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Breastfeeding Doesn't Give You The Right to Do Whatever You Want

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

There's a pro-breastfeeding shirt that reads "I make milk, what's your super power."

It's always bothered me.


I see the humor in it. I understand why so many moms like it. But there's something about that shirt that really bothers me.

Maybe it's because I don't see milk production as a super power. I simply see it as part of being a mom. In fact, I feel downright uncomfortable with the implication that breastfeeding makes me "special." That somehow, I'm able to do things other people aren't.

It's a theme I'm seeing pop up more and more in the past few weeks.

In fact, there seems to be a new lactivist tide rising and it worries me.


Lately, I'm seeing the idea pop up that being a breastfeeding mom some how confers special rights on a mother. I've actually had several emails in the last month or two from mothers who are upset that they were not allowed to take their breastfed baby some place. To note, I'm not talking about being denied the right to breastfeed in a place where a baby could be bottle fed. I'm talking about someone who gets upset when they can't go anywhere they want with their breastfed child.

You know...bingo halls, bars, day spas, and so on.

These moms are upset that a business would dare deny them the right to bring their breastfed baby with them.

I've responded to each to point out that if the business allowed breastfed babies, they'd have to allow ALL babies. After all, to do otherwise would be to discriminate against bottle fed babies.

Unfortunately, these moms don't seem to be bothered by that.

In fact, most responded to argue that the discrimination here is against THEM because as a breastfeeding mother they can't go to this business or facility unless they bring their babies with them. They go on to point out the language of the law here in Ohio.

A mother is entitled to breastfeed her baby in any location of a place of public accommodation wherein the mother otherwise is permitted.

According to these mothers, that law gives them the right to breastfeed their child whether the child is allowed on the premises or not.

In fact, one mom told me she never even dreamed her child might be considered a violation of the rule. After all, she can't go there without her baby, and she's allowed to nurse wherever she is, so it must be ok to take the baby, right?

Well, no. It's actually not right. (To note, I'm not a fan of that form of the law and have said as much. I prefer the wording that includes the phrase "mother and child are permitted to be" because it makes this issue crystal clear.) That said, the Ohio wording of the law still does not back these mothers.

One thing I've learned in my time here at the Lactivist is that most people (myself included) have a hard time understanding the finer points of the law. I've had to spend a LOT of time asking questions and seeking clarification on the subtleties of legal language. I've had to learn about how where a law resides (civil code, health code, etc...) can have an impact on how it's interpreted. I've also had to swallow the very difficult truth that the greatest majority of breastfeeding laws in the United States do NOT protect a mother from being kicked out of a business for breastfeeding.

So let's break this law down a bit to understand WHY it doesn't mean you get to take your breastfed baby anywhere you want.

First, the law does not confer ANY rights on the child. While you may *think* the word child is implied by the very fact that a mother cannot nurse unless she has a child to nurse, the truth is no legal rights are given to the child by the wording of this law.

Second, the law actually has nothing to do with conferring rights on mother or child to BE anywhere. The law has to do with their actions. It makes it legal for a mother to breastfeed her child wherever she may be. It does NOT give her, or her baby, the right to go where they are otherwise not allowed to be. That law would actually be part of what are called "public accommodation laws." Most states DO allow businesses to "discriminate" against children based on issues of safety. (Can't take your kid to a bar, along with you to your job at a steel mill, have them in a casino, etc...)

Some states also allow businesses to "discriminate" against children for other reasons. Think of the retirement community that does not allow children or the high end spa that says no one under 16 is allowed.

To the best of my knowledge (and those I asked), I do not know of any instance in which a breastfeeding law was interpreted to create the right to bring a baby into a space they are otherwise not allowed to be.

One or two of the moms I spoke with plan to fight the companies that told them they could not bring their breastfed babies along with them. I can't say I believe they'll win.

I also don't think they should.

See, here's the thing. Breastfeeding does NOT give you the right to trounce over pre-existing rules. Not when those rules have nothing to do with breastfeeding. Your baby isn't exempt just because only you can feed him or her. YOU are not exempt just because you have to take care of your child. While it may be poor customer service to tell you your child isn't welcome, it's FAR from discrimination.

Lest you think I'm unsympathetic to the needs of a breastfeeding mother, let me remind you that Emmitt would not take a bottle or sippy until a few weeks ago. That meant I spent 11 months being the ONLY person who could give him breast milk. Since he's a frequent eater, it's also meant that he has to go with me everywhere. This means I get to go less places.

That's life. I deal with it.

I've mentioned in the past that Emmitt travels with me to the conferences I speak at. I've also mentioned that at smaller shows, he's stayed with me during networking events and that I've even nursed him while discussing business with attendees. However, several of the shows I go to have a "no one under 18 rule." I actually happen to know the folks who run these shows. They're kind enough to allow whoever travels with me to meet me in the speaker's room when I'm between sessions, but I am NOT allowed to have Emmitt anywhere at the show. Not in the back of the room, not outside the door of the room, not in the hall near the rooms, not in the expo hall. NO kids allowed.

Does it make my life less convenient? Yes, by a lot. Is it how life goes? Yes. I count myself lucky that Emmitt can be in the same city as me at these events. I'm not going to complain if I have to walk an extra 5 or 10 minutes to get to him.

If I would interpret the breastfeeding law as liberally as some of the women I've spoken with, I should be able to carry Emmitt into the room where I speak and deliver my presentation while nursing him. That's great if it's a lactation or childbirth conference. Not really so appropriate or realistic when you're speaking to a room of 1000 about marketing.

Heck, if we're going with liberal interpretation, I would have been able to nurse Emmitt in the kitchen of the cafe I used to work as a barista at. Doesn't matter if the health code says no one under 18...he's nursing.

I suppose Rosie the Riveter could have taken her breastfed baby on the factory floor with her. Safety comes second, right?

My point is that not only do these moms lack the legal right to do what they are demanding, they also miss the common sense factor. There are REASONS why businesses have "no children" rules. Sometimes it's about the ambiance, sometimes it's a genuine issue of safety. Either way, there IS a reason. (And that reason is rarely "we don't like to see breastfeeding.")

Even beyond that, consider the reverse discrimination that would occur if these exceptions were made. Does anyone REALLY think it's ok to say "no kids, EXCEPT breastfed ones."

Really? Anyone? I'd love to hear your reasons why.

As the mother of both a bottle fed (exclusively pumping) and breastfed (refusal to take a bottle) child, I can tell you that it would NOT sit well with me. Not at ALL.

This new tide of lactivism reeks to me of "I breastfeed and that makes me special." While I have the greatest respect for moms who put the time and effort into breastfeeding, I firmly believe that this attitude is bad. Bad because it leads to a sense of entitlement and bad because it leads to hard feelings with moms who cannot breastfeed. Mostly though, it's bad because it hurts our movement. It takes us from a legitimate movement fighting for equal rights to a fringe movement that wants the world to revolve around us.

We won't get ANYWHERE that way.

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  1. Blogger Steph | 7:02 AM |  

    I agree. As a mom who was unable to breastfeed the "I'm special" attitude makes me sick. When Hana was about 3 months old, I took her to the musium. I asked if I would have to leave to feed her and was told I was welcome to feed her in one of the galeries. When I tried to feed her a security gurard came over to inform me that bottles weren't allowed, only nursing. I stood my ground, stating that I had been told I could feed my baby here, and he backed off, but it was clear he was confused about the situation. Giving special rights to breastfeeding mothers just makes life unfair and more difficult for bottle feeding mothers. Isn't equality what we're working towards?

  2. Blogger lulubelle | 8:06 AM |  

    Very well said Jennifer, as usual.
    I have a "I make Milk.." tee shirt, and it's my favourite, but I like it because it's funny not because I actually think that breastfeeding makes me some special citizen deserving of special rights. Same as those people who find the shirts declaring the babe "Daddy's Little Squirt" amusing.
    I am shocked to hear that women believe that because they are nursing their baby that they should be able to take their baby everywhere.
    I'm missing my 10 year high school reunion this week because it's a at a bar and Gabriel is not yet ready to be left with a sitter. The week after he was born I missed out on free tickets to a Comedy Festival gala because it was held in a casino. I was disappointed, yes, but I understood.
    You're 100% right that this type of attitude hurts the lactivism cause. As does those who are militantly against formula.
    Ideally I'd like to see a world where we do not need laws in place protecting the infant's right to breastfeed. I'd love for it to be a non-issue.
    Maybe my daughter will live in that world.
    Sadly though, I doubt it. Especially with issues such as this coming up.

