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Why is discretion such a hot topic?--Update#127 (pg 7)

post #1 of 145
Thread Starter 
I think we all agree that a mother and her baby should be able to nurse whenever and wherever they need to. That's a true need, and it's not negotiable for many reasons that have been well-covered . . . it's not reasonable to expect a mother to stay home until her baby is weaned, to carry a bottle, or to expect that the baby will even TAKE a bottle, etc.

But some people seem to have a judgemental attitude toward any woman who chooses to cover herself and/or her baby with a blanket while NIP, because they're "fostering the idea that women should cover when nursing" or something like that. Why shouldn't I cover up if it makes me more comfortable? Why would it be wrong of me to accommodate others' comfort levels by making a minimum effort to provide some sort of visual barrier if it doesn't create undue hardship for me?

I completely understand why people would be against a law that required women to be "discreet" when NIP, because it could be abused and because discretion is subjective and open to interpretation. So IMHO laws should just say that a woman can breastfeed her child anywhere the woman and baby are both authorized to be, without mentioning discretion or anything like that.

But apart from the law, why do some women seem to feel almost a moral obligation to completely refuse to make any accommodation, no matter how minor, to anyone else's level of discomfort with seeing them breastfeed?

In my opinion, nursing the baby is a need. Nursing the baby without making any effort to screen the process in any way from uncomfortable eyes is IMHO a preference, not a need. I don't think my preference automatically trumps everyone else's needs or comfort just because I'm nursing.

I understand the issue that some babies won't tolerate being covered with a blanket. And expecting someone to nurse in the bathroom is unreasonable for both comfort and hygeine reasons.

But, for instance, would people here see a problem with a restaurant bringing out a lovely decorative screen to shield a nursing mom and baby from the rest of the guests? Would that violate her rights or harm her or the baby in any way? It doesn't seem to me that it would.

There's always a lot of debate about how people behave in other people's homes. To me, being in someone else's home is a somewhat unique situation. If I am visiting in someone else's home and I become offended or uncomfortable, I can leave. If they uncomfortable or offended by something a guest does, where can they go? They can't leave and go home--they ARE home.

If I was at someone else's house and they asked me not to nurse in their home I would be shocked and offended, and I would think it was wrong of them, but I would leave. I wouldn't insist on sitting there nursing my baby and refuse to leave their home.

I actually had this happen to me once. The person I was visiting was so uncomfortable with the idea of breastfeeding that they didn't want me to do it anywhere in their home, even if they couldn't see it happening. So I nursed in my car and then I left. And I would not be comfortable visiting in their home with a nursling, ever again.

But I don't quite understand why some people feel that being asked to be discreet is exactly the same thing as being asked not to nurse, period. To me it's not at all the same. I have a huge problem with being asked not to feed my baby. But I don't have a problem at all with making sure the spot where my baby is latched onto the breast is not in the direct, full line of vision of someone I know is uncomfortable around breastfeeding.

With the exception of that one person who didn't want me nursing anywhere in their home even if they couldn't see it, I've always been able to find a solution that balanced the needs and comfort of everyone present. Almost always, I've been able to do this in a way that doesn't require my missing out on huge chunks of the social event.

Usually I just cover the baby with a blanket or turn my body away from the uncomfortable person a bit. And/or I'll seat myself so that my husband is blocking any direct view from the unfomfortable person to my nursling. I've been known to take a chair and put it so that I'm sitting behind the uncomfortable person, or sit just around a corner so I can still hear and take part in the conversation without giving them a view of my breast in case the baby pulls off suddenly and looks around (as my little socialite is apt to do).

Obviously people can go too far, and if I've made a reasonable effort to at least attempt to accommodate the other person's squeamishness and they're still uncomfortable, oh well. At that point I figure I've fulfilled what's required by politeness and courtesy. If my breasts are not at risk of becoming open to view and they're still not happy, that's probably their problem. If at that point they asked me to do something I felt was unreasonable or compromised my ability to feed my child, I would probably explain why I felt it was unreasonable and then leave if I couldn't bring them around.

I have seen people disrobe to the waist to nurse or pump.

