I can’t wait to stop writing about breastfeeding in public

Some day I won’t write another thing about breastfeeding in public.  Because I won’t have to.  Eventually, some day, everyone will have grown weary of the debate and realize just how silly it is.  Mothers feeding their babies will be left alone, in peace to care for their children by meeting their needs for food and comfort.  In time the fact that message boards and news broadcasts filled up with comments arguing about the “appropriateness” of feeding babies in public will seem ridiculous and celebrities that dissed women that breastfeed in public will be dismissed as ignorant and intolerant.  In a lesser but similar way that we feel looking back at other civil justice issues and wonder how in the world anyone could ever have had any question about where people sit on a bus or what water fountains they drink from, breastfeeding in public debates will be an embarrassing mark on our social history.  As a society we won’t bat a collective eyelash at a woman breastfeeding in public whether she’s using a cover or not.  The idea that a women is permitted or not permitted to feed her child in public will seem as archaic as women not being permitted to vote.  There won’t be polls posted on news affiliate sites and Facebook pages won’t explode with heated arguments that resort to name calling to prove one’s point about how inappropriate/appropriate it is to breastfeed in public.  Instead, it will just be normal and nobody will even care any more and maybe they’ll take up some more important issue to pour their passionate energy into.  Some day.  Apparently, not today.

Please don’t tell me it could all be avoided if women just had some “decency” and used a cover or went some place private.  That’s not the issue nor is it the solution, women should not be ostracized from society for feeding their babies and covering is a personal choice much like clothing choices.  Not that it helps, plenty of women are harassed for breastfeeding even when they choose to cover.

The comments in those online threads often quickly turn to comparing breastfeeding to some other bodily function that people find disgusting and “nobody wants to see.”  Comments like:  “If breastfeeding in public is acceptable then I should be able to just piss anywhere I need to!”  “That’s disgusting, why can’t they just pump and use a bottle?  I don’t want to see someone getting a blow job while I’m shopping and I don’t want to see breastfeeding.”  “We go to the bathroom to take a dump and don’t just crap on the sidewalk, women can go to the bathroom to pull out their boob, we don’t have to see it.”  “If a woman can just whip out her boob and stick it in a baby’s mouth, I should be able to just whip out my dick and jerk off.”  And more, so many more.  I usually roll my eyes and move on dismissing the writer as someone that doesn’t understand some very basic and crucial differences that flaw their comparison rendering it completely invalid and not worth my time.  Moving on is also to keep me from commenting “well, when you’re ready to prepare a bottle of piss or serve up some human shit in a beautiful dish for your dinner guests and when grocery store shelves are stocked with products claiming to be ‘as good as human urine/feces’ then I might hear your point.”  But then it happened in real life and I couldn’t bite my tongue and roll my eyes in time to not decidedly educate the poor individual that would dare to compare breastfeeding in public to taking a dump in public in my presence.  As it turns out, maybe people really are confused on some of these basic differences.  I decided to see what a larger sample size thought of the issue and how breastfeeding in public compared to these body functions commonly argued as being equally as disgusting (their words, not mine) as breastfeeding in public.  To gather some admittedly biased information considering my poll group consists of fans of The Leaky Boob  (and some got very confused that I’d even ask such a question, a few were a bit upset, they didn’t expect to see that kind of question there and I can’t blame them) I asked the followers of TLB FB, Jessica The Leaky Boob Facebook page, and my own personal friends to vote which was the most disgusting: urinating in public, defecating in public, sex in public, blow job/masturbation in public, and breastfeeding in public.  The results:

In case you’re wondering, breastfeeding didn’t make it on the graph.  Nobody in our unscientific and poorly constructed poll voted for breastfeeding as being the most disgusting option of the 5.  But since not everyone followed the directions (to only pick one that was most disgusting) we ended up with another pie chart illustrating how many of those polled think  urinating in public, defecating in public, sex in public, and blow job/masturbation in public is more disgusting than breastfeeding in public.


 While it could be argued that this sample is biased and not indicative of the general population given that they were drawn from a breastfeeding support community, I still would argue that they all make a good point that even those not in favor of breastfeeding would find valid.  However, in case some have yet to understand how it could possibly be that breastfeeding in public is considered less gross than defecating, urinating, masturbating, oral sex, or intercourse in public I created two tables and some notes in order to help clarify.  You can find those here.  It would make me very happy if you went and checked those out, I actually made myself sick doing the research for those puppies.  Reading that much about poop while pregnant and dealing with HG is asking for trouble.

