Menstuff® has compiled the following information on breast feeding, especially in public. It wasn't that long ago that men had to wear one-piece bathing suits to cover their breasts. Many countries around the world aren't afraid that their children will turn into perverts if they see a woman's breast. Yet, in the United States, there are very few nude beaches, and, in some states, a mother can be jailed for breast feeding in public, or removed from an airline before takeoff. It's often called public indecency. There are only 15 states that have laws exempting breast-feeding from public indeceny laws. 31 to pass a law that allows mothers to breast-feed in any public or private location, and 38 that have enacted some type of breast-feeding legislation. Looking at this from the other angle, 35 states have laws making public breast-feeding illegal under indeceny laws, 19 that don't allow a women to breast-feed in a public or private location, and 12 that have enacted no breast-feeding legislation.
I don't know what you think about the sanitary conditions of
public rest rooms, but that's about the only safe place in some
states to hide the breast feeding activity from the prudes. Is that
where you would want your child to be nurished? I wonder how many
American children will become perverts because they saw Janet
Jackson's nipple on television? I would say none. However, the
fear of a child seeing a nipple will, I'm sure, produce a number of
perverts. The Morality Police
(otherwise known as the Prude Police) are dictating way too much
public policy. It's time for that to change.Related article:
Porn is a Conservatives'
Amercian Academy of
The FDA and Breast-Feeding
Breastfeeding Rates at Birth Up Sharply, CDC Reports
Breast Feeding Tips - 8:52
Breastfeeding: What's the Big Deal
New laws seek to protect breast-feeding in public
New breastfeeding study shows most moms quit early
Breastfeeding - How Long is Too Long?
Facebook Policy Angers Nursing Moms
Facebook Wont Budge on Breastfeeding Photos
HHS Blueprint to Boost Breast-Feeding
Bills aim to ease breast-feeding in public
Citizens Against Breast-Feeding
Breastfed Kids Become Social Climbers
Kate Hudson Breast Feeding in Public
Suggestions for Breast Feeding in Public
Nursing Mom Takes on Starbucks
Driving and Breast-Feeding Nets Charges
Rates in Other States
Breast-Feeding Past Infancy: 'I'm Comforting Him'
Extreme Breastfeeding: When to stop?
The Benefits of Breast-Feeding 4:00
Breast Milk Flavor may Affect How a Child Eats
Taste of Breast Milk May Affect a Child's Feeding
Natural Moms Talk Radio:
Related Issue: Nipples, Male Moms, Baby Gaga
A few weeks ago, the actress Maggie Gyllenhaal visited a public park in New Yorkand breast-fed her 8-month-old daughter, Ramona. Kudos, right? After all, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that moms nurse for at least a year. Nope. Gawker.com posted a picture of a partially exposed breast and called it a "momtroversy." The photo is now on a "nude" Web site.
What gives? Even formula makers say "breast is best." Nursing reduces a baby's risk of diarrhea, ear infections, urinary-tract infections and bacterial infections (and perhaps food allergies, obesity and diabetes). It also lowers a mom's risk of breast and ovarian cancerand, since it burns 500 calories a day, helps her lose weight. And it's free, while formula costs about $1,500 a year. Yet new evidence shows that there has been a decline in the number of women breast-feeding, reversing a steady increase over the past three decades. "The culture does very little to support mothers in what they needinformation, maternity leave, places to nurse," says Bernice Hausman, author of "Mother's Milk."
A quarter century ago, one in four new moms tried breast-feeding, and only one in 20 stuck with it for a year. By 2002, almost three in four started breast-feeding in the hospital. But last year, the number had dropped to 64 percent, according to a long-running Mothers Survey by formula maker Abbott. At six months, the percentage of women who were still nursing was only 30 percent; at one year, it was only 19 percent. "Our real problem is duration," says pediatrician Ruth Lawrence, chair of the AAP's breast-feeding committee. The longer a woman nurses, the greater the benefits to her and her baby.
