They’re a prolific resource for two things: breastmilk and controversy. Everyone has an opinion about how it should be done, whether it should be done, if it’s nasty, if it’s immodest, if it’s even necessary in the age of formula. People say I don’t have a filter, but I say I do, because I don’t immediately tell most of these people to shut the front door (their face, that is).
A nationwide “Nurse-In” at Target stores last weekend protested an incident where a woman was harassed by multiple employees of a Target store for nursing her baby there. The movement caught some news exposure and took off on Facebook, Twitter, and various other social networking sites – and before you know it, boobs everywhere! The woman in question was nursing her baby in the Texas store when employees repeatedly asked her to move to a changing area. I don’t know if she did, or if she just left, or if she flipped ’em all the bird, but suffice it to say that this incident shouldn’t have happened.
Now, hear me loud and clear, folks: No matter what you think about women nursing in public, it is illegal for women to be discriminated against for breastfeeding their babies in public. And if you don’t agree, well:
Haha, I love Pinterest. Anyway, it’s not like you can really see that much boob, anyway – what, a pair bothers you, but Anne Hathaway’s copious nude scenes don’t? Give me a friggin’ break. No manager in his right mind (or soul, I might add) would ever harass a patron for the commonly expected “isms” (racism, religious hatred, discrimination based on sexuality, etc.) . We are the great United States of America, the land of “Diversity and Inclusion” programs galore. So why are boobs one of the last American frontiers of bias, especially when we seem to love plastering them on everyfrigginthing we market? Gucci bag? Boobs. New boots? Yeah, throw a pair in that ad, too. New Tom Cruise movie? We’re gonna need several pair of knockers on that poster.
But not when it comes to that actual, God-given, natural purpose for which our “girls” were created.
Our society seems hell bent on dragging its ignorant feet every step of the way. And we’re scared out of gourd to talk about the issue (I’m not). The USA has a completely unique (or at least, uniquely vacuous) perspective on breastfeeding, a view unlike any other country in the world. Aside from specialty baby stores like Babies R’ Us, Buy Buy Baby, or similar chains who make their money by attracting mothers – and thus, countless pairs of big ol’ sore, engorged, lactating boobs – there are almost no retail outlets in the majority of the country who set aside exclusive, private space for women to nurse their babies. Despite federal laws to the contrary, many corporations do not furnish nursing rooms for mothers who are pumping breastmilk for their children, or furnish perhaps one room for a campus that is acres wide. And women do nothing about this, because they are already afraid of the backlash to begin with. These lacking facilities are brick-and-mortar proof of the ignorance that a great many Americans – both men and women – have when it comes to what your “girls” are for. The common thinking is that nursing moms can just go feed their babies in a bathroom. I still have yet to find an adult who has recently scarfed down their lunch while sitting in a disgusting, unsanitary, and noisy public restroom. So, ya know…if you find that guy, please send him my way.
But that’s the way a lot of people feel about boobs and babies. And a lot of people, amazingly enough, actually believe that nursing women WANT to show the entire world their boobs. Newsflash: We don’t. We just don’t care what you think, if the nutrition of our babies and the freedom of our bodies is what’s at stake. It is that important.
This view had a very public face put to it the other day in the form of some less-than-flattering Twitter comments from NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne. The below image includes his original comments about a breastfeeding mother he encountered at a store (possibly a Target, but I’m not sure):
I’m not going to yell this guy down. Now, I don’t really think that Mr. Kahne intended to upset thousands of people and offend mothers the world over. In the Twitter world, this guy is pretty small beans compared to a lot of celebs and public figures. My belief is that he genuinely just didn’t even bother to take a moment and think about the potential PR crap storm that would most assuredly be unleashed on him if he hit “send” on those posts. The moral of this story: Smart Phones don’t always make you do Smart Things. But for the good of Mr. Kahne and anyone else who is severely lacking in knowledge about what breastfeeding is all about, here’s some info:
- There has never been a “recall” on breast milk. I’m just sayin’.
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO)
- A lack of exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life contributes to over a million avoidable child deaths each year. Re-read that. And why is it again that we’re pissed that women are nursing in Target?
- Less than 40% of infants globally under the age of six months are exclusively breastfed
- The WHO recommends exclusively breastfeeding babies until six months of age, at which point baby food purees, cereals, and other foods are introduced. The WHO even goes so far as to suggest that women should consider breastfeeding their babies in combination with other nutrition sources through the child’s second birthday or even beyond – no kidding, it’s right here in black and white.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusively breastfeeding babies until six months of age.
- The CDC website actually states that even as babies discover new tastes and textures through solid foods and cereals, breast milk should remain the infant’s main source of nutrients throughout the first year. Later in that same paragraph, they say that after one year of age, breast milk remains an ideal addition to the child’s diet.
