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March 26, 2008


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I don't know, I find it a bit niggling...

Do they have a separate room where you are supposed to sit when you eat?

I would never go sit in some isolated room to feed my kid. They'd be in my sling, nursing, and I'd be walking around the mall. I never hid myself to feed my kids... and, most of the time, no one could even tell whether the kid was feeding or sleeping.

I think it sort of implies that we aren't supposed to be doign that out in polite society.

(so, yeah, I guess I'm a lactivist too).

Oh Kristen. As one of those "old" feminists who never burned anything (except maybe dinner)I particularly loved this post. It's been a long, rough road and it's hard to hear young women disparage it, but I think many of us earned that disdain by being so aloof and self-righteous. So anything like this post that opens a window back to us is a beeeyooootiful thing. Yay K.

LOVE THIS POST. The reason? I was raised by people who are considered "Christian Right", though my parents never owned a gun and didn't quite vote R every time. They are against abortion, contraception, etc. Yet, during the 70's while my mother was breast feeding in VERMONT a man stopped to tell her she was "disgusting" for forcing her baby to eat like an animal. HA! So, yeah, the lactavist/feminist has many faces.

So very well said!!!!

I started calling myself a lactivist when I began to make a concerted effort to help make breastfeeding a cultural norm. I put myself out there on my blog and talk about breastfeeding and my hope that every mother will at least try to breastfeed. I also raise money for La Leche League and the Newman Clinic. In my personal life, I wear pro-breastfeeding shirts (like Milkduz's Supply/Demand tees) and talk to pregnant women about breastfeeding.

Great post. Also in the GTA area of Canada, and most malls I've been to have nursing rooms (some are just beautiful) and family washrooms. And yes, some of the men's washrooms even have change tables!!!

Change is a-coming, albeit not as quickly as it could be.

How cool would it be if there were a breast on that sign, lol.

But since we still get complaints at the bookstore whenever we prominently display "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" with a baby at breast on the cover, I'm guessing that breasts still freak some people out too much in spite of 50% of the population owning a pair...51% if you include Meatloaf.

My sister-in-law was with me when I first saw that very sign. In the past, we both have used benches in that mall to nurse our little ones. It never stopped us from feeding our kids! When we noticed the sign, we had to go check it out! I just couldn't believe that they had a nursing room in that mall. I considered it a HUGE step for LR, AR.

(didn't know there was a BYB there now. cool.)

I certainly didn't consider myself a lactivist, until I insisted on nursing my kid wherever I damn well pleased. If that makes me a lactivist, so be it.

Mom of 3 here...Feminist, lactivist--sure--you can call me those names.

In my area, the hospital staff tells me that over 80% of new moms leave for home nursing. Pretty good for the midwest, they said. I nursed all three of mine--the oldest for 14 months.

I can't tell you all the stupid comments I recieved...
My mother at first, thought it was "unnecessary," as I was bottle fed-and just fine. My Mother in Law decided to tell me that I was making my child "too dependant on me."

Excuse me?? He was a baby! I would HOPE he would be dependant on me.

My mother got over her anxiety about it-my mother in law...who knows. I didn't care. I did it because I WANTED to. If SHE wanted to bottle feed--that was FINE....she raised her kids already.

I also nursed once in a public restroom stall and thought to myself, "Would "I" come in here to eat my lunch???"

I went back to the table and got over it. If anyone looked--I certainly didn't notice.

You know how I hates da labelz, but I guess I've got to cop to being a feminist AND a lactivist now.

I totally agree with Sci Fi Dad on this one. When I breastfed my son I didn't think twice about doing it pretty much anywhere (I'm in the Toronto area). In fact, I'll admit to feeling the pressure to breastfeed with my next baby, even though I'm not sure I want to.
But, when I went to the states with my son as a baby people kept coming up and talking to me when I'd nurse him in public - one lady congratulated me for being so confident while someone else asked me to cover up. Weird.

And one more thought - Men's rooms should have changing tables. Plenty of men change diapers. There's just inequality all around the parenting pool.

I was thrilled to see a Babies R Us that had a feeding room. I don't recall exactly what they called it, it was a few years ago. I wonder if they all have rooms for privacy.

