Author Topic: Is it appropriate to breastfeed publicly?  (Read 4282 times)

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Offline SouthSerb99

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Is it appropriate to breastfeed publicly?
« on: November 27, 2006, 11:49:40 AM »
I had a question for the general public (here) and I'm hoping some of our female members offer their opinions on this subject.

My sisters were at a Christening this Saturday in a very small Serbian Orthodox Church.  I know the Church very well and it has been around for about 60 years. 

Connected to the Church's south wall (through a set of double doors) is a banquet area, used for functions and fundraisers etc...

Since the Church is so small, the connected hall is also quite tiny.  I give you this info as a way of background of what transpired.

After the Christening, the parents of the child had refreshments in the hall area for the guests of the Christening (in total there were only about 15-20 people).  The mother of the newly Christened child than nursed the child in the banquet area, a few short steps from the actual entrance of the Church.  She did not cover herself while nursing, but felt it appropriate to nurse while "exposed' so to speak.

This was done in plain view of all, including the Priest.

No one had a problem with it, but when I was told about the situation, I was really bothered by it.

My wife and I had our first about 16 months ago and she nursed for about 7 months, so I understand the difficulties facing nursing Moms, but both my wife and I felt this was inappropriate behavior, especially considering that she was a few feet from entrance to the Church.

Am I wrong, or is this a perfectly acceptable practice?

I'd also like to point out that there are small "office like" rooms available for privacy, which I'm sure would have been made available to her, if she so desired.  I'm not trying to rip on a nursing Mom, but wasn't this a bit over the top?
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Offline BoredMeeting

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Re: Is it appropriate...
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2006, 12:55:06 PM »
A little modesty never killed anyone.

I would have moved to an area out of view of the nursing mother but wouldn't have said anything else about the matter.

Offline Deacon Lance

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Re: Is it appropriate...
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2006, 02:02:17 PM »
Given that the holiest icon in Chilandar Monastery on Mt. Athos is one of the Mother of God with breast exposed nursing Christ, I think it acceptable behavior, although one foreign to our Puritan/Victorian influenced sense of modesty in America.

http://www.icon.lt/list/nursing.htm
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Offline GiC

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Re: Is it appropriate...
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2006, 02:15:44 PM »
According to the rules of etiquette breastfeeding in public is frowned upon. However, I wouldn't say that the incident was sacreligious or anything, it was just bad taste.
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Offline Deacon Lance

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Re: Is it appropriate...
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2006, 03:42:56 PM »
Whose rules of etiquette?  I can understand why some would be put off by a woman not covering herself, but if a woman uses a blanket who cares?
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Offline GiC

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Re: Is it appropriate...
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2006, 03:55:07 PM »
Whose rules of etiquette?  I can understand why some would be put off by a woman not covering herself, but if a woman uses a blanket who cares?

Well, Judith Martin would be my source on this one, I recall an article where she chided a young woman who felt entitled to breastfeed in public quite severely.
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Offline SouthSerb99

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Re: Is it appropriate...
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2006, 04:02:54 PM »
Quote
I can understand why some would be put off by a woman not covering herself, but if a woman uses a blanket who cares?

That would be my primary beef with the situation, although, I don't see the problem with using one of the private offices.  I mean, I would just figure she might feel more comfortable (as well as those around her) being able to nurse in private.
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Offline authio

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Re: Is it appropriate...
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2006, 04:36:18 PM »
No beef now, it's Nativity lent.  And where are the women to respond to this question?
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Offline Simayan

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Re: Is it appropriate...
« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2006, 05:28:37 PM »
It's a non-issue for me. The baby has to eat, and everyone knows that breastfeeding gives the most nutrients. Yes, I know people will talk about formula. But antibodies are also transferred. Maybe formula has that too, but it's beyond the point.

I do agree she could have used a blanket if she was in the church area, though.
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Offline dantxny

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Re: Is it appropriate...
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2006, 07:29:08 PM »
No beef now, it's Nativity lent.  And where are the women to respond to this question?
Well actually, there'll be tons of beef tonight . . . tommorrow, though . . . .
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Offline Donna Rose

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Re: Is it appropriate...
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2006, 08:16:26 PM »
I don't have children (yet -- someday, God willing), but I could never breastfeed in public, even with a blanket or another such covering. I would just be too uncomfortable, and seeing another woman do it in plain view of strangers makes me uncomfortable as well. I definitely think breastfeeding is perfectly natural so I am not knocking it in any way, but that for me is a private thing and I would feel more comfortable doing it in privacy. I am not knowledgable enough to say if it is inappropriate because of how close to the church she was, that I would ask a priest about if you are interested enough. Just my 2 cents...

Donna
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Offline Elisha

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Re: Is it appropriate...
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2006, 09:44:52 PM »
My impression of this public breastfeeding thing is that some women seem to do it as a way of grandstanding/showing off instead of using some discretion - rather annyoing or rude.

