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The Man’s Guide To Breast Feeding

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Breastfeeding is back in the news. This time, it’s the MSNBC website, that takes on the topic of public breast feeding. (Thanks to Louise for pointing me to these two articles).
The main article, “Food or Lewd? Breast-feeding Reveals Divide,” doesn’t tell us much of anything new. Yeah, yeah, we know public breastfeeding elicits a wide range of responses.
Even though health authorities have said for decades that breast is best for baby, American attitudes about nursing are still heatedly divided. In some cases, women who don’t or can’t breast-feed are made to feel like they’re bad mothers. And those who do breast-feed — and nurse in public — can be the targets of complaints and outrage. Men often don’t know what to do in the presence of a nursing mom and other women can be most critical of all. Why are we so conflicted? “Our society still doesn’t recognize the functional use of breasts,” says Karen Peters, executive director of the Breast Feeding Task Force of Greater Los Angeles. “It only recognizes the sexual aspect.”
This brings me to the second, and more interesting piece– “A guy’s guide to breast-feeding: Don’t be a boob.” The subtitle gets right to the point– “To look or not to look? How men should act around a nursing mom.” The author writes:
…(D)epending on the situation, breast-feeding can make us uncomfortable, not because we are opposed in any way, but because we feel trapped. If, say, we were sitting at an airport gate waiting area, and the woman sitting across from us began breast-feeding, we wouldn’t be entirely sure what to do. If we pause for longer than an instant, we risk being accused of voyeurism, even if the sight of mother-baby bonding is simply making us feel warm and fuzzy inside. But if we make a show of NOT looking, we risk being accused of being disapproving…
Because breasts are dual-purpose machines, we men can have some trouble completely severing the link between boobs and sex and replacing it with boobs and nurturing babies. Expecting us to regard them as the teats of a lowland gorilla is like asking a seventh-grade boy not to look at Pamela Anderson.

So ladies (and gentleman, if there are any of you reading this) what advice do you have for men who might be a little ill at ease, or not sure how to react, if they see you feeding your baby? And please, be kind.



3 Responses to “The Man’s Guide To Breast Feeding”

Hey Andi,
Thanks for the shout out! I’ve added you to the links on my new blog! Anyway, I”m glad to hear that the book is moving right along. I can’t wait for it to come out! The “guy’s guide” you linked to above is actually pretty funny. My husband has said the same thing before!
Take care,
Louise

i think it would be fantastic if more men in this position just showed there support. maybe a comment about how great breastfeeding is or a warm smile would make your intentions clear and put both parties at ease.

Hi! Yes, us guys have some ideas about boobs that are not so good when it comes to breastfeeding in public. I feel this is due to the association we have with the breast and sexuality as opposed to the function of nurturing. I feel if there is education available and encouraged, this can be overcome to where whatever exposure of breasts is seen, it can be healthy both sexually and emotionally for all!

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