Some day my dream will be a reality and I will stop writing about breastfeeding in public.  Nurse-ins will be a thing of the past and idiotic celebrities won’t be concerned about the PR nightmare they create for themselves simply because we’ll have all moved on and they won’t be saying stupid comments about breastfeeding in public.  Kasey Kahne and Kim Kardashian (what’s with the Ks?) will be cited as examples of ignorance regarding breastfeeding and society’s attempts to control and shame women for their bodies and mothering for future generations.  For now though, I’ll keep talking about it even though I’m tired of saying the same things and I’ll be grateful for moments of sanity in rational mainstream media articles like this.  But to keep it interesting I’m going to have to start making fun of the people ignorant enough to be serious about certain comparisons.  I just can’t help it, when someone confuses urine or feces for breastmilk or thinks there’s something similar with breastfeeding and masturbating in public, I have to laugh at the absurdity or I’ll go crazy.

A Letter to the World about Public Breastfeeding.

Dear World,

I’ll keep this short and sweet.

Please stop sending mixed signals. We tell women that “breastfeeding is best“, we tell them to do it but then we ask them to hide like it is shameful, kick them out of places for breastfeeding and say stupid things like “I don’t want to see THAT” or “plan ahead and pump.” Cut it out.  Stop the double speak. Get over your fear/sexual obsession with breasts and let a mother care for her child as nature intended because, I’ve got to break it to you, feeding babies is what boobs are for and everything else is just a nice bonus. Just think about it, if you wouldn’t think it inappropriate for a woman to give a bottle then it isn’t inappropriate for her to be breastfeeding with or without a cover. Mothering is hard enough without you projecting your issues onto moms and their babies. 

Get over yourselves please.

Even Sesame Street gets that breastfeeding a baby isn’t a big deal, sometimes I feel like a lot of you need to go back to preschool.

Again, get over yourselves please and let a woman take care of her baby giving that “best” you’re so into.

That’s all I have to say about this. Today anyway.  I just had to get that off my chest.   Now I’m going to go whip my boob out and feed my baby.


The Leaky B@@b

P.S. Breastfeeding moms will not be bullied. We’re educated, fierce women that WILL protect our children and meet their needs. Thank you.

Really, Disgusting? I mean REALLY?

Warning: This is the most disgusting post I’ve ever written. I would not be able to read it while pregnant. If you have a weak stomach, proceed with caution.

Sometimes I hear words like “disgusting,” “gross,” “yucky,” “icky,” “repulsive,” “turn-off,” “sickening,” “offensive,” “disturbing,” and more when NIP (Nursing In Public) is discussed. Or I should say ranted about since it is rarely a discussion but more like a verbal battle of contention particularly in the comments found on online news reports and blogs and in such internet venues as Facebook and forums.

I’m a mother of 5 children. I’ve traveled, attend births, been in the hospital, taken mission trips, worked with the homeless, watched TV and movies including the discovery channel, and more. Trust me, I KNOW disgusting. So please, allow me to clarify what is truly “disgusting.”

There are grades, levels, if you will, of disgusting, not all things gross are created equal. The mere thought of some icky scenarios are enough to turn your stomach and others just make you grimace when you actually see or experience them. All of us have an internal gross-factor monitor, it alerts us when to look the other way, plug our nose, shout out a warning or triggers our stomach to empty it’s contents. Some of these are universally understood, some are more personal and developed by our cultural experiences. A few don’t even make sense but most do, as a form of self-preservation to avoid things that could make us sick. When I hear or read someone say that seeing someone breastfeeding is disgusting I want to throw out some really gross ideas and see what they say. Really, Disgusting? I mean REALLY? Gross? Really? Seriously? Oh come on! I can show you disgusting.

Here is my list, it would be longer but I started feeling a little nauseated:

Hmmmm, that’s icky, if I think about it too much I could be sick.
Disgusting Level 1

  • Letting your kid spit out the food they’ve already chewed but don’t like into your bare hand.
  • Cleaning up your own child’s poop.
  • Public bathrooms.
  • Porn site e-mails.
  • Derogatory terms for female genitalia.
  • Questionable mud puddles.
  • Wiping buggers off your child’s face or suctioning them out of their nose.
  • Shoveling manure.
  • Hearing people talk about pus.
  • Hearing your parents talk about their sex life.