If someone did that in my home I would never dream of telling her that she couldn't pump, nurse, or whatever she needed to do in my home, or that she couldn't take off whatever she needed to to do that.

But if she had completely taken her shirt and bra off in front of my husband and my other guests and refused to cover up or go elsewhere to do it, I would have thought that highly inappropriate and would have asked her to find some way to be more discreet.

I know that some people would equate my asking her not to take her shirt off in my living room as being equal to my refusing to allow her to feed my baby in my home at all, anywhere. I just don't see how it's the same thing.

Why do some people seem to think that asking someone to be discreet is exactly the same as asking them not to breastfeed?
post #2 of 145
First of all I have no problem with women who WANT to cover up, for their own reasons. I have a huge problem with others expecting me and others to cover, just because they think bfing is "gross" or "unappropriate" or something else along those lines. My DS won't be coverd - he pops on and off at his leisure and would never except a blanket or anything else over his head. Then he wouldn't be able to see and that wouldn't be fair!

If I am ever visiting someone, and am told to cover, I'll refuse. People have asked if I'd like a blanket to which I calmly reply that no, that isn't wanted or needed. If they insist, I'd leave. And never visit them again while I had a nursling. Expecting me to cover or got a different room or whatever just so that they don't have to "see" me nurse (and for that they can just look away), is unacceptable - to me. If your in *my* house or someone elses' house, who is otherwise OK with my nursing, then you should leave. If you make it a huge seen - well, then I just don't think theres any need for us to be in the same place ever again, whiel DS is nursing.

And I think pumping (which might or might not require total removal of a shirt/bra), is a bit different - I hate pumping in front of others, even just my dad. Its a much more private experience vs nursing.

Those are my thoughts on the subject.
post #3 of 145
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamadelbosque View Post

And I think pumping (which might or might not require total removal of a shirt/bra), is a bit different - I hate pumping in front of others, even just my dad. Its a much more private experience vs nursing.

Those are my thoughts on the subject.

The "pumping is more private than nursing" idea fascinates me. I don't see it that way at all, really--they're both necessary tasks for feeding the baby (well, necessary in some situations anyway). Neither is any more or less sexual or appropriate than the other in my mind.

So, you would see total removal of the shirt and bra to pump in front of others as a different type of thing than total removal of the shirt and bra to nurse in front of others?
post #4 of 145
First of all, discretion is subjective.

Second of all, not all babies can or will nurse with a shield or blanket or whatever.

Third, covering up when someone is offended is validating their criticism, which is completely baseless.

Reasonable attempt is also subjective. You think covering or turning away is reasonable. Someone else might not and might think you should go in the bathroom. Why is your "reasonable attempt" more valid than theirs. I think it is all bunk.

People are offended by a lot of things- same sex couples holding hands, women working outside of the home, tattoos, whatever.

One does not have the right to not be offended when they leave their house. if they wish to avoid being offended, then perhaps they should cover their eyes or stay home.

This doesn't even touch the reasons why nursing in public is vital, how it normalizes breastfeeding, how women standing up for the rights of moms and nursing babies benefits everyone.
post #5 of 145
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by the_lissa View Post

One does not have the right to not be offended when they leave their house. if they wish to avoid being offended, then perhaps they should cover their eyes or stay home.

OK, I understand most of your points I think. BUT what about in a person's own home? Should I have a right to ask someone not to take off their shirt and bra in my living room, or not?
post #6 of 145
I think the reason that being asked to be discreet can be offensive is in the language.
If the word's usage were based upon its etymology then discreet is completely appropriate, and I have found that most moms are so.
However, contemporary usage of the word in regards to breastfeeding generally suggests that there is something that needs to be considered of delicate nature or separate from common behaviour; and many moms who breastfeed, especially those who do so exclusively for extended periods, may also find it objectionable that breastfeeding is not considered common (I am one of those, and feel it is common in my frame of reality).

Two thoughts about covering oneself while breastfeeding:
1. I think it interesting that in countries where women are generally undercover, public nursing is not an issue.

2. I notice people under blankets far more than I notice people just nursing. I think covers draw attention to the act breastfeeding. They are also rather cumbersome to deal with.

