do you think its self defeating to lactivism - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 108 Old 08-05-2009, 10:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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to say that women are allowed to feed their babies however they see fit, even with full breast exposed? that if we downplay "modesty" as important, we only harm ourselves and our cause in the long run because we all seem like radicals who let our boobs just hang out everywhere? because we alienate those who would consider themselves "middle of the road" as in, sure feed your baby in public, don't hide in a bathroom, but please don't have your entire boob hanging out while I am talking to you.

this came up with my mother who breastfed basically the early 80's. she only fed my bro mid 70's for 4 months because she believed and would be told to go to the other room while bfing my bro at family functions.

anyway, she thinks this new generation is hooping themselves by insisting that being "modest" is dumb and not needed or whatever, and that in fact we are alienating those who would agree hiding is not necessary.

I am in Japan right now and don't make a huge effort to cover up at all. if I am wearing a top that has to come down versus pulling up over breast I do that. depending on where I am, I will throw a blanket over my shoulder. and I don't cover baby, just my breast.

but I also have a friend who is friends with my parents, mid 40's who one time complained to my mother that I just started feeding my baby with my whole boob hanging out. I am really confused, just as I was then. I am pretty sure that if I was feeding my baby, my shirt would have been covering most of my breast, I don't feel comfortable otherwise. I feel like I am pretty discreet and thus far, in north America at least, have never nursed with my whole breast exposed, and frankly cannot imagine doing so, though I do have friends that do. and even *I*, who is very pro bfing, am at least initially uncomfortable with it.

so that is my personal experience. just wondering what everyone thinks.
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#2 of 108 Old 08-05-2009, 11:37 PM
 
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I live in Crunchytown here in the Pacific NW. Almost everyone I know nursed. None of these people even remotely ever said or implied that they felt it was "dumb to be modest." Or acted like "a radical with their boobs hanging out."

Now, we all nursed in public. But not with our whole boob exposed. I've never seen anyone do that or express the thought that this is what everyone should do. Frankly, it seems like more of a hassle to haul your breast out over your shirt than to simply lift the shirt up and latch the baby on. No matter what your intentions, this generally results in not a lot of breast to be seen.

I think your mother's assumptions about "this new generation" are mistaken.
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#3 of 108 Old 08-05-2009, 11:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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that is one reason why I gave the example of the friend being offended by my breastfeeding. TBH, I don't even remember the exact incidence, and its entirely possible he saw my "whole boob" while latching baby on. but I have never been one to "whip the whole thing out" while nursing.

but I do have friends that do. maybe some people on here even do. if that is considered "radical" or not, I know we can go in circles about this modesty/discreet thing. I guess I am just wondering if it does "hurt the cause."
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#4 of 108 Old 08-05-2009, 11:50 PM
 
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I agree. My friends and I have breastfed all over town and we're all pretty discrete. I wear a nursing tank and a shirt over that and so you really don't see much. I've never seen anyone breastfeeding with major exposure. If someone showed their nipple to the room while trying to latch their baby on, I'd jump to their defense if anyone gave them a hard time because I know how tricky it can be! I think women have the right to nurse their babies comfortably wherever they are. I don't personally know any women who define "comfortably" as their "entire boob hanging out." Although I've seen quite a few teenagers dressed in that way.

to answer your question.. Yes, I think a woman breastfeeding in a public place with her full breast exposed for an extended time does hurt the cause.
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#5 of 108 Old 08-06-2009, 01:57 AM
 
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sometimes you can't help boob exposure. DD never liked being covered and it's way to hot here to even try, she also likes to pull up tees and pull down all tanks.. I had a "boob exposure" more than i wanted today due to DD (13 months) pulling my shirt way up. Usually, when we're out, she's in the ergo where no one can see what she's up to, but lately she's been wanted to move about on her own and not be carried so bfing in public for us is becoming less discrete.