Like ewwww! So gross, I think I’m going to be sick.
Disgusting Level 2

  • Cleaning up someone else’s poop from the floor or toilet or whatever.
  • Nose picking.
  • Yack floating in the pool you’re swimming in.
  • Seeing someone urinate.
  • Finding maggots… anywhere.
  • Puss filled wounds.
  • Ticks- as in the blood sucking insect kind.
  • Seeing someone sneeze into their hands and then touch the spoon in the buffet line.
  • Filthy public bathrooms.
  • The idea of eating fried worms.
  • Finding the shredded remains of the used tampon your dog ate AFTER she gave you hello licks.
  • Stepping on a roach or any other bug so the guts squirt out.
  • Hearing your parents HAVING sex.

Totally, universally disgusting, I am going to be sick.
Disgusting Level 3

  • Roach in your food.
  • Touching someone else’s buggers.
  • Finding a random used condom at the park.
  • Taking a swig of milk only to find it is curdled.
  • Being thrown-up on even by your own child.
  • Having to dispose of a dead, maggotty animal found in your yard, worse if in your house.
  • Draining a pus-filled wound.
  • Raw chicken.
  • The drinking water sources in some parts of the world.
  • Discovering wormy dog/cat poop after you stepped in it.
  • Red tide- people living in coastal areas know what I’m talking about here.

Those situations are gross. Some of them are a reflection of my own personal “ick” factor and I recognize my issues with them. As always, I have a choice when faced with them: push through, look away, get over it or remove myself. As such I let The Piano Man handle any raw poultry while I hide in the bedroom. This is left over from issues in pregnancy and him dealing with the raw meat makes all the difference in the world in my being able to eat later. Once in a while our stomach turning reactions signal that something is wrong or just “off” with us. In fact, it has been nausea to food, to the normal sights and smells that are a part of life that have signaled to me that I am pregnant every single time.

Often on the internet battlefields of blogs and articles, phrases about breastfeeding being the natural and normal way to feed a human baby are met with debate swordplay that urinating/defecating and sex are natural too but nobody wants to see them done in public. In sometimes clumsy, sometimes skilled thrusts of the written word, opponents spare about what is best, disgusting, natural, intimate, and above all, whose rights come first. I have to admit, I don’t always get it. Am I missing something? The act of releasing waste from the body and the experience of sexual pleasure seem to be an obvious far cry from a mother feeding, comforting and nourishing her child. To compare these is an elementary exercise in “one of these things is not like the others.” Human waste elimination carries the risk of bacteria and disease being spread, unlike breastfeeding, there isn’t a sealed suction receptacle to contain any possible threat. Not only is public sex acts prohibited by law but again, the risk of the spread of disease and of harming the psychological development of children by exposing them to the mature nature of indecent exposure before they are mentally capable of understanding and degrading all of society would be of primary concern regarding sex in public. Furthermore, public urination, defecation and sex are illegal. Breastfeeding in public is legal in the United States, in fact, breastfeeding in public is protected in most of the United States making it impossible to charge a woman with indecent exposure and for good reason, it is recognized as the normal, healthy way to feed a human baby. As far as whose rights get to come first, I would hate to see what has become of our society when we’re putting the personal tastes of adults in society over the needs of a dependent infant or child. The only disgusting possibility I see would be for a woman to not feed her hungry child when she has the means to do so, that she uses her breast according to the design of her body is no less disgusting than anyone else using their mouth to eat.

Like my red-flag of nausea before I even suspect I am pregnant, perhaps our disgust with breastfeeding in public reveals less about breastfeeding and more about some deeper issues we have has a society. Issues with the objectification of women, issues with a one-dimensional view of breasts, issues with body image and self-esteem, issues with confusing inappropriate public behavior and appropriate public behavior, issues with double of speak of what is “best” yet wanting that very thing to be hidden, issues with the complex nature of women as both sexual beings and nurturing mothers. If the sight of breastfeeding makes you feel sick even though you know it is the normal, healthy or even the “best” way to feed a human baby then it sounds like you need to get yourself checked out because that just doesn’t sound right, something must be “off” with you or maybe, just maybe, our society in general.

Because this is not disgusting.

The Leaky B@@b Tube- NIP with layers and standing

I’m embracing my new found lactivist status by posting a video of me breastfeeding. This is moving beyond the photos, right?

Just some information.

My cup size is around a C give or take depending on how full I am.

