old in this country. In Virginia. My nephew and neice. And you can find pictures of them both being nursed (at age 7 and 4, respectively) on line by googling their name. But I won't share that.

Posted by: gross and disturbing | November 27, 2006 4:10 PM

"my 6 year old still nurses. he understands the word "private" & he only nurses at home. explain to me what exactly you think my problem is in allowing him to continue to nurse?"

I'm sorry I just don't get that. I nursed my son but at some point you have to start to let your kids grow up. I can't believe it's healthy to a child's self esteem to encourage a child that age to continue to engage in infantile behavior. How old is too old? I saw a movie once where a 12-year-old Chinese prince was still nursing from his wet nurse. Is that too old?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 4:12 PM

Brookland - I'm not amanda, but yes, I have seen a 7 year old in this country. In Virginia. My nephew and neice. And you can find pictures of them both being nursed (at age 7 and 4, respectively) on line by googling their name. But I won't share that.

they are going to love that when they are teens.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 4:14 PM

Discretion is a two-way street. Even if seeing a child breast feed makes you uncomfortable, I think you should just put up with your uncomfortable feelings rather than confront the mom. It is intimate, but it's also natural, and it seems most respectful of the mom/baby to discreetly ignore them.

Breast feeding has been "proven" to be good for the baby and mom, perhaps better than formula, but that doesn't mean mom should feel badly if she can't or doesn't want to. I mixed boob and formula for all three of my kids and I don't think the breast-milk police had any business making me feel bad for not being "exclusive." To each mom, her own decision.

Posted by: Leslie | November 27, 2006 4:14 PM

Many above average/successful people were formula fed and I am pretty sure there have also been some real morons who were BF. No one has said that BM is a magic elixer. Most parents do the best they can for their children through many choices over many years. Acknowledging that breastmilk is better for babies than formula is not a criticism of parents who formula feed (choice or not). Nor is it a statement that formula is poison, it is simply a fact.

As for another grad student. I am sure you have a lot of general knowledge about child development, but I doubt that you know much about the day to day raising of a child without actually having one. It is not something that can be taught, it has to be experienced and learned the hard way. Hopefully in your practice someday you will learn to monitor your condescending tone and respect the knowledge of parents.

Posted by: AU Park mom | November 27, 2006 4:16 PM

My problem is not with the small bit of flesh that may or may not be visible when a mother is breastfeeding. I find most mothers to be generally discreet and polite.

My problem is with the attitude of the militant mommy lobby. The types who want front-row parking spaces and special accomodations in restaurants. The types who whack you in the elbow with a stroller and don't apologize because they have a higher calling. The types who let their children be destructive with other people's things and think it's cute.

The attitude of entitlement is what bugs me. If they think breastfeeding is right for them and their babies, great! But if they get too outspoken and brazen about it, they shouldn't be surprised and offended if people react accordingly.

Posted by: catmommy | November 27, 2006 4:17 PM

People used to think smoking in public was ok. As medical studies showed the adverse effects of smoking and secondhand smoke, people became more educated about the harms of smoking, and it no longer was socially acceptable to smoke in public.

As the studies increasingly show the benefits of breastfeeding, people will too accept breastfeeding in their homes and in the public. Society will progess to accept breastfeeding and it will longer seem indecent for a woman to nurse, in any which way or form.

Posted by: times are a changing... | November 27, 2006 4:18 PM

"So are you saying there's a problem or something wrong with a 2+ year old being breastfed?"

Um ... yes. It is weird. Why not a 5 year old? Why not a 7 year old? Why not a 15 year old? Heck, why don't you go over to your mom's right now and ask for some breast milk?

Posted by: Leslie ..... | November 27, 2006 4:19 PM

I cannot explain why it's disturbing, but nursing after the kid can talk freaks me out. In Africa, where there is no clean water, sure it makes sense, but here? It seems like an abnormal attachment between mother and child. Why does the mother need to do it? Why can't having a nice cuddle and reading a book be enough? What does the kid get out of it? Is it the equivalent to thumb-sucking, which we discourage? I seriously don't get it. Rather than ask us what's wrong with you, explain why you do it. If you don't feel you need to explain yourself, ask why you get so defensive when anyone questions what is an abnormal behavior. And yes, it's out of the norm to BF a 6 year old.

Posted by: Amanda | November 27, 2006 4:19 PM

Why, as a parent, would you want to encourage this dependency? A 2.5-year-old kid should be learning self-soothing skills by this point.

It's easy to say that you BF your toddler on a plane in order to sooth him and keep him quiet. But, if you'd weaned him earlier and begun teaching other ways of becoming calm, it wouldn't be necessary.


Right on. I wish my toddler weren't so dependent on me. I mean, she's almost 2 whole years old. What's she clinging to mommy for in unfamiliar situations? What a wuss. Toughen up, kiddo!

(Every time someone touts the benefits of "self-soothing" for babies, I flash to Robert De Niro's ridiculous character in Meet the Parents.)

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 4:20 PM

Just got back from the gym and thought of a cute BFer story:

When baby boy was 3, he was going under potty training at the same time my wife began weening him. Naturally, we used the social reward of calling him a "Big Boy" whenever he went to the bathroom without being reminded. At the same time, he would go over and lift up his mother's shirt for a little snack, and my wife would say, "No, no. You're a big boy now. Wait until tonight."

When he finally got cut off completely after another unsuccessful attempt to get to his mother's breast, he cried and with a innocent, tender voice of which only little kids are capable of, cried out the words, "I don't want to be a big boy anymore!"

Yeah, kid, I feel for you.

Posted by: Father of 4 | November 27, 2006 4:23 PM

"It's one thing to be supportive of a decision, and quite another thing for a medical professional to not encourage a new mother to breastfeed."

Bottlefed BFer --

You're the sort of preachy idiot who opens your mouth without thinking anything through.

The poster you're referring to said quite clearly that she had several reasons for making her decision. So, she obviously thought it through. It's unlikely that she said to the docs, "Well, I've decided not to breastfeed" without explaining some of those reasons. Based on what she said to her docs, they supported her decision.

That's hardly a scenario of incompetence. And this woman is hardly the capricious person you make her out to be.

Keep your opinions and judgments about OTHER people's decisions to yourself!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 4:28 PM

"No, it's not like that at all. Kissing is sexual and optional, and happens between grown people who have the coping skills to delay their urges."

I wasn't talking about the participants' needs (either mom-and-baby or kissing couple). I was pointing out that both situations, because they involve a level of intimacy (not necessarily sexual), can make people uncomfortable in the same way.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 4:32 PM

"It's easy to say that you BF your toddler on a plane in order to sooth him and keep him quiet. But, if you'd weaned him earlier and begun teaching other ways of becoming calm, it wouldn't be necessary."

Hahahahahaha!! Except when all those other ways don't work. And, of course, if you can't get your kid to shut up instantly, then you're the bad parent who is inconveniencing everyone else on the plane (have you read some of the prior entries here about airline travel with kids? WAY nastier than anything that has been said here about breastfeeding). We had one hell flight when my daughter was 3 -- I had long since stopped breastfeeding, and yet I was sorely tempted to whip it out just to see if it would shut her up, since nothing else would!

Come on, guys, this is total damned if you do, damned if you don't. Any time a 2-yr-old acts like a 2-yr-old, there's always someone who's happy to tell you how you've failed as a mother, because if you'd only done X, or foreseen Y, you could have prevented or solved the situation. Usually, of course, from someone who doesn't have kids, or who got one of those lovely calm mellow sweet babies who never makes any fuss, which she attributes to her phenomenal parenting skills (my mom was like this when she had me; it's been something of a humbling experience for her to learn how to manage my daughter -- "you mean all 6-month-olds don't play with board books for 45 minutes?").

The fact is, when you're a mom, everything you or your kids do is going to piss someone off at some time or another. Personally, when I'm in an enclosed, confined space for many hours (like a plane), I tend to focus my efforts on trying to annoy the fewest people for the shortest time possible. So, yeah, if it came down to pissing off the entire plane with a shrieking child, vs. offending one person with a flash of boob, then I'd happily choose the latter, and worry about whether I was emotionally scarring my child for life later.

Posted by: Laura | November 27, 2006 4:32 PM

"But, if you'd weaned him earlier and begun teaching other ways of becoming calm, it wouldn't be necessary."

I would love to see this person try to handle a frustrated toddler in a grocery store or something. "Now, son, a tantrum is not necessary. Remember your alternative coping skills and become calm."

That would probably work, right? ;-)

Posted by: get real | November 27, 2006 4:33 PM

For the poster who asked why some of us aren't planning on trying BF: for me, I just plain old vanilla don't want to. 1) I am sensitive in the chest area and don't want it to be irritated. 2) I don't want to have sole responsibility for feeding the baby (formula can be made and given by other family members). 3) I will be having a c-section as well, and I am expecting a long, hard recovery process - basically, I don't want to divert my body's resources. 4) As a science student, it has interested me to read firsthand a lot of the oft-quoted breastfeeding studies, and many of them are not worth the paper they are printed on, scientifically speaking. Basically, many of them prove a *correlation* but not *causality* between breastfeeding and better health, and they do not bother to control for variables such as socioeconomic factors etc. My favorite example of this is a study purporting to prove that formula causes more gastrointestinal illness --- it does not even adjust for the water quality in the mixed formula being used (um, duh, well water is probably gonna make your baby sick ... would be nice to have stuff like that accounted for in a study).

Posted by: StudentMom2Be | November 27, 2006 4:35 PM

Self-soothing. I thought one of the big goals was to raise independent kids. Why is it so wrong to want your kid to settle herself? Obviously, at 2, expectations are according to her tender age. But why shouldn't she be able to go to sleep without the breast, for instance? I was told never to nurse your baby to sleep because in the middle of the night she'll 1. freak out because their sense of continuity isn't yet established and 2. never learn to go to sleep alone. It's not about "toughening" your kids up. It's about making life easier for baby AND mom and dad. You won't be loved or needed less just because your kid learns independence, and that's the only reason I could imagine someone would have a problem with fostering independence.

Posted by: Amanda | November 27, 2006 4:36 PM

If a mother is breastfeeding her two-year-old, at least the child isn't throwing it's Cheerios at me.

I don't have a problem with women nursing in public -- most are discrete about it.

I have a problem with the attitude of the militant mommy lobby -- the types of women who want front-row parking, expect restaurants to have wheat-free entrees for their allergic little ones, and whack you with their strollers and don't apologize -- all because they have a higher calling -- parenthood.

This sense of entitlement is what is wrong -- not right -- with the world. The militant mommies can make a big deal about the right to breastfeed in public and put on a good show, but they shouldn't be surprised or offended when people react accordingly.

Posted by: catmommy | November 27, 2006 4:36 PM

"you mean all 6-month-olds don't play with board books for 45 minutes?"

My mom claims that she would just put me down in the crib, walk away, and I'd go to sleep without a fuss every time. That made me crazy, since I've been blessed with a non-sleeper! I think it must be selective memory at work.

Posted by: to Laura | November 27, 2006 4:38 PM

Sorry for the double-post.

Posted by: catmommy | November 27, 2006 4:40 PM

My son is 2.5 and I am no longer breast feeding him. When he is having a melt down we do use alternate methods. We have been teaching him a deep breathing exercise and to redirect his attention and it works more often than not. I also used to use this when I was a nanny prior to going to school. Works pretty good. So, there are other ways that with patience (on my part) that do work.

Posted by: newbie | November 27, 2006 4:45 PM

Amanda, "You won't be loved or needed less just because your kid learns independence, and that's the only reason I could imagine someone would have a problem with fostering independence."

As I read the posts on the kids who still BF at 7 or older, I had to wonder if it wasn't a matter of "control" on the part of the mother. The control factor doesn't have to be conscious to be there. My gut feeling is, God help those kids at 20-30; when somebodyelse is in line to take Mom's place.

But, I'm not a scientist or psychologist.

Posted by: Duh! | November 27, 2006 4:46 PM

As the breastfeeding mother of a six-and-a-half month old who just flew last weekend, I thought I'd pitch in. I fed my son at takeoff on each leg of each trip -- that's four flights total -- and we received tons of compliments on how quiet and well-behaved he was. I honestly try to cover up as much as I can, out of my own modesty and a wish not to draw stares, but these days my once docile breastfeeder can be awfully squirmy and noisy until he gets settled down, so there's an occasional "flash" before I can get him latched on. I already find it embarrassing enough without being chastised about it -- not because I'm ashamed to breastfeed him, but in the same way I'm sure I'll be embarassed if (when) he starts yelling and throwing food on the floor in public. In our case, a blanket would just make it worse, especially since it was awfully hot on at least one of our flights before takeoff.