Much of the problem seems to be that Americans associate breasts with sex, not milk, and as a result, feel squeamish about public nursing. (While two out of three Americans think breast-feeding is the best way to feed a baby, a quarter say they feel uncomfortable seeing women do it.) In a study for the U.S. government, 48 percent of women said they would feel uncomfortable nursing their own babies in a park, store or mall. "We define breast-feeding as good, and we define breast-feeding as disgusting. We have this split personality about it," says Jacqueline Wolf, associate professor of the history of medicine at Ohio University. Even MySpace has recently removed photographs of mothers nursing their babies.
Out of concern that not enough women are breast-feeding, a growing number of states are passing protective laws and policies. Today 38 states give women the explicit right to nurse in public, and 23 states exempt it from public-indecency laws. Twelve states have laws addressing women's right to use a pump to express milk at work. And the governors of New Mexico and Oregon recently signed similar legislation, which gives moms (unpaid) lactation breaks and a clean and private area to pump (not just a bathroom stall). Federal legislation may be on the way. In May, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney re-introduced her Breastfeeding Promotion Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect breast-feeding and to provide a tax incentive to businesses that establish lactation areas.
In a recent survey, the International Formula Council asked moms with kids under 12 months why they would not breast-feed. Most cited medical reasons, followed by going back to work, problems with the baby's latching on and concerns about the baby's not getting enough food. The AAP's Lawrence believes breast-feeding is all about confidence.
Part of the confidence comes from feeling comfortable to nurse. A
woman's right to breast-feedand a baby's right to the best
nutrients"shouldn't be abridged because some people are
squeamish about what they're seeing," says Chris Musser, who started
a blog called The Reluctant Lactivist after a grocery-store manager
told her to cover up while she was feeding her then 2-month-old son,
Luc. After all, "into the 18th century, women who breast-fed were
painted," says pediatrician Naomi Baumslag, author of "Milk, Money
and Madness." "They were considered beautiful." Maybe Maggie
Gyllenhaal should head back to that park.
Kate Hudson Breast Feeding in Public
When not busy working, she was breastfeeding her firstborn, Ryder Russell Robinson, and chatting with the director. The actress confessed she found the experience quite funny.
She declared for Britain's OK! Magazine:
"It was funny when I was breastfeeding because every three hours I'd go to the trailer to breastfeed or pump.
It became a joke in the end; it was hard but it got to the point
where I didn't want to go back to the trailer so I'd just bring the
baby out and I'd sit and I'd talk to the director and just breastfeed
him while chatting."
Breastfeeding Rates at Birth Up Sharply,
Citizens Against Breast-Feeding
America is not one of those places.
Though opinion is virtually unanimous among health professionals that breast milk is healthier for children than bottled milk or formulas, studies show that the majority of American women do not breast-feed their babies after leaving the hospital, even in the privacy of their homes. Public breast-feeding is rarer still. Many Americans admit that the very idea of it makes them nervous.
Advocacy groups are trying to change all this by educating the public and pushing for clarification of state laws to protect women's right to breast-feed when and where they choose. Though no states prohibit breast-feeding per se, some have laws that could be construed as limiting that right. The La Leche League notes that oftentimes women are told to leave public places like malls and libraries on the grounds that breast-feeding is "indecent." This is not only a violation of their rights, says the League, it's an absurdity.
Enter a group called Citizens Against Breast-Feeding.
Self-proclaimed members of the organization were first sighted outside the Republican National Convention, handing out leaflets advocating a total ban on breast-feeding, public and private. Simultaneously, an email tract began circulating that laid out the "philosophy" behind it:
Republican Convention Must Ban Breastfeeding Now:
Over 200,000 American citizens have signed a petition urging Congress to declare breastfeeding unlawful. This primitive ritual has and continues to be a violation of babies' civil rights. It's an incestuous relationship with mothers leading to moral decay. Women enjoy an erotic experience that imposes oral gratification on innocent infants after birth. Their reprehensible behavior teaches children illicit sex, subsequently manifesting addiction to promiscuity. Repbulicans: choose a candidate who supports our cause!