I’m not sure why the video is so grainy.

Smunchie is just a few days shy of 8 months in this video and about 16 pounds.

Our adorable shirts come from Paper Mama.

I’m breastfeeding her standing up and would walk around just like this while out.

I am not wearing any clothing specifically designed for breastfeeding, not even my bra.

For this technique to work well, the bottom layer needs to have a stretchy neck-line.

You don’t have to show even as much b@@b as I do this way.

That strange positioning thing I do when she’s already latched is my bizarre obsession with making sure her ear isn’t folded over while she’s nursing. I know, really strange.

I don’t usually glow like that, this video could be called “The outdoor breastfeeding sauna” thanks to the 100+ temps and over the top humidity. The camera lens kept fogging up. No, seriously.

Our adorable shirts are from Paper Mama.

Two weeks in with #5

This is an old post from January 2010 from my other blog. It seemed fitting to share it here. It’s funny, I wrote this before I started The Leaky B@@b and used the phrase “leaky boobs.”

Ok, so I’m nursing a new baby again which is… hard. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of nursing, it is good for mom and baby but I’m not going to sugar coat things and tell you how easy it is at first, not even for a 5th time mom. Smunchie is cute, adorable and absolutely precious and as true as these things are every two hours or so I have to grab a glass of water, pull out my leaky boobs, practice breathing techniques I don’t even use for pushing in labor, and willingly let my baby suck on my sore nipples. Her perfectly sweet mouth is transformed into a device of torture, a pit of barbed wire churning around my tatas. Experts will tell you that it shouldn’t hurt, that if there is pain it is because of a poor latch and can be corrected with proper positioning and getting the baby to get on the breast correctly; I’ve told women this as well. For the most part, I think that is true but there are times when mom and baby just can’t get it worked out for a few weeks and for them it just isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. This is me and Smunchie, the combination of my rather large nipples and her tiny mouth plus this thing she has against putting her tongue forward have all combined to make this a difficult and painful two weeks of nursing so far.

But we’ll get there. I had one other baby that gave me cracked and bleeding nipples and eventually we made it through and nursing became a bonding experience for us, special and easy so I have confidence that Smunchie and I can make it there too. When we do I’ll be nursing her anywhere she needs to eat (for the torture sessions I prefer to remain at home at the moment) and doing so unapologetically. Even in church. Since I believe that God made me to nurse my baby I’m not about to leave and go nurse somewhere else when we’re there to worship. Boobies nursing babies aren’t a shock to God and if they are to the people around me, well, they are free to turn their attention back to God and leave me and my baby alone. Most of the time I won’t be covering up and if I choose to do so it will be very special circumstances. I don’t cover up for my dad, don’t cover at church, don’t cover around our friends… in fact, I can’t think of such a special circumstance, interesting. I’ve heard all the arguments in favor of covering up but seeing as I believe breasts are for nursing babies and anything else is just a bonus I don’t see me changing. Any man that is turned on (or grossed out) by a baby being fed has issues, that’s all I’m saying. And any woman… well… yeah.

And because I have a baby crying, a 6 year old needing some direction, a 2 year old needing a diaper change, an 8 year old “doing homework” that needs supervision, an 11 year old freaking out about a Greek test tomorrow, dinner that needs to be warmed up (thank goodness it is cooked thanks to wonderful friends!), a house in dire need of cleaning, laundry that needs to be folded and put away, dishes that need to be done, and a new lace pattern to try on that sweater, etc. I’m going to go now and just say: read this. She’s obviously not as tired as I am and said it all so much better.

Lemonade Boobies

A reader sent me a photo that actually left me speechless. Momentarily anyway. I showed The Piano Man the image and waited for his reaction. He had plenty to say. After he expressed his thoughts I finally found mine and we ranted together. I appreciated his insight and asked him to write it down to share here. So I’m honored to share the first of what I hope are many more posts by The Piano Man.

Today Jessica showed me this:

“Lady selling lemonade on the beach (reportedly clearing $250 per day)… The psychology of business is to “know what your customers want!” This guy probably does not know what he is drinking, nor does he care… because he is after something more than sugared down lemon juice. Reportedly for $10 a try, you will see when you finish sucking. So who says making money is tough? The jobs are out there!!!

(Jessica here: Don’t you just love the expression on her face? I mean, seriously, what is that?)