But I have to tell you my most recent discovery. The facility where my 3 year old takes swim lessons has a large sign in their front window. "Breastfeeding Welcome Here." That, if nothing else, makes me want to continue to give my patronage to them and not any other swim lesson place.

Also I have to agree with SciFi Dad. The US is a pretty arrogant country and yet so prudish when they insist their not. I breastfed three children and it got easier each time because honestly, after the first two, I didn't much care anymore. However, with all three I was constantly stared at or had people that were so obviously trying to look anywhere but AT me, it was ludicrous.

I remember one time on a plane where I was trying to nurse my infant so she'd be more comfortable during take off. I remember thinking, if I could only get the window seat with my husband sitting in the middle seat, I'd have a little bit of privacy. Little did I realize that even though it seemed private, there were people constantly walking down the aisle or standing in it with nothing better to do than to peer at everyone else on the plane. And let me tell you, no matter how discreet you intend on being, if you have a very active infant, well then complete discretion is out of the question. My biggest concern was the young man sitting in the aisle. He looked as if he was an older teen. I was horrified that he was going to make faces or make our lives miserable in some way for that journey. My husband turned to me because he knew I was uncomfortable and said, "He doesn't care hon, he's German."

Also, in Canada,in most - especially the newer malls,we have a "Family Room" located near the washrooms. These are mostly to accommodate breast feeding Moms - but also to allow Dads to do a bottle and diaper change in privacy and with proper change tables, easy chairs, etc. When we travel Stateside, we notice that large department stores (Nordstrums, yeah!!)also do this. Yankee Women need to demand your Malls to get the same...vote with your feet until you get what is rightfully yours! I am a 65 year Old Grandma and a proud life long Libber! You young 'uns need to listen up!We Old Gals DEMANDED (and got)these facilities long ago! Good Luck and get going!

I have spent a lot of time explaining to other women why they shouldn't be afraid of the term feminist, and yet, I too have shied away from calling myself a lactivist.

Despite the fact that I wholeheartedly support the right of mothers to nurse their infants in public.

And despite the fact that I nursed my own son until he was two, in the face of objections from several quarters.

I nursed my son in the homes of friends and in-laws who were uncomfortable with nursing. I nursed my son under a blanket in a dirty stockroom at work, because he wouldn't take bottles well and anyway there wasn't warm water available at my workplace to wash a pump.

I nursed my son despite a (now dumped) pediatrician who said, "You know, mothers don't really have to keep nursing after six months. You could stop at any time now. It would be easier for you." I nursed my son over the objection of a gastroenterologist we saw for my son's eating issues, who told me that nursing a child past age one was "not natural," and implied I would give my son (who was then only 14 months old) psychological problems.

That sure does sound like a lactivist, now, doesn't it?

I think I've avoided the term because I don't want people to think I judge women who choose, for medical reasons or career-related reasons or other important, valid reasons, NOT to nurse. Because I don't judge those women, but some lactivists do.

I guess maybe I just need to start calling myself a Momtivist. Heh.

I keep a blog that lists nursing rooms across the US and Canada. If you know of a local room, please email me at nursingmom@gmail.com or come check out the site:


When R. was about 3 weeks old, we went to the Olive Garden for dinner. We hadn't introduced 'bottle as a backup' to him yet, and surprise! he needed to eat.

I went to the restroom, and I fumbled around and sat on the toilet to feed him.

I swore from that day forward I would feed my kid where ever I felt like it.

I would cover up a little bit - put one arm through my jacket or something, but I fed him in restaurants, at the mall, you name it - didn't care.

Does that make me a lactivist? I thought it was more along the lines of "too old & tired to give a shit what you think, dickhead. Stare all you want."

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Fortunately, I work in an environment where it is university policy that all breastfeeding women have "easy access" (defined as no more than 5 minute walk) to a nursing mother's room. And that supervisors do what they can to accommodate the needs of nursing mothers. It is nice to know that I will freely be able to pump for my son once he is born and I return to work.

Now, who do I talk to about raising the issue of paid maternity leave...

Great post! Very well said.