  3. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:28 AM |  

    Bravo Jenn. VERY well said! I know I've told you this before back when we were on CBC, but I love that you are able to step back and look at these emotional issues with an objective eye. That is the only way to truly make progress. There are two sides to every issue, sometimes 3,4,12 different sides. You have to be able to listen to everyone's points and see the logic (or lack there of) behind 'the other side' before you can see the greater picture and see what the problem really is and what solutions would work.

    I love that you almost never make the 'emotional response'. You sit and think on things. You look at it from every angle. And then you decide on the appropriate course of action that would have the best end result. Emotional responses almost always make things go backward instead of forward. You never make that mistake.

    And the "Breastfeeding makes me special" mindset is an emotional response. Bravo to you for calling a spade a spade.

  4. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:31 AM |  

    Jenn, All excellent points. I have issue with that superpower slogan too. When I failed miserably at nursing my first child, deeply immersed in a crunchy mothering circle of friends, I felt awful about myself, my body, and what its supposed to do.

    As for the law. As I said, all excellent points (and well thought out!) You are absolutely right. My fear however, is that some, and I mean a very limited few, would use this argument to discriminate against a nursing mother and her baby.

    But, as said, the hard core lactivists who insist on access to every public place imaginable, do little to help the cause of basic common sense, much less helping the general public become more accepting of public breastfeeding

  5. Blogger Heather | 8:32 AM |  

    Ooh, Jennifer. I agree, yet I've seen that attitude pop up in me, too. I think it comes from the pride of succeeding at something hard. And the slight bitterness that it is so hard. I see that arrogance, too in my slightly superior attitude towards non-moms. Like people who arn't parents. Or dads. Or my husband.
    I don't think it's a healthy or helpful pride. I think it's divisive.

  6. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 8:48 AM |  

    "You never make that mistake."

    Ohh....let's not go setting up pedestals here. Read through the archives and you'll see at least a few instances of my readers calling me out (and being right) because I jumped on something too quickly. :)

    I try...but we all get incensed and speak without thinking sometimes. :)

  7. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 8:52 AM |  

    Heather, I couldn't agree more. I'm awfully hard on my husband sometimes because my brain says "he's not the mom, he just doesn't KNOW how to do it right."

    I don't in any way mean to say mothers aren't special through this post. Nor that breastfeeding moms haven't accomplished something.

    It's more (and I think most readers get this) about the idea that just because you are special and just because you've achieved this goal...doesn't mean you get to do things other people can't. It doesn't give you special RIGHTS.


  8. Anonymous Anonymous | 10:23 AM |  

    Reminds me of the "You have a baby!... In a bar..." quote from Sweet Home Alabama. "Well this one's still on the boob, so I can take her anywhere"

    i certainly don't feel i'm special for breastfeeding. more along the lines of normal, and when people interfere with my normality THEN i get pissed... but normal for me certainly is NOT taking my child places a child shouldn't be... like a bar.

  9. Blogger Unknown | 10:38 AM |  

    I think what the "Nursing makes me special" crowd is missing is that this attitude is so dangerous because there are still so many people who think that we're asking to be treated specially just by feeding our baby in a restaurant or park. There are still commenters on the feminist blog I frequent who say, "If a woman can't go topless, why should she be allowed to nurse in public?" When not even feminists can agree that feeding a baby is a fundamental right, not special treatment, asking for actual special treatment clouds the issue in a very dangerous way.

  10. Blogger Julie | 10:52 AM |  

    Somehow I think the breastfeeding mothers who believe they should be able to bring their children wherever they want tend to be the same type of people who would push to the front of the line, talk everywhere on their cell phones, etc.

    There are just some people who feel they're special, and it has nothing to do with breastfeeding - that's just another manifestation of their overblown sense of entitlement.

    I have breastfed two children, my first nursed until she was 3yo, my second is 2yo and still going strong. It has never occurred to me to think that I should be allowed to bring them places where children generally aren't permitted.

    My youngest wouldn't take a bottle and wouldn't eat solids until she was almost a year old. I mostly work from home, but occasionally have to go into the office or to a meeting. I would never have even vaguely considered that I should be allowed to bring my child into the office with me, or to sit in a conference room at a Fortune 500 company. I don't think I'd have a job if I'd tried to do those things.

    People will swear that breastfed babies must be at their side 24/7 because they won't take a bottle. And ideally in these situations baby and mom should be together. But guess what, both baby and mom do just fine if they have to be apart for a few hours. It's not something I'd recommend with a newborn of course, but past the age of 3 or 4 months it's certainly possible.

    And WHO would WANT to bring a baby to a day spa!!!! I mean isn't the point of going to one to be pampered and to relax?

  11. Blogger paxye | 1:15 PM |  

    Well, I agree with you in way but I am one of those that is very offended by not being allowed to bring my child somewhere...

    As a parent, I believe that I should be the judge of what is appropriate for my child especially when it is clearly a status issue. (not a smokey bar or dangerous factory etc)

    I would be offended as mother (bfing or not) to be turned around at a nice restaurant just because I have a child under a certain age. It doesn't have anything to do with feeding, but society putting a labels on children as second class citizens, it is discrimination and it is wrong.

    I should have not have more rights because I am a breastfeeding mother but children should be more widely accepted.

    We don't leave our children, that is a choice that my DH and I have made because we value family time and we would not enjoy being apart from our kids at the ages they are now. Places that do not accept us as a family will and have lost our business for always.

  12. Blogger Ahmie | 2:02 PM |  

    I would argue for moderation... some places, obviously, it's a bad idea to bring a baby (yeah, a bar?!? You ARE kidding, right?!?), but others that aren't clearly safety issues, or the logic for the rule of "no kids" isn't clear, it's worth asking in part to make the culture more child-friendly in general, not just more breastfeeding-friendly.

    I took my then-5wk-old baby with me to a conference, as an attendee, not a presenter. He stayed in a sling on my person at all times. I asked permission first, making it clear that I would NOT be attending if I wasn't permitted to take my baby with me to presenations, while also promising that I would not allow him to be a distruption to others. My son now has a fan club LOL - he slept or nursed the whole time, his big brother (3yo) was cared for in the hotel or at his grand-aunt's condo (which, while less than 10mi away somehow took an hour each way to get to). Big part of the issue, for me, is that I'm also physically handicapped, I was in a borrowed wheelchair for the conference as I can't walk the length of your average hotel that a conference is held in, so it generally took me 20min to get to my hotel room via the 3 elevators I had to switch between to get there... and my in-laws (who were caring for the 3yo) don't read or speak English well enough to find me amongst the 10 rooms that meetings were happening in around the hotel, much less before baby gets to full hungry roaring... and he was very much a newborn, maybe giving me an hour, at most, from delatch-to-relatch, so it was rather pointless to be separate.

    Point being? The conference was one of those "no kids allowed" places, but it made more sense to allow the baby's presence than to insist that he wasn't permitted. And yes, this was an accomodation made specifically because he is exclusively breast-fed, if he was bottle-fed (even EBM), I wouldn't have asked for the accomodation. turns out I'm lucky I did get it cleared ahead of time, though, as there was another breastfeeding mother at the conference and she had made arrangements to have her son (I think 4mo at the time) fed her pumped milk up in her room by a caregiver... and the hotel took all day to get a refridgerator to her room, risking spoilage of her pumped milk. The logical behavior to me, in this situation, is to respectfully breastfeed at the conference, wherever you happen to be when the baby is hungry - and by respectfully I mean getting the kid latched on quickly at the first signs of hunger cues so they don't wind up crying and distracting people. I made myself some crop-layer nursing shirts to have easy access while he was in the sling and didn't get a single complaint (a few people stroking the baby's head while he was eating when they thought he was sleeping, but that's another issue ;) ).

    There are places where it makes sense that the baby doesn't belong there, but there are a lot of grey-area places, and if there's not a logical reason to refuse the exclusively breast-fed baby's presence, I do believe it is a legal issue for both mother and child. Mother has the right to full enjoyment of whatever offerings would be made to her if she wasn't a breastfeeding mother (within safety reason, avoiding knife juggling performances makes sense ;) ), refusing to compromise on that just makes the idea of exclusively breastfeeding even less attractive to pre-motherhood women who are weighing their options. The attitude of "well, the sign says no kids, so no kids even if mama is their exclusive source of nutrition" just adds into that "breastfeeding is too hard, I'm going to bottle-feed instead" mentality that is already rampant in our culture. I'd argue that going a little above and beyond to accomodate breastfeeding babies beyond bottlefeeding babies would be a good thing to convince pre-motherhood women that breastfeeding really IS more convenient than bottle-feeding. And the convenince issue really is a big one for a lot of women (it's the ONLY reason my cousin gave me for not even attempting breastfeeding her second child). It is to the public health's betterment to put breastfeeding in public on a little bit of a pedestal. And for Steph, I'm sorry you were hassled to feed your baby, but in a gallery... well, shaking the bottle to mix it could actually result in liquid going at an art piece... boobs don't generally squirt far enough to be an issue in that regard. Also the breast is a bit of a self-sterilizer, the bottle isn't, so it's biologically safer to nurse instead of bottle-feed in an area of questionable cleanliness. Just some other-side-of-the-fence issues.