A woman on the beach with large manufactured lemonade-filled breasts covering her own, from which, for $10, one can find refreshment and get in touch with their baby-side.

That’s right, customers (?!) pay a lady to suck on her fake boobs – for lemonade? The short description of the picture also alluded to what said customers may catch a glimpse of once they’ve had their fill, if you catch my drift.

(Jessica again: OMG, you mean, they might see some B@@B! A NIPPLE! Oh pretty lady what else can we do to sneak a peak? Roll over? Play dead? Don’t even get me started on what this reduces men to.)

Um, really? My reaction to the photograph was a mix of shock, disbelief and disgust, as well as, I must admit, a smidge of amusement for just how ridiculous this whole scene is. Let’s see if I can unravel and label my emotional response.

(Jessica’s emotional response: ewwwwwwwwww! ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, ewwwwwww!)

What would possess a grown man to publicly perform such an act with a perfect stranger? An act that is as confusing as it is absurd. To me, a man’s face interacting with a woman’s chest is a sexual thing; the kind of sexual thing that you do in private. I could perhaps see how the shock value of appearing to be performing such an act in public might be enticing for someone, purely for entertainment. But with a stranger? Maybe I’m just too old-fashioned. I’d personally be embarrassed to pretend to suck on a stranger’s breasts; and I find it extremely disrespectful to the woman, even if she is offering it as a service.

(Jessica: No sweetie, you’re really not old fashioned. You respect yourself and me. That and you don’t have to resort to such measures, obviously.)

Which makes me wonder: is it really OK for individuals to go offering pseudo-sexual acts for money? How about participating in a pseudo-sexual act in public? I realize that in this situation people aren’t actually sucking on this woman’s breasts, but they are sucking on fake boobs positioned in the same place as her breasts, and these fake boobs happen to be see-through; you can clearly see the lemonade in them (and maybe more…). Still, you’re paying to suck on a strangers boobs in public, fake or not. To me, this is the same thing as wearing see-through swimsuits, or clothes that have naked people printed on them. Public nudity laws? Oh, you’re not really parading around naked, right? I’m not personally comfortable walking ON that right/wrong line.

(Jessica here again: I don’t have a problem with airbrushed t-shirts with naked people on them. I mean, I wouldn’t wear one but w/e.)

I mentioned how confusing this thing is. On the one hand, this act can be perceived as pseudo-sexual, but when I focus on the fake breast containing a drink that someone accesses by sucking on its fake nipple, all sexual connotation disappears for me, and it becomes a nurturing act, the kind that takes place between a mother and her baby when breastfeeding. A beautiful, natural act, that my wife has shared with our babies 5 times over, in public and in private, in truth, wherever the need arises. A life-giving act. And non-sexual; because it’s not a sexual act to breastfeed your baby but rather a nurturing, mothering oen. Babies have no other natural alternative than to get their nutrition from a breast. Sure, there’s formula, now. But I’d hardly call it natural. Accepted in our culture? No doubt. But natural? The way nature, or God, intended? I don’t think so. So, back to our amusing/disturbing picture. These breasts, fake though they obviously are, have liquid in them, liquid that is intended to be ingested, through the means of a nipple to which you apply suction with your mouth. To me, it’s a nursing act, and I have long outgrown my nursing days. I am a man now. Actually, my nursing days were over even way before I became a man. I know there is conversation regarding how long a child can or should nurse. For me the limit is 2 or 3 years of age, but I regard this as a personal decision that parents make for themselves, and I’m OK with that. Even for the extreme breastfeeders, there is a limit, a ceiling that is reached, where a child decides they are through with that phase in their life. Whether it happens at 3 or 10 is irrelevant in this discussion. The point is it happens, somewhere, we’ll say, in the first 10 years of a person’s life? Therefore, to me, this picture evokes an act that any well-adjusted adult has long outgrown and has now become unnatural to them. For me, it feels wrong, I experience a physical revulsion to the thought of an adult performing the act in a baby’s stead.

(Jessica’s thoughts- again: I don’t care what grown-ups do in private. That’s their business. However, I never appreciate a grown-up acting like a child in any public setting. Temper tantrums? No. Whining? I don’t think so. Picking their nose? Oh heck no.)