Anyway, i think every one has their own level of comfort as to how much boob they show. Honestly, i'm not comfortable popping my whole boob out, but i don't care if some one else does. And sometimes baby has a different idea of how much boob they like out! Breastfeeding is the most natural thing you can do for your baby, why not do what's comfortable for the both of you?
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#6 of 108 Old 08-06-2009, 03:04 AM
 
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Just from the 70's to today we have the majority of women getting to stay in the room to breastfeed their babies. Give it 50 more years and breastfeeding breasts will be seen as no more offensive than magazine and television breasts and no more sexual than lips.

What's really holding back lactivism is the UAVs who make a big deal about covering up/only nursing in private. I don't mean women who choose to cover for whatever reason, I mean the ones who make a show of moral superiority. Every time I see someone comment (in a mainstream article on NIP) that "I nursed all my kids and I never had to nurse in public" I want to force them to write letters of apology to every woman who ended up having to give up breastfeeding early because they lost their supply from trying to only nurse in private.
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#7 of 108 Old 08-06-2009, 10:14 AM
 
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I'd like the option of breastfeeding with my whole breast out without a lactivist telling me I'm hurting the cause. I have usually been "discreet" according to my own discretion but lately, my 16 month old has decided that she doesn't like fabric near her face. She pulls my shirt away from her and so the 3-4 inches around her are all exposed- and my breasts aren't all that big, so that's pretty much the whole breast. If I struggle with her and try to pull the shirt back down near her face, she'll fuss and cause more of a scene (seriously, BTDT). It's frankly more discrete if I just let her expose my whole breast. I don't see anything wrong with it at all.

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#8 of 108 Old 08-06-2009, 10:33 AM
 
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Saying that it's not obscene to breastfeed, but then telling women they should cover as much of their breast as possible to avoid offending others is hypocritical.

I took a class and the teacher showed us a picture of a Muslim women in a local marketplace completely covered in black from head to toe, all you could see were her eyes - and her entire breast hanging out while she fed her baby. The woman had explained that no one in her culture thought twice about it and that when venders in the market saw her nursing, they gave her a better deal on food.

+ = and .
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#9 of 108 Old 08-06-2009, 10:37 AM
 
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"Discretion" is a total red herring. When complain about nursing moms "letting it all hang out" what they really mean is THEY feel uncomfortable about seeing someone nurse. It has nothing to do with how much skin the mama is or isn't showing. The only cure is more women nursing – as discreetly or not as they choose.

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#10 of 108 Old 08-06-2009, 10:41 AM
 
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The problem with insisting on "modesty" is who defines modest? And, what if baby has other plans? I think 99% of women out there are modest, but yeah, occasionally a nipple pops out or whatever. Laws with a modesty clause could get these women kicked out of public places even when they are trying to be modest. Also, there are many people out there that think you can't be modest without wearing a nursing cover or a blanket (so not true). So you've got a ton of conflicting ideas on the definition of "modest".
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#11 of 108 Old 08-06-2009, 11:05 AM
 
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I have friends that bring out the entire boob over the top or do not recover the boob when baby pops off. (Stated since someone mentioned that they don't know anyone that does this) They make no attempt to hide their boob. Not saying they need to just saying they do this.
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#12 of 108 Old 08-06-2009, 11:09 AM
 
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SashaBear,
I have friends that do that, too, and it has helped me gain the confidence to breastfeed the same way in public the times where I just didn't happen to wear a top that is more "conducive" to breastfeeding "discreetly." I'm glad they just pull down their shirt and I'm glad I've done it too. It can sometimes make it easier to feed the child which means less struggle with fabric and your child not getting impatient. Impatient children make for NOT being "discreet." If I have to share more breast to be more "discreet" noise-wise, then I will.

Mommy to DD March 2008, DS July 2010
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#13 of 108 Old 08-06-2009, 11:12 AM
 
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My boobs are too big to pull down my shirt! LOL
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#14 of 108 Old 08-06-2009, 11:18 AM
 
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I think it's much easier for small breasted women to be "modest". I have smaller breasts and it's very easy for me to now show anything. I don't think that it's my job to decide how anyone else nurses or how much skin they show.