    FWIW, I have been breastfeeding since May 2004, except for a 6mo break during pregnancy when my milk dried up (would have tandemed but 1st born weaned instead). My little brother is 12 years younger than me and I was pretty much his co-parent for his first 14mo (my mom has never remarried since divorcing my dad when I was 2yrs old). He was exclusively formula-fed (due to no support for my mom, she's very proud and supportive of my breastfeeding my kids and wishes she'd known someone like me when she had babies so she could have breastfed us too). I mixed formula at home and in public for my brother when I was caring for him, and because the refridgeration issues are only after it's mixed, I always carried water bottles with the powder separate (it was drastically cheaper than pre-mixed formula also). I also am very much a people-watcher and I see the same diaper bag contents of bottle-feeding families. If I were a security guard and saw someone shaking up a bottle of formula to feed a baby in a gallery, I'd say something too. I lost enough of those stupid bottle caps mid-shake and had messes to clean up because of them.

  13. Blogger Anna | 2:39 PM |  

    "We don't leave our children, that is a choice that my DH and I have made because we value family time and we would not enjoy being apart from our kids at the ages they are now."

    I think it's wonderful that you feel that way, paxye, but just because YOU want to spend time with your children doesn't mean that everyone else at an upscale restaurant wants to. Generally those places have a "no children under ___" policy in place for the comfort of everyone.

    Your kids may be well-behaved and able to handle themselves at a nice restaurant, but not everyone can say the same, so these establishments have to have policy that's applied across the board.

    I don't think that "children should be more widely accepted," but I do wish that the definition of "family friendly" were truly that... appealing to both adults and children, rather than to just children.

    But whether it's for safety reasons or simply to maintain a certain atmosphere, I don't think children should be allowed everywhere. Even as a parent, I don't want to be in the presence of children everywhere I go. Yikes!

  14. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 2:43 PM |  

    I'm with Anna. I understand people who don't leave their kids. It's not my cup of tea, but I understand and support your right to do so.

    However, I don't support the idea that because you don't leave your kids, you should get to take them everywhere you want to go. Part of making that choice is accepting that it may place some limitations on you.

    My husband and I have had two dates in the year since Emmitt was born. We don't go on dates often and we rarely spend money on a "nice" (i.e. no kids menus) restaurant.

    If we actually escaped from the house and shelled out the money to eat at a really nice place to enjoy time away from the kids and ended up with a crying baby or fussy toddler at the table next to us, I don't know if I'd cry or curse.

    I love my children dearly. They're great kids and are incredibly well behaved. But I'd never in a million years dream that it means everyone else wants to be around them too. :)

  15. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 2:48 PM |  


    Then don't go to the conference.

    I had to skip two shows after Elnora was born because I didn't have the extra cash to pay to take someone along to care for her.

    These were shows I spoke at and not going meant risking my status as a speaker and not being asked back.

    When we have kids, we sometimes have to give things up...whether we breastfeed them or not.

    I guess I just can't wrap my head around the line of thinking that says "because I want this, someone has to let me have it."

  16. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 2:52 PM |  


    To continue...where does it end with this line of thinking.

    Should women be able to sue to make their employers allow them to bring the baby to work so they can continue to breastfeed? After all, it's harder on a breastfeeding mom to leave their child, especially if they're like me and have a child that refuses a bottle.

    So again, where does it end? Because it appears to me that you DO believe breastfeeding moms should have "special" rights as some type of reward for breastfeeding.

  17. Blogger Eilat | 3:21 PM |  

    I actually think that the status of "special" given to breastfeeding harms the effort to promote breastfeeding. It creates this false impression that breastfeeding is an A+ while formula is a B+ maybe A- if you get the expensive stuff with AHA DRA blah, blah, blah. The truth is that breastfeeding is normal and most women CAN do it in a perfect world with the right support, information, education, etc. etc. etc.
    But when I started nursing my son all I got were ooohs and ahhhs about what an amazing thing I was going. It really bothered me because it makes it that much easier for formula marketers and pediatricians to perpetuate falsehoods about infant feeding. It also makes breastfeeding moms out to be martyrs, which makes breastfeeding much less appealing to women who dont want to be martyrs.
    Of course some people love to be martyrs and maybe these are the women who wear T-shirts with holier than thou statements on them.

    I disagree on a point that Steph made. "Isn't equality what we're working towards?" For me, it is not about equality (after all, formula != breastmilk). It is about promoting breastfeeding. And this "special" label does nothing of the sort.

    As for not being able to take your kids places, Im with Anne and Jennifer. Lets keep nice restaurants kid-free zones. There have to be some kid-free zones in the world!

    I missed a MAJOR conference in Germany this summer that was pretty crucial for my career and has forced me to work double hard since to get the exposure that I could have had. Why? Because my then 20 month old was nursing and I didn't want to leave him for a European trip that would have me gone for over a week. Pumping would not have worked since my supply is not what it once was and my son and husband would have had a really hard time without me. The conference would have allowed them to attend, but we could not afford a family trip to Germany. So I didn't go.
    Who can I sue? The airlines for being too expensive? Sometimes life deals you dilemmas. You choose as best you can and wipe that chip off your shoulder!

  18. Blogger Amanda T | 3:51 PM |  

    Thanks for explaining this, in regards to the law. I've wondered what was meant by "where the mother is authorized to be" and questioned why it didn't include "and child are authorized to be...".

    The only way that logic would work would be if a woman was somehow forced to be somewhere, where she didn't have a choice. Not sure what that would be at the moment... jail? =/ But you know what I mean.

    Going to a spa, or a fancy restaurant, or a concert venue, where children are not permitted - is an option. You can go without your child, or you can stay home! The way you feed your baby has nothing to do with their rules.

    As for the "what's your superpower" line - I agree that it is harmful to our efforts to promote breastfeeding as NORMAL. You don't have to be *super*woman to breastfeed. MOST women are capable of breastfeeding. I thought that was a big part of the lactivist message...

  19. Anonymous Anonymous | 4:09 PM |  

    Well, I guess it is my bleeding heart liberal side saying this but I too disagree with the fact that as a society we allow so many places to have no children rules. Safety reasons I totally understand..places like day spas and business conferences I understand...because what the heck is a kid going to do there...but eateries and restaurants, plays, ect. I cannot understand. It does send the message that adults deserve things that kids do not. Adults are special and kids get the leftovers. I really "hate" the line "If I paid good money to see a movie, play, eat a 7 course meal (take your pick) I deserve to do it without whining, sniveling brats at the table next to me." You know who "I" think sounds like a whining, sniveling brat????

    It teaches intolerance I won't patronize places like that. If I get a sitter so I can go out without kids...that means MY kids. I have no right to get my panties in a bunch because of someone else's kids. They are human beings right? It is discrimination. That said though I will only complain..I will not sue or try to force the issue. But we have so many forces working against families already...do we need to give them a hard time because they actually value family time and WANT to be together. Does an outsider have a right to tell them your family offends my sensibilities? Yes, apparently they do...doesn't make it right.

    I also like the super power shirt. Breastfeeding is hard for many and they deserve commendation for it. Self esteem is a tricky thing to come by in this day and age and I won't begrudge someone for feeling that breastfeeding makes them a little special. As for it making other moms feel bad...not sure I really care. It might make me feel bad to see a mom wearing a shirt that says I work out everyday...but does that mean she can't wear that shirt or that she is being vain...nope. She is proud of an accomplishment. If I feel bad because of her accomplishment what does that say about me?

  20. Blogger K | 4:29 PM |  

    First, that t-shirt slogan has always rubbed me wrong because I was UTBF. So it hurts. For me it is painful reminder that I failed at something that nearly every other female mammal is capable of doing. Sigh.

    But otherwise I suspect we part ways.

    I believe that breastfeeding is something we ought to do more than just accommodate – it should be encouraged and celebrated and if that means breastfeeding moms and babies get different treatment, so be it.