For the person who asked why parents don't just use a bottle on an already stressful day, I wanted to say that in our case, at least, that would have increased the stress. First, I would have had to make time to pump enough in an already busy day. Then, with all the security rules, I don't know how to keep it cold -- although carrying milk is OK, the gel ice we use isn't. And when it comes down to it, this baby -- like many who mostly get the breast -- just doesn't like the bottle that much. Though he takes it at daycare, he'll usually refuse it when I'm around or fuss at it even in the best situation. Since a day of travel is even more stressful for him than it is for us, it just doesn't make sense not to use the breast -- easy, convenient, and no problem at the X-ray machine -- to give him the food and comfort that he needs.

Off to pump...

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 4:46 PM

You won't be loved or needed less just because your kid learns independence, and that's the only reason I could imagine someone would have a problem with fostering independence.


It's kind of harsh to be dumping on a child for not being "independent enough" at age 2, isn't it? I don't think most people here are talking about breastfeeding until age 7 or anything -- that's the exception to the norm. I seriously doubt that allowing my daughter to nurse from time to time at age 2 meets the definition of a "problem with fostering independence." Would you say the same if this was about her dependence on her blankie instead of her mommy? I don't think there's going to be a slew of postings about how allowing a child to have a security blankie is refusing to foster their independence! It's the *breastfeeding* that sets you off, isn't it.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 4:47 PM

"So, for those who are in favor of BF'ing at any age, with nothing blocking the breast, please publish some kind of handbook for what the heck the rest of us are supposed to do when you and the baby are having a meal."

Don't have time to get all into the debate, but I was scanning and saw this from Proud Papa and thought I'd chime in. My 2 year old is still nursing. I generally try not to nurse him in public anymore, as it's more difficult to be discreet with an active toddler and it does seem more awkward generally. Every now and then I do, however (most recently to avoid a total meltdown at an airport).

So, I thought I'd chime in and say it sounds like you handled the situation fine. My advice would be to just continue talking as you were, or if you're not comfortable looking at them while they're nursing and are concerned about appearing rude when you look away, to just say something like, "Pardon my looking away, I just don't want to be intrusive while you're nursing." If that offends her, she's probably lacking in social graces anyway so why sweat it. The last time I ended up nursing my son while in the midst of conversation with someone I didn't know well I just said to them, "I'm sorry, my son really needs to nurse right now, if it makes you uncomfortable I can excuse us for a few minutes."

Posted by: Megan | November 27, 2006 4:51 PM

"But, if you'd weaned him earlier and begun teaching other ways of becoming calm, it wouldn't be necessary"

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Posted by: m | November 27, 2006 4:53 PM

Laura, your 4:32 post was right on! So true!

Posted by: Megan | November 27, 2006 4:56 PM

I'm just shocked she was on a plane that still carries blankets. Of course, it probably hadn't been washed since 2004...

Posted by: Monica | November 27, 2006 5:00 PM

"Sheesh! Just cover up! That's all anyone's asking.

Secondly, it's rude to tell others to just "look away" if it offends them. We all have to make concessions to each other in one way or another and it's in the best interest of everyone to take others' feelings into consideration.

For example, I'm sure most of you wouldn't care to see two teenagers REALLY going at it at the local park while your kids are playing. They have every right to be doing what they're doing (provided clothes stay *mostly* on), but it's inconsiderate to you and is going to prompt some questions for the kids. In short, the teens should have found a better place to make out (or, heck, covered themselves with a blanket to stick with today's discussion).

Same for BF moms -- I don't have a problem if you breastfeed in public, just please keep in mind I don't care to witness all of it (back to point one -- Just cover up, please!)"

Couldn't have said it any better. Cover up and get over it. No one says you have a right to fly with your child, so don't impose your choices on the flying public.

Posted by: Cover up! | November 27, 2006 5:02 PM

Thanks Laura! You've very aptly described my experience with my not quite 3 year old son last spring break when we flew from Baltimore to San Antonio. He was fine when we were on the plane waiting to take off but as soon as the plane started rolling, he panicked. He started to scream "Help Mommy! Help me!" "Mommy, HELP!" "Help Help Mommy!" pretty hysterically.

The choice was between nursing the pre-schooler and "embarrassing" some hypothetical sensitive passenger or subjecting EVERYONE to this screaming. I chose nursing my son with peace and quiet reigning in the airplane cabin. As far as I could tell, no one was so embarrassed or offended to make any comment or complaint.

Do I still comfort nurse my son (turned 3 in June)? Yes. Even in public? Yes. Do most people even clue in to what's happening? Almost never. People become embarrassed only when they find out (e.g., I tell them when they ask why I'm sitting down, what is my son doing, etc.). It seems people are disturbed by the *thought* of nursing in public although they didn't know it when they did see it.

Posted by: Still breastfeeding! | November 27, 2006 5:04 PM

To "To Laura" @ 4:38 -- ain't selective memory fun? My dad recently asked me how I managed to be such a great kid, did my schoolwork, never caused problems, etc., when both of my (much) younger brothers were just constant trouble. I burst out laughing -- don't know how he managed to forget our knock-down, drag-out fights! Guess I should be happy about which parts of my childhood he's chosen to remember, though. :-)

Posted by: Laura | November 27, 2006 5:05 PM

to Cover up! I'm a bit baffled at the statement that "no one says you have a right to fly with your child". Actually, I do have a right to purchase airline seats, and fly along with, any one I choose, with the obvious exclusion of persons who are terrorists. So, duh, I have a right to fly with my child as long as I behave in accordance with whatever terms and conditions are on the back of the ticket I purchased.

Within reasonable limits, all of the flying public has to get along and make the choices that impose the least amount on other members of the flying public. I wish the drunks and those who've eaten a tremendous amount of flatulence-producing foods didn't have a right to fly, but alas, they do.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 27, 2006 5:09 PM

studentmom2be - I respect your decision to ff, it is a personal decision.

That said, I disagree with your dismissal of the recommendations of the WHO and AAP, and the fact that breastmilk is made by humans for humans and has exactly what babies need.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 5:13 PM

"And I repeat, being their mother ABSOLUTELY makes me the ultimate expert in these children. I have been their primary caregiver day in and day out for YEARS and I know more about their personalities, emotions, and bodies than anyone, even a "grad student" ever will."

As their parent, of course you know more about your children's personalities, emotions an bodies than anyone. I never said you didn't or that I knew more about them than you did. I've never met you so how could I know a single thing about your kids?

In my previous comments I was making a point that parents of toddlers should not rely solely on breast-feeding to comfort for their children. They should begin to teach them ways to express their feelings, comfort them about talking to them, helping them label their emotions, and express them in any way they can. As a parent they should start to help their kid find ways of coping with stressful situations. I think that relying on breastfeeding whenever a kid is upset/scared/anxious really robs them of an opportunities to develop their social emotional development and coping skills that all children should have. As their parent it's your job to help your child develop these skills....


Not ridiculous at all. Do you think because you read something about baby sleep in your textbook that you have the answer for all babies? No one understands the meaning of a baby's cry like the baby's mother (and father) do.

Posted by: another grad student | November 27, 2006 5:18 PM

i grew up watching other mammals continue to nurse their older off spring so the whole age limit thing is interesting. i saw cats, dogs, cows & horses all continue to nurse their no longer newborn offspring. i guess along with not having opposable thumbs those other mammals didn't realize the damage they were doing to their young by allowing them to continue to nurse. thank goodness we are just so much smarter than other mammals & recognize that breast feeding older children is "gross" & is somehow "damaging to their sense of independence" and interfers with their ability to "calm themselves".

i could always pick out the horses that continued to nurse even when they were older from the other horses that weaned. there was something different about them.

Posted by: nurses a 6 year old | November 27, 2006 5:23 PM

"I was making a point that parents of toddlers should not rely solely on breast-feeding to comfort for their children. They should begin to teach them ways to express their feelings, comfort them about talking to them, helping them label their emotions, and express them in any way they can."

I'm not sure which grad student made this comment, but I'd like to point out that the fact that a mother is nursing a toddler doesn't mean that she isn't doing all of the things you suggested. Nursing is ONE way I comfort my 2 year old, not the only way. However, at critical breakdown moments, it is usually by far the most effective. So the fact that so many people have posted about nursing while traveling is neither surprising nor an indication that they don't have any other coping methods - as Laura noted, traveling with a toddler is very stressful and there is a lot of pressure to get the child to shut up quickly. I'm sure there's some sports or military analogy that would be helpful here, I just don't know enough to come up with it.

Posted by: Megan | November 27, 2006 5:27 PM

i guess the question becomes as the plane is taking off & in the seat behind you a 2 year old starts screaming with pain because his/her ears hurt it is ok with you if the mom takes a few minutes to find some other toy to calm their child before they start nursing?

Posted by: quark | November 27, 2006 5:34 PM

Breast feeding can be hugely benficial, to mothers and children who can do it; no arguement there. I think there's more to this incident than being addressed above, in the whole interaction. The plane is small, two adults (mom and dad) and one child packed into two seats. I looked at the seating charts - for their location, next to last row, there's only two seats. So did the flight attendant seesa kid who darn well needs his/her own seat for safety and is way larger than an infant? I think that might set up a conflict. Next, is breast feeding a two year old on demand just to calm them a great idea? Screaming kid maybe? If I saw a two year old being picked up and nursed to stop their noise, and them riding on a car/plane/train/bus on a parent's lap vs. a child seat, that would bug me. So is the real issue here breast feeding, or a total situation? I've never personally seen anyone get harassed for breast feeding an infant, and if that happens, yes it's a wrong.

Posted by: Total situation | November 27, 2006 5:36 PM

to A pATRICK- Breasts are apolitical ;)

Posted by: pATRICK | November 27, 2006 5:36 PM

to A pATRICK- Breasts are apolitical ;)
TO A European: I guess that explains why you let fat ugly men were speedo bathing suits there.

Posted by: pATRICK | November 27, 2006 5:37 PM

"As the studies increasingly show the benefits of breastfeeding, people will too accept breastfeeding in their homes and in the public. Society will progess to accept breastfeeding and it will longer seem indecent for a woman to nurse, in any which way or form."

Ah, but you ignore the trifecta of studies that came out this fall. #1 showed that there was no correlation between BF and lower obesity rates. #2 showed that there was no correlation between BF and higher IQ. #3 (my PERSONAL favorite) was a 20-year Swedish study that showed that extended BF (past 5 months) correlated with a HIGHER rate of adult-onset allergies. Ah, the irony, the irony, the sweet irony lol!!

Posted by: StudentMom2be | November 27, 2006 5:41 PM

"I cannot explain why it's disturbing, but nursing after the kid can talk freaks me out...Why does the mother need to do it? Why can't having a nice cuddle and reading a book be enough? What does the kid get out of it? Is it the equivalent to thumb-sucking, which we discourage?"

First, apologies for all the posts at once. Finally hit a slow spot in the day.

Amanda, I actually totally understand where you are coming from. When I was preggers, I saw a woman nursing her two year old and talking to him about it and I found it very weird also. But here I am. I don't think any mothers "need it", most of us continue because our children want to continue and we can see how much it means to them. It is soothing in the way that thumb-sucking is (and actually, I thought the current trend was to not worry about thumbsucking, and anyway BFing doesn't raise the same orthodontic concerns), it is a very powerful way of bonding with mom, for my son it also seems to be a way to decompress and relax. At this age, he pretty much wants to nurse when we've been separated for a long period of time, when he's exceptionally tired, and at bedtime. I will miss the closeness of breastfeeding, but I would be happy at this point to have him wean and have been pushing him a bit in that direction. However, in the last few days he's been mounting a campaign of resistance, so we shall see, I may let him go a little longer.

Posted by: Megan | November 27, 2006 5:41 PM

How do you define decency? How much should a nursing mother cover up without inhibiting her from effectively feeding her child? All questions that can't be easily answered. Because there is no consensus, it is a question of whether to allow breastfeeding in public or not. As long as its an act that is beneficial to the child, which it has been proven, then one cannot exclude the mother from breastfeeding her child. It is no longer a question of entitlement but one of maternal necessity.

And "Discomfort" is not enough for you to make a nursing mother to "cover up."

Posted by: cover up? | November 27, 2006 5:41 PM

Total situation: I think you just hit the nail on the head. I only wish you had been the second poster today...rather than having to sift through all this other stuff. Lots of trolls today.

