I'm studying child development right now and we're talking about post-delivery options.
I searched, and I didn't find a whole lot on this topic. I was wondering what people think about breast feeding vs. bottle feeding, as I know there are pros and cons to both. Which would you do or have you done? Why would you choose this? How do you feel about breast feeding in public?
Here's what I think: For me (I'm not pregnant now, I'm talking in the future), I would probably start out breastfeeding but wean my baby off within a few months.
As for breastfeeding in public, I tend to think there's a time and a place for everything. As a waitress, I've seen women breastfeed their babies in the restaurant as I'm serving them, and I find it extremely disrepectful. When I'm working, I have to be talking and interacting with my tables, and I don't want to see a woman's breast as I'm talking to her. In most situations, I think a woman should take it elsewhere or pump a bottle before she leaves to feed while they're in public.
Why shouldn't babies be allowed to eat in your restaurant? They're people too, and they need to eat. It's extremely inconvenient to be forced to breastfeed in the car or, god forbid, a bathroom, and pumping a bottle for outings isn't a good idea, because babies do not readily switch back and forth from breast to bottle.
Posts: 1287 | From: Missouri | Registered: Jul 2000
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A relevant question -- the question, really -- to ask yourself when you're approaching breastfeeding as you are gubblebum, is this: what is it that makes a woman's breast any different than her face, or her hand, or her feet? If you're positing it is different, what (and hint: who) makes it so?
And following THAT, what is it that is any different from a baby feeding as nature designed, and grown people eating as they do?
I did not start this topic to get attacked about my opinions. I asked a question and then stated what I think. And I feel it's disrespectful to me, when I'm forced to serve who is breastfeeding and not even being modest about it. It is not only uncomfortable to me, but to others who may be sitting around. It is different for me when I'm a waitress and doing my job so I can't leave than it is when I see a woman in, say, a bus station and have the option to leave or not socialize with someone while they are breastfeeding.
Posts: 213 | From: Spain | Registered: Oct 2003
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Nobody has attacked you as a person, as far as I can see - they've simply asked some questions about why you think the way you do and how you justify that.
quote:And I feel it's disrespectful to me, when I'm forced to serve who is breastfeeding and not even being modest about it.
But why is that? How would you react if someone said "I feel it's disrespectful to me, when I'm forced to serve someone who has her hair exposed"?
When a woman is breastfeeding, she's not exposing her breast in a sexual way or in some deliberate attempt to offend you. It's not as if you have to touch or even look at her breast, just serve her her food.
Nobody's trying to attack you here. Although I will note that this topic tends to become a heated debate at times.
I think Miz Scarlet's question still stands here. Why is it that breastfeeding is a problem? Really a child breastfeeding is one of the most natural things in the world. I mean, do you have a problem if you see a dog nursing it's pups? Or what about a monkey at the zoo? Why is it ok to wear tight t-shirt or low cut shirts that show cleavage (sometimes putting lots and lots of breast on display), but it isn't ok to feed your baby that way in front of others? Again, I'm not trying to be attacking here, I just think that this is an issue that deserves thought. Where does the problem come from? As a society, we have a love/hate relationship with breasts. We want them on display, and we want to act like they are a decorative item or that they serve a purely sexual purpose...but as soon as function enters the picture, we run the other direction. Why does it make us uncomfortable? What makes it dirty and disrespectful? I've seen people pick their noses, scratch their butts, rub various body parts all over their partners, etc. What is it that makes a breastfeeding different than shaking hands with someone? Why is it that we see breasts as different than a woman's face or her hand?
Most women that I have seen breastfeeding in public don't just throw open their shirts and flop a boob out on the table. In my experience, most mom's make it a point to carry a blanket or towel that the can cover baby and breast with. They may not be able to cover absolutely everything (the little one's gotta breathe too), but they do a decent job mostly. And I would make the argument that even if a woman didn't fully cover the breast being nursed, she is probably still showing less than people who run around with lots of cleavage hanging out or someone in a bikini top at the beach.
Babies need to eat too, that's their natural food source. I have to question where one should go to breastfeed. Now I don't have children, but I can say with certainty that I would absolutely NOT want to feed my child in the restrooms of most of the restaraunts or malls that I've been in. Those places are filthy at times. I'd like to be able to feed my child someplace safe. A lot of babies really don't switch back and forth between breast and bottle easily.
It just might be worth considering WHY it is that you feel uncomfortable and what the source of those feelings is.
First of all there really are no cons when it comes to breast feeding. I am speaking from a physiologic, social and family standpoint. You cannot beat the breast, well at least not at providing nutrition. By that I meant in the literary sense of pounding ones chest you could beat your own breast... oh nevermind.
Indeed, you will be hard pressed to find a medical condition or illness that truly prohibits breast feeding in a healthy term infant. (The obvious being untreated HIV infection of the mother)
Having said that, there is no shame in using formula either. (as I type this I have several friends that are lactation consultants that are beating at my door to give my pitiful male nipples a wicked tweak for saying so) Society was of sold a bill of goods by the formula manufacturers many years ago, and there is money to be made in encouraging women not to breast feed. I am probably wrong in this thinking, but I choose to believe that the original idea was that science could do better than nature (we have had this conceit before…) In truth, social issues from a feminist perspective probably played a role too. Do not get me started on this one.