Then I started wondering what kind of people both the customer and the, uh, merchant (?) are. Does the man in the picture really not see the merchant as a woman? Is she just a set of boobs? A novelty item for his enjoyment? For the amusement of others? I don’t believe for a second that what’s on his mind is quenching his thirst. Is this not a blatant example of the objectification of women in our society? Does the customer have no respect for her, or for himself for that matter? If he’s willing to pretend to perform an (infantile) pseudo-sexual act with a complete stranger, in public, what else is he capable of? What will he do next? And what about her, the woman with the goods? How degrading for her to let who-knows-how-many strangers a day mess around with her fake breasts for money. What’s her story? Where is her self-respect? Does she see herself as an object for men’s pleasure and entertainment? Is that where she finds her worth? I assume that she’s bought into our culture’s view of women, and she’s just trying to capitalize on it a little bit. I also assume that she is a victim of our culture’s view of women, and she has had degrading and hurtful experiences used to teach her about them. I feel sorry for her, and wish that she weren’t demeaned to the point of resorting to this.

(Jessica: Preach it babe.)

In a country that broadcasts all-too-frequent news reports on alleged disturbing acts of breastfeeding between mothers and their own babies in public, this is OK? This is acceptable? Even if this isn’t acceptable to many why isn’t this all over the news as inappropriate behavior in public when recently we have report after report of the scandalous activities of mothers simply caring for their children by nurturing and nourishing them with her breasts. Well, this, with its mixed message of sexual-public-nursing-naked-for-fun with objectification-and-paying-for-sex overtones, should certainly help clear up any misconceptions regarding the place of breasts and breastfeeding in our society. Because somehow we can post this on the internet and laugh from our jr. high dirty humor selves but a mother feeding her child naturally is considered so inappropriate FaceBook regularly deletes any images depicting a breastfeeding child, a Tampa school board sides with a principle that removes a breastfeeding woman from a public lobby and the obnoxious, in-your-face talk show The View refuses to show breastfeeding images on their show and dis on women that nurse in public. What is wrong with this picture?

Oh, and, in spite of the vaguely amusing and disturbing first glance of the above image, I find it mostly disgusting.

Telling the good stories

It can be easy to get overwhelmed if you even just dip your toe into the breastfeeding debate. People can feel very strongly about anything related to breast-feeding and passionately express their opinions. Personally, I like passionate people, even people that passionately disagree with me. Living life with passion makes it exciting and hearing about others passionate opinions on any given subject gives me the opportunity to learn and grow. Even if it is to learn and grow more deeply in what I believe.

That said, the clamor of passionate voices can get to be a bit much for a new mom and her family. Even before baby comes everyone is an expert with the right way to care for the new little person. After the little one is taking up residence in the family’s home, all those experts, and then some, come out and start grading. It’s nerve wracking to say the least. When it comes to breast-feeding, it is down right intimidating and can be really scary.

Particularly when baby needs to eat and you’re out and about. Nursing in public, or NIP as it is often referred to, can spark a heated discussion just about anywhere. From the internet, where blogs, forums, facebook groups, and websites fan the flames of in-your-face debate, to mom groups, where not-so-subtle expressions burn branded looks of almost partisan level judgment from all sides. Not to mention everywhere in between: churches, restaurants, media, playgrounds, offices, and pretty much anywhere people talk. The issues? Not as cut and dry as they appear, actually. Is it about modesty? Covering up? Not covering up? Offending someone? What somebody may see? What somebody may not see? Efforts to normalize breastfeeding? A mother meeting her baby’s needs? Indecency? Who gets to define decency? Eating on the toilet? Being discreet? Being rude? And what is rude? Family friendly? And on and on and on. It is enough for a woman to never leave home if she chooses to breastfeed. Or at least, to never leave home without a bottle for the baby because should she need to feed that baby with her breast she could very well experience humiliation at the hands of everyone around her. And seriously, who needs that? Not a new mother, that’s for sure. Because the journey of motherhood doesn’t already redefine a woman to such an extent that her insecurities are sky high. Now let’s add this into the mix. Let’s tell her that breast is best, give her the support and education she needs to succeed at it and then scare the shit out of her so she never leaves the house and ends up depressed. If we know that breast really is best then our behavior towards a breast-feeding mother and her child should not shame or punish her.

If you listen to all the voices out there it would be easy to think that every time a woman puts her child to her breast in response to that child’s hunger TV cameras and nay-sayers immediately appear. Even those that greatly support public breastfeeding end up talking more about the negative experiences than the positive ones in an effort to help educate and defend the rights of moms and babies. Those experiences do need to be talked about, and loudly. We need to shine the light of investigation and outrage, holding companies and individuals accountable when a mother and her child are treated poorly for NIP. The only ones that should be shamed are those that attempt to imply that a NIP mother is some how doing something bad. Education is needed for breast-feeding including NIP. So I don’t want that to stop. But I do want something to start.