    I am thinking of the mom who just won her appeal to get extra time to pump during her medical board exam. Nobody was hurt by giving her the extra time. And the refusal to do so was rather knee jerk. On a debate board I frequent there was an awful lot of angst thrown this mother’s way because she should have just put her career on hold for a year or two rather than ask for an accommodation. Way to sell out the sisterhood, I thought.

    And this brings me to the “suck it up” tone in this post and some of the comments. Parenting is hard. So is working – full or part time, at home or outside the home. Sometimes choices have to be made and sometimes darn good reasons exist why the needs of parents and children cannot be put first.

    But often employers and co-workers react with a knee jerk, “that is how we have always done it” when a parent asks for some flexibility.

    It isn’t always the case that the parent is asking for some sort of “special” accommodation. Often she (or he) is only asking for some flexibility. We must remember that many of the “rules” of our society, workplaces in particular, were put in place when our culture was far more patriarchical and when Men Worked And Women Stayed Home. Quite often, the Status Quo needs a big old kick in the pants.

    It doesn’t hurt to ask “Why can’t I bring my baby in arms?” And when the answer is “Just because” or “That is how it always has been,” it is entirely appropriate – no it is entirely necessary – to take a stand.

    Now are there situations when a parent and child’s needs cannot be accommodated? Of course. Let’s be reasonable. But let’s also applaud those mothers (and fathers) out there who are pushing the boundaries a bit. Good for them!

  21. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 4:37 PM |  

    "Self esteem is a tricky thing to come by in this day and age."

    See, I think that's the key issue. Because personally, I think the average American has way too MUCH self esteem. ;)

  22. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 4:39 PM |  

    Good questions K (though I obviously disagree.)

    I knew this one would spark some conversation. :)

    Keep it coming ladies.

  23. Anonymous Anonymous | 4:49 PM |  

    "See, I think that's the key issue. Because personally, I think the average American has way too MUCH self esteem."

    LOL. Yes..you are probably right. That has never been my experience. ;) Maybe it is a facade.

  24. Anonymous Anonymous | 5:25 PM |  

    I left a comment earlier but it hasnt shown up so it mustnt have gone through...

    My husband and I were invited to a wedding in February when our daughter was 4 months old. We were told there were to be no children at the wedding. That was fine and I apologised that I wouldnt be able to attend because my daughter was nursing and taking a sitter with us (or finding a sitter in the town where the wedding was being held) wasnt an option. My Husband then said he wouldnt go if I wasnt, so we respectfully declined. Then the bride got snarky that we werent going. What got me mad wasnt that I couldnt take my baby, I totally understood that, what got me mad was that she couldnt (wouldnt) understand that if she wanted me to be there, my baby had to be there.

    I have been in the baby who wont take a bottle situation with both my children (one is now 10 and the baby is nearly 1) and I believe it is MY problem. I am the one who chose to have children and to accept the "inconveniences" that come with the joy. I shouldnt expect everyone else to want to have my child around. In some places (like the supermarket) yes, you expect there to be kids there but if I am at a conference that I have spent big $ to go to, I dont want to be distracted by someone else's (or my own) kids! Children are not second class citizens but you cant tell me that a fancy restaurant or a conference room is somewhere that is going to be enjoyable for a small child!


  25. Anonymous Anonymous | 5:53 PM |  

    "See, I think that's the key issue. Because personally, I think the average American has way too MUCH self esteem."

    My husband and I were just talking about that! LOL
    I think he put it this way... too much self-esteem, not enough self-actualization.

    I'd have to agree on your post though. It seems that we alienate a lot of other people because of the pervading attitude of some. I am one of those moms that cannot leave my child because he refuses to take to the bottle so I've had to make some compromises here and there.
    And while sometimes I feel sad because I cannot go to establishments with a no child under __ policy, I really do not mind that much either because I think it's just a matter of finding options and I certainly won't feel that my rights would be trampled upon. I know how it is to not have kids and be in a place where kids seem to be running the show. Not a very pleasant experience.

  26. Blogger Mama Seoul | 8:03 PM |  

    I agree with Ahmie and K that it doesn't hurt to ask. Especially very young babies that just eat and sleep, they are not usually a distraction to others. I have breastfed my baby at the Four Seasons Restaurant in Cairo, while getting my hair done and at an "adults-only" wedding reception (among many other places) when he was very young. At the wedding, the mother of the groom was a former LLL leader and everyone was fine with it, the couple just wanted to limit the number of bigger kids running around. If they had said no, I would have stayed home, but they said yes, so we went and had a great time.

    Same with Ahmie's conference, why should she have missed it? She asked for and received permission and it wasn't a problem. She was prepared to stay home if she didn't receive permission.

    Now, I don't think every instance of "no children allowed" requires a law suit, but I don't think rules should be so rigid that there is no room for exceptions whether you are breastfeeding or bottlefeeding.

    I think breastfeeding is special and should be celebrated. I see that Superpower shirt as celebrating and promoting breastfeeding, not slighting bottlefeeding.

  27. Blogger Corin | 8:16 PM |  

    Hmmmm...really good point with the shirt. I never thought of it that way. I think our society needs to realize that breastfeeding is a completely normal and everyday occurance throughout the world. And that kind of statement about having superpowers kind of underminds that. Good job.

  28. Blogger ellen | 8:53 PM |  

    How is it that we can (and should) say things to new moms like- breast is best, it's hard at first but really rewarding, and breast milk is far superior to formula.

    Then once they have achieved a successful breastfeeding relationship with their baby they should be told, you aren't that "special", anyone can do it. ?

  29. Blogger AH | 9:07 PM |  

    I have this shirt. To me it's a reminder of what breasts do--much like one of my other shirts (yours), "That's my baby's lunch you're looking at". When my kid is melting down and milk is the only thing that helps, I do feel like superwoman. Maybe when breasts and breastfeeding are normal in our society, messages like these won't need to be heard.

    As to "special"--I'd much rather see a society that accomodated everyone where they were at, not because they were legally required to, but because they saw it as the moral thing to do. In a society focused on helping everyone get their needs met and not on rules to keep everyone "equal", I think there'd be less need to be "special"--because everyone would be getting their "specialness" quota, LOL.

    And finally, why is it ok to segregate children out of society? Don't they have to run it someday? Why have we set up things to be unsafe for children (thinking some jobs, stores, etc)? Why is it ok to have a society where a mom has to choose between her child and her job/school/salon/etc instead of having one where everyone is welcome and safe? Have you heard of Taking Children Seriously?

    I think this is the first post of yours I've disagreed with--thanks for the food for thought, it helped me sort out my own stuff.

  30. Blogger Amy | 4:49 AM |  

    I am curious about something you said in the comments regarding the Mom in a wheelchair (Ahmie). You told her she should 'just not attend the conference' since, because her lack of mobility, the only way she could get milk out of her breasts and into her child was to have the child with her.

    Let's say the issue was not feeding her child, but HERSELF. Many conferences do not allow food. Let's say the food for the adults is a quick walk up a flight of stairs and down into an atrium for most participants, but for someone in a wheelchair it was the a three elevator, five hallway, forty-five minute ordeal. If snack breaks are 15 minutes and lunch is an hour, there is NO WAY a person in a wheelchair could attend unless she 'broke the rules' and brought her lunch and snacks with her.

    So, are you going to tell THAT person in a wheelchair 'well, either you go without eating all day or you cannot attend the conference'?

    Because, as you say, the rules are the rules and we can't be making accommodations of a RULE (no children in the conference hall, no eating in the conference hall are both RULES), and we can't break the RULES, even if someone is in a wheelchair. Or blind. Or uses sign language to communicate.

    Sometimes it is not JUST about breastfeeding. Sometimes when you accommodate nursing it is not the NURSING you are providing the accommodation for.

    So I point YOUR question back to you. When a person has a physical or mental challenge, where do you draw the 'reasonable accommodation' line? Eating, drinking, using the bathroom, more frequent breaks, special equipment, special services, bringing a normally disallowed item with you? Where?


  31. Anonymous Anonymous | 5:40 AM |  

    Well said, Jen. I wish there were more people in this world who were as eloquent and reasonable.
    And we all say things we regret later, so don't worry about past faux pas. It's important to admit when we realize that we've been too judgmental. I used to be the worst about judging bottle feeding moms, but the more I think about it, the worse I feel about judging them. As someone here said, you don't know what's in that bottle!