I myself am not at all bothered by breasts, but I see a great many of them in my average day. I am all for breast feeding where and when the infant has worked up an appetite, as hungry or worried infants with a breast in their mouth are a lot easier to get along with than the same infant being scurried off to seclude themselves just for a snack / comfort. The problem is that we live in a country at a time that some government officials want the bare breast (GASP!) of a frikken statue clad in a bikini for the sake of supposed modesty. So there may be some repressive morality that is contradictory to a peaceful breastfeeding experience, at least in public that is.
Now, I will tell you that breast feeding is an art and definitely an acquired skill, and it can be difficult to master under pressure. Even under ideal circumstances it can be difficult for the pair (mother-infant) to master. I can see also that cracked, bleeding, painful nipples can be a powerful inducement to considering formula as well. Militant breast feeding advocates have damaged their share of maternal-child units by stressing the importance of keeping at it when there is every evidence that it is not working out. Nothing like a healthy dose of guilt to stimulate the old let down reflex. These same well meaning activists will say correctly that most breast feeding problems have a solution, and while this is true no woman needs to be made to feel a failure for going the “easy rout” when her infant is not thriving at the breast. In truth, there probably are not enough lactation consultants available to ensure better rates of success.
I hope this was not a terribly male-biased perspective. And I hope I did not offend any one, particularly the well armed breast feeding advocates in my neighborhood. You know who you are.
I actually just wrote a book on this (Okay ... It was a paper ... But it felt like a book )
I've also worked in a restaurant ... I was a hostess tho. I'd have women ask me for corner tables so they could breastfeed with a little bit of privacy.
I admit, it was a little weird at first. I'd have other customers ask me if women are allowed to do that in public, or if i could ask them to breastfeed in the washrooms.
From the research i had to do for my paper, this is one of the major reasons women stop breastfeeding; societies attitudes towards breastfeeding and breastfeeding in public. Health Canada suggests exclusively breastfeeding for four to six months ... Wanna know how many women do that? Less than 20%. (that's from StatsCanada ... I can get you the direct link if you want).
My point is ... I do sort of see what you mean. It can be a bit awkward at first, especially when the only other (real) breasts you've seen are your own or your'e just not used to it.
However, i think it's important that we support women in their efforts in breastfeeding ... This includes making it 'okay' for them to do so in public without getting funny looks ... Maybe then the breastfeeding rates would be somewhere near where they should be.
Oh ... I forgot to answer some of your questions!!
I'm not a mother yet, but would like to be ... Eventually. I think breastfeeding is awesome ... Breast is best I'm looking forward to bonding with my baby in a way no one else can. I hope to breastfeed for at least six months, though probably no more than a year. I would breastfeed in public ... I don't think it's fair to ask women to seclude themselves every 2-3 hours when 'Junior' needs to eat.
i agree with gubblebum i think its disrespectful to breast feed in public... i saw awomen at the mall breast feed it made me feel extremely uncomfortable ....theres nothing wrong a bottle
Posts: 22 | From: california | Registered: Feb 2005
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But why do you feel it's disrespectful? It's not being done to insult you or freak you out, it's being done because the baby needs to be fed.
And actually, there's plenty wrong with bottles. The overwhelming medical and nutritional consensus is that breast milk supplies a huge amount of nourishment and protective factors that formula just doesn't.
Here's a WedMD article on the health benefits of breastfeeding:
A little historical context might be of help here.
Just 100 years ago, it would have been considered UTTERLY scandalous for a woman to expose her ANKLES in public, as well as any number of parts now considered just fine to be shown. People would have the exact same response some posters have described to seeing a woman's breasts. Why was that? Because of the arbitrary sexualization of the female body.
Does it seem silly to think of calves or ankles as being sexualized? If so, why might it NOT seem silly to have breasts be viewed in the same way now, especially when the function they serve -- what breasts are there for -- isn't sexual at all, save that just like with ankles at the turn of the century, sexualization was assigned to them?
Point is, it's one thing to recognize that something makes us uncomfortable. But it's pretty important to examine why (and if we're really being reasonable, rational or wise), and maybe consider first that what might need be done is to try to learn to be comfortable with the thing, before we simply insist others don't do whatever it is that is making us uncomfortable, especially when that thing is 100% natural, when discomfort with it is likely negative (and misogynistic) cultural construct, and moreover, when it's pretty darned important.
[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 02-11-2005).]
Something to consider: I work in food service too, so would it be okay for me to ask a teenaged girl with low-rise jeans displaying her abdomen and her buttcrack AND a halter top exposing masses of cleavage to cover up or go eat in the bathroom?
Posts: 1287 | From: Missouri | Registered: Jul 2000
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I have absolutly no problem with breastfeeding in public. As a part of the LifeSkills class I took way back when, we went through this whole debate of to breastfeed or not to breastfeed in public in a very heated manor.