Let’s tell the positive stories too. The funny ones, the heart-warming, encouraging tales that let moms and families everywhere know that lifting your shirt to feed your baby shouldn’t be a nerve inducing experience. There are people that show support for breastfeeding women in public and do so in really wonderful and encouraging ways.

The Leak Boob wants to help tell these positive stories, to start a collection of the good times had NIP. Please share your positive NIP tales with us. We’d love to hear from anyone, moms, dads, family members, and the people supportive of breastfeeding. Share either in the comments below or e-mail us your story to post here. Let’s give moms some encouragement through personal experiences that no matter where they are, if they cover or not, there are people that won’t be freaked out by them doing the best for their baby. We got started here, thanks to our Facebook “leakies.”

From the wall… Positive Breastfeeding Stories

There are beautiful, encouraging, positive breastfeeding in public stories out there. When we asked on our Facebook wall what the nicest thing someone has said or done for you when you were breastfeeding we got some very beautiful replies. Sharing them here seemed like a good way to get started highlighting positive results of NIP. So, from the wall…

What is the nicest thing someone else has said or done for you when you were breastfeeding?

Miranda: I think the thing that pleased me the most was the unexpected support I got from my dad. He called me up at the hospital to talk to me and see how I was doing. Then he asked me if I was planning to breastfeed, and I told him yes. He said, “Good for you!!” I hadn’t expected any kind of discussion about that between me and my Paw, but his unexpected support was so nice!! Also, when I flew out to visit my parents in March, my dad was nice and pulled off some random exit on I-15 between Vegas and their house in southern UT just so I could feed my little man!!

Diane: People seem to give a lot of praise for breastfeeding twins but what I like most is when my husband brings me food and drink while I nurse and then rubs my feet 🙂
Nicole: definitely was when I was nursing Bailey in the sling at the grocery store, women came up and asked if she was nursing, I thought it was strange, then went on to say we need more moms BFing and doing it outside the comfort of their own homes. Most people around here FF so it was really nice.

Bonnie: I NEVER covered my baby when I nursed him- A lady stared at me for awhile, making me slightly uncomfortable, then came over and THANKED me for nursing in public, she said she nursed 5 children and she wishes she could have been able to do it ( 30 years ago) as freely as I was. Ironically I was at lunch with my mother who had scolded me for nursing at her city office less than 20 mins prior.
I treasured the lady for saying something, and I think of her frequently when I nurse in public.

Hannah: The first time I breast fed in public my son was about 2 weeks old and we were at our favourite pancake place. I was heaps self concious and had a blanket over him and this peppy little 16 year old waitress comes bounding over to take our order and squeals “Oh my god, do you have a baby under there? Are you breastfeeding? Can I see? It’s so beautiful! Do you want a glass of water? My sister just had a baby and she always drinks a glass of water when she’s feeding!” And she dashed off to get me one. It was the perfect first time out in public, and I didn’t wear a blanket after that : ) A week or so later I was at the supermarket and a lady was staring at me feeding so I smiled at her and she came over and asked how old I was (18) and congratulated me on being brave enough to feed in public. She said she’d BF all her children but had never had the guts to do it without a blanket 🙁 And the other time I really remember was standing in line at Target at trying to juggle my handbag, my shopping bags and a huge heffalump of a two year old on the boob (since he was 18 months he’s always looked a year older than he is) and a woman standing across the room from me beamed at me and mouthed ‘Beautiful”. that really made my day =D

Heather: (It’s a) toss up between my husband feeding my as I nurse, and my grandmother who raised 5 daughters while working full time telling me how proud she was of me and how impressed she was that I was able to nurse so long.
It’s also really sweet when my father rubs the baby’s head and smiles lovingly at her as she nurses 🙂 Now that he has four granddaughters, all of whom were breastfed, he’s pretty comfortable.

Sarah: I live in Oslo, Norway. My first outdoor bfíng experience was on a tram. I was a bit exposed, and was struggling a bit with my 1 week old baby. Three older women (all traveling separately it turned out) were near me, and when one of them made eye contact before the got off the tram, I expected a bit of a stern look. Although Scandinavia is very pro breastfeeding, the older crowd can frown upon nursing in public. But she smiled encouragingly and warmly before she got off. When the other two women did the same, I was so happy I nearly cried! It would have hurt to get stern looks on my first trip out with baby.