- Benefits of nursing for babies include:
- Lower lifetime blood pressure
- Lower lifetime cholesterol rates
- Lower rates of obesity
- Research suggests better aptitude on intelligence tests
- A massive 60% reduction in the rates of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) – for reference, if you believe common figures that run the gamut between 2300-7000 SIDS deaths in the U.S. alone (per year), then that would mean those numbers could feasibly be cut to somewhere between 920-2800 deaths per year instead. Which option sounds better to you?
- Nursing avoids exposing children to potentially unsafe water used to mix with formula powders – a real problem in many areas of the world, including the United States.
- Breast milk has disease-fighting antibodies that boost newborn immunity in a way formula simply cannot.
- Benefits of nursing for moms include:
- Nursing helps mothers lose weight after a pregnancy, and greatly reduces the risk of both breast and ovarian cancer later in life. The longer a woman breastfeeds her baby or babies, the better these benefits are.
- Nursing also helps combat the “post-baby blues” that many women experience, as “feel-good” hormones like Oxytocin are released each time the baby nurses.
- Nursing immediately post birth (the WHO recommends within an hour of birth, if at all possible) helps prevent postpartum hemorrhage.
- If you’re still not convinced, read basically THIS entire article.
- If you’re convinced, but offended, you should probably ask yourself why facts offend you. Also, the earth is round.
Back to me. I am a southern girl. I’m proud of who I am, and the South helped shape who I am. But I guess I sort of bucked Southern trends when I breastfed my son until he was 12 and a half months old (the first five and a half months exclusively).
You see, my home turf is some of the most dangerous ground in the world for babies who need breastmilk. According to the Center for Disease Control’s 2011 “Breastfeeding Report Card,” the American South is ground zero for the worst nursing stats in the country (and thereby pitiful in comparison with the rest of the world).
- In my home state of South Carolina, only 62% of babies are ever breastfed.
- At six months of age (the WHO and AAP recommendation for exclusive breastfeeding), that number drops to a scant 7.1%.
- The best nursing rates of all the 50 states belong to Oregon, where 91% of babies are breastfed at birth, 21% of them still nursing at one year of age. And those numbers are still crappy compared to what they could be.
- In the state of Mississippi, only 50% of babies will ever have breastmilk in their lives. By age one, Mississippi’s breastfed infants account for but 8% of the total infant population.
If Southern people don’t seem too interested in nursing their babies in great number, for some reason, Southern people love watching guys like you drive in circles all day. I won’t hate on you, I know this makes you more money than Captain Kangaroo, and more power to you. Good for you.
But why don’t you do this for mothers, and for all the babies out there who don’t get a voice or a choice. Why don’t you read some of the articles linked herein, Mr. Kahne, and see if you don’t feel just a teeny bit different about that woman nursing in the grocery store. Sure, I know it shocked you and took you by surprise. Personally, I never felt comfortable nursing without my trusty nursing cover. But some women just don’t friggin’ feel like wearing one. They’re exhausted, it’s 90 degrees outside, and they have a cranky baby that won’t eat underneath that cover. I wish you could walk a little while in our shoes. It’s not always so easy. If I have to stand behind some guy named Bubba wearing a Big Johnson t-shirt in the line at the 7-Eleven, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that one of my fellow mommies can whip ’em out if she needs to to keep her kid from being a starving, whiny, miserable mess.
It just makes the whole world a better place if we can all collectively get past this. And you can help with that, Mr. Kahne. I sure hope you’ll read this with an open mind and an open heart – you have the power and the position to make a big difference. If you can just try.
I’ll leave you with this – don’t worry, Kasey – it’s full of hotties. And boobs.
From another post I’ve made about breastfeeding. A night in the life of a new nursing mom:
The first few weeks of nursing motherhood goes like this, with some changes from person to person, and usually with this exact sequence happening between the hours of 2 and 5 am.
- Wake up
- Nurse baby
- Other side leaks through your tank top.
- Realize your station-wagon-size maxi pad has also sprung a leak, for approximately the 19th time this week.
- Realize your baby hasn’t even gotten to the second side. Nurse while sitting in puddle.
- Hand baby off to dad (if you’re lucky) while you change the sheets, clean up, change station wagon size maxi pad, and all clothing you were wearing because even the top is unusable, as baby spit up on it. Again.
- Lay down to go back to sleep.
- Achieve sleep for exactly 4 minutes and 51 seconds.
- Hear loud noise.
- Realize baby has “sharted” out diaper, up his back, and that is is now in his hair.
- Bathe, dry, diaper, and dress baby.
- Baby is still crying.
- Realize it’s time to nurse baby again.
Just remember: We’re all fighting a battle here.