Maybe we'll have a topic more related to "on balance" tomorrow.

Posted by: my 2 cents | November 27, 2006 5:44 PM

"That said, I disagree with your dismissal of the recommendations of the WHO and AAP, and the fact that breastmilk is made by humans for humans and has exactly what babies need."

What I'm dismissing is the bad science behind the studies they are citing. Show me some good science with actual proven causality and actual controls used, and I will change my opinion. Funny you say it has exactly what babies need: it MIGHT, but a quantatitive study to determine the composition of human breastmilk has never been done. So you don't know that it's "just what babies need" for sure - Darwin showed that ill-adapted species die, not that well-adapted species are perfect-in-every-way ... cabiche?

Posted by: StudentMom2Be | November 27, 2006 5:44 PM

StudentMom2Be, you are like the tobacco companies clinging to the one or two scientists who supported their view that tobacco doesn't cause cancer when every other scientist knew it did. three studies versus how many? pick and choose much?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 5:47 PM

The 1st was BF'd until 4.5 yrs old (gasp!) and our second is only 5 months and BF'ing along just fine. I as the father of them have never had a problem with this idea and love it and see positive results. The world average is something like 6 or 7 yrs old (La Leche League folks correct me on this one if I'm wrong)? If I'm offended by seeing something (can't think of anything right now) - I would just look away. And to Grandma and Grandpa who are easily offended - it's the year 2006 and it will never be 1940 or 1950 again - thank god and I like the mantra: "Get over it!"

Posted by: Father of 2 | November 27, 2006 5:49 PM

Studentmomtobe,

But you missed the study of common sense. Breastfeeding is a means of feeding a child. Sure, there are many mothers such as yourself who choose to formula feed, but do you want the state to dictate how parents feed their child? Should there be a standard? We can argue about studies all night but the fact is babies need milk to survive. Mothers produce milk in their breasts and the nipple is a mechanism that allows the child to suckle. Now whether the nutrients come from formula or the mother's breast, should be up to the mother. The state does not know what is best for her or her child. Parents do.

Posted by: to Studentmomtobe | November 27, 2006 5:52 PM

Ok, one more for the day, then home. I couldn't resist the "you have no right to travel with your child" comment. Actually, yes, I do. The following is from www.usconstitution.net/constnot.html#travel

The Right to Travel

As the Supreme Court notes in Saenz v Roe, 98-97 (1999), the Constitution does not contain the word "travel" in any context, let alone an explicit right to travel (except for members of Congress, who are guaranteed the right to travel to and from Congress). The presumed right to travel, however, is firmly established in U.S. law and precedent. In U.S. v Guest, 383 U.S. 745 (1966), the Court noted, "It is a right that has been firmly established and repeatedly recognized." In fact, in Shapiro v Thompson, 394 U.S. 618 (1969), Justice Stewart noted in a concurring opinion that "it is a right broadly assertable against private interference as well as governmental action. Like the right of association, ... it is a virtually unconditional personal right, guaranteed by the Constitution to us all."

We all have the right to travel. Even annoying 2-yr-olds.

Posted by: Laura | November 27, 2006 5:54 PM

"StudentMom2Be, you are like the tobacco companies clinging to the one or two scientists who supported their view that tobacco doesn't cause cancer when every other scientist knew it did. three studies versus how many? pick and choose much?"

> ... you simply don't like that your worldview is being challenged by the more modern studies. Not my fault. BTW, it's not just those three studies ... those are just the three that came out this fall, one right after the other.

Bottom line: better science will eventually show whether or not BF does have a health impact. Remember, they thought for YEARS not so many generations ago that the best cure for pneumonia was exercise and that leeches and "bleeding" were the best ways to remedy illness. Better science eventually prevailed, and now we know better. But it's a bit crazy to dismiss three studies, from different institutes, from different countries in fact, that have challenged La Leche League lore as "having to be false!!!" just because it's inconvenient for you to process them.

Posted by: StudentMom2Be | November 27, 2006 5:57 PM

"2) was it a time when passengers were expected to be in certain positions (like belted in or sitting upright on Moms' lap?)"

Wasn't it when the flight attendants were walking around the plane? Don't these planes have seats for the flight attendants to use when everyone has to be belted in?

"Secondly, it's rude to tell others to just 'look away' if it offends them."

Even if they're offended for purely aesthetic reasons? One argument I've seen against breastfeeding in public is the way some mothers' breasts are veiny and floppy instead of perky. I wonder what the people who use that argument are going to do when they grow old and wrinkled, stay home all day?

"In China, kids wear pants with a hole in the backside. When they need to go, they just squat by the roadside and poop and pee. You should not be offended. They have a right to perform a natural bodily function."

That's considerably less sanitary for the rest of the people in the area than breastfeeding is.

"What do I do there? I continued to have the conversation with her, but did not look at her while speaking (which is normally considered rude.)"

Not even at her face?

"Plus, your breasts were sexual before functional. You wouldn't have that baby now if they weren't sexual first."

Not even if the mother and father find butts way sexier than breasts? ;)

"No, technically parents shouldn't have to buy an extra seat, but doing so probably makes a long trip more bearable for everyone."

They didn't buy an extra seat, they bought 3 seats (and 3 seatbelts) for 3 people.

Posted by: Maria | November 27, 2006 5:57 PM

"independent enough"

Someone who didn't sign tried to quote me on this twice, despite the fact that I didn't write it. I still see no need to help your kids become independent from you. And a blankie is a step closer to independence than nursing, as it's not another person.

And I quite honestly stated above that BFing a kid who can talk freaks me out. And long before that, I totally sanctioned the idea of BFing a toddler on a plane for the sanity of everyone on the plane!

So, witnessing BFing isn't a problem for me until the kid can walk up and undress you to get to the source. That's freaking weird. If you kid is the age when you'd take away the bottle, why would he still be on the breast? Maybe you shouldn't take away the bottle either.

And how hard is it to try to wean and potty train AT THE SAME TIME? Because one isn't hard enough!

Posted by: Amanda | November 27, 2006 5:57 PM

"If I'm offended by seeing something (can't think of anything right now) - I would just look away"

Plumber's crack.

Posted by: to father of 2 | November 27, 2006 5:57 PM

To StudentMom2Be: ..... huh? I don't see how that has anything to do with anything I said. I never said anything about wanting the state to dictate anything, just that I expect good science.

Posted by: StudentMom2Be | November 27, 2006 5:59 PM

//If you kid is the age when you'd take away the bottle, why would he still be on the breast? Maybe you shouldn't take away the bottle either.//

lots of kids use bottles well past two.

StudentMom2Be, I didn't dismiss the three studies, I said you're clinging to them in the face of many more studies to the contrary. you never specified how they are "better science" - is it just because you agree with them or is there a reason. and what are the citations. personally, I finished breastfeeding ages ago and I would have done it regardless because it was easy and convenient and free, so your assumptions about me are incorrect also.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 6:02 PM

Here's good science. What about the science that breast is filled with milk, and the nipple is a way of dispensing the milk in a child's mouth. It's common sense. So do we really need to spell it out further? Let's put aside the question of whether it's better than formula feeding a child, a mother still needs to feed her child. So it's an option that should be accepted and left up to parents.

Posted by: to Studentmomtobe | November 27, 2006 6:05 PM

"Remember, they thought for YEARS not so many generations ago that the best cure for pneumonia was exercise and that leeches and "bleeding" were the best ways to remedy illness. Better science eventually prevailed, and now we know better."

Speaking of leeches:

http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/2004/504_leech.html

Posted by: Maria | November 27, 2006 6:07 PM

leeches are back in the world of sanctioned medical care - who knew? better science prevails again! thanks for the link Maria

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 6:11 PM

Amanda wrote:

"And a blankie is a step closer to independence than nursing, as it's not another person."
Says you! A blankie is a material item to become dependent on. Nursing has made my 8 yr old much more independent than other kids his age.

"And I quite honestly stated above that BFing a kid who can talk freaks me out. And long before that, I totally sanctioned the idea of BFing a toddler on a plane for the sanity of everyone on the plane!"
Sorry you cannot understand the benefits of BFing until a young human is ready to wean, but I would never suggest my wife stop because someone else is unable to deal with a healthy, normal act.


"So, witnessing BFing isn't a problem for me until the kid can walk up and undress you to get to the source. That's freaking weird. If you kid is the age when you'd take away the bottle, why would he still be on the breast? Maybe you shouldn't take away the bottle either."

I'm sorry but a bottle does not equate a breast in terms of comfort and mental adjustment. Also, who's standard should apply as to when a child should wean? Yours? Mine? Are all humans exactly the same and work on the same schedule?

"And how hard is it to try to wean and potty train AT THE SAME TIME? Because one isn't hard enough!"

One has nothing to do with the other, so it depends on the child as to how long it will take.
You are assuming the BFing is purely mechanical with no emotions involved. Babies are not little robots they don't do ANYTHING on YOUR schedule.

Posted by: Father of 2 | November 27, 2006 6:16 PM

Several things:

First I agree with NoKids -- LOTS of acts are natural but not necessarily done in public.

Second, I LOVE the post from BottleFeedingMom. My children are 17 and 18, and neither was breastfed (the first for medical reasons having to do with me, and the second by choice). I got all the grief and guilties from medical personnel and moms in the community for not nursing my baby. I don't want to relive the horror stories -- let's just say that I don't make donations to the LaLeche League. My eldest son earned two scholarships to college, and the younger on scored 720 on his SAT math. They were almost never sick, were never fat, and are happy and well-adjusted. That doesn't mean that I think breast-feeders are wrong and that breastfeeding is a bad thing in any way. I'm just tired of all the propaganda put out there by the nursing movement.

To the poster who saw a mom breastfeeding in CHURCH and thought it was OK: no, it was not!!! Neither is it OK to being Cheerios, popcorn, coloring books or matchbox cars to church!!! Most churches have multiple services, nurseries or, at least in many Catholic churches, 'crying rooms' where one can go with babies who are being disruptive. I realize some people think that children should be welcome everywhere with open arms, but there really are some places they just don't need to go. Is it really too much to ask to just not bring a baby to church, or the symphony, or a five-star restaurant, or an R-rated movie, other places I have seen people with nursing infants?

To the posters who say it's OK for a two-year-old to nurse: my sons were not drinking from a bottle at that age. If they needed to suck, they had thumbs (and by the way, doesn't nursing HURT once the children get teeth?). Really, weaning is OK. The children will ALWAYS need you -- just not for breast milk.

That leads me to another point. I think a lot of parents are so insecure in their parenting abilities, or perhaps feeling guilty for working/not working/being rich/being poor/insert neurosis here, that they never want to say no to anything, be it the breast/bottle, the TV, the toy, the candy, the diaper...there is this fear in our society of allowing kids to do anything at all without intimate parental involvement. I suspect the moms who nurse for 2+ years may be the same moms who, when the kid is 7, won't allow them to play at Tiffani's because her mother goes into the other room when there are children over (and yes I know parents like this). I also suspect these parents are the same ones that want to take their children EVERYWHERE, and too bad for us if we can't hear the music from our $200 seats because the baby in the row behind us is whining.

To the poster who commented about moms in Africa: it's true that the only time women are willing to compare themselves to African women is in that respect. I don't remember if the same poster made the point about some nursing moms just showing off, but I think that person had a point.

Posted by: teachermom | November 27, 2006 6:16 PM

Leslie- "weird" certainly does not equal "bad" "wrong" or "unhealthy" Considering how sucky most of the "norms" are right now, I'm all for lots of weird behavior!

I see no reason why nursing a baby into young childhood NECESSARILY is a bad thing at all, and see many possible benefits. The idea that so many will simply swipe it away and suggest that it WILL make the child less indepdent and WILL cause social problems later on are just making horrendous over-generalizationsjust like those who suggest if you use formula your baby WILL be less healthy and WILL be less connected to the mother.

Hogwash.

Posted by: Liz D | November 27, 2006 6:18 PM

If children should be welcome anywhere, it is in a place of worship. You know, the places were they are supposed to teach tolerance, compassion, acceptance. What a farce!

Posted by: newbie | November 27, 2006 6:20 PM

"and by the way, doesn't nursing HURT once the children get teeth?"

Just one of the many, many incorrect assumptions you make about nursing moms, Teachermom. Nursing does NOT hurt once the child has teeth because the teeth do not come in contact with the breast when the child is latched on correctly - you will only feel the teeth if the child is not latched on correctly, at which point you simply break the latch and start over. The rest of your post I will leave to someone with more energy.