My reasoning: I truly honestly 100% think that certain parts of the human body are shamed upon. Yet, of all the parts of the female anatomy, the one you see most often, and usually portrayed in a sexual manor, is the breasts. Yet, (and Miz. Scarlet, I personally salute you for pointing this out) 100 years or so ago, it was incredibly, (and that word should be used in every possible serious context!) INCREDIBLY shameful for a girl to show any skin besides that around her face (and may I add, in some middle east countries, even that is unheard of). But I also find it a bit on a ironic side that that is exactly what the breasts are for: feeding. So, from the way I see, if one doesn't give a reasonable explanation of why they are uncomfortable with mothers breastfeeding in public, it's like saying to them "don't use your breasts for what they were intended to be used for".
As a babysitter of two young children, one of them an infant, I can completely understand the hassles of being a breastfeeding mom. Restrooms (and I pull no legs when I say this) are really really REALLY awful places to breastfeed. I mean, personally, I wouldn't want to sit on a toilet in a public restroom, where hundreds upon hundreds of people have been as well, and feed my child. (I try to avoid public restrooms; from my experience, they tend not to be too clean )
I've even asked the mother, "How do you feel about breastfeeding your child in public?" She had no problem doing it, and didn't feel uncomfortable, not to mention her 8 week old infant won't take a bottle (and I have tried that SOOO many times, never worked...though I never took a bottle either, according to my mom)
I've never waited on any breastfeeding women personally but I've seen plenty. And I've never thought "that makes me uncomfortable" or "how can she do that". To me it's just another part of the human anatomy being used for its true purpose.
In response to this post, I also work in a restaurant as a hostess.
I think that it is completely okay to breastfeed in public. Babies do need to eat as well and shouldn't be fed in the bathroom for an hour or two. I have seen a lot of the women putting a blanket over their breast while feeding their child. It doesn't make me feel any differently about them.
When I become a mother eventually, I would most likely do the same thing.
I don't think anyone should have a problem with breastfeeding in public, that's just my opinion. Mothers do what they need to do, they can still eat while breastfeeding, and I think bottle feeding would be awkward for the mother who was trying to enjoy her meal (she would also have to adjust, and perhaps when she's done, her food might be cold )
Getting back on the subject, like I said before, I think it is just natural for a woman to do that. I don't think anyone should have a problem.
I have breastfed 2 children, I am currently still breastfeeding the second, who just turned a year. I have never had anyone ask me to go to a bathroom while feeding one of my sons in public, and if I ever did, I think I would probably end up screaming my lungs out and having the management insist they be fired for presuming that just because my child is hungry, I should go to a bacteria filled room to feed him, simply because I use my body to nurish my child, rather than a bottle. We are uncomfortable with breasts being used for the function they are there for, because from the time we are young, we are deluged with images of breasts as sexual things, and we are deluged with the idea that children are asexual creatures and should have nothing to do with sex (nevermind that a baby wouldn't exist in the first place without sex).
If you are uncomfortable with a woman breastfeeding in public (and I am not attacking you for that opinion), it stands to reason that you should examine exactly why you have such feelings, when the thing that offends you is exactly what nature intended.
As for breastfeeding or bottlefeeding: breast is best, nutritionally and from a bonding angle, but if a woman is uncomfortable with it, if her work makes pumping unreasonable, or if the baby is not thriving on her milk, then a bottle is best. I always find it intersting, however, that women with less money end up more prone to bottle feed, when breastfeeding SAVES MONEY. What it comes down to, is that you should never feel guilty if you need to bottlefeed your child, and if breastfeeding sounds uncomfortable and unreasonable to you, the stress chemicals your body releases will actually make your milk less nutritious for your child.
Posts: 6 | From: Cedar Rapids, IA USA | Registered: Feb 2005
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When by best bud was breastfeeding her son in the beginning, she'd go to the other room where it was quiet and feed her son. As he got older, she'd simply stay where she was and feed him there with us. It's never been an issue. If we go in public, she usually feeds him before and after, but he never really is hungry when we're out.
Now, he's old enough and has started solid foods and enjoys his bottle.
I would never have asked her do anything other than what she felt was right for her and her son.
As for me, when I was born my mother didn't lactate, and was unable to breastfeed me. Had she had milk, she would have. I plan on breastfeeding my child, unless the same thing happens to me. Then bottle it is.
As a clarifying question, do you mean bottlefeeding as in formula, or as in pumping and putting it in a bottle? Studies have shown that breast feeding is better than formula, but it really is a personal decision. As for the breastfeeding in public thing, where I live, many stores and restaurants will place "Breast feeding welcome here" signs on the doors or windows. Personally, I do not find it offensive, especially as I would prefer a bit of breast showing in a non-sexual manor as opposed to a screaming baby.
Posts: 45 | Registered: Mar 2005
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I would go for breast feeding, as it has been shown to help brain development. That is, if you mean breast feeding as opposed to formula. In response to your feelings about breastfeeding in public, that may change. If you have a screaming child, people much prefer that you show a little skin to letting the child cry and make everyone else miserable.
Posts: 45 | Registered: Mar 2005
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