Healthcare is a human right!
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#15 of 108 Old 08-06-2009, 01:25 PM
 
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I nurse over the top with my whole boob out. Honestly, I'd rather expose my breast which I'm much more confident in than my flabby gross stomach. I don't do this every single time I nurse in public...it depends on what I'm wearing and if there is anyone I deem as creepy around.

I have mixed feelings on the issue. I see where it might make some uncomfortable....at at the same time I feel uncomfortable being "ashamed" of my breasts and the fact that I'm a mammal. Either way people are going to complain about people "whipping a boob out"...when you hear stories about women being harassed for nursing even covered people still glaze over that fact and talk about "whipping it out".

I personally want a little sound machine attached to my bra with a very Indiana Jones type whip cracking noise to use whenever I pull out my breast.
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#16 of 108 Old 08-06-2009, 01:45 PM
 
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I personally want a little sound machine attached to my bra with a very Indiana Jones type whip cracking noise to use whenever I pull out my breast.
hee!

I do have small breasts, so it probably is easier for me to be "discrete." And truly, I would defend any breastfeeding mama out there. I just think it does make it a easier if we try to accomadate a little bit for peoples' insecurities. But you have to do what you have to do to feed your child.
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#17 of 108 Old 08-06-2009, 04:09 PM
 
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If the "cause" is hurt by defending a woman's right to nurse without the control of someone else's vaules, then I am not interested in the "cause"

you can have your own cause where you regulate whether or not I'm allowed to go over or under my shirt and I'll be over here defending *everyone's* rights

(general you)
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#18 of 108 Old 08-06-2009, 04:54 PM
 
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Originally Posted by FullMetalMom View Post
Saying that it's not obscene to breastfeed, but then telling women they should cover as much of their breast as possible to avoid offending others is hypocritical.
Thank you!

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Originally Posted by Megan73 View Post
"Discretion" is a total red herring. When complain about nursing moms "letting it all hang out" what they really mean is THEY feel uncomfortable about seeing someone nurse. It has nothing to do with how much skin the mama is or isn't showing. The only cure is more women nursing – as discreetly or not as they choose.
Yep. I think infighting over the issue is what's harmful to the cause, not covering or not covering.

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My boobs are too big to pull down my shirt! LOL
They may be too large for you to feel comfy doing it, but I can assure you the size of your breast has little to do with the ability to pull down a shirt. It's more the cut of the shirt. I pulled my J-cups out over the top of a swimsuit and an aloha-print dress and a few other things back in the day. I never did it very often because I usually wear separates & always found it much simpler and more comfortable to pull up my bra instead of pulling it down (I gave up on nursing bras after the first baby).

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If the "cause" is hurt by defending a woman's right to nurse without the control of someone else's vaules, then I am not interested in the "cause"

you can have your own cause where you regulate whether or not I'm allowed to go over or under my shirt and I'll be over here defending *everyone's* rights

(general you)
I'm right there with you. As much as I dislike Hooter Hiders and feel it unfortunate that some women feel they must use them...they get to. If I want to pull my boob out of my dress, then Mary over there gets to use a cover, and what we need to worry about are folks who think NEITHER of us should be nursing our babies in public.

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#19 of 108 Old 08-06-2009, 11:38 PM
 
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I agree with the people who said the folks griping about mothers being "indiscrete" either --

1)Think it's indiscrete to nurse in public AT ALL, or

2)Think it's indiscrete to nurse without a cover-up.

I don't think we need to worry about hurting the cause. Just nurse however we're comfortable.

The gripers are going to gripe no matter what.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#20 of 108 Old 08-07-2009, 12:19 AM
 
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Saying that it's not obscene to breastfeed, but then telling women they should cover as much of their breast as possible to avoid offending others is hypocritical.
ita.