Do we need a gang sign?

How do you respond to a woman breastfeeding her baby in public? If you scowl or offer to show the woman the bathroom, you should probably go find another blog to read, you’re likely to get squirted around here. Smile? Nod? Ignore? Secretly keep glancing over in amazement? Grab your baby and nurse to keep her company? Go over and say something? Wave?

Do we need a universal sign of approval for breastfeeding in public? Rebecca on Public Health Doula shares an idea for a breastfeeding support gang sign here. Would you do or use this? Milks Up?

“Is Nursing Bad?”

children familyI have 5 children. Five girls. Yes, five. Yes, they are all girls. Yes we have certainly figured out what causes “that” and I have to say we’re pretty dang good at it. Obviously.

I want many things for my 5 girls when they grow up. In fact, I hope they have leaky boobs themselves one day. I know they may not, for whatever reason but it will not be because they think it is weird or gross or anything else other than normal. As their mother I’m doing everything in my power to hold breast-feeding up as normal and so far, it is working. Last summer I learned that my children didn’t even know what formula was.

“Mommy, why is she giving her baby a bottle? Are her boobies broken?” 6 years old Lolie asked loudly, much to my embarrassment.

I didn’t know the woman in question, she was a stranger feeding her baby at the park.

“Maybe it isn’t her baby and she doesn’t have milk in her boobs yet.” Earth Baby, at 10 years old, was trying to explain before I could jump in to quiet the conversation.

Breast-feeding is important enough that I didn’t want the conversation to halt but I could tell the woman and others at the playground could hear us and I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable. Talking softly I encouraged them to lower their voices but immediately regretted it when Lolie asked if talking about nursing was bad. After a short pause I returned my voice to a normal speaking volume, telling the girls there was nothing wrong with talking about breast-feeding. I did explain that I didn’t want to say anything that would make the woman feeding the baby a bottle to feel bad. The conversation that followed continued at a respectful volume level, thankfully.

nursing breastfeeding baby
We discussed the possible reasons why a woman would be giving a baby a bottle instead of her breast. They were immediately sympathetic that perhaps her breasts were, in fact, broken and not able to produce enough milk. It was reasonable to them that maybe this woman was a babysitter, perhaps an aunt or friend and the mom was at work and had left a bottle of pumped milk. Or that the baby was adopted and could be drinking formula because there was nobody to give him breast-milk. This idea was very sad and after I explained what formula was they wondered for a bit as to what could have happened to the biological mother and why there was nobody to donate breast-milk. That conversation gave them a great idea, since I was no longer donating my breast-milk to one of the 3 babies I had been helping to supply they insisted I go up to the woman and offer to nurse the baby or at least give her some pumped milk. Pointing out that I was actually ok not donating any more and that I didn’t know this family or that they would be interested I begged my way out of that potentially awkward situation. But it was my suggestion that maybe that mom never wanted to nurse and was choosing to give formula that got the strongest reaction. I reminded them a few times to lower their voices but by then a distraught Storyteller couldn’t help herself and loudly argued that “every baby should get to have their mommy’s warm sweet milk if they can!” At 8 years old she was already a breast-feeding advocate. I admitted she had a point.

The conversation ended shortly after that outburst and the girls moved on to playing. I noticed a short while later that The Storyteller was assisting Squiggle Bug off the slide and walking her towards me saying, a bit too loudly, “You want to nurse? You want sweet mommy milk? Ok, I’ll take you to mommy so you can have your special boobies. You’re a lucky baby to get to nurse instead of having yucky formula.” No, not passive aggressive at all.

rainbow child
I started out to write a piece about sharing breast-feeding with older children and ended up with this. Breast-feeding, in any amount, is worth encouraging and showing children as normal. In the recent Old Country Buffet incident a breast-feeding mother was told “this is a family friendly restaurant” as though breast-feeding isn’t family friendly. I beg to differ and so would my children. It is about as family friendly as one can get and the more families see it happening the healthier we, our children and our future grandchildren will be.

A year later, I realized just this morning how normal feeding a baby from my breast is for my daughters. I was pumping and Earth Baby asked: “Are you going to nurse her a bottle?” Anything other than nursing just seems strange. I love that.