I had an experience I'd like to share:

A few months ago, I had a conversation with some male coworkers (I work with mostly men in the IT field). I said something about being a feminist, and they looked at me funny. Then I said that they were feminists too, and they looked at me like I was crazy.

I said, "Don't you think that women should get equal pay for equal work? Don't you want your wives, girlfriends, sisters, daughters to be treated fairly at work and outside of work?"

Well, yeah, they agreed. I said that that was what a feminist was. Not whatever image they had in their heads. I am happy to say that they were very receptive to this concept.

Now, let's teach the rest of the world!

Living in Vancouver, I never thought twice about breastfeeding in public. No one blinks twice here.

Here in SoCal nursing is so the norm.

Disneyland has a "Baby Center" with a nursing room equipped with comfy chairs. (They also have high chairs, toddler sized potties, changing tables donning fresh paper after every baby, and even supplies you may have lost or forgotten at home).

At Sea World, I found anursing room near the kid's area that had an air conditioner and a gliding rocking chair in it.

No matter where I am in the mall, I always go to Nordstrom because of their comfy nursing accoutrements.

So long as businesses go the extra mile like this, they will get my consumer dollars. And I think they know it!

I was extremely happy when I heard that one of our malls added new restrooms with a nursing room (it was near the restrooms, not in them). It was finished in time for my first born and I went to that mall, which is much further than another mall, all the time.

I think we can (or at least should) all understand the role of our activist women and moms have taken in furthering our cause.

And certainly, the media hooks into that image for sure.

My point is for us to see past the stereotypes and realize that we can make the label (movement) fit for us. Lactivism and feminism comes in all shapes and and bra sizes.

I'll throw it out as possibly too much exposure to FoxNews or southern Talk Radio, but even as you now realize what a lactivist IS and what a feminist IS, you still are afraid of some "image" ("bra burner" or "public Boob feeding protester") and in a way that is sad.

Those "crazy" bra burning, sign toting activist were the one's that drew the attention needed for "today's femenist" to thrive.

Same this with the lactivists, as if it wasn't for the boob flashing moms protesting in front of stores, women all over would still be asked to go nurse in the restrooms (gross).

So, yes I am glad to see you have taken comfort in the "labels" but just appreciate that there were a lot of women that had to do a lot of work (and be disparaged in the process) for those labels to fit you comfortably.

Well, would you believe that many "feminists" these days actually DO NOT support a mother's right to breastfeed? I know... horrifying. Visit the "Feminism" board on Ivillage and you'll see a whole host of scary, judgmental, anti-mom "feminists" who think the breeders and their stupid breastfeeding ought to be banned.

One woman on there actually said that no woman who breastfed her children could ever call herself a "feminist." Holy Moly.

Well. I'm a feminist. And a breeder. And a lactivist. Go figure.

I think it's sad that we feel so self-concious about breastfeeding in public. (At least I do.) I still did it because my son needed to eat, but I covered up or went out and sat in the car. Poor guy would just sweat away under that blanket.

I didn't know if you know and are okay with it but your blog is being scrapped by BNN (BLogNetnews) under their parenting section.. ALOT of bloggers have been having issue with this.. didn't know if you knew.

Great post. I lived in Norway for two years, during which I had my second child. It was so freeing, because it was absolutely expected that women could freely breastfeed in public. They didn't think it was dirty or sexual--or anything other than natural.

Even at the hospital, a Norwegian woman who had looked at me confused a few times while I was talking to her about nursing, finally asked, "Are you a nurse?" I said no, then realized she didn't know what I meant. We had a good discussion about why Americans may be too embarrassed to say the word "breast" when referring to feeding one's baby. BREASTfeeding became a proud word for me.

And like you, I never would've considered myself a feminist several years ago. I just posted about the Feminist Majority's new "This is What a Feminist Looks Like" video today. Jinx! :)

Glad to have found your blog.

I don't know if it's just the GTA, or most of Canada, but public breastfeeding is a lot more common here than in the US.

Here, my wife just sat on a bench in the mall (i.e. a public bench say, outside a shoe store) and fed my daughter. When we visited the US and did this, people were horrified.


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