Tess Hennessy, Founder-Director
Citizens Against Breast-Feeding
P.O. Box 55741
Phoenix, AZ 85078
New York Office: 212.330.7675
Some who encountered this message dismissed it instantly as unreal, while others dialed the number to find out more and, to their dismay, heard a recorded message not only affirming the existence of the group but soliciting workers. For all we know, a few people may have even applied.
"Thank you for calling Citizens Against Breast-Feeding, a grassroots organization that persuades women to abolish this incestuous act of immoral perversion. We are privately financed and therefore not seeking donations. However, you may wish to apply for a position with one of our field offices in New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, now hiring. If so please leave your name, address and phone number after the beep." Actual recorded phone message
But it was, in fact, a prank.
David Mikkelson, half of the husband-and-wife team that runs the ever-popular Urban Legends Reference Pages, smelled a hoax right off the bat and confirmed it quite easily by establishing that the phone number in the message is associated with Alan Abel, a notorious hoaxer who once headed up a campaign demanding that "all animals should wear clothing for the sake of decency."
Lampooning prudishness is one way of drawing attention to the issue (in a reverse-psychology sort of way), but certainly not the best way to effect real change. To anyone seriously interested in campaigning for breast-feeding rights and related issues or just learning more about them, I commend About's expert Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth, Robin Weiss . She's the real thing.
"Is there anything wrong with breast-feeding in public?" On 3/14/06,
of 11,882 respondents, 32% said it shouldn't be allowed in public,
66% it should, and 1% couldn't decide.
Source: By David Emery, urbanlegends.about.com/library/weekly/aa082100a.htm
Breast Feeding in Public: A Nursing Mom
takes on Starbucks
The 31-year-old mom couldn't believe what she was hearing. "I thought it was disgusting to suggest I breast feed in the bathroom and my daughter is uncomfortable with a blanket over her head," she says. A month earlier, a customer had complained about another mom who was breast-feeding in the store, so the manager decided to pre-empt any complaints, says Charkoudian.
As it turned out, Charkoudian was exactly the wrong person to confront about nursing in public. She has a PhD in economics and works as a conflict resolution researcher and trainer. In her eyes, breast feeding - besides being the healthiest choice for her baby - is good for society. Among other things, breast-fed babies have a lower incidence of illness and disease, which, in the long run, saves society on health care costs.
The manager also didn't bargain for Charkoudian's response. When she discovered that Starbucks was in violation of Maryland state law - which allows women to breast-feed in public or private locations without restriction - Charkoudian immediately took the matter to the top.
"I am writing to make you aware that Starbucks' policy on breast-feeding in its coffee houses is against the law in Maryland," her two-page letter to Starbucks Regional Vice President Dean Torrenga began. In a dig at the national coffee chain - known for its public support of progressive causes and a corporate pioneer for offering health benefits to part-time employees - Charkoudian asked Starbucks to retrain employees and establish a "clear policy that women can breast-feed in its coffee houses without being limited, restricted or asked to hide."
Big brothers and sisters joined the "nurse-in" with signs and dolls to help drive the point home.
When she didn't receive a response within two-weeks, Charkoudian got mad. "To go into the bathroom implies this is shameful or should be hidden," she says. Then Charkoudian got organized.
She spoke with other moms, went online to complain to parent listservs and within a few days organized a "nurse-in" back at the coffee house. About 30 women who had never met Charkoudian but were fed up with negative attitudes about breast feeding gathered at the store last August. Outside, about twice as many supporters - husbands, mothers-in-law, uncles, older children - held signs saying "could you drink your latte in the bathroom?"
"The more difficult it is to breast-feed, the fewer the women who'll do it," says Charkoudian, and a 2002 study by the Centers for Disease Control backs her up. The study, published in the Journal of Human Lactation, found that 30 percent of adults thought babies should be fed solids by three months and women should not still be breast-feeding their babies at their first birthday - contradicting advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
In 1998, 45 percent of African American mothers breastfed in the early postpartum period, compared to 66 percent of Hispanic mothers and 68 percent of white mothers, according to a 2000 study by the office of the U.S. Surgeon General.
