28 September 2007

Clearing Up Breastfeeding Misconceptions

Follow up article in the Rockford Register Star, Rockford, IL

Perception vs. reality: Breastfeeding is OK

By Elizabeth Davies, September 26, 2007

Click on the title to link to the official news website and read the entire article. Below are a few extractions from the article.

Q: A teen girl walks through the food court at the mall. Her pants are so low-cut that it’s obvious she isn’t wearing any underwear.

Inappropriate or acceptable?

Q: The woman ringing up your purchases at the corner store is wearing a shirt that’s so revealing, it’s possible a stiff wind will blow the thing right out of there.

Inappropriate or acceptable?

Q: A mother is holding a crying baby in a restaurant booth. She lifts her shirt just enough to offer the baby her breast, and the child’s head covers any exposed skin.

Inappropriate or acceptable?

Too often, women in today’s society are condemned for feeding their children in public. Despite overwhelming health benefits for both mother and baby, the act of breast-feeding still carries a social stigma.

Here are a few of the perceptions surrounding breastfeeding:

. . .

Perception: Nursing in public is lewd and inappropriate.

Reality: There’s nothing sexual about nursing a child. It is, without dispute, the most natural and healthiest way to feed a baby. If you can’t look at breasts as something other than a sexual object, it’s time to spend more time learning to respect and honor the women around you. Breasts were created to feed children, not to entertain men.

. . .

Perception: A nursing mother could very easily put a blanket over herself.

Reality: Blankets aren’t always available. They’re often hot. Some babies just won’t keep them on. And replacing a blanket one-handed while trying not to drop your baby is pretty darned difficult.

Perception: Mothers who nurse in public are trying to cause trouble.

Reality: If a mother really wanted to irritate the people around her, she would let her hungry baby scream. Instead, she’s giving the baby what he needs in a quiet way.
And besides, very few mothers who just went through nine months of pregnancy are particularly eager to show off their bodies to the world. They’re just doing what needs to be done.

Perception: Nursing mothers just “whip it out” in front of God and everyone.

Reality: OK, so we’ve all heard the stories about moms who walked around with their entire breasts showing while feeding their children. But those moms are in the minority.

Most breastfeeding mothers simply look as though they are holding a baby. Chances are, you’ve passed a breast-feeding mother in the aisle at Target or on a bench at the park and not even realized what she was doing.

Perhaps if you caught the mother at the right angle, if the baby moved its head or if you stared really hard, you might see a flash of skin. Turn away, just as you would if a woman walked by with her skirt accidentally tucked into her pantyhose.

Perception: Women who breast-feed in public are offending those around them.

Reality: People who smell, wear their clothes too tight and learned their table manners in a barnyard offend me, but I don’t see anyone telling them to leave.

Posting because I appreciate this author's point of view. Each person must decide for themselves what is right and good. And if you offend me, I will discreetly turn my head, as I hope you will do if I offend you. If I am about to walk off a spiritual cliff, though, I do hope that you will at least tell me to watch my step.

I do not agree with everything she writes. Regarding her statement that "Breasts were created to feed children, not to entertain men:" I must, as a Christian and an honest human being, disagree. The wise teacher said "may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love." (Proverbs 5:19) Also check out the Song of Solomon! I think breasts were created to entertain men and to feed children. ERGO... we are responsible to be discreet, careful, and "modest", when we are feeding our children. People need to understand the and conjunction. Women are not to "whip it out", not caring for the men's hearts, and men are not to ogle, not caring for the women's hearts. But all in all, when men and women are being ladies and gentlemen, understanding that nursing a child at the breast is a beautiful way of nourishing a child, and in our Creator's own plan, then there is nothing wrong or indecent about doing it "in public".

"Education, education, education," as they say. Let us keep teaching the younger women - in the church and out - of the propriety of loving your children by feeding them in this natural, loving way, and doing so sensibly and discreetly. And then maybe, as they observe chaste and respectful behavior, men will also be won to honor women in an understanding way, as heirs of grace.
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