Posted by: Megan | November 27, 2006 6:25 PM

No breastfeeding in church?!? HAHAHAHAHAHAHHA

Somebody better do something about all those statues and paintings of Mary nursing Jesus then. She's setting a bad example. Oh the horror!

Posted by: Brookland | November 27, 2006 6:33 PM

To anon: lol @ me "clinging" to them. They are brand new studies that discredit several of their older predecessors. I hardly call that "clinging," simply "citing." You, on the other hand ....

So why are they better? #1, they control for more variables than their older predecessors. #2 they answer questions (specifically addressing causality) that their older predecessors do not. More studies will be done in the future I'm sure, and we can see where the chips fall then. But it truly seems to me that you don't wished to be confused by facts that are inconvenient to your cause of promoting BF no matter how chump some of the science is behind it. All I want is for good studies to replace the old, lazy ones. If they reach the same conclusion that "breast is best," then great ... but at least it will be a TRUE conclusion instead of a half-baked one.

Posted by: StudentMom2Be | November 27, 2006 6:34 PM

Father of 2- Ya, I'm still not getting it. I can no more understand your point of view than you can mine. I actually believe you can control your children, ie teach them to control themselves. When mom says it's time to wean, it's time to wean. Same is true for going to bed, cleaning up your mess, etc. I'm not interested in living in a household where the child rules. And it's certainly not how I grew up. (This is where I'm supposed to list my credentials, right?) I'm sure it makes for a very "independent" child, but not one I want to be around! If you want to live like that, that's perfectly OK with me. Breastfeed them until they're 14, but I'll never think it's normal and it will always give me the willies. I just don't need whatever it is that you get out of it.

Posted by: Amanda | November 27, 2006 6:38 PM

StudentMom2Be:

Lord help your kid(s) if you think that science will answer everything for them. They will question you in ways you won't be able to answer. I'm a Computer Scientist and non-religious person by the way. I don't pretend with my children for an instant that science can answer it all. Sometimes it just "feels right." How do you study that?!? Granted I'm male, so I can't claim I understand what BF'ing feels like. I do, however, know when my intuition tells me something is right or wrong for me. I follow it. If some scientist tells me that I'm wrong for following it, so be it, but it doesn't prove anything to do the study. There are studies and counter-studies for everything. I don't need studies to prove BF'ing as being a great benefit for the child. But it doesn't mean that I believe that women who do not BF are wrong. It's their body, their choice and I've no right to judge them. I just know what I believe in and I'm secure in that belief.

Posted by: Father of 2 | November 27, 2006 6:41 PM

It is glaringly obvious that Amanda is not a parent.

Posted by: Remember. . . | November 27, 2006 6:47 PM

StudentMom2Be thanks for actually providing some information about the studies instead of just proclaiming them better. still no citations though. and no, I'm not worried about being "confused" - I already said I did what was best for my kids back when "science" said formula was better.

Amanda, far as I can see you have no credentials and no support for any of your positions, so why do you need to attack Father of 2 and assume his kids are uncontrolled just because they are still nursing? we get that you're squeamish, maybe you'll get over that when you have kids. until then, maybe you should lay off your assumptions about everyone else's kids. you didn't even respond to the person who tried to actually answer your question, just went off on another rant

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 6:49 PM

"Father of 2- Ya, I'm still not getting it. I can no more understand your point of view than you can mine. I actually believe you can control your children, ie teach them to control themselves. "

I think the problem we're both having here is the words being used. Control implies to me that the child has no right whatsoever. I'm saying "within bounds" - and I get to decide those bounds - the child gets what is needed. Children know what they need. The difference here is a need vs want. We give them some of what they want and all of what they need (BF'ing in this instance).

"When mom says it's time to wean, it's time to wean. Same is true for going to bed, cleaning up "
If only children were that simple. They aren't. Sure you can coerce a child to do whatever you want and they'll spend most of their adult life talking to a professional about a suppressed/oppressed childhood. That's not to say any amount of discipline or boundaries are considered suppressing either.


"I'm sure it makes for a very "independent" child, but not one I want to be around! "
Interestingly you would think this was the case, but it is quite the opposite - in my experience. My child, though he has his moments, is entirely "behaved - according to society" when he is around other folks. He shares with other kids and is compassionate. That's they type of human I want to be around and values I'd like him to have. Independent children need less attention in general.

"If you want to live like that, that's perfectly OK with me. Breastfeed them until they're 14, but I'll never think it's normal and it will always give me the willies. I just don't need whatever it is that you get out of it."
I guess you're right, we'll never quite see eye-to-eye on this one. To me it is like getting the willies watching a 8 yr old holding his dad's hand for no reason. It makes no sense to be afraid of such a natural act. That's my opinion anyway.

Posted by: Father of 2 | November 27, 2006 6:51 PM

StudentMom2B- If you're going into science, you'll be great. I couldn't agree with you more. I HATE HATE HATE hearing crappy science from crappy journals used to justify whatever agenda people want to justify. The truth is, as far as BFing, we are all doing what our gut tells us and/or acting on our opinions. And that's fine, as long as we don't hide behind questionable science. Do I think breastmilk is better than formula? Yes. Why? You'll like this: because it's nature's way of feeding a baby. HAHAHAHA! Should you nurse them until they're 6? No! Why? It's creepy and can't possible be good for them psychologically. HAHAHAHA again! Were I feeling particularly smarmy, I'd go hit up PubMed to pick the papers that support my views and pretend like the contradicting papers didn't exist.

Posted by: Amanda | November 27, 2006 6:55 PM

It's creepy and can't possible be good for them psychologically.

Yes, Amanda, with statements like that, we can tell you love science. What are you basing your argument on again, other than your "creepy" feelings?

Posted by: Remember . . . | November 27, 2006 6:57 PM

She was not asked to cover up for the passengers, the air hostess said it was offending HER. I think everyone is missing the point. The mother wasnt doing anything wrong, abusive or threatening to the aircraft, she wasnt intoxicated....she was nursing her child and sitting next to her HUSBAND...NO ONE ELSE!! A 2yr old would have been covering up ALL modesty, and from experience would NOT want to be stuffed under a blanket. The point is, that people are quite happy to see clevages on TV adverts or TV programmes or on 15yr olds at the mall, but attatch a baby to that cleavage and suddenly it's offensive. UGH only in America....land of the free my ***

Posted by: Emma mom of 4 | November 27, 2006 6:58 PM

"to Cover up! I'm a bit baffled at the statement that "no one says you have a right to fly with your child". Actually, I do have a right to purchase airline seats, and fly along with, any one I choose, with the obvious exclusion of persons who are terrorists. So, duh, I have a right to fly with my child as long as I behave in accordance with whatever terms and conditions are on the back of the ticket I purchased."

And the airline has a right to refuse you travel for conditions they can set, such as BF'ing in public after refusing a warning to cover up.

You'd be repulsed by an act such as defecation in view of the public on a plane, and would demand the airline remove the offender, right? But it's a natural act, right?


Posted by: To NCLawyer | November 27, 2006 6:58 PM

yeah, Amanda, go on, dig in deeper!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 7:00 PM

"And the airline has a right to refuse you travel for conditions they can set, such as BF'ing in public after refusing a warning to cover up."

No, actually they don't have the right to do that. In case you missed it in the numerous posts today, breastfeeding is protected BY LAW in most states. (And fyi, public defecation is not and never will be similar to breastfeeding. God, will you get over it already?)

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 7:01 PM

"I HATE HATE HATE hearing crappy science from crappy journals used to justify whatever agenda people want to justify"

Which is exactly what StudentMom2Be could have been doing based on her first post, which simply referenced a "trifecta of studies" with _no citations_, and no reasonable explanation of why they were "better" than all the existing studies. She still hasn't provided citations and has only given a few indications of why she thinks they're better. And _no_ I'm not a LLL nazi, which all of you seem to assume anyone who questions _your_ point of view or asks for more information is.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 7:04 PM

Wow, this sure touches a tender nerve...

teachermom, it sounds like you received a lot of undeserved criticism. However, that undeserved criticism doesn't alter the basic science and evolutionary health logic of prolonged breastfeeding, all of which point to its value.

Nobody claims that smart kids won't be smart, or that healthy kids will be sick, if they are not breastfed. The studies insteade suggest that the differences are small... but real.

Developmental outcomes are determined by so many convergent environmental and nutritional forces. But what seems undeniable is that breastmilk/breastfeeding is one of those important supporters of infant health and long term development.

And yes, it is connected to a larger agenda of nurturance that extends beyond what kind of mothers we (or our spouses) are able to be, to what kind of society we want to be in relationship to children.

As for your hypothesis that breastfeeding is about "permissive parenting", I don't think you could possibly be more wrong.

Personally, I tend to choose to avoid religious services, movies, and .... well any place my children aren't welcome. It's part of my small effort to do what some people call attachment parenting. (We get out alone sometimes... )

Breastfeeding and a breastfeeding supportive culture is about meeting needs and supporting healthy development. How can I even express this in a blog? Of course there is a need for limits as a child gets older.... even in the child's breastfeeding.... but the way you express the issue seems so sad to me. You seem wounded and angry all at once.

Somehow in this strange discussion, women who are nurturing children get portrayed as "aggressive", breasts become "bazzookas" (above), children become "annoyances" thrust upon others..... It's very strange. It's as if in the Delta airlines world, virtue itself is an affront. In my psycho geography, nurturing children is practically the highest value. The world just needs to arrange itself around that reality, or get out of the way. We're talking about the holy of holies here in a societal sense... mundane, and yet a perfect litmus test for our attitudes toward the future.

I don't know. It's just hard to imagine how the most basic kind of nurturance activity could be a threat or anger people. I take it as a measure of the sickness of our civillization, a reflection of the collapse of basic human values.

Some people have been very wounded and perhaps they carry their pain with them and are hurt again when they see the most healing/nurturing physical relationships enacted before them? I don't know. Just another crazy hypothesis.

Posted by: Oregon guy | November 27, 2006 7:06 PM

Yes! Holding up a Sports Illustrated or Maxim to cover up mom would have been soooooooooooo ironic ;) I'm gonna have to carry one around with me just incase, although here in the UK it doesnt SEEM to be such an issue as when I Nursed in Public in the USA.

Posted by: Emma mom of 4 | November 27, 2006 7:07 PM

Good God anon are you that lazy lol? It's called "Google" ... say it with me now!!!! Or "PubMed" if you can spell that ... but since apparently you are too helpless, I will spoon-feed you:

http://allergies.about.com/b/a/256883.htm
http://www.ivanhoe.com/channels/p_channelstory.cfm?storyid=14889

And ... apologies for this one, it actually assumes you have some sort of an education to understand the verbage, so you might have problems with it :) http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/529311_6

Posted by: StudentMom2Be | November 27, 2006 7:12 PM

Amazing how loads of the insulting posts are from MEN. Is it cause they are intimidated cause they CAN NOT sustain human life? They think they can run the world but they cant nurture a child like a woman can...one word JELOUSY!!

Posted by: Nursing Mom | November 27, 2006 7:15 PM

Father of 2- I have no doubt you're a good, involved dad. And if BFing is as as natural to you/your family as a dad holding his kid's hand, THAT I can understand. And I don't want to control my as yet unborn fetus, but you bet your butt I'm praying that the baby whisperer can get this kid on a schedule. I'm all for controlling everything I possibly can without breaking the kid or me.

To whoever: My squeamishness is not unusual, I'm just much more vocal and honest about it. Most American's see BFing as something you do with an infant, not a 6 year old. I'm in the majority there. My credentials? I was making a joke, but my credentials are all biology no psychology. I have a Ph.D. in cell biology. As far as my question being answered, I don't think I really had one. I was reacting to what I thought was him being snooty. He seems less snooty now. Though I understand being defensive when someone thinks something you're doing is gross/weird/not what they would do.

Posted by: Amanda | November 27, 2006 7:15 PM

Oregon guy: You hit the nail on the head. It is partially societal, i.e. folks don't really get attachment parenting and all of the values that go with it. If they did, maybe they could find a way to heal themselves. Just a thought.

Posted by: Father of 2 | November 27, 2006 7:19 PM

"And I don't want to control my as yet unborn fetus, but you bet your butt I'm praying that the baby whisperer can get this kid on a schedule. I'm all for controlling everything I possibly can without breaking the kid or me."