    Anyway, I wanted to also comment on the Sweet Home Alabama thing. I thought of it before I read the comment, but there was one or two times that we took Nour to a bar when she was a baby, but that was simply because my entire family was there and no one could watch her. I also didn't want to miss out, because my dad was playing in a band. No one even cared, but this was a back-woods bar, not a huge crowd, and they had a deck, so we didn't have to be around the smokers inside. But if they had rules against taking the baby in, you can bet I would have called a friend to watch her at home, and even had them give her a bottle that night. They were okay with her being there, but I was less okay with her being around the drinking, smoking crowd, so we watch the band, and left pretty early.

    That said, I have always understood that the law doesn't permit me to take my baby somewhere to nurse just because I am nursing, especially if that place doesn't allow babies.

    There have been several times when I felt angry because my child wasn't allowed somewhere, not because I was nursing her, but because I didn't see why it was an issue. Some friends had a Christmas dinner party, and we couldn't take our 10 month old nursing baby, because it was an "adult-only" party, even though the couple hosting had two kids. They wanted to do something "adult" and we didn't know that until a day before. I think I wouldn't have been as angry if I'd known when we were invited weeks earlier, but it meant that I had to find an emergency babysitter and that annoyed me more than not being able to take her with us.

    Just a few weeks ago, we were in NYC, and weren't allowed to go to the U.N. building on a tour, because they don't allow children under a certain age. I didn't really understand why, so I am still a bit annoyed by that, but if I was given an explanation that was reasonable, I think I could accept it. I mean, if I can take my child to the top of the Empire state building, why can't I go to the U.N? Maybe someone here knows! But I do agree that adults need some kid-free zones, just like kids need places to be themselves. That's why we have 5-star restaurants and Chuck E. Cheeses.

  32. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 6:23 AM |  

    Homebody, I never said she shouldn't have gone to the conference due to being in a wheelchair. I said she shouldn't have gone if she wasn't allowed to take her baby and SHE needed/wanted to have her baby with her.

    "When a person has a physical or mental challenge, where do you draw the 'reasonable accommodation' line? Eating, drinking, using the bathroom, more frequent breaks, special equipment, special services, bringing a normally disallowed item with you? Where?"

    We actually have laws that specifically address this. It's called the ADA and it serves as a great basis of what needs to be provided in terms of accomodation.

    Now that said, I hear moms use this example a lot and I've got to say, it's quite the straw man. ;)

    It's a great way to win folks over to your side, if they don't take the time to think about the comparison, but once they do, it's pretty clear to see that the two are not in any way related.

    I can break it down with two very simple points.

    1.) People choose to have babies
    2.) People do not (with almost unheard of exception) choose to have a physical disability

    Thus, there's no way to legitimately compare the two situations.

  33. Anonymous Anonymous | 6:42 AM |  

    "As to "special"--I'd much rather see a society that accomodated everyone where they were at, not because they were legally required to, but because they saw it as the moral thing to do."

    "And finally, why is it ok to segregate children out of society?"

    I'd love to live in a society that accommodated everyone and didn't segregate children. But, unfortunately, we don't. There are many people in our society who see children as burdens - some of them even become parents. So, unless we are able to change those attitudes, there will continue to be many places where our children would be safe, but are not welcome.

    To me, this has nothing to do with breastfeeding. It's all about the society's attitude towards children.

  34. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 6:51 AM |  

    To clear up a few points...

    1.) I never said, nor do I believe there's anything wrong with ASKING for an exception. As Ahmie mentioned, there are often very different reasons for a no child rule. Sometimes it's simply how things have always been, sometimes there's a real reason. Without asking, there's no way to know.

    Ahmie's conference was fine with her bringing the baby. That's awesome. Doesn't bother me in the slightest, though I would be annoyed if I found out there was a bottle feeding mom there who needed (for whatever reason) to have her baby with her and had been refused.

    At my conference, I didn't even ask. Why? Because I already knew why the no child rule was in place. The trade show was a liability issue. They have to pay quite a bit of extra money to have liability insurance on a trade show where kids might be present. They don't pay this, so they literally cannot have children present, no exceptions. In terms of the rest of the conference? Well, people have shelled out thousands of dollars to attend these conferences. There is NO WAY they would be ok with having their conference interrupted by someone's baby or child. I completely understand and respect that.

    At smaller shows? It's rarely a problem. It's an entirely different environment.

    I'm not saying you shouldn't, or can't take your baby places with you. I'm simply saying that if you ask and are told no, you shouldn't whine about it. :)

    2.) I understand that there is this whole movement out there to elevate children and babies to the same footing as adults, but I am in no way part of that movement. I respect children and I love children, but I also understand that children are different from adults. They are not developmentally capable of the same things as adults. They are growing and learning and it's incredibly unfair to expect them to act like mini-me's. With that in mind, I DO firmly believe that there should be some kid free zones in the world. Yes, I know your little guy may not have ever thrown a tantrum or made a peep in public in his life, but that other woman's kid probably has. As Anna pointed out, this is why there are across the board rules.

    Emmitt is about the easiest baby I've ever dealt with. I get told that by others on a pretty regular basis as well. He's pretty much always happy and almost never gets loud. However, he still occasionally lets loose with a bellow of laughter, a shriek of joy or even a cry of frustration. Why? Because he's a kid. I may think these sounds are adorable, but to the person dropping $100 for their anniversary dinner or who just spend $3000 to come to a conference? Probably not so much. ;)

    Feeling that there should be kid free zones in the world does not make you anti-kid. It makes you realistic.

    3.) I think Amanda does an excellent job of really boiling this issue down. She says:

    The only way that logic would work would be if a woman was somehow forced to be somewhere, where she didn't have a choice. Going to a spa, or a fancy restaurant, or a concert venue, where children are not permitted - is an option. You can go without your child, or you can stay home! The way you feed your baby has nothing to do with their rules.

    I suppose Ahmie could say she HAD to go to the conference for her job. I admit, it gets a little trickier in this situation. But at the same time...how far do we take that. Should the woman who signed up for the Navy be allowed to take her baby when she gets deployed?

    The other areas are far more clear cut in my mind. You don't HAVE to go out to "have fun." Even if you do go, there are a million places you can go with your kids. It's like the Panera thing I wrote about a few weeks ago. I wasn't upset that there was a crying baby where I was working. I chose to come work here knowing there are noises and children. It's no biggie. It was that the mom didn't seem to CARE that her child was in such distress and that it eventually led to an incident where the entire restaurant had to hear her child SCREAM for about 20 minutes.

    4.) Zen Mother...you said:

    I really "hate" the line "If I paid good money to see a movie, play, eat a 7 course meal (take your pick) I deserve to do it without whining, sniveling brats at the table next to me." You know who "I" think sounds like a whining, sniveling brat????

    LOL...have you ever read someone saying such a thing here on the Lactivist? There's a HUGE difference in the attitude that goes along with what you wrote and in th attitude that says "If I'm using up my one kid free night a year and spending the money to go someplace really expensive, I'd be upset or annoyed if the table next to me had a screaming child."

    5.) K, I don't think we really disagree that much at all. You're saying that these rules often exist for no reason and you are right. You're saying there's nothing wrong with asking if an exception can be made, and you are right. I don't disagree at all.

    I simply think that if you check on those two things and you're still told no, that you DO need to either suck it up, or take your business elsewhere.

    5.) The Wedding bit...

    My husband and I had a kid free wedding. It wasn't because we don't like kids. We do. It was because when we tallied it up, we'd have had 50 (yes, 50!) extra people at the wedding if we'd invited everyone's kids. We were on a tight budget, so that would have meant uninviting 50 adult friends or family members too offset the cost. (Yes, I know tiny babies don't count in wedding tallies, but anyone between 2 and 16 did.)

    We DID make a few exceptions for close family that had kids. Mostly some cousins, but you know what? Those cousins were kids that I knew and loved and wanted to have as part of the wedding anyway. I didn't know the kids of the people we didn't invite. I knew their names, but I didn't really KNOW them. To have NOT been able to invite adult friends I've known for years so that someone else's kids can come wouldn't have made sense.

    It's not always about thinking kids are second class citizens. Sometimes it's about simple logistics. :)

    All that said...this is an interesting thread. It's about time you guys disagreed with me on something! It's no fun when the comments are purely "oh I agree!" (Not that I'm not also loving the backup from readers who DO agree with me on this one, LOL.)

  35. Anonymous Anonymous | 7:41 AM |  


    With this comment:

    I really "hate" the line "If I paid good money to see a movie, play, eat a 7 course meal (take your pick) I deserve to do it without whining, sniveling brats at the table next to me."