Perhaps those new moms having access to and hanging with those more experienced breastfeeding in public moms would help them to find comfort levels and spread the commonality of baby feeding.
post #7 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by purple_kangaroo View Post
OK, I understand most of your points I think. BUT what about in a person's own home? Should I have a right to ask someone not to take off their shirt and bra in my living room, or not?
Are you serious? Do you actually think a woman would completely disrobe in your house in order to breastfeed?
post #8 of 145
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KirstenMary View Post
Are you serious? Do you actually think a woman would completely disrobe in your house in order to breastfeed?
Did you read my OP? I have actually had a woman disrobe from the waist up to feed her baby in my house.
post #9 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by purple_kangaroo View Post
I think we all agree that a mother and her baby should be able to nurse whenever and wherever they need to. That's a true need, and it's not negotiable for many reasons that have been well-covered . . . it's not reasonable to expect a mother to stay home until her baby is weaned, to carry a bottle, or to expect that the baby will even TAKE a bottle, etc.

But some people seem to have a judgemental attitude toward any woman who chooses to cover herself and/or her baby with a blanket while NIP, because they're "fostering the idea that women should cover when nursing" or something like that. Why shouldn't I cover up if it makes me more comfortable? Why would it be wrong of me to accommodate others' comfort levels by making a minimum effort to provide some sort of visual barrier if it doesn't create undue hardship for me?

When I NIP my 20 month old, my concern is for her and only her. The thoughts of any onlookers mean nothing to me. If they are offended by my NIPing, it's there issue, and I refuse to make it my issue.

I completely understand why people would be against a law that required women to be "discreet" when NIP, because it could be abused and because discretion is subjective and open to interpretation. So IMHO laws should just say that a woman can breastfeed her child anywhere the woman and baby are both authorized to be, without mentioning discretion or anything like that.

But apart from the law, why do some women seem to feel almost a moral obligation to completely refuse to make any accommodation, no matter how minor, to anyone else's level of discomfort with seeing them breastfeed?

Again, because I am only concerned with feeding my child. Sometimes, watching other restaurant patrons eat simply turns my stomach. Should they accommodate my discomfort?

In my opinion, nursing the baby is a need. Nursing the baby without making any effort to screen the process in any way from uncomfortable eyes is IMHO a preference, not a need. I don't think my preference automatically trumps everyone else's needs or comfort just because I'm nursing.

Feeding my child trumps the discomfort of everyone.

I understand the issue that some babies won't tolerate being covered with a blanket. And expecting someone to nurse in the bathroom is unreasonable for both comfort and hygeine reasons.

Nursing in a bathroom is not unreasonable. It's disgusting.

But, for instance, would people here see a problem with a restaurant bringing out a lovely decorative screen to shield a nursing mom and baby from the rest of the guests? Would that violate her rights or harm her or the baby in any way? It doesn't seem to me that it would.

It would, though, say that whatever is going on behind the screen needs to be hidden, and that's a terrible message to send.

There's always a lot of debate about how people behave in other people's homes. To me, being in someone else's home is a somewhat unique situation. If I am visiting in someone else's home and I become offended or uncomfortable, I can leave. If they uncomfortable or offended by something a guest does, where can they go? They can't leave and go home--they ARE home.


Private homes are different. My friends know I nurse, and they fully expect me to nurse while I am there. Heck, I even nurse my 4 y/o at my FIL's house. If I ever run into a situation where a homeowner does not want me to NIP, they are fully within their right to ask me to stop. Just as I am fully within my right to leave and not return.

If I was at someone else's house and they asked me not to nurse in their home I would be shocked and offended, and I would think it was wrong of them, but I would leave. I wouldn't insist on sitting there nursing my baby and refuse to leave their home.

I would finish feeding my baby first. Then I would leave.

I actually had this happen to me once. The person I was visiting was so uncomfortable with the idea of breastfeeding that they didn't want me to do it anywhere in their home, even if they couldn't see it happening. So I nursed in my car and then I left. And I would not be comfortable visiting in their home with a nursling, ever again.