Oh gosh...you have a hard reality check to come! I was once in your shoes...it hit me hard, when baby comes *MY* rules and *MY* life went out the window....I can only sit back and chuckle at such *confident* mothers to be nowadays. Gosh you will make your life so much harder than it needs to be....enjoy your baby, snuggle with your baby, he/she will be grown and leaving home before you know it. OR fight it, make rules and get stressed when they dont work, and completely regret it all years down the line when he/she is in school and all the rules didnt make him any different to his classmate...

Eye roll....you've got ALOT to learn, and a big shock ahead of you...

Posted by: Nursing Mom | November 27, 2006 7:20 PM

"Father of 2- I have no doubt you're a good, involved dad. And if BFing is as as natural to you/your family as a dad holding his kid's hand, THAT I can understand. And I don't want to control my as yet unborn fetus, but you bet your butt I'm praying that the baby whisperer can get this kid on a schedule. I'm all for controlling everything I possibly can without breaking the kid or me."
If you get that one figured out, please let the rest of us know how you did it! :) Kids are wonderful, but predictable is not an adjective I'd use for them. :)

Posted by: Father of 2 | November 27, 2006 7:23 PM

I think it is a US hangup. Breastfeeding in Europe (not UK) rarely got me a second glance, and if so, it was from some little granny telling me how beautiful it was to see a mother and baby so contented. Nobody seemed to think it was unusual in the slightest.

Flash back to the good old USA, and all of the sudden it's creepy, akin to defecation, and I shouldn't be flying with a baby anyway. Whew!

I hope my DH gets transferred again. I can't take the weirdness. Grow up, folks!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 7:25 PM

Father of 2 - Isn't it sooooo funny to see people think child bearing is like training a dog?

BTW am I married to you? You are awsome :D

Posted by: Nursing mom of 4 | November 27, 2006 7:25 PM

My brothers stopped complaining when they learned that I could defend myself by squirting milk at them.
Posted by: Emily | November 27, 2006 11:31 AM


Ewwwww. Who was it that was looking for an offensive breast-feeding story?

Posted by: to Emily | November 27, 2006 7:26 PM

Oh...my...gosh...That's the whole point. It's all freaking opinion. Some people are going to be creeped out, based on whatever. I don't share dairy products because it creeps me out. I'm really bothered by those skit shows where the comedian does something that makes other people really uncomfortable, like Borat. Meanwhile, I have no problem hanging out with my friend while she's pumps breastmilk or BFs her sick cranky 18mo. I watch plastic surgery shows with glee. None of that makes me any better or worse than anyone else. It just is.

And if you do a pubmed search on breast feeding, you get over 20,000 articles. I can't tell you what's in all of them. Seriously, pick a week and you'll find so many conflicting reports you won't know what to believe. Except of course, you already know what you believe.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 7:27 PM

Nursing Mom: Fortunately not all of us guys are insulting. :) Just ignore 'em, maybe they'll go away. :)

Posted by: Father of 2 | November 27, 2006 7:27 PM

Nursing mom of 4: Yep, I almost have my son trained to fetch, but he loses interest half way on the way back. :) Thanks and no you can't be married to me as I have only 2 children. 4 and I'd have no hair left. :)

Posted by: Father of 2 | November 27, 2006 7:30 PM

to the Student Mom who is anti-breastfeeding: have you considered that there are emotional benefits to breastfeeding for both mother and baby? I'm not trying to force or guillt anyone into BF if they don't want to, but you should know it's not just about nutrition. It's an incredible connection that I never felt with the bottle (and I did both). I'm just putting the thought out there for you.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 7:34 PM

To nice anon (as opposed to the grumpy anon): thanks for the thought, but BF really will not work for me. For the record, I'm not anti-BF, I'm just anti-lazy-BF-studies-that-assume-causality-without-proving-it-and-don't-measure-many-variables-being-passed-off-as-thorough-and-cited-everywhere-by-LLL :)

Posted by: StudentMom2Be | November 27, 2006 7:39 PM

Yes I've done both bottle and breast feeding. And there is a HUGE difference in bond. Good point.

Posted by: Nursing Mom | November 27, 2006 7:40 PM

I am with Amanda. It makes me squeamish to see older kids nursing.

My kids were born in 1988 and 1992 and at that time, there was a recommendation to breast feed "for at least 6-12 weeks" (according to my memory - I haven't actually researched past recommendations). My approach was that I would try, and if it didn't work out, I would stop.

I knew that I would wean before returning to work because I had absolutely NO interest in pumping. I nursed for 10 weeks and 7 weeks respectively. The youngest has been the healthiest of the two even with less nursing.

While on maternity leave, I tried to run errands mostly by myself evenings and weekends so my husband could have time alone with the babies. He was unsure of himself and I thought that he would gain more confidence handling the babies if I weren't around. The first time I was at the grocery store and started leaking, I decided I had enough of the nursing.

Once I started to FF, I was actually less tired, even though it was supposedly more work. I used ready-to-pour formula, so there was no mixing involved. I used bottle liners, so cleanup was easier. My husband was able to make a bottle and feed the babies as easily as I. As another poster mentioned, sharing the middle of the night feedings allowed us both to get better sleep. Also, the babies themselves slept better once they were on formula.

As far as proper nutrition for the children, I won't argue which is better because I am not an expert. As parents we have choices as to what to feed our children for many years, and there will always be something we give them that someone else doesn't think we should.

Many people here have said in the past how taking care of children is bone-crushing exhausting. I never found that to be true. Maybe because I gave up nursing and didn't have as much time tied up in feeding the children as many of the BFers. Formula filled them up and they didn't eat as frequently. Dad or anyone else who was around at the time, including older siblings, could feed the baby while I was doing other things. I look back on maternity leave as the time when I was tired a little more than usual. But, I was happy to be with the children, to hold them and rock them, to put them down to cook dinner or fold clothes without having to hold the baby for nursing with one hand. To be able to leave the house without them and not be worried about being back before they got hungry or I leaked.

I think that I was happier and a better mother for putting them on formula than I would have been if I continued to nurse. If that sounds strange to some, think of the working moms who said that they are better mothers for continuing to work and have a sense of self.

I admire the moms who try so hard to nurse if that is what they really believe in. But I just wonder how damaging the stress may be to the babies when the mother is having difficulty and people pressure her to keep trying.

Posted by: another view | November 27, 2006 7:44 PM

Hey, I said I was -praying- the baby whisperer would work, as it has for a couple friends of mine, but that's hardly confident. But don't think I won't try anything, and don't think whatever it is that you're doing that works isn't in a book somewhere. And guess what...it's all training. Call it "teaching,"use whatever term you like, but all parents train. Yes, just like dogs, with punishments and rewards, but totally different. They won't let you put a shock collar on a toddler.

Posted by: Amanda | November 27, 2006 7:51 PM

Balancing work and family - just a thought.

How much does breast-feeding affect a wmoman's career? It seems that it can create more work-related hassle than formula feeding. It is harder to travel without pumping, freezing milk, etc. It can be awkward finding pumping places at work. It can be more physically tiring than formula feeding to the mother. I think it would be much more revitalizing to take a walk at lunchtime rather than spend the time pumping. It would also eliminate having to work later to make up for the time lost while pumping (which is required in some workplaces). This would allow more time with the family.

The more I read this blog, the more I believe it is true that we can have it all, just not all at the same time.

Posted by: another view | November 27, 2006 7:55 PM

How could the world AVERAGE age of breastfeeding be 7 years old? There are 14 year olds breastfeeding? I mean really, a lot of women in this country stop after a couple weeks, most at a year. Even in third world countries kids aren't breatfeeding till 10. Sounds bogus to me.

Posted by: cmac | November 27, 2006 7:56 PM

Dont you think we are getting off the point? A woman was legally nursing her child on a plane and was told to leave...this is WRONG. She wasnt threatening to bomb the plane, she wasnt abusive, she was feeding her child. The Flight attendant had a problem with that...a personal problem...that should not have affected this woman's travel plans...POINT BLANK!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 7:58 PM

cmac- This may or may not be correct, but I keep seeing 4.2 years for child-led weaning. How that averages out when you factor in parent-led weaning I can't say, but it certainly suggests that the average is below 4.2 years.

Posted by: Amanda | November 27, 2006 8:16 PM

"They should begin to teach them ways to express their feelings, comfort them about talking to them, helping them label their emotions, and express them in any way they can."

Well, a two-year-old's idea of this is to fall down in the center aisle and have a full blown tantrum, complete with ear-splitting shrieks whose duration and pitch would rival world famous opera singers'. That's why when someone behaves badly you say, "quit behaving like a two year old". I think we should all DEFINITELY subject our fellow travelers to this.

Posted by: m | November 27, 2006 9:58 PM

Oregon guy:

I appreciate your kind response, but I would like to address something. I'm not so much wounded as, well, irritated. I DID receive a good deal of criticism for not nursing. I think, in fact, that society is more accepting of the parents who choose the bottle than it was almost 20 years ago, and I suppose I do bristle when the topic comes up. Like most posters, I think there is room for compromise. Nurse in public if you need to, and be discreet (you don't have to throw a blanket over your head to be discreet -- I think many other posters have addressed the issue adequately), and those of us not nursing will not stare, criticize or attempt to make you feel uncomfortable -- those, like me, who don't really care all that much what you do AND those who are put off by nursing.

By the way, I think the flight attendant (from the story that started this series of posts) was WAY off base.

I didn't really intend to equate breastfeeding with permissive parenting; I think prolonged nursing sometimes leads to, or may be symptomatic of, some overprotectiveness and a little too much attachment. I think late weaning, breast or bottle, is also sometimes a symptom of permissiveness (not a cause). I know some people believe in attachment parenting. I don't necessarily think attachment parenting is the best method of parenting, although I feel "to each his own" if no harm is done. I don't know of any studies or anecdotal evidence that suggest harm with this approach, and I don't anticipate any, based on what I know of the philosophy.
I do know, based on observation, that students in general have become more passive and reliant on adult guidance in the past ten or so years. I'm not sure why that is, and I'm sure there are hundreds of factors (which I don't want to address now). I also know that educators are seeing a phenomenon we refer to as helicopter parenting (it was first mentioned in a Newsweek article a while back), which we define as parents swooping in to micromanage their child's social, educational and extracurricular experiences, and it seems to be having a detrimental effect on student independence. I do have a concern that attachment parenting evolves into helicopter parenting, which evolves into...well, I don't know. Just remember that the goal of raising a child is to have an independent adult in 18 or so years (as a friend's mother said, if you are a really good parent, they leave).

Oh, to all of you who don't like my statements about nursing in church: I teach in a Catholic school. I taught in two others. I have attended church at I don't know how many churches. And I have NEVER, EVER seen a statue, painting, sculpture, carving or other image in which Mary is, as someone crassly put it in a different context, "whipping out her boob" for the Messiah. IF she's nursing (and I haven't seen anything in church art at any church I've attended where I can tell she is -- although I haven't looked too closely) instead of cuddling, it's discreet!

I don't think children should come to a church service if they cannot be quiet and calm. PLEASE don't quote the Gospel to me (I know which one you are thinking). I would hope Jesus isn't going to be offended if you sit in the crying room with your family, or leave your child at the nursery, or attend the kid-friendly service, or walk OUTSIDE if your child starts misbehaving. You know, if you think of OTHER parisioners first. Once children start parish school, Catholic school teachers expend a lot of energy getting the children to be quiet, respectful and reverent, and it would be easier to do if the child wasn't accustomed to eating goldfish & coloring during mass.

It's not nursing in church per se that bothers me. I see the toys/food/nursing, arriving late/leaving early, talking/drawing/text messaging/playing gameboy in church as more breaches of the boundary of consideration, and of the casualization of worship. I'm also not too impressed with people who can't be bothered to change out of their jeans before Mass, and I'm not talking about the people who don't have anything else to wear -- I'm talking about the folks I know, who I see all dressed up out to dinner on Saturday and who go to Mass looking like they just parked the lawn mower outside. Show some respect!
And, no, I didn't ever bring toys or food to church for my children. When they had trouble behaving, their dad or I walked outside with them. One of us even took them out if they needed a bottle.

The 'does it hurt' comment -- I was seriously wondering, because it seems logical (which is why I suppose it is a common misconception).

Posted by: teachermom | November 27, 2006 10:05 PM

Hi there Bottlefed Breastfeeder. Re this comment -- "It's one thing to be supportive of a decision, and quite another thing for a medical professional to not encourage a new mother to breastfeed. I find it hard to believe that 4 doctors separately decided to not try to educate you on the benefits of breastfeeding; it sounds like you heard what you want to hear. And if they really did do that, I would greatly question their competence."