    I wasn't insinuating that anyone here said something along these lines...but your example although different in wording is basically the same. I paid good money so I DESERVE to have things the way I want them...no kids.

    I see this to be kind of the same attitude that you were talking about...entitlement. They want it...therefore they DESERVE it.

    I have a problem with many kid free zones because it is discrimination. Some people in this world may not be able to enjoy a meal with people of color sitting next to them. Should we go back to segregation or should we tell people to "suck it up" and deal with the fact that other human beings have rights too...even little ones. If I, as a parent, accompany my child, I have taken responsibility for them. These places would then have as much right to require my child behave with civility as they would me. If they would not allow me to scream for 20 minutes then neither should they allow children...but to make a rule that kids are unfit to be the in the same room at all is wrong IMO.

    My children are on the same level as I. They may have limitations but that does not make them any less human or deserving of respect. I don't want them to act like mini-mes. I want them to be who they are and have society recognize that this is OKAY. I find more adults to be offesnive than children. Kids can be kids and everyone else can deal with it.

    But as I said earlier I choose not patronize many places with senseless no kids rules. I also decline wedding invites that exclude my kids. We are a package deal.

    I remeber eating out not long ago with all 3 of my kids and my youngest threw a bread roll across the table and it landed in the soup of the man sitting next to us. I got up, apologized and told him I would be happy to buy him some more soup or even his whole meal if we had ruined his dinner. He looked at me funny and laughed...then proceeded to say he was happy to see an actual family eating out togther instead of two parents leaving their kids at home so they can enjoy the good life while their kids are home behind the tube. Then he picked the role out of his soup and started eating it.

    All I can say is wow....we need more "adults" like that in this world.

  36. Blogger K | 7:45 AM |  

    I simply think that if you check on those two things and you're still told no, that you DO need to either suck it up, or take your business elsewhere.


    Sure, but there are circumstances when we all benefit from someone else being pushy enough to demand change. Sometimes "No" is the wrong answer.

  37. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:00 AM |  

    I have the “I make milk… What’s Your Superpower?” shirt. I bought it because I think it is both funny and true. The milk that a lactating mother makes is very powerful. It is alive with white blood cells. It confers immunity to a variety of illnesses. It protects against chronic diseases later in life, for both mother and child. I also think that mother’s milk is super. It is a perfect way to comfort a fussy baby. The hormones released by the mother’s body while nursing (or pumping, but not as much as while nursing) are often referred to as the “mothering hormones” or “love hormones”. They relax the body and promote bonding with the baby. I think that has to do with the MILK, not the mother. Yes it is true that most females who bear a child will be able to nurse (given the proper support), so it does not make one “unique” or “special” to be able to nurse a child, in that sense. But rather the act of providing human milk to a baby is what is super and powerful.

    As far as businesses setting up rules as to whom can or cannot enter or participate, well, there is actually such a thing as age discrimination, and I suppose that one could take that up if they wanted a long fight. I can see the situation from both sides. Yes, it may well be annoying to be in a 5-star restaurant on a rare date with one’s partner, only to have sitting next to you someone’s screaming child. But, that doesn’t prevent adults from screaming and fighting or otherwise behaving inappropriately when there are age limitations at an establishment (think drunken brawls at bars or strip joints). And hey, they are (I assume) paying customers, so they have purchased the right to be in the restaurant (or play or symphony or whatever). Moreover, children gain a lot from such experiences. I attended a symphony with my husband and our friends who are married and had 6 year old twins at the time. Sure the twins fidgeted and got antsy as 6 year olds are wont to do, but they gained a great deal from the experience. And they are the future paying customers at such restaurants, plays, and symphonies and such businesses would be doing themselves a disservice to exclude them.

    One of the benefits of a (mostly) free society like ours is that we can make choices. So you don’t like that 5-star day spa doesn’t allow kids? Well, don’t go there then. Write a letter. Get your other mom friends to do the same. If a place knew that they were losing business due to an unpopular policy they may well change it. Likewise, if you don’t like that children are running lose through the CSO performances (or whatever), then write a letter saying that they lost you as a paying customer because their policy didn’t allow you to enjoy yourself.

    I do believe that breastfeeding does on occasion present a need for “special” rights. At my work there is no special room for formula-feeding mothers to go and prepare bottles of formula but there are two lactation rooms for breastfeeding mothers to pump, for example. Breastfeeding mothers may need extra time during their work day to express milk, whereas a formula-feeding mother would not need that accommodation.

  38. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:14 AM |  

    I haven't done this legal research but I think one example folks are disagreeing about isn't actually likely to exist legally in many places - the "no kids under ___" restaurant. Looks to me like that would be prohibited by most states' age discrimination laws. I go to the average number of expensive restaurants for a mom with three kids and before kids worked in a fair number of them. I have never been in, nor worked in, a restaurant with an age restriction. Public accomodations generally have to justify age restrictions by the legal age restrictions on the conduct permitted there or the physical dangers present. This explains age restrictions for places serving alcohol, allowing smoking, showing nudity, etc. Museums can justify limitations by the dangers posed to the items on display. The U.N. I suppose probably justifies the restriction by the nature of the business being conducted there and the need for quiet.

    I don't believe you can legally justify "adults-only" space created for the personal comfort of other patrons. I enjoy non-kid time as much as the next frazzled mommy, but I don't have a legal right to restrict the movement of other people's kids to make myself more confortable. I would be much more comfortable if I were not always stuck next to the snoring guy on airplanes but I chose to leave my house and have to deal with the reality of people living out there in public.

    But, going back to the original point of this blog entry, I agree that breastfeeding does not create a legal right for a child to be somewhere they aren't already allowed to be. I find an attempt to interpret public breastfeeding law as granting a privilege more expansive than that granted to any mom feeding a child to be harmful to the cause of creating a breastfeeding friendly culture. Public breastfeeding rights are about normalizing behavior, not gaining superior status.

  39. Blogger Amy | 8:14 AM |  

    Wow, I am not making myself clear here, am I? Because the question you answered is not the question I asked. My argument to the question you answered may or may not be a straw man, but the question I asked it was most certainly NOT a straw man.

    I am going to try again, if you don't mind, and take off on something you said.

    Quote: I can break it down with two very simple points.

    1.) People choose to have babies
    2.) People do not (with almost unheard of exception) choose to have a physical disability

    So, if I understand you correctly, if there is a CHOICE involved, no accommodation, no matter how reasonable or doable, should be expected.

    So, I CHOSE to be an environmental engineer. My brain speaks math and science much better than English. However, on occasion during my education and career, my dyslexia and disgraphia (what they called what my brain does way back when) needed to be 'accommodated' for. So you are saying that if my alma mater or employer decided that it was too much to bother with, even if it was reasonable, doable, and did not cause any problems for anyone they should be able to say no just because they feel like it and really, I could CHOOSE another career.

    What I hear you saying is that NO accommodation, no matter how reasonable or workable, should be expected ever if, anywhere along the line, you have any sort of choice.

    What I am saying is that there is this concept called 'reasonable accommodation' that I think should be considered. A blind person that CHOOSES a guide dog and a blind person that CHOOSES a cane should both be able to go out to lunch.

    What I hear you saying is that the business or conference area or government office or security guard ALWAYS gets 100% of the say of what they can or cannot accommodate.

    What I am saying is that **sometimes**, not always but sometimes, the business/conference area/govt. office/security guard says no, and no is the wrong answer. Calling them out on it, having a discussion about it, requesting in ways large and small that they reconsider it is NOT whining. It is social discourse.

  40. Blogger Melissa | 8:32 AM |  

    DH and I had a philosophy BDD (before DD) that if a restaurant didn't have a kids menu, it probably wasn't the right place for us. We are by no means fancy people, and prefer the laid back atmosphere of say Chilis over Ruth's Chris. We budgeted a date night for next month, the restaurant we picked specifically because it doesn't have a children's menu. I love my daughter, but I know that there are places that she is not ready to go (movies, any restaurant that doesn't have a playground or televisions, any store that isn't Target or Costco) But I don't begrudge those parents that do take their kids to those places. I do take mental note of things that I see them do/hear them say so that when DD is ready to eat at Outback, I have that mental file to look back on.

    My other thought is, kids get places like Chuck E. Cheese and these indoor play places, why shouldn't adults have bars/restaurants where the kiddos aren't. Yes I realize that adults can go into places like CEC, but it's not like the adult comes away with the same exhilarated feeling/enjoyable experience that the kid does.