But I don't quite understand why some people feel that being asked to be discreet is exactly the same thing as being asked not to nurse, period. To me it's not at all the same. I have a huge problem with being asked not to feed my baby. But I don't have a problem at all with making sure the spot where my baby is latched onto the breast is not in the direct, full line of vision of someone I know is uncomfortable around breastfeeding.

That's your preference, and that's fine. But not everyone nurses that way, not should they have to.

With the exception of that one person who didn't want me nursing anywhere in their home even if they couldn't see it, I've always been able to find a solution that balanced the needs and comfort of everyone present. Almost always, I've been able to do this in a way that doesn't require my missing out on huge chunks of the social event.

Usually I just cover the baby with a blanket or turn my body away from the uncomfortable person a bit. And/or I'll seat myself so that my husband is blocking any direct view from the unfomfortable person to my nursling. I've been known to take a chair and put it so that I'm sitting behind the uncomfortable person, or sit just around a corner so I can still hear and take part in the conversation without giving them a view of my breast in case the baby pulls off suddenly and looks around (as my little socialite is apt to do).

I'd rather "miss" that event completely

Obviously people can go too far, and if I've made a reasonable effort to at least attempt to accommodate the other person's squeamishness and they're still uncomfortable, oh well. At that point I figure I've fulfilled what's required by politeness and courtesy. If my breasts are not at risk of becoming open to view and they're still not happy, that's probably their problem. If at that point they asked me to do something I felt was unreasonable or compromised my ability to feed my child, I would probably explain why I felt it was unreasonable and then leave if I couldn't bring them around.

I did have a guest in my home once who literally disrobed to the waist (entirely took off her shirt and I think her bra, too) to pump milk for her baby (they were having problems with nursing). Thankfully she chose to do this in a bedroom instead of in front of the other guests. I offered to keep her company, which she graciously accepted.

Why would you offer to keep her company?

I would never dream of telling her that she couldn't pump, nurse, or whatever she needed to do in my home, or that she couldn't take off whatever she needed to to do that.

But if she had taken her shirt and bra off in front of my husband and my other guests and refused to cover up or go elsewhere to do it, I would have thought that highly inappropriate and would have asked her to find some way to be more discreet. If she wasn't willing to do that, she most likely would be the type of person who wouldn't be invited back again anyway.

I highly doubt she would have disrobed in front of you and your husband. And if she had, and if you had reacted as you said you would, you probably would not have to worry about not inviting her. I highly doubt she would have wanted to return.

I know that some people would equate my asking her not to take her shirt off in my living room as being equal to my refusing to allow her to feed my baby in my home at all, anywhere. I just don't see how it's the same thing.

I have a hard time believing she would have done that, and I think your example is a bit extreme.

Why do some people seem to think that asking someone to be discreet is exactly the same as asking them not to breastfeed?

I am all for discretion; in fact, I am a very discreet nurser. Nut it is MY CHOICE. It should not be forced upon me by closed-minded individuals who believe that breasts are for sex and sex alone.


.
post #10 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by purple_kangaroo View Post
Did you read my OP? I have actually had a woman disrobe from the waist up to feed her baby in my house.
Hello. Yes, I did. You said this:

Quote:
I did have a guest in my home once who literally disrobed to the waist (entirely took off her shirt and I think her bra, too) to pump milk for her baby (they were having problems with nursing). Thankfully she chose to do this in a bedroom instead of in front of the other guests. I offered to keep her company, which she graciously accepted.
Apples and oranges.


She did it in a separate room, and she was pumping, not nursing. Pumping is both mental as well as physical, and I know many women who cannot pump with a shirt and bra on. I cannot, though, understand why you would want to keep her company while she pumped.
post #11 of 145
[QUOTE=purple_kangaroo;10338469]The "pumping is more private than nursing" idea fascinates me. I don't see it that way at all, really--they're both necessary tasks for feeding the baby (well, necessary in some situations anyway). Neither is any more or less sexual or appropriate than the other in my mind.