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#21 of 108 Old 08-07-2009, 12:37 AM
 
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I personally think it's best to cover up as much as your baby allows. I consider nursing to be as commonplace as anything else you'd see in a restaurant, mall, etc. I've bf'ed on countless flights and, while I don't like nursing covers, my breast is always covered by a blanket, if not my baby's head (DS didn't mind his head being covered sometimes but DD has never been a fan.) I have NEVER gotten a snide comment or even a funny look, even when it's been obvious what I'm doing. Had I had part of my breast exposed then I'm sure I would have gotten looks, whether they were intended to be rude or not.
OTOH, there are a number of MDC mamas who never got any sort of attention until they tried using a blanket at which point someone stepped right up to try to tell them not to do that here, ew.
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#22 of 108 Old 08-07-2009, 12:48 AM
 
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Before we had kids, DH had the same opinion- that he didn't think much of it if someone was covered and feeding a baby, but that if he could see a lot then it was distracting. Not inappropriate, not sexual, not gross, just distracting.
And if he had seen it all the time, or had grown up with women nursing everywhere, it wouldn't have been distracting. Hiding things away is not the way to make people comfortable with breastfeeding.

If people have trouble getting used to breastfeeding they need more opportunities to practice. Unfortunately, there are far fewer babies than children and far fewer children than adults, so it's really up to us few women with babies who nurse to give everyone else a chance to get practice in being around nursing mothers.

And the more chances they get, the easier it'll become for them.
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#23 of 108 Old 08-07-2009, 12:50 AM
 
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i think worrying about discreet vs not discreet is a distraction from the real issue of the right to nurse

some women can't nurse discreetly. a mama nursing twins for example or a mama who only has one particular nursing position available to her for whatever reason. it is dificult for a mama with a very active child to nurse "discreetly". it is sometimes difficult for a larger mama to feel that they are able to be "discreet".

lactivism to me is about the fight for the rights of ALLL mamas and ALL children to nurse...whenever, wherever and however they need to nurse

while i think that items like nursing covers and even nursing tops to a certain extent are great for mamas who have the $$$ and inclination i would feel wrong to impose them as a requirement on mamas who have neither

for every mama baby pair out their who flaunt it for the world to see...i applaud you for doing what you need to do as well as for helping to normalize breastfeeding in all its glorious forms....

but i wouldn't want women to feel that they must bare their entire breast for the world to see in order to do their part. As to women who cover to whatever extent they deam necessary or comfartable, i applaod them for showing women who would never dream of exposing themselves in public that there is another way.

i've done both in various situations and i like knowing its ok either way
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#24 of 108 Old 08-07-2009, 12:59 AM
 
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What's important is that a baby gets BM and that a mother knows it's just fine for her to feed her baby in any place and any way she sees fit. I don't think that my going into a dressing room to have a private moment with my baby while I nurse her is setting a bad example. I encourage women whenever I have the chance and I offer any support I can to pg friends. But I also show then that you don't have to be an extremist in order to be proud to bf.
Sorry to quote you so many times, you just triggered a number of points that I've been thinking about a lot lately.

This next bit is about the effects of a mass move towards hiding away, it's not to criticize individual comfort levels.

How are women going to know that it's fine for her to feed her baby in any place and any way she sees fit if those who are comfortable feeding obviously in public instead hide away and minimize the chance of anyone realizing what they are doing?

If the majority of breastfeeding mothers occupy dressing rooms, lounges, their own cars, etc, it aggravates the "I/my friend/sister/dogwalker's cousin breastfed and never did it in public" problem.
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#25 of 108 Old 08-07-2009, 01:01 AM
 
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How are women going to know that it's fine for her to feed her baby in any place and any way she sees fit if those who are comfortable feeding obviously in public instead hide away and minimize the chance of anyone realizing what they are doing?
In part by being more obvious around pregnant women. "Oh, do you need to NURSE?" and then go ahead and nurse with only the merest hint of breast possibly visible while it looks like the baby's just sleeping.
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#26 of 108 Old 08-07-2009, 01:06 AM
 
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Great posts kewpie pi and sapphire chan.