I'm glad you are happy to judge what I wrotey (sarcasm intended). It's funny because while in my regret period, I thought about all the interviews I did with my doctors and realized that subconsiously I was asking for one of them to say to me, "You know. Just give it a try." But none of them said it. They all told me to do what was best for our family - that is what is best - none of them preached the Breast is Best mantra and one told me that a ped in her practice FF her baby. These are good doctors - some written up in Washingtonian Best, and all well-established. I hate this fight so much and your comments just fuel it on more and more. "BEST" is what you do best -- a happy, healthy Mommy is the first step to what is best. One of my friends used the "Breast is Best" line with me when both of our babies were infants. I believe her comment was something along the lines of "Even though I understand where you're coming from, I still think that breats is best." Needless to say, I think our friendship isn't best.
Why all the judging?! Nurture your baby, nurture youself. Educate your baby, educate yourself. And get over yourself. I'm happy with my decision and confident that I am doing the best I can with my daughter. She is not lacking for love, comfort and nutrition. And I'm in teh best place emotionally I have been in my adult life.
Thanks for your comments on my commetns, but seriously.. judging me, and my doctors now? C'mon.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 10:11 PM

You embody exactly what is wrong with religion - be respectful of me but I don't have to be respectful of you (or your efforts to raise thoughtful children). I hope the children you taught did not follow your example.

Posted by: to teachermom | November 27, 2006 10:16 PM

"So why are they better? #1, they control for more variables than their older predecessors. #2 they answer questions (specifically addressing causality) that their older predecessors do not. More studies will be done in the future I'm sure, and we can see where the chips fall then."

Well, that's really the problem, isn't it? First some studies say formula is better, then other studies say BF is better, then yet other studies say it doesn't matter. What will future studies say, and if we don't know now, then do we care? I even know one of the studies you're thinking of: it found that there was no IQ difference once you controlled for parent IQ by comparing the IQ of BF vs FF siblings. But that's just one marker tested. What about obesity, vision, cancer, etc? And even if they found that BF was irrelevant for all those things, maybe they would do a better study later that found it was really important. The bottom line is, that research is of limited utility when making real-world decisions, because no matter how much research we do we will never be omniscient. Evolution designed breastfeeding and that's good enough for me!

In any case, how is this relevant to the case of whether a baby should be allowed to bf in public? It's not, except as the argument that, well, you CHOSE to breastfeed instead of using formula, therefore you should be confined to your home like a woman in Taliban Afghanistan, rather than subject us normal formula-feeding people to the sight of 1/100 of your breast!

I take issue with those who keep comparing breastfeeding with defecating, masturbating, and intercourse. The most appropriate and just parallel is to an adult eating lunch. When adults eat lunch, a gross body part used in sex is also on display: your tongue. EWWWWWWW! Go eat in the bathroom you inconsiderate creature!

I agree with the poster who said that it is really a reflection of a society that is anti-child, but I think that idea deserves its own discussion.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 10:43 PM

Top 10 Classic On Balance Breastfeeding Posts:

10) I love breasts!

9) I love breasts that are pert and young, but not breastfeeding breasts.

8) I don't like any breasts.

7) My unnamed scientific source is better than your unnamed scientific source.

6) I never breastfed and my child never got sick, scored perfect SATs, went on to win the Nobel Prize in chemistry and literature and is currently working on the most promising cure for cancer as well as writing the great American novel and has still never had so much as a cold.

5) I breastfed my child until he was 4.2 years old and he was cooking and doing his own laundry by age 3, moved out of the house and was completely self-sufficient at 5 and 1/2 and also gives 10% of his income to charity.

4) How dare you infringe on my rights to do whatever I want, whenever I want, whereever I want, and when will you learn that your needs (and your child's if you have one and I don't) are not as important as mine?

3) Breastfeeding moms are part of a worldwide conspiracy to undermine good parenting and good science and subject the United States of America to the whims of a tyrannical international organization.

2) Formula feeding moms are pawns in a worldwide corporate conspiracy to make our children fat, lazy, and stupid while keeping us dependent on middle eastern oil and secretly privatizing our water supply.

1) EEEK! BREASTS ON A PLANE! BREASTS ON A PLANE!

Posted by: Letterman | November 27, 2006 10:44 PM

//Good God anon are you that lazy lol? It's called "Google" ... say it with me now!!!! Or "PubMed" if you can spell that ... but since apparently you are too helpless, I will spoon-feed you//

no, actually, I wanted to see what your supposedly superior sources were. you really don't like having your assertions challenged, do you? about.com? it doesn't even have a link or a citation to the actual study, makes it kind of hard to determine that it's "better science" than every other study ever done, and it makes no claims about causation or mentions any attempts to determine causation. the Pediatrics one, however, does seem to raise some serious questions about previous studies, so that's interesting. the one in Brazil raises interesting questions as well, though I'm not sure what to make of the difference between developing and developed countries, it seems like there are too many cultural issues to assume that this is definitive, but I don't know enough to really say - which I, unlike you, am perfectly comfortable admitting.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 27, 2006 11:01 PM

Wow, I guess I can't complain about the blog activity tapering off early today!

"The 'does it hurt' comment -- I was seriously wondering, because it seems logical (which is why I suppose it is a common misconception)."

Teachermom, fair enough, it definitely is a common question. I'm sorry I got snippy, I felt that you were unfairly asserting that every bad parenting choice in the book is the sole provence of breastfeeding moms, which I not surprisingly took offense to. But I do understand your questioning whether extended breastfeeding is often coextensive with overinvolved parenting - my guess is that it seems that way because of the more extreme examples of extended nursing. The women I know who are nursing toddlers run the gamut in terms of parenting styles, from those that structure everything around their child to those who are very hands-off. I think for a lot of us its as much a convenience and a very powerful way of taking time to relax and connect with our babes as it is a major parenting/philosophical bent. It seems to just sort of happen to a lot of women.

Anyway, my answer was sincere, but I also left off the fact that babies who are teething and have teeth do sometimes bite instead of nurse, and that is indeed quite painful ;)

Posted by: Megan | November 27, 2006 11:49 PM

You've been missed!

Posted by: to Letterman | November 28, 2006 12:00 AM

I know that "BF" is the obvious shorthand for the subject du jour, just as "BJ" is the obvious shorthand for "banana juice", but it still isn't the first thought that comes to mind!

Legally, the airlines (like alcohol-serving establishments) are public accomodations ["no obvious discrimination based on color-creed-gender-age-blah-blah-blah"] but with extra leeway to refuse to serve whomever they see fit, for whatever reason they see fit, on the basis of their need to ensure the safety of their other patrons. Until BF'ing (oh, golly, that's amusing!!) is a specifically legally-protected status (not to be confused with protected activities such as speech-making and gun-toting, both of which are clearly able to be prohibited in privately-owned taverns and aircraft), any business owners have the legal right to treat it in any way in which they see fit. I'm guessing that feed-in's and other titty-tantrums are, in fact, the only realistic path toward public indifference, which is (presumably) the best outcome here.

Posted by: Bob S. | November 28, 2006 3:14 AM

To Bob S.: Until reading your comment this morning, I thought the whole nurse-in was silly, but now I'm not so sure.

For your edification:

36 states have laws with language specifically allowing women to breastfeed in any public or private location (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Tennessee, Texas, and Vermont).
Twenty-one states exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws (Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin).
Eleven states have laws related to breastfeeding in the workplace (California, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington).
Eleven states exempt breastfeeding mothers from jury duty (California, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon and Virginia).
Four states have implemented or encouraged the development of a breastfeeding awareness education campaign (California, Illinois, Missouri, and Vermont).
Virginia allows women to breastfeed on any land or property owned by the state.
Several states have unique laws related to breastfeeding. For instance,

California and Texas have laws related to the procurement, processing, distribution or use of human milk.
Louisiana prohibits any child care facility from discriminating against breastfed babies.
Maine requires courts, when awarding parental rights and responsibilities with respect to a child, to consider whether the child is under age one, and being breastfed.
Maryland exempts from the sales and use tax the sale of tangible personal property that is manufactured for the purpose of initiating, supporting or sustaining breastfeeding.
Mississippi provides for regulations for child care facilities to promote breastfeeding by mothers of children being cared for in the facility.
Rhode Island requires the Department of Health to prepare a consumer mercury alert notice, explaining the danger of eating mercury-contaminated fish to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding their children.

Posted by: Shandra | November 28, 2006 5:57 AM

Anon, look it up yourself. It's bad enough that I actually stooped to cater to your insipid demands, but really now ... your laziness reeks of denial. Paaaaaaardon me for assuming that you do not have a science background. Yes, I do not like being challenged by people who have no idea what they are talking about ... it's a waste of time, air and brain cells. And no, I am not going to scan the British Journal of Medicine article and put it on photobucket - you want to see it, call them up yourself and get a subscription like everyone else. Til then, stop whining.

Posted by: StudentMom2Be | November 28, 2006 8:21 AM

Whoa, no way I can read all 300+ posts on this and still be sane.

I nursed my now two year old daughter when she was an infant - until about 7 months. (I would've liked to nurse longer but it just got to be too difficult as a working mom - but that's another discussion).

I was never comfortable nursing in public, so I didn't. I don't have any problem being around other women who are nursing, but I was never comfortable with it, so I never did (well, I tried once but it didn't go well).

I think the reason women nurse in public is because they don't feel like putting their lives on hold - they want to be able to go to the store, to go to the park, to do things with older children, and to do things for themselves.

It's really not a big deal - nobody puts up a fuss when someone gives their kid a bottle on a plane, or in the mall, or whatever.

People who think it's indecent are just ridiculous - I mean seriously, there is absolutely nothing "sexy" about a baby suckling on the mother. I think it's a beautiful thing, not something to be denigrated. If it does make you uncomfortable, then just look away, okay?

Posted by: Vienna mom | November 28, 2006 8:23 AM

If anyone is still reading....current advice is to nurse a baby a minimum of 6 weeks. Heck, after that it is easy!

I nursed my first baby for 18 months (I had planned a year, which is what my doctor advised me to do and what worked for us). Yeah, she could talk and had teeth, but it wasn't like she did it all day. I nursed the second kid a similar time, but had a rough time starting. I thought that I was an expert on breastfeeding after doing it for so long, but almost threw in the towel after three days of intense pain. I finally called the lactation consultant and described my problems. She fixed it over the phone! I also gave my babies formula at 5 weeks to supplement, because by 5 pm. I was low on groceries and my husband could feed them and get some baby love. I miss those baby times. Fyi, I was bottle-fed back in the 60's due to being 6 weeks premature (and my mom having 3 other kids at home to take care of). I feel that I contribute to society as much as breast fed babies, but who knows how to identify who was breast fed? My older sister was breast fed and has every allergy known to man. I have none. I don't know if there is anything meaningful there, just sayin'.

If I remember correctly, world wide average age for weaning was 4 to 5. It grosses me out and I breast fed for a long time! Other things that gross me out--cigarette butts, cigarette smoke and odor, litter, the smell of soured milk, the current smell in my car which is similar to soured milk, and strong body odor. Things that no longer gross me out--kid snot, kid poop, kid pee, kid blood. Kid barf still makes me retch. Have a nice day everyone! Use your turn signal!

Posted by: jane | November 28, 2006 9:26 AM

I have several comments, but first things first. I have nursed 3 children whenever they needed to (and sometimes a 2-year-old needs to, for reasons you will not understand until you have been there), including in public places. I always tried my best to be discreet. But it hurts me deeply as a woman and a mother that I am expected to hide my baby's head and my breast, while a mother who is bottlefeeding is not expected to hide her child and her bottle under a blanket.

I am very supportive of moms who bottlefeed for any reason. Moms are just trying to do the best for their children and their families. If we really, as a society, want to support breastfeeding as a good way to take care of children's health and comfort, we will make an effort to see breasts as no more big of a deal than bottles. Meaning, don't act as if your eyeballs are going to burn off if you see a glimpse of breast or nipple. It is very difficult to be discreet sometimes, especially if you have large, heavy breasts, are a brand-new mom who needs to see what she's doing, or have a squirmy baby. And what if a mom is disabled in some way, such that she physically cannot latch the baby on and cover herself deftly? Women need support to breastfeed, not grudging statements like "ok, fine, as long as I don't have to see anything."