QUOTE]

I've actually had to pump "in public" before (and i'm not talking just in my car or something)...It was either find a quiet corner, or take up the only bathroom on that floor of the children's museum for 20 minutes. I haven't read anything saying my right to pump in public in general is protected, so, it's sort of a "don't make waves" situation when I've had to do it. I think a lot of people take the "you don't NEED to pump right now" stance b/c, well, my child isn't screaming with hunger, and it's obviously going into a bottle, so, why not just give her formula this time, or wait until we get home to pump, or whatever.

I have pumped in front of my best friend and her whole family (DH, three (breastfed) kids). It was fascinating to them. A very odd reversal, in retrospect...

Oh yah, as to the disrobing - unless you have a hands-free pumping bra set up (and sometimes even then), it can be very hard to get situated w/o "disrobing" at first...getting the flanges held in place while you turn the machine turned on, and the reverse at the end, etc. If your clothes hit the flanges the wrong way, they can dislodge sometimes. I've been doing it for 18+mos, and I still have times where I just have to yank up what I'm wearing to get something set.
post #12 of 145
I don't have a problem with those who want to use a cover. I also used a cover for a few months with my twins. They started to get fidgety and it was more of a hassle to use a cover than not using one. So, now, I never use any sort of cover. Does that mean my boobs are hanging out? Of course not.

As far as other's comfort is concerned, I don't understand why other people's comfort is put in the hands of a nursing mother. I don't see that asked of other people.


As far as disrobing in your house, I'm guessing she knew she had to disrobe from the waist up thus asking to use another room. I highly doubt that she would've done it in front of your guests. Having had to pump for the first 6 weeks of my twin's lives, it was more comfortable for me just to take off my shirt and bra to pump.
post #13 of 145
So WHAT if someone DOES disrobe to nurse? If I wanna strip from the waist up...people will have to learn to cope or leave. Their issue. Not mine.
post #14 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by purple_kangaroo View Post
Why do some people seem to think that asking someone to be discreet is exactly the same as asking them not to breastfeed?
I'm going to try to get my point across here. Discretion is so subjective. I noticed that lot of times, when people say "be discreet", they want you to nurse in a corner, with a blanket . That is not how I want to nurse. I don't use a blanket but I can be discreet without one. Plus, it bothers me when people tell me how to do something when I do it already (does that make sense?)
post #15 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by kalynnsmom View Post
I don't have a problem with those who want to use a cover. I also used a cover for a few months with my twins. They started to get fidgety and it was more of a hassle to use a cover than not using one. So, now, I never use any sort of cover. Does that mean my boobs are hanging out? Of course not.

As far as other's comfort is concerned, I don't understand why other people's comfort is put in the hands of a nursing mother. I don't see that asked of other people.

As far as disrobing in your house, I'm guessing she knew she had to disrobe from the waist up thus asking to use another room. I highly doubt that she would've done it in front of your guests. Having had to pump for the first 6 weeks of my twin's lives, it was more comfortable for me just to take off my shirt and bra to pump.
:
post #16 of 145
Also, for some people, being told to be discreet does mean not breastfeeding.

It has been shown that if women feel tied down- having to turn away from people, having to carry a blanket, having to find a bathroom, they will not nurse very long, if at all.
post #17 of 145
Because it's my body and my baby - NOONE has the right to tell me how to nurse. Requesting I be "discreet" is noones place. Period.
post #18 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by kalynnsmom View Post

As far as other's comfort is concerned, I don't understand why other people's comfort is put in the hands of a nursing mother. I don't see that asked of other people.
Yes exactly.

And you know, people can do what they want about nursing mothers in their home, but I can't imagine anything else that is so important and integral to one's health and well being that someone would would tell someone to cover up or go in another room.

I am still boggled that the op sees nothing wrong with a restaurant asking a mother to cover up.
post #19 of 145
Another thing...requesting someone cover up implies breasts SHOULD be covered and/or are shameful. THAT is the problem with this anti-nip culture. I will NOT cater to that idea.
post #20 of 145
Exactly rmzbm.

If someone asked or told me to cover up or go in another room in their else, I would either leave immediately. If I couldn't leave immediately, I would nurse as I normally would, and not have that person in my life any more.

I love how people expect me to respect their ludicrous requests, but they cannot respect my and my baby's need and desire to nurse in the and way that is comfortable for us.
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