Friday, January 15, 2010

more on breastfeeding in public

Wikipedia have a page on this subject, which of course will change, but that doesn't stop me from commenting on what it says right now!

What it says about China (public breastfeeding is embarassing), doesn't surprise me at all, I noticed similar in Korea, I saw mothers trying to feed bottles of what was clearly breastmilk, not suceeding, or running out and reluctantly offering the breast.

That women in Saudi Arabia breastfeed in public, even when veiled, doesn't surprise me in the least, it fits other reports I've seen of breastfeeding in other muslim countries as well as our personal experience with an Egyptian muslim we met in antenatal class, she kept her head covered and carefully scheduled her baby swim class to avoid a man seeing her (and would graciously skip class if a dad wanted to join in or take photos), but had no problem breastfeeding in front of those same men.

I'm very happy to read the 84% figure of Brits who feel comfortable with breastfeeding in public, if done discreetly, it's interesting that mothers are less confident. I dislike the qualification of discreetness, but having never seen a nursing cover in the UK and very limited availability of nursing clothes, breastfeeding discreetly probably has quite a different meaning in the UK to in the US.

So we move on to the United States, source of very many controversies, Bill Maher's comments wind me up, though to some extent lactivists have brought this on us by hammering that it's ok because it's natural, because like he says, so are plenty of things that we really don't want to see! It's more about a baby's need to eat frequently, there are plenty of places where you don't expect an adult to eat, but you might feed a toddler a non messy snack, babies need to eat and the bathroom isn't the place to do that, I don't particularly like breastfeeding in a restaurant, booths and spaces between tables can make it quite awkward, but practicality means it happens.

I don't know who Barbara Walters is, nor have ever seen "The View", so I'm not aware of the context of her remark about being uncomfortable sitting next to a breastfeeding mother on a flight. Flights are one of those situations where you really do lack choices, even a mother who never breastfeeds in public will likely have to do so on all but the shortest flight, so what to you expect the woman to do? Particularly if you consider that breastfeeding in an airline seat is probably unfamiliar for both mother and baby and she's probably trying to avoid flailing limbs from giving someone a whack as well as dealing with a baby who might not find it as easy to latch on as usual.

I had the sweetest most sympthetic people around me when attempting to deal with a non breastfeeding 20mth old who was not at all impressed that she had to sit on my knee and not try and climb over to dad and was avoiding all attempts to distract or calm her down, which she eventually did once the seatbelt signs were switched off, but at that moment, I really wished that she was still nursing.

I wasn't a breastfeeding mother when the facebook controversy began, though having seen some of the pictures, their excuse of exposed breast violating their decency policy was bizarre some of the time, though not always and they certainly haven't demonstrated that they enforce that policy at other times, so it really does look like they were considered obscene because of what they were doing, not what was on display and that facebook reacted without much thought to whatever complaints were received.

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