    As to the Tshirt/blinkie.... there are those days where someone gives you their laundry list of why they didn't BF (which in my experience the other day boiled down to she thought it was gross), or say, "I can't believe you are still doing that." when you have a 4 month old, that you just want to give the world the finger. *THAT* is when I wish I had at Tshirt like that. When I don't feel like dealing with questions and want to put the 'Ew' crowd on the defensive.

    Of course, these are just my experiences in my little corner of the world!

  41. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:43 AM |  

    You made a really good point about "special" rights. I think there are a few exceptional rights that nursing moms should get, but not necessarily the kind that involve bringing your young child into an unsafe environment. Isn't that what we're really talking about here, anyway??

    I'm going to take your point and run with it a little.

    I think that what you said about pumping is so important, but it's not so much a "special" thing as something that ought to be assumed. Think about it, if you work outside the home, yet choose to continue breastfeeding, you are limited in HOW you are going to do that successfully. But if you use formula, most daycares REQUIRE that you prepare the bottles prior to arriving with your child in the morning, so your child would already have all they needed, and why would a woman need to prep a bottle in the office?

    But because a mom chooses to nurse and pump, she must have a special place to be able to pump at work, or SOME extra time to do so in her car if she is more comfortable there. But that extra time has to be made up somewhere during the day, right? You can't work 7 hour days and get paid for 8.

    I worked in a daycare when my daughter was a baby, and do you know where I had to pump when I needed to? A bathroom. It was the most private room in the building. It was clean, it was the upstairs adult bathroom, and I know it was hardly ever used anyway. But I took a little child's chair in there and pumped away. I hated it. I wished there was somewhere private that was more comfortable, but there wasn't. And this was a daycare. A daycare. Who ought to be more accommodating of mothers than that? Yet my desire to nurse while the rest of the moms on staff used formula was looked down upon by the director and even some of the teachers in my daughter's classroom. There was only one other breastfed child in the infant class and his mom was very vocal about her choice, and she was probably the only reason I stuck with it when I could have easily given up.

    Did I want special treatment? Well, a little. But it's not like I didn't try to do everything I could to make everyone else there comfortable with it, too. The option I had was to either: Leave my classroom short a teacher for 20 minutes to pump, or switch with another teacher so that I could nurse. The second choice is what worked best, yet somehow I was still treated as second class and one teacher even got so mad at me that she quit because of it. And I was more than gracious about it.

    What I think Jen is saying isn't that we should forgo our right to breastfeed in some places, but actually to forgo our right to be in certain places because we are breastfeeding. After all, we want what is absolutely best for our children when we breastfeed, and what is best is for us to be close to our kids, too. So if there's a place that doesn't want your baby there, then don't go there if you want to keep your baby with you. It's not hard. I'm not entitled to go into certain places, so if I don't feel welcome there, then why would I force my will upon the people there?

    When I was still too young to drink I would never have gone to a bar to party with friends, because what would be the point? They put a big stamp on your hand and you feel like an outcast. What's the fun in that?

    Jen, I really liked what you said about the difference between adults and children. This is so important. I just saw a show yesterday that asked the question: "If kids could do everything their parents could do, then would they need their parents?" And yet, children need their parents at least until a certain time. The show Kid Nation absolutely amazes me. It says two things to me (positive and negative):
    1. Kids can do a lot of things, and have a lot more strength than adults give them credit for...
    2. Kids have a hard time doing some things because they don't understand why they are important, and that is why they need adults to help them understand.

    We shouldn't elevate kids to "mini-me" status (I like that one!) but we also should never leave them behind because they are not "capable". I think that we have to draw the line, and safety is a big issue, as is appropriateness. It is not appropriate for children to be in certain places if they cannot behave themselves, and in this age, who can blame business owners for banning all children, when you see the worst possible types of children practically everywhere you go! There are lots of well behaved children, but you can't go putting signs on your restaurant door saying "only well-behaved children allowed." Everyone's going to say "well, my kids are well-behaved" when most of us know that those people are just kidding themselves. I have never been to a restaurant that didn't allow kids, probably because I wouldn't be able to afford it, anyway. And I don't really care, honestly.

  42. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 9:05 AM |  

    Homebody, I do think we're not communicating clearly.

    I never said that there's never an instance where the rule is stupid and should be challenged.

    I just said that we shouldn't assume the rule is ALWAYS stupid and should ALWAYS be challenged.

    As for your other argument, I would assume you didn't CHOOSE to have dyslexia and disgraphia, right? So yes, accomdations need to be made in some areas.

    However, sometimes there are safety issues at play in that realm. My brother wanted to be a pilot, but couldn't, because of his eyesight. If I lose my legs in an accident and decide I want to be a firefighter, I probably can't.

    But if I have a learning disability that means I take longer to take a test? Yeah, I have zero problem with that. I certainly didn't choose to have a brain wired that way.

    Still, the argument is a straw man. It's sets up an argument far from my original in an attempt to "win" the point. You are right in what you are saying, but that doesn't change my opinion on what this post is about.

  43. Blogger Eilat | 9:14 AM |  

    Jessica makes a good point about breastfeeding, being "special". Indeed, when I watched my son double his birth weight in 8 weeks purely on my milk it was the biggest ego boost ever. I kept thinking "I did that!" "me me me". But just because I felt very special about feeding and growing my child, doesn't mean I felt *privileged*.
    I think when Jennifer says "special" she mean "privileged".

    Maybe I remember too well what it was like before I had a baby, but anyone who thinks that she can sway our culture with "the power of the purse" will find herself equally matched by people who WANT the spa and nice restaurant and work conference to be kid free. Believe me, for every complaint letter on not being able to bring your kid, the place will receive at least one letter on how a massage was ruined by a bunch of loud kids running around the spa. I'D be writing a complaint letter if MY relaxing massage was ruined by a baby crying or a kid running around.

    Kids should be allowed to run around, so please, don't take them to spas.

    In fact, I would go as far as to say that it is wrong to take your kids to an adult venue and then expect them to behave like adults. My parents would do this all the time when we were kids. We would go to nice-ish restaurants and my dad would get all tense and annoyed because the twins were climbing up and down the booths and my sister and I would be kicking each other under the table. We would get yelled at, punished, and my dad would always announce "That is the last time Im taking you kids anywhere nice."
    I wish he had made good on his threats, or that the restaurant would have told him "Sorry sir, adults only." It would have spared us and the other patrons at the restaurant a bad time.
    We only had fun at the Ground Round, and for good reason. And now that Im a mom I keep this very much in mind when choosing where to go with my kid.

  44. Blogger Stacie | 9:21 AM |  

    I agree.

    How dull to post a comment just to agree, but I am annoyed by the constant "The world needs to bend it me because I am breastfeeding" theme in lactivism.

  45. Blogger Eilat | 9:29 AM |  

    I wanted to mention to Jake then when I was 5 months pregnant my husband and I went on our "last time alone" vacation to Puerto Rico. We stayed at a VERY FANCY secluded resort that had a "no kids under 16" rule (N/A to unborn children ;-) ) and it was MUCH appreciated.
    Are they technically not allowed to have this rule?
    Now that I have a child, I make SURE the places are kid friendly. Westin hotels are great for kids, we've found.

  46. Anonymous Anonymous | 9:35 AM |  

    I completely agree with you on this. I also wholeheartedly agree that we seem to have way too much self-esteem. Some seem to have such a sense of entitlement that they don't have any respect or manners for those around them. "It's about ME and what *I* want" is what I seem to be reading here. Where is the concern for other human beings? It's kind of like when I brestfed in public, I would be discreet and try to cover up. Not because I felt I had to, but because I knew that a vast majority of the people walking around me probably didn't want to witness my baby eating from my breast. While I wish our society was more open about breastfeeding, the hard fact is that it's not. Sure I could say "well I have to change that so I should whip out my boob and who cares who gawks." But again, fact is that it's probably not going to change anyone's mind about it. I know before I had a child and breastfed, I had NO CLUE what a wonderful experience it would be. To be honest, I probably would have been the ones to think to myself "I don't want to see THAT!" Just like before I had children, I was the one rolling my eyes when DH and I were seated in a nice restaurant next to a family with small, rambunctious children. I know what it's like to be on both sides of the fence, and for that I respect the people who don't know yet or will never know how special breastfeeding is and how precious a child's laugh can be. I think being so "in your face" and "I should be able to do what I want to do" is very counterproductive and just reinforces the negative feelings that others may have.

  47. Blogger Brandy | 10:10 AM |  

    My husband and I were just talking about this type of thing last night!

