Banned From Baby Showers: Breastfeeding In Tents

Banned From Baby Showers: Breastfeeding In Tents.

Sometimes I try to avoid a topic, if it’s going to result in a ranting post. So yesterday, I was reading the Mannerup column in USA Weekend (yes, I read advice columns. They are a cheap source of self-esteem building, as in “at least I’m not that stupid). Anyway, yesterday’s question had to do with how to stop women from breastfeeding their babies in public, in this case, an elementary school event.

The question had the steam coming out of my ears. The answer helped reduce some of the steam: essentially, you can’t stop them, because they have a legal right to feed their babies wherever they happen to be.

Then she suggested that the writer talk to the school principal about providing a separate room for breastfeeding mothers.

The steam shot back up and turned purple at that.

Still, I wasn’t going to blog about it. I did snap off an email to the columnist. But then, this morning, there was Banned From Baby Showers, talking about a “breastfeeding” tent at baby fairs. (Don’t ask me what a baby fair is. I don’t know.)

So, okay. I’ll blog about it.

On the surface, it may sound like a good idea. A nice, comfy, quiet place for mom and baby to snuggle and eat. What’s wrong with that?

Well….imagine you’re Mom. You’re at the ball game. Your team is behind by 1, it’s the bottom of the ninth, with 2 outs. There’s a runner on 1st and 3rd, the count is 3 and 2.

(If you have no idea what all that means, just trust me. It’s a tension-filled moment.)

Baby is HUNGRY. It’s not the kid’s fault – little babies have little tummies. When they’re hungry, they’re hungry NOW.

So you, Mom, are banished from the public seats, to feed your baby in the thoughtfully-provided “Mommy Room.” Any decent, moral woman would want to do this, rather than flashing her evil, sexy breasts for everyone to see.

Or say you finally get a lunch date with the long-time gang. It’s been ages since you got to relax and chat. The food has just arrived, and Margo has just launched into a detailed account of her co-worker’s on-the-side affair with a supervisor in accounting…

and baby is HUNGRY.

Bye, ladies. I’m off to the Mommy Room. Don’t eat my fries while I’m gone, ‘k? I’ll eat ‘em cold when I get back.

Are you pulling your hair out yet? Because I am.

Banishing a woman to a separate room for breastfeeding is so… Victorian. Puritanical. Demeaning.

Breastfeeding mothers are smart, capable women, with a life to live.  They are social creatures. They are doing something WONDERFUL, and should have the full support of society while they do it.

If you’re out in public, and you see a woman nursing her baby, go on about your business. Chances are, there’s very little to actually see, since mom’s clothes, and the baby itself, are covering most of the skin.  But whatever the case, it’s not anything to be concerned about. Just go about your business and let the world keep turning.

And if the kids see it? Bravo. Maybe when they grow up, they’ll understand it’s a completely natural thing, and they won’t have any hangups to get over.

6 thoughts on “Banned From Baby Showers: Breastfeeding In Tents”

  1. A breastfeeding tent is probably a good idea for a breastfeeding mother or mothers with a preference for that privacy. However, I’m not sure I understand why it would be necessary. Every breastfeeding mother I’ve known carried a baby bag with diapers, powder, wipes and a small blanket. At no point did they just whip out their breast, plop their nipple in the baby’s lips and that’s it. There’s always been a quick cover so the baby can suckle and have a little extra shading to encourage sleep and less messy than having to do the whole formula routine like I did. And I didn’t feel uncomfortable. Sometimes, I wished I’d been able to get my little one to latch because it’s such a natural and special bonding activity.

    1. It really is, Angela. I’m sorry you had trouble with it. We have made breastfeeding so much harder than it needs to be, because of our uptight, puritanical inhibitions. If more women did it, and did it freely, even in public, we would have fewer problems like the one you had. It makes such a huge difference if a woman is around other women who are breastfeeding. If she sees it being done from the time she was a child, that woman will take to breastfeeding like it’s second nature. I wish we had a society like that.

      This doesn’t mean women are running around topless or with their shirts wide open. They are just casually lifting their shirt a little bit, and letting baby hook up. A blanket or cover is only necessary if it’s cold. If it’s hot, baby will be uncomfortable and restless under a blanket. You wouldn’t want to be forced to eat that way, either.

      Actually, I can think of lots of times that I just whipped it out, plopped the nipple in baby’s mouth, and went on with what I was doing. My blouse covered the top of my breast, and the baby covered most of my tummy. It was easy. The milk is always available, always fresh and the right temperature, always sterile. I cannot fathom why a woman would choose to deal with bottles, cleaning, sterilization, refrigeration… I’d have gone crazy.

      I know that sometimes there are reasons why a baby can’t nurse, but truly – most of what we consider “problems” go back to the lack of familiarity and comfort with breastfeeding. We’ve created this problem ourselves. If breastfeeding were really the nasty or mysterious thing we treat it as, the human race would have gone extinct before we ever got started. In fact, all mammals would have died out as an evolutionary failure.

      I long for the day that women truly understand their bodies, and are comfortable with ideas of childbirth and breastfeeding. We need to lose our fear.

  2. Wonderful article and I agree with you. I don’t think I could have kept my mouth shut. Women should feel comfortable NIP without a cover and without being forced to go to the car, bathroom, or special room. You see more skin on the average low tank top than you do with a mom nursing. Don’t want to see it? Don’t look!

  3. Thank you! I nurse my 9-month-old in public, with no cover, and no hiding, and I’m pretty positive that a stranger has never seen my nipple. The truth is, when you’re comfortable with breastfeeding–and have support from lovely people like you :)–it’s pretty effortless and smooth. It’s so sad to me that so many women are pumping and using bottles when they’re out because of all of the unwelcoming messages like breastfeeding tents and rooms. Hopefully when my daughter is grown she’ll be able to comfortably nurse in public without being judged. Thanks again :)

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