Monday, September 29, 2008

Let It All Hang Out?

Today's post is a little different--it's actually a question.
We took the kids to Sea World yesterday to meet up with some friends who are here in Orlando on vacation. Taylor fell asleep in the stroller so everyone else went ahead to the Shamu Believe show while I headed over to the Underwater viewing area seeking a bench and some shade to keep Taylor and me as comfortable as possible in the 90 degree heat.

As Taylor slept and I sat staring at the empty tank of blue water, a young lady with a baby came and sat next to me. She fed the baby Gerber fruit, changed the baby's diaper on her lap, and then proceeded to lift her shirt and breastfeed the baby. Now it wasn't very crowded where we were, but there were still a lot of people and the bench we were on was right in the center of the tank so everyone walking by got a good look at what she was doing. She wasn't exactly trying to be discreet. There was a baby blanket in the stroller she could have used to cover up with, but she didn't use it. She just lifted up her shirt and let that boobie hang out for the baby to latch on to and fed with her shirt up and breast exposed for a good half hour. I was trying very hard to pretend like I didn't know what she was doing, but the gawkers walking by pointed and gasped. But they didn't seem to bother this lady.

Now let me just say, I breastfed both my children. And yes, I even did it in public many times. After all, when a baby's got to eat, a baby's got to eat. But I never just let it all hang out like that. I had a breastfeeding cover up that snapped around my neck and draped over my entire front side to ensure privacy. The cover just looked like a baby blanket so anyone would have thought that the baby was just sleeping and was covered. I'm sure you breastfeeding moms know the product (or a similar one) that I'm talking about. Anyway, this lady had nothing like that. She really did just lift up her shirt exposing her breast for all the Sea World visitors to see. After the first few gawkers, I almost turned to tell her that Sea World has Nursing Stations in several locations so that she would have more privacy. But then I saw her look her gawkers straight in the eyes as if to say "Yep, I'm breastfeeding my baby. Yes you can see my boob. So what!" (Man, I wish I had half of her confidence.) So I just pushed Taylor in the stroller for a bit until she left the bench and then went back to sit and enjoy the shade and the empty tank and more peoplewatching.

So my question for you moms out there is:

Do you think breastfeeding in public should be discreet or is it ok to let it all hang out?

Leave me a comment. I'd love to hear what you all have to say about this one.


Audrey said...

I actually just had a baby (6 days ago to be exact) and I am breastfeeing her. I absolutely love it and I am so thankful it is working out for me. As far as the breastfeeding in public, I plan to breastfeed my baby whenever she is hungry (whether that be in the middle of Walmart or the mall, etc.) I do feel like breastfeeding in public is fine, as long as you do it discretely (meaning cover up). I mean, people bottlefed their children all the time in public, it shouldn't be any different with breastfed babies. The lady had every right to fed her child, she just should have went somewhere a little less conspicious. That's just my opinion...

Pink & Green Mama said...

I never had a problem with breast feeding either one of my daughters in public. I think it is a really sad reflection of our society that people have a problem with it. Your breasts are on your body to feed babies, that is their job. If people are embarrassed by it then they are viewing them as sexual objects. In most other countries around the world there are not problems like this. This is a completely natural thing to do. Good for her for doing it. I'm sorry if if made you uncomfortable. She had every right to feed her kid where she did. If she pulled out a bottle of formula you wouldn't have been offended.

Jacie said...

Oh, I wasn't offended by her breastfeeding in public. As I said in my post, I've done it many times myself. I was uncomfortable by the fact that she was so openly exposing her breast for such a long period of time. I know that this is a touchy subject for people. I didn't ask the question: Should women breastfeed in public? I think most moms agree the answer to that is handsdown a YES!
I asked: Should breastfeeding moms be discreet or should they just let it all hang out?
Clearly my opinion is that I feel moms should be discreet. I'm curious how many moms feel discretion is best vs. how many feel comfortable exposing their breasts in public.

Heather said...

Hmm...this is a good one. I'm a nurse, so I see naked body parts all the time and am rather immune to it. But I agree with you; when I nursed my babies in public, I always covered up a little bit, so you couldn't really see any skin. And my babies liked to have a blankie when they nursed, so it was no big deal. Sometimes I think people do it indiscreetly for the shock value of it. Or to be making a point. No, I wouldn't be offended if someone took a bottle out for their baby. But I really don't want to see their naked breast hanging out for all to see, either. It's a matter of manners, I guess.

Hey, thanks for visiting me on my SITS day! I loved the comments!

Lindsay said...

I was always too bashful to do it in public. I had numerous baby blankets, but it got to the point when my daughter got older that she would push them aside to see what was going on around her. So to the restrooms we were banished...

Next time around I will DEFINITELY be investing in a nice nursing cover, because I don't think it's fair to be forced to breastfeed on a toilet when I could be very discreetly covered up in public. I'd never let it all hang out, though. NEVER.