    So many times you see breastfeeding women who want to do something not because it is a necessity but simply because they can. That's not a good enough reason. Equal rights for breastfeeding mothers doesn't and shouldn't mean special rights.

    Oh and I'm currently a breastfeeding mother of a very happy and healthy 6.5 month old.

  48. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 10:29 AM |  

    Just to note, because the topic of this debate has shifted ever so slightly...

    ...when it comes to the "should children be allowed in certain places" argument, I don't have issues with people who disagree with me.

    I don't think it's appropriate for children to have access to all of the same places adults do.

    HOWEVER, I can respect the line of thinking that says otherwise. For the posters arguing that children should be allowed in more spots, that's fine. Fight your fight, I'll fight mine.

    My issue is with the people who don't have a problem with "anti-child" rules until it impacts THEIR breastfed child.

    That's what sets me off. The idea that breastfeeding gives you and your child special rights...rights not afforded to other children and mothers.

    THAT is the line of thinking that I believe damages the cause of lactivism.

  49. Blogger Amy | 11:30 AM |  

    I suspect we are not even discussing the same topic, at least not exactly. But hey, intelligent people can disagree, and that is not a bad thing.

    Thanks for having the conversation, and for the work you do in bringing these issues up.


  50. Blogger Carole | 12:12 PM |  


    I'm the one who wrote asking about the bingo hall -- I believe I'm also the one who said that I never dreamed I wouldn't be able to take my baby there, and was shocked when I was told that I couldn't. I wrote you about it because I was half-hoping that it might be something that the breastfeeding law would cover, though my husband told me that he didn't see how it possibly could; after getting your response and thinking about it, I see that it was kind of silly to think that it would, but I had hoped, just because it would have been simpler....

    Anyway, I did find a bingo hall that agreed with me -- that bringing a baby with me should not be an issue, as long as she didn't disturb anyone by being noisy -- and was able to go play Bingo one last time. (I used to go with my Grandma all the time, and she passed away last month; I was in town to clean out her house, and when I found her bingo bags, I felt compelled to go as a kind of good-bye.)

    Anyway, no, I don't think I should be able to take a baby to someplace that would be dangerous for her, but short of that, I believe that I ought to be able to take a well-behaved child with me almost anywhere. I don't frequently take them to places where they have to be still and calm -- but if I do, I don't allow my children to create a disturbance, so there's no reason that they shouldn't be welcome.

  51. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 12:24 PM |  


    I'm glad to hear you were able to work something out! :) As I've said, there's nothing wrong with asking.

    To note, while you are one of the many who emailed me about this, you certainly aren't one of the ones that sparked my rant. As you said, nothing wrong with asking.

    But I did have a few exchanges with some folks that were really upset that exceptions weren't made, even when there were safety issues at play.

    It seems to be a popular topic right now because I've had several emails on it and seen the idea pop up in conversations other places as well.

    I do have to ask...did your grandma's bingo gear turn out to be lucky? :)

  52. Blogger Katrina W. | 11:51 PM |  

    Well put! That quote has always bothered me as well. It's almost like saying "I made a baby, what's your superpower?" or "I created another human..." It takes the real creator out of the equation. In the grand scheme of babies, we are mere mortals—God and biology are really in charge.

    Making milk is a natural function we have as mammals. Having more people accept that making milk is the primary function of breasts would go a long way to general acceptance of nursing in public.

    Besides, if I had a superpower I'd want it to be the ability to fly, or super strength or something really useful. Making milk is an amazing thing, but it's no superpower.

  53. Anonymous Anonymous | 6:23 AM |  

    Funny. I have ALWAYS liked that shirt. Maybe that's the main difference between you and me. I guess I'm just an "entitled" liberal. LOL

    But seriously, I DO think making milk is special. It's not something you will always do, nor it is something you've always done. It IS special. It's unique, and I think it should be celebrated. Our biology is amazing!

    Plus, I think our society is way too uptight when it comes to children. Even places that are marketed to appear "kid-friendly" often aren't. People are always trying to get kids to be little adults, when it's just not possible. Yes, you should teach them manners, but they're KIDS. They still have so much to learn, and it's important for society to be forgiving and kind so that the kids can learn to be forgiving and kind adults.

  54. Blogger heather@it'stwinsanity | 7:22 AM |  

    I fail to see the big deal with the "superpower" shirt or it's connection to the moms who think they deserve special treatment. I have that shirt, I think it's cute. I think making milk is an awesome, amazing thing and of course it's a normal, natural thing and not a "superpower." I could just as easily wear a shirt that says "I grow baby humans, what's your superpower" because I think that pregnancy is an amazing thing too-and also completely normal and not a "superpower." I think people are taking this slogan to the extreme when I don't think it was intended that way. Do you honestly think that anyone believe that lactation is a superpower? C'mon...

    I am in agreement on the topic of breastfeeding mothers who feel they deserve special treatment. I don't bring my kids to places where they aren't welcome. It's really simple-I just don't go to those places. I think what lactivists should be striving for is the ability to breastfeed anywhere that babies are allowed. It seems obvious to me that demanding special treatment is not going to further the cause. There doesn't need to be any special treatment-we just need to be able to breastfeed without being told me to move or cover up. If a mom can bottlefeed her baby there, then a breadtfeeding mother should be able to nurse her baby there too without restrictions. Seems like a simple concept to me. Who are these moms who are demanding the special treatment-and why are they doing it?

  55. Anonymous Anonymous | 10:09 AM |  

    When my daughter was a nursing baby, I brought her almost everywhere. I worked full-time, and had to bring her into work a few times when she had a cold and couldn't go to daycare. Once, I had to bring her to a conference with me. I took her to community meetings, the movies, and fancy restaurants (the few times I went!). It was never an issue, she'd usually just nurse and fall asleep.

    Now that she is two, my lifestyle is much more limited. My daughter is WAAAAAY too active now for me to take her to most of those places. Fortunately, she's been healthy, but if she were to get sick, I'd now have to take a day off, even though I work for a very small company and am the only staff person with my particular responsibilities. I wouldn't dream of bringing her to the movies or a fancy restaurant now.

  56. Blogger Dead Letter Boy | 12:35 PM |  

    Are you following the controversy over on facebook at all?

  57. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 12:38 PM |  

    I am, haven't blogged about it, but keeping an eye out.

  58. Anonymous Anonymous | 2:44 PM |  

    Hi Jenn,

    I posted a comment, but you didn't post it yet. Is there a problem?

  59. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 2:49 PM |  

    Nope, just hadn't had a chance to go through and approve the latest batch of comments.

    It's Emmitt's first birthday, was off making cookie monster cupcakes. :)

  60. Anonymous Anonymous | 2:58 PM |  

    Oh! Happy First Birthday, Emmitt!!

    (Wow, already?)

  61. Blogger Mojavi | 7:58 PM |  

    From what I have seen and read in the comments there is way to much group think going on here. Children are a part of life, nursing your children is a part of life. One persons need to be somewhere and nurse is their right. Whether or not you agree on where the "where" is is a moot point. The law is stated that way for a reason. As I see it your not really helping woman get their rights to nurse where and when needed by deciding whether or not a nursing mom has done or wanted something you feel in your opinion to be "asking to much". Bottom line is.... no matter where you are, or what you need someone is going to judge. Until we all stop deciding what is and is not acceptable for a nursing mother, and just let her be whether it be work, resturants or wherever; we will never have won the battle.

  62. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:02 PM |  

    I have to disagree with those who feel like having child free places is unfair. I love my kids but I like the idea of places where kids can't go, that way people who don't like kids have someplace where I don't usually have to see them. I have no problem limiting where I go because I prefer to be someplace comfortable with my kids. why would I want to go someplace where they have to act differently then they normally would? My kids are far from quiet and orderly even in the best of situations.

    I want to nurse my children whereever I am, but I don't want to go everywhere in the world right now. I want to go to places that are enjoyable for us as a family with young children, so that means no fancy restaurants, no super quiet places, etc. Do I feel denied a basic right? No, I feel like I'm a mom with young kids, this is where I am right now and in a few years I'll be somewhere else.

  63. Anonymous Anonymous | 2:18 PM |  

    To the Lactivist:
    " Should women be able to sue to make their employers allow them to bring the baby to work so they can continue to breastfeed? After all, it's harder on a breastfeeding mom to leave their child, especially if they're like me and have a child that refuses a bottle."

    I can see where culturally this is a concern. In North America we've completely separated family life from work life. While in some European countries, the idea of taking your child to work isn't so alien or considered impossible. Who knows, maybe we'll get there some day.

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