"Even with new developments in formula, it cannot match breast-milk. It's the ideal food for babies," says Ruowei Li, an epidemiologist with the CDC who says Charkoudian's negative experience at Starbucks isn't uncommon. "The public really needs to be educated. Breast feeding is beneficial not only for babies, but mothers and the entire population. Breast-fed babies have lower incidence of ear infections, less diarrhea, less respiratory infections. It saves society money - not having sick babies."
Starbucks did respond eventually. In a letter to Charkoudian, the regional vice president says the company will comply with Maryland law and instruct its employees accordingly. Starbucks Media director Audrey Lincoff says "breast-feeding mothers are welcome in our stores."
But that hasn't satisfied Charkoudian. She has created a website to encourage Starbucks to enact a national policy encouraging breast-feeding moms to nurse babies in its stores. On the site - www.nurseatstarbucks.com -- parents can download a letter to Orin C. Smith, Starbucks' chief, and even send it from their babies.
Charkoudian challenges Starbucks to be a corporate leader in its public breast-feeding policies.
"Dear Mr. Smith," the letter states. "I like to drink my mama's breast milk. It tastes good and it is so good for me. I like the fact that when my mama takes me places, she feeds me when I am hungry, which is a lot, since my tummy is so small. Sometimes she goes to Starbucks. When she does, I don't want to be hungry. I want to be able to nurse there, too. I don't like nursing under a blanket because I can't see my mama and my mama can't see me and it gets hot and uncomfortable under there. I really don't like nursing in the bathroom. That's gross."
Charkoudian's website explains that in an effort to avoid harassment while nursing, "women find themselves squatting in bathrooms, fumbling under blankets, trying to cover a baby's head with the baby struggling." The reality - she notes "is that when most women breastfeed, those around cannot see much of her breast at all because the baby's head is covering it."
Check out the "3-Minute Activist" on the Promotion of Mother's Milk website - www.promom.org . The site provides simple steps to get the word out about negative portrayals of breastfeeding in the media and society in general.
Go to www.nurseatstarbucks.com and email a letter from the site encouraging Starbucks to adopt nursing-friendly policies in all of its stores.
Charkoudian has received more than 400 emails at the site. Some are genuinely gung-ho, and many supporters have used her website to write to the company. One woman wrote of her humiliating experience on an airline: "I asked for a seat change (I was sandwiched between two men) so I could nurse comfortably. I suggested putting me near a female passenger. The male attendant's attitude was rude and nasty. He told me that was not their problem."
But not all of the e-mails are encouraging, and dozens are vitriolic in their anger about her campaign. "Go take your shirt off in one of thousands of others places you can (and I'm all for women taking their shirt off)," wrote one man. "And spend your time on a real worthwhile cause."
The hostile e-mails show Charkoudian that more needs to be done -
by government, companies and the public to support nursing women. "I
never expected it to be this big," she says. "There was an intense
emotional response to this. We're not boycotting Starbucks. We're
challenging them to be a corporate leader."
Source: By Lisa Newman, www.parentsaction.org/learn/features/breastfeeding/
Bills aim to ease breast-feeding in
Evelyn Garner Araujo, a Jackson mother of three, has had to pump breast milk in a public restroom to feed her child.
A waitress has refused to serve Nancy White because she breast-fed her child under a blanket. White said she was surprised by people's reactions the first time she fed the oldest of her three children in public. "I didn't know that it was an offense to breast-feed in public," White said. "If my child is hungry, I should have that right. I'm sensitive to other people. I'm very discreet."
A series of bills proposed in the Legislature may give mothers more rights to nurse in public.
A subcommittee of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee will meet at 2:30 p.m. today (January 23, 2006) in Room 409 at the Capitol.
Senate Bills 2419 and 2352 and House Bill 527 would exempt breast-feeding mothers (but not lactating fathers) from Mississippi's public indecency law, protect breast-feeding mothers from discrimination in the workplace and ensure that licensed child-care facilities accommodate breast-feeding mothers and their children.
Breast-feeding in public is a misdemeanor under the current law, punishable by up to six months in jail or a $500 fine.
Sen. Hillman Frazier, D-Jackson, a proponent of the bill, said public indecency laws should not apply to breast-feeding women. He said forcing women to use public restrooms is unsanitary and unfair."I wouldn't want to drink a milkshake in a public bathroom, let alone feed my child," Frazier said.