To gradstudent: I know one of the studies you are referring to, and for you to call this good science shows that you have very little understanding of good science. That study failed to define the term "breastfed" and "formula fed," meaning that the breastfed group could have been anything ranging from a few days of breastfeeding to a few years, with any amount of formula supplementation. The formula-fed group could also have been babies who were primarily FF but got a few days of colostrum in the hospital before mom gave up.

Yeah, I'd like to see the moms who would be willing to (a) be randomized to breastfeed or bottlefeed their children, and (b) would be unaware of which group they were in. Let me know when you find some funding for such a study. The fact is, hundreds and hundreds of studies support the fact that breastfeeding is the best way to meet a baby's nutritional, immunological, and emotional needs. That does not mean that formula is the nectar of the anti-Christ, just that it is not "best." I think almost everyone agrees that it is "fine" and that women who bottlefeed should be treated respectfully. Indeed, I would be called cruel to suggest that they hide under a blanket so that no one has to see them do it. Yet many people seem to think it is fine to ask breastfeeding moms to do so.

Posted by: anon | November 28, 2006 10:06 AM

I worry much more about seeing parents feed their obese seven-year-olds junk food to calm them down than seeing mothers breastfeed in public.

The former actually poses a public health issue that everyone should be concerned about, while the latter is merely a private choice.

Posted by: catmommy | November 28, 2006 10:18 AM

Don't know if anyone is still reading this blog today, but since I was not able to respond yesterday to the posts addressed to me (I actually work full time and didn't have time, I think maybe I should change my moniker) I thought I would reply now.

To the poster who wrote:

"Gradstudent, you have obviously never had kids, and I think it is YOU and all the other oversexed whackjobs who have to get over the idea that the breast is sexualized. Mom and baby are fine thinking otherwise. With your open mind and tolerance, I imagine you are going to be in school for a long time. Or are you just a troll? And "out of respect for societies norms"? Are you completely stupid? I suppose Afican-americans should have been more respectful of societal norms in the fifties and sixties and not fought for civil rights, as it was NORMAL for them to be second class citizens in their own country. You are a tool."

To take such offense to what I said and personally attack me says a lot more about you than it does me. But you got me, I don't have kids but I'm also not an oversexed whackjob or a troll or a tool, as you so eloquently put it. Civil rights was about everyone being treated equally, and asking a mother to at least try to coverup while breastfeeding is not taking away her rights. You aren't asking her to stop and honestly if the baby refuses to continue feeding as others have said then maybe there is nothing she can do. But we take such great care in this society not to offend anyone by what we say and do and to show respect, I don't see why it is so ridiculous for one to suggest that in this situation a mother try to be as respectful of those around her as they should be towards her in recognizing her right to breastfeed. sheesh.

I think this is the last time I write on the breastfeeding topic... can't take the beatings!

Posted by: gradstudent | November 28, 2006 10:30 AM

Gradstudent,

I will try to explain this to you. I can understand why you don't think it's a big deal for a breastfeeding mom to use a blanket, but to that mom, it is as hurtful as asking anyone to hide part of who they are as a person. I am sorry and empathetic with people's discomfort -- I used to feel uncomfortable seeing breastfeeding too, before I got used to it -- but it feels equivalent to asking a gay person to hide their true self, or an African American to try to act more white so others will be comfortable.

My baby is an innocent child who just wants what God/Nature designed for him to need. It is very sad that mothers are pressured to be ashamed of this natural and beautiful process. I hope this makes sense to you.

I once sat near a mom who was breastfeeding, and a bystander came up and said she should be using a blanket. I stepped in to defend the mom, who was near tears. It is just heartbreaking to be a new mother, trying to do the best thing for your precious baby, and having someone come up to you and treat you like you are a creep in a raincoat exposing himself. The nurse-ins may not be the best way to get positive publicity for breastfeeding, but moms need this solidarity in order to go back to our own lives and proudly feed our babies whenever they need to, knowing that others are standing beside them in spirit.

Posted by: anon | November 28, 2006 10:56 AM

//no, I am not going to scan the British Journal of Medicine article and put it on //

you could have just said it was in the British Journal of Medicine, duh. the whole point was that you, an anonymous poster on the internet, were proclaiming that your three studies were so superior to the hundreds of existing studies without providing even so much as a citation to back yourself up. isn't science supposed to be evidence based? good grief. get over your bad self.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 28, 2006 10:56 AM

Gradstudent,

You can't reason with the militant mommy lobby!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 28, 2006 10:58 AM

For the militants, and those that blindly follow, "Choice" means what they choose for the rest of the World.

Think for yourself and make the choices you deem best for you and those for whom you are responsible.

Don't let the psychos make the choices for you.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 28, 2006 11:25 AM

To put it more simply, why should a mother taking care of her child by nursing put additional stress on herself, when she is doing nothing illegal, immoral, unhygienic, or rude?

Trust me, she is already stressed out enough, and is feeling torn between doing what her child needs and fearing being reprimanded or worse by strangers. It is incredibly offensive and cruel to make her responsible for other adults' delicate sensibilities.

I think it is abuse against women -- bottle feeding and breastfeeding -- to suggest that they have something to be ashamed of in feeding their children in public. But last time I checked, no one was suggesting that bottlefeeding women hide under a blanket.

Posted by: anon | November 28, 2006 11:34 AM

Ironic that a woman causes offense when she feeds her child milk (a necessity), but advertisements revealing much more skin are the well accepted norm (though are far from necessary). Our society values advertising revenue more than feeding our children.

Perhaps I should ask the next person I see reading a magazine that I find offensive (or with an offensive ad) to cover themselves in a blanket. Or, actually, ask a Delta flight-attendant to do this for me and remove the person and their family if they "fail to cooperate."

Posted by: Michael | November 28, 2006 11:44 AM

Um, could we get a research scientist on here to explain what an NNT is and why THAT might be a number worth knowing in the BF/FF scientific debacle (I mean, debate).

Posted by: Anonymous | November 28, 2006 11:51 AM

Having breastfed 3 babies/toddlers on cross country trips many times I will say that I actually considered deferring weaning until after the trip on more than one occasion. (I always tried to be cover the babies and myself as much as they would allow.) Breastfeeding is a pacifier like no other. Often I have been complimented on how well the baby travelled. Some passengers commented that they didn't even know there was a baby in front or behind them. It doesn't always work that well, but think about it. Could you divert or close your eyes, or would you like to hear screaming for the next hour or so until the baby tires herself out.
Whenever I see a woman breastfeeding in public I try to give her a big smile of approval.

Posted by: girlsmom | November 28, 2006 12:41 PM

I haven't read all the comments, so maybe this has been covered by a previous poster:

Some babies (and toddlers) simply will NOT let anyone cover their heads while breastfeeding. By 4 months of age my son was ripping blankets off. By 5 months he could rip the blanket off even if I anchored it in place under my bra strap. I can't imagine that at 18 or 24 months a little one would tolerate a blanket or cover at all. But even without a blanket, you really have to work at it to see anything "indecent" when a mom is breastfeeding.

Airlines also *recommend* that you either nurse or bottlefeed a baby or small child during take off and landing. Small children cannot clear their ears on their own during altitude changes and drinking prevents any resulting pain by clearing their ears for them. In fact, every single time I've travelled with a baby a flight attendant has told me this at the beginning of the flight.

http://lawyermama.blogspot.com

Posted by: Lawyer Mama | November 28, 2006 1:21 PM

I applaud those who are aware that BFing is natural and those who are uncomfortable feel so only because they have been indoctrinated into the unnatural belief that BFing is not the norm, that FFing is.

I BF my children past 2 years. I'm one of the only members of my family to BF. Almost all FF. I'm used to negative comments, but some family members were delightfully supportive.

I know from my travel experiences, my children were far calmer than any bottlefed babies/toddlers I've encountered. (And, I travel frequently - at least 3x/yr, sometimes up to 7x/yr.)

I once sat in a plane beside a man who read FHM magazine in the seat beside me and no one said a word. Obviously that is not offensive and the display of skin on nearly every page of that magazine is obviously what BFing is *not*.

Posted by: Mom of 2 | November 28, 2006 1:39 PM

when a baby is breast feeding, the amount of breast exposed is probalby less than exposed breasts of most dresses and many other types of outfits...

what is wrong with this country? Don't we have anything better to complain about?

Posted by: confused... | November 28, 2006 2:08 PM

If it's so normal and healthy, why wear a shirt at all while breastfeeding?

Get over it!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 28, 2006 3:33 PM

From earlier....

"It's one thing to be supportive of a decision, and quite another thing for a medical professional to not encourage a new mother to breastfeed. I find it hard to believe that 4 doctors separately decided to not try to educate you on the benefits of breastfeeding..."

I have no problem believing a doctor wouldn't encourage a new mother to breastfeed. Example A: any mother on mental illness medication. Most (if not all) psych drugs pass into breast milk. I know of no doctor who would seriously suggest a woman quit taking antidepressants just so she could breastfeed. In fact, if they DID, I would consider it malpractice.

Plenty of other drugs pass into breast milk too. Yes, maybe BF is best, depending on which study is true this week. But it's not always possible, and quite frankly, whatever decision a mother chooses, whether it's to breast feed or formula feed, that decision should be respected. Period.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 28, 2006 5:04 PM

Awww, now, mom of 2, why did you have to go and overplay your hand? Who cares about your particular kids, and what does that have to do with the larger discussion here?

I personally have sat next to bottle-fed kids on long flights who were so quiet that I was briefly concerned for their welfare, so I don't think that your "pink flesh = pacifier" argument holds up very well. And as far as the length of your breastfeeding career, what the heck? Nobody was claiming that the woman intended to stay on the plane for two-plus years!

Either you believe that breast feeding is no big deal, and should be unsurprising wherever it takes place (I happen to fall in this camp), or you believe that it's something bizarre and noteworthy. I'm willing to take on the close-minded individuals and unwieldy organizations which need to be reminded that it's just not that big a deal. But please, PLEASE don't stand beside me while I do it, yammering pointlessly about your quiet baby
and your years & years of milk duty.

Posted by: Bob S. | November 28, 2006 5:13 PM

My apologies for the "who cares about your particular kids?" crack.

I think what I meant was: What relevance does your particular situation have to do with the issue? The airline wasn't debating the benefits of breast-feeding. From their point of view, it isn't about children at all. Only about bare breasts.

Dramatic (or boring) stories about individual children and mothers are completely useless here. Only constant exposure to suckling babes is gonna get this solved.

Posted by: Bob S. | November 28, 2006 5:27 PM

I heard the story and agreed that the woman should have covered her baby while nursing. I have read the posters that say that a baby will pull the blanket off because it is uncomfortable. This leads to a situational question: some children hate to be in car seats to the point of screaming and kicking the parent as the child is strapped in. Parents will still put the child into the car seat out of concerns for safety and the law. Why then do parents think that it is such a problem to keep a cover over a child who is nursing?

Posted by: curious non-mother | November 28, 2006 5:31 PM

curious non-mother, surely you can appreciate the difference between using a life-saving and legally mandated device like a car seat, and covering your child's head with a blanket while they eat, which serves no such purpose.

Have you ever eaten your lunch while covered with a blanket? Would you be annoyed if I asked you to because I don't like seeing people eat meat because it offends my moral sensitivities? Because that's how it is when someone asks a mother to cover her child while nursing. It's not like using a car seat in the slightest.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 28, 2006 5:42 PM

There are a lot of "healthy," "natural," and "normal" things people do that I do not wish to see in public. Breastfeeding is one of them. Others include, but are not limited to: sex, urination, defecation, masturbation, burping, flatulance, foul language, nudity, and the like.

Just because it is healthy, natural, and normal does not mean people want to see it!

Because public breastfeeding is protected in most states, moms have a legal right to do it. But, no, they want a legally protected right AND a pat on the back. That's not how it works. If you do something offensive to others, whether it is swearing, smoking, of BFing, you still have to deal with the consequences, which may include disapproving looks and comments.

A little thing called the First Amendment protects those disapproving looks and comments, so short of changing sensibilities of all Americans, I recommend growing a thicker skin.

