CBS News & Breastfeeding Situations: The Only Awkward Thing Here Is Bad Information and Demeaning Undertones

Christie Haskell

nursing posted a slideshow with some commentary called "9 Most Awkward Breastfeeding Situations" that frankly, is just plain irritating.

Under a guise of support, it's still chock-full of misinformation, insinuations that mothers need to hide to be polite, and even the suggestion that your friends and family might be better off not being around you while you nurse. There's even a claim by a doctor, which isn't factually supported.

I told you it was irritating. Let's take a look at CBS' 9 "awkward breastfeeding situations" ....

#1. In Front of Men
CBS' writer seems to think that a woman just drops her top and then puts it all on men to leave if they don't like the sight of her nursing ... if they can tear their eyes away from her apparently mesmerizing, lactating rack. There seems to be some great misunderstanding here that a mother just strips to the waist and bares all to breastfeed and wants people to grin and bare it, as if we stand on a pedestal and announce, "I'M NURSING! LOOK AT ME OR LEAVE!" Sorry folks. We don't expect people to leave -- we just expect them to not stare, which is rude in any situation.

#2. In Public
Well, as we already know, babies just need to eat, CBS, and your suggestion is that people should be discreet in case others are offended. Newsflash: No one is trying to film a porno here, but sometimes some skin is just inevitable. How about asking those people who might be offended just grow the hell up already?

#3. In Church
Mary breastfed Jesus -- there wasn't formula back in those days or electric pumps. And it doesn't get much more natural than using what God gave you to feed your child. The Vatican is even working on getting an image of Mary breastfeeding Jesus back in common circulation. CBS suggests that you have to pay penance for BFing in church and while that may have been an attempt at a clever snippet, it's implications are seriously wrong.

#4. On an Airplane
Who cares what other passengers think? If you bring a baby on a plane most people are going to be annoyed at you anyway. On my recent flight cross-country with my 13-month-old daughter, I was speaking to the wonderful man I sat next to and said something to the effect of not knowing how babies who weren't nursed handled flights. He said simply, "In my experience, they cry."

#5. In Front of Kids
This one they didn't do too badly with, other than to say that MANY mothers worried about the effect nursing has when done in front of children ... which really isn't true. Very few mothers who nurse are concerned about any downside to their other children seeing the natural function of breasts. After all, what's the alternative? They're like other grown ups who can't get past the idea that breasts are toys?

#6. In a Restaurant
Okay, you guys consulted the wrong doctor here. Be careful not to drip milk on surfaces or else you can transfer HIV? Really? The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says:

Are special precautions needed for handling breast milk?

No special precautions exist for handling expressed human milk, nor does the milk require special labeling. It is not considered a biohazard. The Universal Precautions to prevent the transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Hepatitis B virus, and other bloodborne pathogens do not apply to human milk.

So sorry guys, but lactating women aren't spreading diseases all over restaurants by dripping everywhere.

#7. On the Job
Your co-workers may not have gotten the memo, but your boss better have, since now a federal law (even though it's an imperfect law) requires them to allow time for you to pump ... and requires a spot that isn't a restroom.

#8. At a Friend's House
Sorry, but if you're truly my friend, you're not going to make me hide or leave to feed my baby. If you try, we're not as good of friends as I thought. I'm comfortable to nurse around my friends, because they are actually friends.

#9. In a Public Bathroom
They say: "Well-meaning moms often retreat to the nearest bathroom. ...Better for mom to catch hell for breast-feeding in public than for junior to catch a cold." I say: Seriously? Well-meaning? How about women who are uncomfortable and nervous because people like you suggest that the only other alternative to hiding amongst feces is to "catch hell" from strangers?


So seriously CBS, nice try at a supportive article, I guess, but next time, how about have it written by someone who maybe has actually nursed? And fact-check things too so you're not calling breastmilk a biohazard, okay? Yeah, thanks!


Image via benklocek/Flickr

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