Blogs and chat rooms are all abuzz about the February 8th episode of Rachael Ray. Why? Well, it sure wasn't her cooking! Did you catch the episode? Get up to speed HERE.
Bethenny Frankel, former Real Housewife of NYC and star of reality show "Bethenny Ever After" was on spouting new Mother advice during an audience Q&A. She made some rather interesting comments about her breastfeeding rules, and now people on either side of the breastfeeding debate are up in arms. Yes, it is the same ugly debate, breastfeeding in public.
Bethenny is not what I would call an average, down-to-earth Mom. She is more of the high maintenance, superficial and opinionated type. Those traits have created quite a character and brand for her, but I do not think they make her an expert on being a Mom. With Rachael Ray, a woman without children, backing up her attention getting opinions, it amounts to a whole lot of hot air. Bethenny urges the audience member to "Just keep it private" in regards to breastfeeding in public. She claims there is always a corner or backroom more appropriate than "whipping it out". And although she breastfed and pumped openly on her own show, she claims that unless you are Pamela Anderson you shouldn't do it. She goes as far to claim breastfeeding in public would be a good diet since folks would loose their appetite. What makes either of these women worth listening to on this topic? Well, nothing.
First of all, there are great nursing cover-ups, shirts or blanket that are often used to keep out distractions from the nursing baby, and keep unwanted attention off of the nursing Mother. And if covering is not a woman's thing, what is wrong with feeding a baby in a natural and healthy way? Have breasts become so overly sexualized and shameful that we have forgotten why we have them in the first place? I worry about the message this sends to young impressionable girls. And how can our society promote an activity it also discourages?
I proudly breastfed both of my children, and felt very fortunate to have the support of family with this very personal decision. I realize it is not right for everyone, but for those who can and do breastfeed there always comes a time when a Mother needs to nurse outside the home. With my son I was very self-conscious and often nursed in our car, dressing rooms or nursing lounges when they were available. But, honestly, it was tough. I did not want to nurse my son in public restrooms - I mean, ewww! But I was not talented enough to breastfeed like a ninja with my cover-ups. He was a major kicker, and loved to play peek-a-boo while he ate. With my daughter she was much calmer and I was more confident in my Mommy ninja skills.
When I heard about a local woman being asked to stop nursing in our public mall I was outraged! The newspaper article claimed that there was a provided nursing area and that the maintenance worker asked the Mom to move due to complaints from other patrons. This poor woman was distraught and eventually bashed online on the newspaper's website. The comment storm was heated and ugly. Many folks were outraged that she had not used this provided nursing lounge and of course added how inappropriate it is to nurse in public. My heart went out to this local woman I didn't even know. She was just trying to feed her baby. I also was shocked that our "mall" had a nursing area! How had I missed it? On our next visit my husband and I went everywhere trying to locate it. I finally asked a maintenance worker for help and was taken down several dark hallways and then locked in the employee breakroom!!! No joke. I was uncomfortable and angry. No woman should feel safe or obligated to nurse in a corner or "backroom" such as this.
Please do not take your Mothering advice from the likes of women such as Rachael Ray or Bethenny Frankel. If you are a breastfeeding Mom, know your rights according to your own state, and utilize resources such as The Le Leche League or check out Medela 's site for tips and discussion boards to support nursing moms. Remember, we might not all be stacked like Pamela Anderson, but every Mom should be proud and comfortable feeding their baby!
*Disclaimer, This post is 100% my own opinions. I do participate as a Medela Mom Maven supporting breastfeeding Moms, but this is not sponsored or prompted by any events or companies.