Posted by: gross! | November 28, 2006 5:51 PM

To the curious non-mother who asked why not cover up the kid:
Maybe the kid doesn't want to be covered up! It's quite common for breastfeeding children and toddlers to resist and push away the blankets, coats and/or jackets that mothers use to try to shield their boobies. Sometimes they make the kids too hot, and the kids squirm and pull away the covers. That's likely to be the case on a stuffy airplane.
Assuming you're sincere about your curiousity, let me point out this as well: the body-to-body contact that occurs during breastfeeding often keeps the children quite warm and sometimes makes them warm enough to sweat, and even sweat a lot. These are things that mothers learn from experience.
I haven't time to go through all the 400+ comments on this blog item, and certainly not the patience to read the inevitable snarky/ignorant/clueless comments from the toxic, childless child-haters, but I can tell you this: I just came back home from a 12-hour flight with my toddler, and the nursing I did on those packed planes helped make conditions more tolerable for my fellow passengers. My child was bathed in sweat and did not want a blanket anywhere nearby, but he was quiet. The general rule is, nursing baby/toddler = quiet, contented, comfortable, soon-to-be-sleeping baby/toddler. Baby/toddler not nursing = miserable, uncomfortable, crying, wailing, shrieking, wide-awake baby/toddler. Which would you rather have next to you on a long flight?
Long before I had kids of my own I realized that a little glimpse of boobie (or even a big eyeful) is a small price to pay for some peace and quiet.
(By the way, one potential solution to the breastfeeding-modesty dilemma is to take a pair of safety pins -- assuming the TSA lets you bring them on board, not a safe assumption, I know -- to attach a blanket to your seat and the seat back in front of you, thus erecting a sort of privacy tent wall. That can work for moms and babes in window seats, assuming safety pins are allowed and assuming the seats are cloth and not leather. I've seen tent technique used in the past, thought I'm not sure if this solution would be allowed in the modern TSA era.)

Posted by: anonymous | November 28, 2006 6:22 PM

funny. . .
"Jesus Herbert Walker Christ."
I love that! I might have to steal that expression.
Also, the Maxim magazine shield -- that was great!

Posted by: anonymous again | November 28, 2006 6:42 PM

My thoughts -
1) breastfeeding is a natural and healthy habit for babies and moms;

2) the government and society should provide greater and more expansive benefits for new parents so that new moms can breastfeed those babies;

3) the federal government ought to pass a law to make breastfeeding in any space open to the public protected;

4) those of us icked out by breastfeeding (myself included) ought to grow up a bit and learn to look the other way;

5) breastfeeding moms ought to do their best to be polite and discreet when possible (same thing goes for changing dirty diapers in public);

6) the le leche folks ought to lay off - breastfeeding doesn't work for every mom and baby;

7) those of us who don't have children (myself included) should do their best to be patient with those who do;

8) those who have children should do their best to be patient and understanding with those who don't (hint - not everyone loves babies).

Posted by: Sam | November 28, 2006 7:40 PM

My thoughts -
1) breastfeeding is a natural and healthy habit for babies and moms;

2) the government and society should provide greater and more expansive benefits for new parents so that new moms can breastfeed those babies;

3) the federal government ought to pass a law to make breastfeeding in any space open to the public protected;

4) those of us icked out by breastfeeding (myself included) ought to grow up a bit and learn to look the other way;

5) breastfeeding moms ought to do their best to be polite and discreet when possible (same thing goes for changing dirty diapers in public);

6) the le leche folks ought to lay off - breastfeeding doesn't work for every mom and baby;

7) those of us who don't have children (myself included) should do their best to be patient with those who do;

8) those who have children should do their best to be patient and understanding with those who don't (hint - not everyone loves babies).

Posted by: Sam | November 28, 2006 7:40 PM

I do not have time to read all of the comments, but I do think it is sad that people think breastfeeding is gross or offensive. It just blows my mind. My baby is EBF and has been since birth no formula ever. And I have BF in public and will do so whenever he needs to eat. And I am going to BF until he is a year old and after that I am going to let him wean when he wants to. I just wish people were raised differently. Breastfeeding is natural. Formula should be the last resort. Formula is what is disgusting not breastfeeding.

Posted by: 23 and BF | November 28, 2006 10:27 PM

To the anonymous posters:

Thanks for your comments. I am indeed sincere in my curiousity. While I understand there is a difference in a car seat and a blanket (I would suggest something made for breastfeeding, not a blanket), I also understand the difference in a nursing baby and an eating adult. There have been times that I would not eat in public because I didn't feel like using my best table manners; I ate at home, in privacy. My question was sparked because parents are expressing difficulty in getting a baby to do something (be covered while eating) and I was pointing out another difficult thing for children to do (get into a car seat). If parents can succeed in one, why would the other one be so difficult?

Also, if my meat eating offends others, then we should eat out of each others' view. I would not go to a vegetarian restaurant and bring a chicken sandwich with me so that I could eat whatever, however I wanted to.

Posted by: curious non-mother | November 28, 2006 10:48 PM

Well, I intended to respond to "23 and BF"'s comment, but I just didn't have time to read all of it!

(I think that I thought that it was disgusting & formulaic, though!) : )

Posted by: Bob S. | November 29, 2006 3:22 AM

O.K., I am sorry I flamed you and called you a stupid tool. Just because I thought your post was lame and I was totally pmsing does not allow me to shoot my mouth off. (note to self: stay away from computer on day before cycle.). I hope you read this, because I AM sorry. I am usually not an ill-tempered harpy. I am also not ga-ga over nursing, even though I do think that women should try to screen themselves and that formula is fine, although breastfeeding is best if you want/can choose it. Last I checked, this is America, home of the mostly free.

As for keeping a blanket over a nursing ten month old compared to strapping him into a car seat, allow me to explain. First of all, it takes about ten seconds to get the kid strapped in. You can hold him down that long, and his mouth isn't on your breast. Nursing takes considerably longer than 30 seconds and you are in a bit of a spot. Seriously, most women talk about how people shouldn't be offended because it is legal. Men not wearing shirts in public is legal, and trust me, MOST of the viewing public is offended, or at least grossed out. We are not Anjelina Jolie, and you are not Brad Pitt. What happened to people being reasonable? I wore fugly nursing shirts for a long time because they were discreet and I didn't want to inflame lust in the hearts of all those single G.I.'s on the base where we were stationed at the time( kidding).

I was at a mall a few months ago and a woman sat down next to me to bf. Her husband was with her. She didn't try to hide, and I got a nice shot of her saggy boob. Nobody gave her a second thought. If you gain enough weight, you become invisible!

Posted by: to Gradstudent | November 29, 2006 9:01 AM

To those who think it is reasonable to ask nursing mothers to cover their breast and baby's head with a blanket, if you do not also ask that bottle-feeding mothers cover the bottle and baby with a blanket, you are discriminating against nursing babies. Yes, I know that is ridiculous. So is asking a mother to put a blanket over her baby eating as if this were some kind of horrible sight that could burn your eyeballs on contact. It is unfair and mean to a baby to put your comfort ahead of theirs. Can't we all agree that society should try to be kind to babies?

Posted by: anon | November 29, 2006 10:23 AM

The issue is less the mother's right to BF and more the baby's right to eat. Look, this is his only way of eating. If his caretakers failed to pump/bring along a cover-up/etc, he should not starve or be forced off a plane in order to eat.

In any event, I think a better analogy than masturbating or defecating in public (which leave unsanitary and biohazardous messes, unlike BFing) is what my husband does: test his blood-sugar and give himself an insulin injection before eating. I'm sure some people think this is "gross." But it's what he has to do in order to eat, and he's not going to carry around a blanket all the time and duck under it just for the sake of that small minority of over-sensitive folks. Similarly, a baby shouldn't be forced under a blanket because just before he eats, an "offensive" sight might greet a few people.

Finally, I can't believe some people would rather that millions of BFing moms spend collective years doing something incredibly inconvenient or uncomfortable, or staying home, just so that those people can avoid a sight that they might come across two or three times in their entire lives. It's just no contest who should be accomodated here.

Posted by: Babies are people | November 29, 2006 10:30 AM

I find it interesting that while everyone is pushing that breastfeeding is a natural act that should not be considered disgusting, people are expected to look away, as if they are looking at roadkill.

For the record, I don't consider breastfeeding disgusting. If I have children, I plan to breastfeed. However, I am too modest (prudish?) to attempt it in public without a tent or sling.

Posted by: curious non-mother | November 29, 2006 11:20 AM

I believe WHO makes recommendations specifically aimed at developing 3rd world nations where there are few of the health care resources we lucky Westerners have (hospitals, meds, pediatricians, vaccines). BF-ing is needed to give those little ones the only immunities they will get. Just a thought.
Also, my two boys (3 yrs and 3 mos) were/are formula-fed, and both are perfectly healthy and normal. I know several BF babies who are perfectly healthy and normal.
Let's all play nice now.

Posted by: awburger | November 29, 2006 11:33 AM

I was one of the national organizers of these nurse-ins as well as coordinating the BWI nurse-in. Sadly most of the articles I have seen including this one incorrectly state what the experts recommend in terms of length of breastfeeding. The American Academy of Pedatricians recommends 6 months exclusive breastfeeding and at least 1 year or longer in addition to solid food. The World Health Organization states that breastmilk can be the PRIMARY source of nutrition for the first two years of life. The average age of weaning world wide is 5 years old. It used to be 7, but our poor breastfeeding stats and majority formula feeding culture is influencing the rest of the world. We have a pitiful 14% of women breastfeeding at 6 months of age. I work with breastfeeding mothers and I can tell you that the pressure is to formula feed, not to breastfeed. Doctors and hospitals and pediatricians and older family members do very little to encourage breastfeeding and are a Greek chorus of pressure to "supplement or wean". Public policy, workplace lack of facilities and puritanical American attitudes are sending insane mixed messages. "Breast is best" but don't come out in public. Do it in a private room, as if those are available anywhere except the Nordstrom's for those wealthy who frequent it. I don't know any mothers who are not discreet. If by discreet you mean nursing quickly and quietly when the baby needs and exposing just enough for the baby to latch on and then completely block from view. You see more breast on the Victoria Secret commercial or a Girls Gone Wild adverstisement than you do when a woman nurses and I don't see the vehement attacks on that that I see here and on other blogs. I have also been a lactivist long enough to know that "use a blanket" is just a way to blame the mother and try to make her feel guilty for the fact that someone has a personal hangup and really doesn't even want it around under blankets. They don't want to know (ooogly shudder placed here) that someone is doing THAT, let alone hear the baby making yummy cooing sounds of enjoyment. Discreet is a red herring. You don't get to be the arbiter, the flight attendent doesn't, nobody but the mother decides how discreet is discreet enough. Nobody but the child decides when is the right or necessary time to nurse. It isn't about YOU. Your needs as an adult, come in a distant second to the child's needs. And mature persons accept that you can look away from nursing, walk away from smokers, avoid the sloppy man-boob guy at the beach, walk away from the cussing teens at the mall. Why you hold a nursing mother to a different standard is for you to puzzle over, not her-she's busy with her baby.

Posted by: Lorrie | November 29, 2006 1:14 PM

If public breast-feeding is so objectionable, wouldn't it be as objectionable to see pregnant bellies because they are all consequences of act of procreation that "modesty" requires them to remain in the realm of private world?

Posted by: Elizabeth | November 29, 2006 2:56 PM

I wasn't a big fan of the hugely pregnant Demi Moore shot now that you mention it. Airbrush much? I guess celebrities don't get stretch marks.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 29, 2006 3:18 PM

"people are expected to look away, as if they are looking at roadkill."

Curious non-mother, I think people are saying look away as a response to people who say they don't want to see it, not as a general rule of etiquette. PErsonally, I have no problem with people looking at my child and I when we are nursing. I'd be weirded out if I thought someone was leering in an attempt to see more, but that's never happened.

Posted by: Megan | November 29, 2006 3:54 PM

Gas is completely natural, so is menstruation, so is blowing your nose. Brushing and flossing our teeth is indisputably healthy and required a couple times a day, but for the same reasons we don't expose these things in public OR have loud conversations on our cell phones, or blare our ipods we should be sensible (but not oversensitive to) the rest of the people who make up "the public". It is not whether the action is beautiful or necessary - that's moot, it's that decorum, what shred there is left of the thing, leans toward erring on the side of caution when it comes to being showy, unusual, obtrusive or distracting. It seems resonable to nurse when you need to, but with a little thought to when and how you go about it, just like one does with all life's necessities. Just because your world view has shifted and you now recognize and use a breast for its intended biological purpose doesn't mean everyone else in society is in that mindset every moment of every day. There are cultures where women walk around topless everyday and no one thinks a thing about it, ours is not one of them.

Posted by: elle kasey | November 29, 2006 6:21 PM

Lorrie - Your dictating that the World has to adjust to YOU is why the term FemiNazi has come into fashion.

MilitantMommy is too subtle.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 1, 2006 3:10 PM

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