The Controversy of Exposing Your Breast While Nursing

I have a “friend of a friend,” who is an avid nursing mom. I am glad that she has chosen breastfeeding over bottle feeding her baby because it is honestly, the most nourishing for the infant and it promotes bonding with the baby. Breastfeeding is a more natural and nutritious way of feeding your infant. I nursed two of my children and was proud that I found the courage and support to do so. I, too, nursed when I was out. I am not ashamed of my breasts or of breastfeeding. When my children were hungry, I either found a secluded room or draped a small blanket over my exposed breast and nursed my children. I am proud that I provided the best nutrition and the emotional bonding that my babies needed.

However, this does not mean that I agree with public exposure of the breast. This woman, whom I have spoken of above, has had pictures taken of her openly breastfeeding and has put them on the internet for everyone to see. She says that she is proud of her choice and since breastfeeding is a normal activity for mothers, she has no problems with displaying her breasts in this manner. she even admonishes those who object to her display because she says that they are the ones who are turning her display into a subject of sex. She calls them sexually repressed and unable to see the breast for its true function.

I disagree with her entirely. Continuing her line of thinking, she might put a video online containing all of the details of the loss of her first child’s virginity. And, later in life, she might want to publicly display the most graphic scenes of her grandchildren’s child birth because we should not be ashamed of our bodies and the activities that accompany them. She reports that she is not inhibited by social norms of shame. It is quite natural to make love, give birth and breastfeed. I don’t deny that it is natural, but is it natural to want the world to share in your intimate moments? Modesty and shame are two different concepts. One should not be labeled “repressed,” just because they don’t flaunt their naked body. And, there is a difference between being ashamed and wanting to keep some part of you and some experiences Private. Besides, even if you felt comfortable sharing these very intimate experiences with the world, would they actually respect the intimate nature of the relationship? Or would they find the physical pleasure in it and in that way contaminate your experience with their unclean thoughts and words? Like it or not, when most men see a breast, they are aroused. Even if I believe that her motives are purely natural, the consequences of her actions are not what her motives suggest. Thus, motives would need to be examined.

Image courtesy Cloudmom

To be honest, I believe that this is another manipulative tactic to justify the desire to be an exhibitionist. What is the point of showing her breast while nursing? There is no need for a “how to” video on nursing. Besides, new mothers might be put off by the bold manner in which another mother displays herself. What would be wrong in using a blanket to cover the breast when she is out in public? If you want to tell the world when you are nursing, a draping blanket does just this without displaying flesh. So, cloaking these pictures with the veil of “natural nursing,” the woman knows that men are looking at her engorged breasts. She knows that they are not pontificating on the benefits of nursing. This is just a way for her to attract men without holding herself responsible for her own desires and/or the men’s arousal.

Frankly, I feel that she has made a mockery out of a tender moment that a mother and infant share. I don’t believe that she is emotionally able to bond with her child; No more than I believe that a person who commits a pornographic sex act has emotionally bonded with her acting partner. Certainly the woman is not breastfeeding on camera for money. But, she is getting some benefit out of it and that benefit has nothing to do with the infant that she is feeding. By taking an intimate moment and making it public, you allow the world to molest your most vulnerable moments and thereby, ruin the tenderness of the situation. She has actually degraded this wonderful bonding moment to an act of meeting a child’s needs for food.

Women do retort that publicly nursing naturally is their right. I will only say that just because we have the freedom to do a certain thing, does not make it wise for us to do it. Think of the consequences that your actions might have on others. While you can’t be held responsible for their actions, you certainly can contribute to their decision to act in a certain way.

There are now issues of parenting magazines which have women on the front of their magazine breastfeeding with no covering. I say, this is akin to a marriage magazine putting two people making love on its cover. It is tasteless and clearly, it is only using the sexual appearance to sell copies. While it might be good for business, it has compromised its integrity as a wholesome family magazine. Furthermore, all who participate, have compromised themselves as well.


This article is a guest post provided by Alesha Banks who likes to write about nursing and other related topics. She also provides dissertation writing service and has a good name in that field.