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Would You Eat in the Restroom?

My Facebook page is currently all abuzz about the recently published blog post by Heather W. a blogger for Better Homes and Gardens on Yahoo’s Shine.  Apparently, Heather W. feels that babies belong in the bathroom, specifically nursing babies.  In her “10 Commandments of Dining with Little Kids” she writes:

THOU SHALT NOT BREAST FEED AT THE TABLE
Yes, I have seen table-side breast feeding at a four-star restaurant. If at all possible, take it to the ladies room. (Note: most upscale restaurants have really nice restrooms!)

So, Heather W., would you eat your dinner in the restroom?  Even a really nice one?  Because I sure wouldn’t and I’ve been in some pretty swanky restrooms.  I have to wonder if you feel the same way about seeing a baby bottle fed or fed puress at a table?  Funny those things didn’t get a mention.   I am also wondering if you are in favor of dress codes for these restaurants – you know, to make sure other diners aren’t seeing too much breast from a low cut dress or blouse – no plunging necklines allowed.

Aside from the ick factor of nursing in a restroom, consider some other practicalities.  Why should mama have to spend a large portion of her meal tucked away in the loo?  After all, some newborns may nurse for 45 minutes or longer.  And if the restroom in question has no chair, is mama supposed to sit on the toilet?  I’m sure the other patrons will appreciate having to wait for their turn while mama nurses.  Perhaps most importantly, do you know what hungry babies do when they don’t get fed?  Why they cry!  Surely, a nursing baby is far preferable to a screaming one?

I think Heather W.’s little gem is just another example of society regarding breastfeeding as an “unnatural” practice, something that should be hidden away.  In the US, society is particularly guilty of sexualizing breasts; there’s more breast showing on your grocery aisle newsstand than I’ve ever shown nursing in public.  Why then is seeing a mama nurse her baby in public a uncomfortable thing?  Why is it weird to see breasts being used for their biological purpose?  I would have hoped to see a more positive message from Better Homes and Gardens.  In case you’d like to drop them a line…

BHG.com
Meredith Corporation
1716 Locust Street
Des Moines, IA 50309-3023
E-mail: support@bhg.com

I think society’s discomfort with nursing in public is a symptom of our greater problem – a lack of education about breastfeeding.  As a nursing mama, I do what I can to help those who are just beginning their nursing journey to be successful; as a part of that, I proudly nurse in public – yup, even my squirmy 16 month old.  And I don’t even use a cover (no doubt Heather W. would strongly disapprove).  But guess what.  Unless you come over and stand right over me, you aren’t going to see a thing except kiddo’s head.  Crazy huh?

So for all you nursing mamas out there, here are my 10 Commandments for Nursing in Public:

  1. It’s your legally protected right (in 44 states anyway – shame on those states lagging behind) to nurse your baby in public.
  2. If you are a beginner, try practicing nursing at home in front of a mirror.  You’ll be surprised by what you aren’t showing as you nurse.
  3. There’s nothing wrong with using a cover if it makes YOU feel more comfortable (a blanket can work too).
  4. Don’t feel obligated to use a cover for someone else’s comfort – YOU are the one nursing; do what works for YOU and your baby.  Some babies refuse to eat covered up.
  5. If you are uneasy about nursing in public, try nursing in a quiet location the first few times – a park, the corner of a bookstore, your car, etc – you may find it easier to get sorted out if you aren’t as worried about who is around.
  6. Practice makes it easier!
  7. If you are going out to eat and are uneasy about nursing at the table, ask for a booth or a corner table – do what makes you comfortable.
  8. A sling or baby carrier can make nursing in public even easier.  Giselle at Nurture Baby…Naturally has some great tips and video demos for nursing in various carriers.
  9. As your baby gets older, you won’t have to “help” him as much.  If don’t feel you can coordinate nursing a newborn in public, give it a go again when baby is a bit older and you have the hang of nursing.
  10. Try nursing in the company of other mamas.  A La Leche League meeting or a nursing cafe make great places to give nursing in public a go – and to get tips and hints on breastfeeding in general.

Finally, I leave you with a fabulous public service announcement – thanks to the wonderful Kellymom for the link:  Sudbury District Health Unit Breastfeeding Commerical.  Think Heather W. will see this??

Enjoy your dinner mamas!!

Update:  As of 11AM this morning (5/24), Heather W.’s list is now one commandment short – guess which one got the boot?  This apology was also posted:

Editor’s Note: We sincerely apologize that this blog was posted! It was not vetted by our editors, and it reflects poor parenting advice and an offensive tone.  We have removed the most patently inappropriate sections.  We support breastfeeding moms — and all moms — in their desire to include their children in their public lives. We pledge to do better in the future in both the tone and content of our posts. We will be posting our positive parenting tips for eating out soon. Send us yours at http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=72571226018&topic=13849.

–The editorial team at Better Homes and Gardens

Kudos to all the mamas who voiced their displeasure. While I’m pleased to see the offensive “commandment” gone and an apology offered, BHG should go further.   What do you think the chances are that we’ll see a positive, supportive article about a mama’s right to nurse in public?  I’d encourage you all to visit the BHG facebook page and demand such an article.

Update #2: A new piece has been posted on the BHG blog (not by Heather W. – no surprise there) with tips on dining out with kiddos – no mention of breastfeeding though.  Glad to see a positive piece on parenting, but sad to see this glaring omission in light of the uproar over the original piece.

Like what you read? Buy me a coffee! Thanks for your support!

Published in Breastfeeding