Offline SmoT

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Re: Is it appropriate...
« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2006, 09:54:43 PM »
It is definitely appropriate. But let's be honest -- It is accepted much more if the woman is attractive. That's just the way it is. Then its "Isn't that lovely!". I didn't say it was right.

(Edited because I meant to type that it DEFINITELY IS appropriate to breastfeed a child)

But I will say that there is nothing wrong with a strategically placed garmet.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2006, 10:50:36 PM by SmoT »
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Offline Fr. David

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Re: Is it appropriate...
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2006, 10:29:50 PM »
Depends on where you're from.  Seriously.  When I went to South America, it was absoultely the rule that women would just start breastfeeding while waiting for a bus, in a restaurant, in church, a hotel lobby...really there wasn't a place where it couldn't go on.  Some folks who come from cultures more comfortable with public breastfeeding may not even realize they're making someone else uncomfortable, and it's even more difficult a topic to bring up if there's some kind of language barrier going.

I agree with the post re:the icon of the Theotokos; I think our culture is much more uncomfortable with it, sees it as something "inappropriate" for any place but in private, much less in church!!  Other places, though...why wouldn't you breastfeed in church?  Keeps the kid quiet easier than anything else you could do with him.  ;D
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Offline SouthSerb99

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Re: Is it appropriate...
« Reply #14 on: November 28, 2006, 09:45:46 AM »
Well, there is always the option of bottle feeding, using breast milk.
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Offline calligraphqueen

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Re: Is it appropriate...
« Reply #15 on: November 28, 2006, 12:28:58 PM »
while admittedly some women are more blatant with their breastfeeding, even rabid about forcing it on people-the fact is we do have the right to feed our children (even at church)  Maybe she had a blanket and it slipped off, or maybe she is comfortable with her lactational abilities and didn't give it a second thought.  Even after seven children, I would have definitely covered up at church though.  Some women just think it's the most natural thing in the world and it's everyone else that has a problem with it.

I think there are places where less exposure would be the best bet for all involved, but then again the child's needs are more important than people's stuffiness about the issue. I am not going to be stuffed in a closet or (heaven forbid) make my child eat in a bathroom!
 Most men don't bat an eye when Pamela Anderson is completely exposing her breasts (in fact they gawk)  but should the topic of breastfeeding come up everyone is in a tizzy.  I believe our society has forgotten what breasts are for, and NO guys, they aren't for slicing open and stuffing with silicone.  It just irritates me that we are puritanical about breasts when used for their intended purpose, but can't get enough of them in everyday society. 

Offline BoredMeeting

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Re: Is it appropriate...
« Reply #16 on: November 28, 2006, 12:32:13 PM »
I'd be far more inclined to comment negatively about having Pamela Anderson flashing her boobs in an Orthodox Church than I would to the nursing mom.

Offline SouthSerb99

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Re: Is it appropriate...
« Reply #17 on: November 28, 2006, 01:18:52 PM »
^Agreed.
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Offline GiC

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Re: Is it appropriate...
« Reply #18 on: November 28, 2006, 01:52:21 PM »
Actually, according to Judith Martin, the rule of etiquette that comes into play is not one against flashing breasts in public, but rather the rule against exuding bodily fluids in public.
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Offline Elisha

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Re: Is it appropriate...
« Reply #19 on: November 28, 2006, 02:16:00 PM »
Actually, according to Judith Martin, the rule of etiquette that comes into play is not one against flashing breasts in public, but rather the rule against exuding bodily fluids in public.

And for those of you not in the know, Judith Martin is Miss Manners if I remember correctly.

Offline Ebor

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Re: Is it appropriate...
« Reply #20 on: November 29, 2006, 06:39:55 PM »
Well, there is always the option of bottle feeding, using breast milk.

Only if the baby will accept it.  With our first we were told to get him used to nursing and then use breast milk in a bottle after a couple of weeks. HaH!  By that time he knew what he liked and *That wasn't it* no matter the flavour.  So much for that idea.  :)

Ebor
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Offline Ebor

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Re: Is it appropriate...
« Reply #21 on: November 29, 2006, 06:48:54 PM »
Other points from 3 childrens worth of experience. Using a blanket to cover the baby and mother works sometimes, but other times the child has her/his own idea and if it's "Get this thing off my head."  Or "I can't see what's going on and I might miss something interesting"  the blanket isn't staying there.

Sometimes a new mother is just tired and worn out and possibly short on sleep.  The baby is hungry.  The nearest place to sit that is reasonably comfortable may be sought.  I've seen objections in the past that suggested that she go to a restroom.  One wonders if the adults would like to eat in a public restroom.
 :-\  And while some ladies rooms might have a kind of lounge with a chair or sofa, this is not guaranteed, so the alternative is sitting on the commode. 

Ebor

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