January 25, 2006

[I Don't Care If] It's Fun To Nurse At The YMCA

Gotta say, given all the rules posted around the pool which we're all expected to live by, a woman nursing poolside is iffy for me. A woman nursing IN the pool is not.

We started the kid on some swim classes at the YMCA recently, and I'm afraid I'm with the Y on this one, and I consider myself a staunch breastfeeding advocate and a huge breast fan [by which I mean, I am a huge fan of breasts, not just a fan of--never mind. Off topic.]

Anyway, if you disagree, bare'em and share'em this weekend. There's a nurse-in at the Y in downtown Ann Arbor this Saturday at 1pm. [isn't that naptime?]

Breast-feeding activists to hold 'nurse-in'
[annarbornews via dt reader ponch]


Not quite certain what the fuss is all about. Or for that matter why your taking the Y's side, Greg. From where do you derive your discomfort with the whole pool nursing thing? It can't be the potential pool contamination from errant dribbles, can it? Because if it is I would suggest you never think about the consequences of toddlers (or anyone, for that matter) bouncing around in a heated pool. Contamination comes in degrees.

We Americans have really got to get our heads out of our @$$%$ on this subject.

[if it's her pool, or her country club's pool, or my pool, fine. But the Y has a jillion rules posted everywhere about what you can't do in/around the pool. In such a regulated space, why is nursing an exception? The particulars of the encounter are muddled, though; the Y seems to be spinning after the fact, they told her one thing then another at the time, and they handled it poorly. But I just can't see swimming pools as a viable lactivist battleground. -ed]

ummmm, I dunno about this one. I'm pro-breastfeeding, currently doing so, AND I had a problem w/ Barbara Walters' comments that led to the nurse-in outside The View. But this thing with the Y is different, as far as I'm concerned. They don't allow infant bottle-feeding in the pool area, or eating/drinking of any kind. So, unless there's something I missed, I don't think this is an unreasonable or discriminatory policy. I wouldn't protest.

I just can't get past why a woman would want her breastfeeding child to be in a position where they could suck up a mouthful of very public cholorinated toddler pee water...seems common sense would make this a no-brainer on the part of any mother.

This is ridiculous. You're at the pool to swim, not have lunch. We have a newborn that we're breastfeeding and honestly this story seems like it's polarizing an issue even more. Women should have the right to breastfeed in public. The woman in the story has exactly that right but she needs to do it in another area. I guess if the argument is that these women want to be able to eat and drink in the pool then she should stage some sort of "eat-in" and tell management. Obviously the Y doesn't have anything against breastfeeding.

D'oh...just got to the end of the article and saw how the mom was standing in very shallow water. Ok, fine. No risk of infant sucking up pool water by accident. But I gotta say, as an ex-lifeguard and pool manager myself, those indoor pool spaces are pretty small areas with minimal deck space - I think the Y is totally valid in saying that breastfeeding could be distracting to the lifeguard - especially if the guard on duty is a horny 16 year old male. Boobies are boobies, even the ones with a baby attached.

[which reminds me, have you seen that Dilbert cartoon? -ed]

As a Mom who breastfed her baby, I'm sick & tired of Moms demanding that everyone be ok with public breastfeeding. For that matter, Im sick & tired of parents demanding that society be ok with whatever behavior they feel is appropriate with no consideration to anyone else. (i.e protesting a certain Chicago coffee shop for not understanding that perhaps they don't want to hear your precious angel scream at the top of their lungs) I'm sorry, but its just plain selfish to assume that whatever you do is ok. Am I the only person who is just sick of this type of egocentric behavior?

One of the biggest rallying cries to validate public breastfeeding is that its natural. This excerpt from a "lactivist" (her word) who was interviewed by The Daily News during the nurse-in at The View said this: "I've never been a particularly shy person, but some people are, and they shouldn't be discouraged from doing something natural," Natural, well, there are lots of things the human body does that are natural. Sneezing & coughing are natural; but we are brought up to cover our mouths when we do that. Peeing and vomiting are natural, but polite society asks that we step away from the crowd when nature calls. Why should this be any different? And what about those shy people, what about their right to just be left alone to nurse in private without feeling theyre doing something wrong?

So what are the rules when it comes to breastfeeding? What about the rest of societys right not to have to see a bare breasted woman in the checkout line at the local supermarket? What about restaurants with a no shirt/ no shoes/ no service policy? Where do breastfeeding women who refuse to cover up fit into that situation? Are they exempt? My point is that breastfeeding has only come into fashion in the last 15-20 years, before that, it was almost completely obsolete for the past 80+. There are no established rules of conduct when it comes to breastfeeding. You will find no mention of it in Miss Manners or Emily Post, so isnt a little healthy debate and maybe a little consideration for others while we figure this out understandable?

So why does it make so many people uncomfortable? Maybe its because this puritanical society just isnt used to bare breasted woman sitting next to them in an airplane (as in Barbara Walters case). Our society says cover up, the bible says Adam & Eve covered up once they got a good look at themselves (and no Im not some bible thumping Christian), but thats what most of society base their values on. Theres a long standing tradition in this culture that says nakedness is bad. So rail against that, but dont turn it into some Mommy witch hunt saying that our rights are being victimized because we cant nurse in the public pool. Thats just ridiculous.

I think the polarizing point is that it is becoming increasingly more and more ok for parents to feel that everyone should just be alright with whatever behavior they feel like engaging in for the sake of their family. No consideration, no flexibilty, it's just this is what my kid wants so you'll just have to deal with it. What they want comes above what you want. The Y, Barbara Walters, and the collective society arent saying that breastfeeding is bad, theyre just asking for a little consideration for them when you do.