The bills seem to face little opposition in either chamber. The measures have bipartisan support, including chairmen of the public health committees in both chambers.
Senate Public Health Committee Chairman Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo, said his committee will give the bill serious consideration.
"Breast-feeding has been shown to have tremendous health benefits," Nunnelee said. "There should not be legal obstacles to a mother wanting to breast-feed her children."
Dr. Becky Saenz, director of the Mississippi Breastfeeding Medicine Clinic in Madison, said breast-feeding laws in other states have increased the rate of breast-feeding, which is good for mother and baby.
For children, Saenz said, breast-feeding reduces the risk for dozens of diseases, including asthma, lymphoma, leukemia and diabetes. For mothers, she said, it reduces the risk of several types of cancer including breast cancer.
She said pressures not to breast-feed in public force many of her patients to abandon breast-feeding before the six months recommended by the American Medical Association.
"Mothers and children should be able to feed whenever and wherever the child gets hungry," Saenz said. "They should be allowed to breast-feed wherever a bottle-feeding mother can feed."
Araujo, White and other mothers who support the bill say they are discreet when they feed in public and people around them typically cannot tell they are feeding.
Araujo said she does not think anyone would have her arrested for feeding in public, but she's been asked to leave a public school classroom where she was volunteering.
Araujo and others say the legislation, if passed, would make breast-feeding in public more acceptable and make it easier to choose a healthier option for their babies.
"Breast-feeding your child is very empowering," Araujo said. "The
more people become accustomed to it, the less discomfort they will
have with it."
Source: By Joshua Cogswell, E-Mail, www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060123/NEWS010504/601230325/1038
Suggestions for Breast Feeding in
When in public, wear clothing that allows easy access to breasts with as little exposure as possible.
Don't wait until the baby is frantic and start crying to breast-feed. Crying babies attract attention to both the mother and baby.
Turn away from the public as much as possible. Use a duppatta/scarf, magazine, or another person to avoid public exposure.
Turn the chair to the wall, if necessary to breast-feed the baby.
Angers Nursing Moms
Facebook began as a site just for college kids, but now it is an online home for 140 million people from all over the world. Among the new faces of Facebook are women like Kelli Roman, 23, who last year posted a photo of herself nursing one of her two children.
One day, she logged on to find the photo missing. When she pressed
Facebook for an explanation, she got form e-mails in return.
Comments: Is Facebook against breastfeeding and/or breasts? What
are they afraid of - that millions of viewers will go blind? We get
to watch someone commit suicide, we see mutliatoins, hangings, brutal
fights, war, you name it but they are afraid of the world seeing one
of the most loving, nurturing situations human beings can be exposed
to - a woman breastfeeding a child. I realize that the American
culture still isn't comfortable with seeing a nipple and in some
states and airports, the woman is required to go to the filthy
airport bathroom to nurse. The Dr. Spock start this whole fear but
saying, I believe in the 70's, that you only needed to breast feed
for a month before you put your child on Simulac. Breastfeeding has
gotten a bit more popular but women who do it in public are often
ridiculed, scorned and maligned. Is it any wonder that American
children are deprived of this healthy aspect of growing up that
children in many other cultures enjoy. An American child gets an
average of one year to breast feed and then it's over while the
average world wide in 4.6 years. The AVERAGE. Get a grip, Facebook.
And, Get a Grip America to demand the return of these nurturing
photos to the Internet.
Rates in Other States
Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Past Infancy: 'I'm Comforting Him'
Breast-Feeding Nets Charges
Police in the Dayton suburb of Kettering say the caller told them he saw the woman Thursday.
Officer Michael Burke says authorities used a license plate number to track down 39-year-old Genine Compton.
He said the woman told officers she was breast-feeding and wouldn't let her child go hungry.
Burke said the legal concern is that Compton had a child in her lap while driving, not that she was breast-feeding in public.
He said the child was under 2 years old.
Police say the woman faces up to 180 days in jail and a $1,800
fine if convicted of the misdemeanor.