Breastfeeding is a topic that I rarely talk about. Ok, there was that one time that I went on National TV to talk about it. Oh wait there was that one article we did about Breastfeeding Etiquette. Other than that, breastfeeding is pretty personal thing and a personal choice. I tend to let it go at that. Than last week this email popped up in my inbox…
I really hope you can help me. I care for 3 beautiful babies out of my home. One of them is a nearly 2 year old girl. Her mother will breasfeed her anywhere when she comes to pick her up and will do it front of anybody including my husband (she does not cover herself at all). My husband knows it is legal and thinks it is great for babies, but says it gets gross when they are talking and walking and wishes she would wait until she got home to do it in her own house (the other moms complained her doing it when there husbands come to pick up also).I also breatsfed my children but I always covered with a blanket. I really want to discuss this issue with her but don’t want to offend her in any way, I am also not good with addressing these kind of issues myself and feel really uncomfortable having to do in the first place. Please help me out?
Honestly I looked at this email for at least 20 minutes not even knowing where to begin. I absolutely felt for the caregiver. This situation would make my husband extremely uncomfortable as well. Ok, I’ll admit it, it would make me uncomfortable, but to avoid conflict, I’d probably just try to calm my husband down. I thought about letting it go and just ignoring the email, but something told me I needed to give this woman some sort of answer.
So I reached out to one of my favorite Breastfeeding Mama’s Annie from Mama Dweeb and some other amazing Mom’s who are far more experienced in the area than I am. Annie graciously offered to give us her take so you could get a view point from both sides of the very sensitive topic.
Dear Concerned Mama,
I understand that the sight of a woman’s breast makes men uncomfortable. It really is unfortunate that such a healthy and nurturing activity is still viewed as sexual or strange. The World Health Organization states that breastfeeding at least until 2 years old is beneficial for the health of young children. The minimum age of breastfeeding used to be 3 months, then people started nursing for a year – now more and more people are nursing for 2 years and beyond.
Is there a reason there are males around her when she is nursing her daughter? This mother is working away from her daughter – nursing is her way of reconnecting emotionally after such a time away. I believe telling her not to do this will offend her deeply.
I hear you say that the men have more issues with the age of the child than the sight of her not being covered. Perhaps you can leave some “reading material” in the bathroom for the men to read – a brochure about the emotional and physical benefits of extended breastfeeding and child-led weaning.
Here is an excellent print out that quotes the World Health Organization as well as many more professionals:
No mom should feel ashamed of meeting her baby’s needs – whether it is a 2 month old or a 2 year old.
~Annie owns the Kansas parenting blog Mama Dweeb. She writes about natural parenting, breastfeeding, babywearing and other parenting concerns and joys.
While I agree and completely understand everything Annie said, here’s my take…
I am admittedly not a baby wearing, breastfeeding, or a natural parenting type of Mom. I understand that “Breast is Best”, but seeing someone breastfeeding without covering up makes me uncomfortable as well. I understand and agree with the arguments that’s it’s natural and it shouldn’t make people uncomfortable. Regardless, it does and the last thing anyone should feel in uncomfortable in their own home.
I’m also a person who HATES making others uncomfortable, so I completely understand this caregiver position. While I know many of you breastfeeding mom’s are very aware that it makes other uncomfortable and you proactively cover up. My plea to the rest of the breastfeeding population is to please take other peoples feelings into consideration. We all know breast is best, but it does make some of us uncomfortable. I’m sorry. I’m telling you the Hooter Hider is the most brilliant invention!
So to my Dear Uncomfortable Mama,
I don’t think I would name the husband, honestly. It seems like it would start a lot of trouble. I think a generic there have been complaints/concerns would be better.
So if you don’t want to throw your hubby under the bus, simply say that it has been brought to your attention that the situation is making other uncomfortable. Let her know she’s more than welcome to use a spare bedroom or office to feed her daughter, because you know that it’s important for her to connect with her daughter at the end of the day.
Gena from The Morris Bunch wrote a great article on this topic last year. Make sure you check that out as well.