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#27 of 108 Old 08-07-2009, 01:30 AM
 
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I personally think it's best to cover up as much as your baby allows. I consider nursing to be as commonplace as anything else you'd see in a restaurant, mall, etc. I've bf'ed on countless flights and, while I don't like nursing covers, my breast is always covered by a blanket, if not my baby's head (DS didn't mind his head being covered sometimes but DD has never been a fan.) I have NEVER gotten a snide comment or even a funny look, even when it's been obvious what I'm doing. Had I had part of my breast exposed then I'm sure I would have gotten looks, whether they were intended to be rude or not.
Quite frankly, that's irrelevant to the question. I've only overheard snide remarks about breastfeeding twice and been confronted about it once. In two of the three cases I was covering my breast with a blanket, in the third I was completely covered by shirt and baby.

In contrast, I have never received a negative reaction while nursing with my breast pulled out of the top of my clothing and bare to the world. I have nursed like this at the pool on Pearl Harbor, at Honolulu International Airport, and while pushing a shopping cart around both Toys R Us and Wal-Mart.

I can no more make statements about what other women should do from my experience than you can do so from yours.

Quote:
If I were to have a baby that refused to be covered (like DD has been most of her life and DS was sometimes) then I'd cover my breast. If that didn't word I'd select a top that would be "modest".
And again, that's fine for you. But it has zero application to me, or to any other woman who doesn't feel this is the necessary in order to nurse her child.

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I think nurse-ins do more harm than good. They make us look like "boob nazis" and that we're doing something 'different' or 'weird'. I nurse in a way that I fit in, which is how it should be, IMO. I'm not doing anything obscene, and I'm not doing something that should be hidden but if I make someone feel more comfortable by covering up then I think that's fair[.
So homosexuals should not hold hands while walking down the street because it is different and weird and they might make someone uncomfortable? As a fat woman I shouldn't wear sleeveless shirts because it might make someone uncomfortable (I swear to you, I've heard this)? In general, I should sacrifice my individual right to self-determination because of the momentary discomfort of a stranger? I'll take a pass, thanks anyway.

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I don't equate it to going to the bathroom or having sex, like many anti-bf'ers do, but I think it *is* the same as blowing your nose or fixing your contacts.
No. No, it's not. Breastfeeding your baby is analogous to NOTHING other than feeding your child/yourself. Period.


Quote:
What's important is that a baby gets BM and that a mother knows it's just fine for her to feed her baby in any place and any way she sees fit.
Do you realize how this statement contradicts pretty much everything else you said in your post?

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#28 of 108 Old 08-07-2009, 09:34 AM
 
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Great post, Sagesgirl!

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#29 of 108 Old 08-07-2009, 02:44 PM
 
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We were just talking about this at my bf moms group last night.

I have no problem w/any way that an individual mom feels most comfortable nursing, cover or no cover, hiding away from others or not, but I do have a HUGE problem w/the societal attitudes that make women feel that bf is shameful.

I think modesty while bf should not be discussed at all personally. Our rights are either protected or not, we are either doing something shameful or not, there is no in between for me.

I value all types of bf mothers bc we are an example of the diverse way we can meet our childrens' needs while taking into account OUR OWN comfort levels. I nurse out of the top of my shirt, no cover, usually in my mei tai, wrap, sling, etc. I feel like I am an example to people who see me that bf is normal, etc. My friend always covers while nursing, she is an example to mothers that they can bf discretely if they so choose. She is no less a lactavist than I am and vice versa.

Look at other issues of major change throughout history, when the shift occurs there will be people who don't get it, who grumble, who fight against it, no matter how uneducated their stance. We do not have the right to not be offended in our society, babies should have the right to the best possible food in the best possible way.

BTW, if someone says, "I am supportive of breastfeeding, BUT....." then they are not supportive of bf.

I get so angry about this whole debate, esp the states that have laws w/a discret clause. Who gets to decide this? Will there be special bf cops? It's absolutely ridiculous. Isn't it funny that the people who are always so offended are also the ones who keep staring?

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#30 of 108 Old 08-07-2009, 03:06 PM
 
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Location: Urban Midwestern USA
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Originally Posted by tanyam926 View Post
BTW, if someone says, "I am supportive of breastfeeding, BUT....." then they are not supportive of bf.
That's it in a nutshell!

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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