Sorry for the rantĶ but Im just tired of this. No wonder todays kids are growing up with less and less respect and consideration for others, look at the example were teaching them. Maybe instead of demands, which is exactly the same inflexibilty that Mom's are complaining about, we should find the compromise, isn't that what nature does, find the balance?

[with the exception of the 80+ years thing, I think this stands pretty clearly. I think women were breastfeeding before the Cold War; they just weren't allowed out of the house. -ed.]

to mom & fellow human: HUZZAH!! HUZZAH!! You hit the nail on the head :)

Nursing in a pool. Ewwww. Nursing in public - no problem with nursing top or bra or blankie, or kid headshoved under. You dont need to expose any boob, yeesh.

Good grief, what's with all the hostility?

It just seems unrealistic to me, at a family-oriented pool where parents are likely to attend with both infants and older child/ren, to expect those infants to go hungry and thirsty while in the pool area. AFAIC, breast & bottle ought both be OK, if not IN the pool then nearby. Do you really expect a wet, shivering toddler to follow mom & baby into a locker room so the baby can have a snack?

um, I wouldn't want mom to be nursing with a toddler in the pool. that's a recipe for disaster.

1) Tru dat, Veronica.
2) Breasts are not just sexual objects for 16 year olds to ogle. Anyone who creates/enforces rules based on this puerile and limited understanding of the human body is going to be met by the increasingly vocal protests of us lactivists.
3) Breast feeding isn't some crazy fad invented by hippies/me generation. Infant formula may be barely 100 years old, but perhaps breast feeding goes back a wee bit further, like, say, THE DAWN OF HUMAN F-ING KIND?!
4)Don't believe everything you read. For example, just because a previous poster's ID includes the words "considerate" and "human" doesn't make that a true statement. Also, as a biblical scholar, I can tell you that there are plenty of examples where the human body is celebrated as a triumphant example of God's creation, not a disgusting and shameful perversion that must be hidden (see, for example, multiple passages in Song of Songs). Go back and (re)read Genesis 2 - maybe with some helpful commentaries so you're not groping in the dark (or on Bill O'Reilly) for helpful interpretations. Case in point: the ancient Hebrew word for naked ('arum) is also the word for clever. Why? Bc the story of the fall of Adam and Eve in the Torah is a polemic AGAINST the loss of innocence which causes Adam & Eve's unnatural aversion to the human body brought about by man's arrogant quest to dominate the natural world.

As a nursing mom of a 12 month old, I wonder if the Y would have had a problem if she was feeding the baby bottle of pumped breastmilk???? Would you still be fine? What if you thought it was formula? This is all because it is a boob that people view as sexual objects. The issue is not with the nursing it is with how we view the breasts.

Get over it, it is a boob, they are designed to feed babies.


btw if I lived in the area, I would be there with my boobs feeding my son. And if you gave me a dirty look, I have a distance of 15 feet.

[1) let's face it: a boob in a YMCA pool is something to be covered; we're not talking about Old Testament versions of body beautiful, but American conservative Christian versions of body awkward.
2) It's food, in a pool. I cannot see how an institution full of little kids can have any rule BESIDES "no food or drink in pool area," and not end up with a layer of Goldfish sludge and bobbing sippy cups and Jolly Ranchers stuck to the walls. If no one is allowed to eat in/around a pool, how is a nursing infant any different? I don't see that anyone's points are being served by strident, overwrought arguments, especially since none of us here is directly involved in this case, so let's watch the !!!'s and the O'Reilly references, hm? -ed.]

This one is just too fun not to let it rest yet :)

"Get over it, it is a boob, they are designed to feed babies."

I would love to meet a 16 year old boy lifeguard with this attitude. Perhaps if there were more boys who understood this, my dating experiences in high school would have been much more positive for a gal with a 32 flat for a chest. If a boy hasn't come to this conclusion by the time he is 16, then he's not going to come to this conclusion till it's his wife doing the breastfeeding at 3am.

Also, while breasts have been the lifeblood for infants since the dawn of time, lets not forget the little side note in lactation history called "wet nurses." These gals were human formula for the old days. An upper class woman would never feed her own child from her own breast. GASP! Qu'elle horror!! Instead the kid would be sent out to the country for a few years to nurse at the breast of some farmer's wife and only come back to mom when weened. Gotta wonder if there aren't a few upper class women these days who would love to bring the concept of wet nurses back in vogue if it wasn't so PC.

Just want to point out that babies aren't always nursing to eat. Sometimes they nurse without taking any milk.
I wish more states would enact the breastfeeding law that NY state passes in 1994:

NY CLS Civ R 79-e (Article 7 Miscellaneous Provisions).
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a mother may breast feed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether or not the nipple of the mother's breast is covered during or incidental to the breast feeding.

Sigh. OK, lemme clarify.
1) Sorry about the O'Reilly references. They weren't directed at you, Greg (neither was the punctuation, or anything else in my post).
2) Sorry if my biblical exegisis wasn't appreciated. I just get very, well, overwrought when someone incorrectly appropriates/abuses a text I hold very sacred to prove a point.
3)I agree with you, and Veronica: if it's not safe to nurse in the pool, then it's OK to prohibit it. But I still feel that nursing (or bottle feeding) in a safe way in the general area surrounding the pool should be allowed, regardless of the sensible ban on sippie cups, jolly ranchers, goldfish, etc. Why? Because our society makes exceptions for babies all the time. They're allowed to poop, eat and sleep anywhere they please, unlike you and me. Goldfish sludge is a realistic concern. Stray breastmilk (or formula), not so much.

I really fail to see what the big deal is, or what feeding a baby poolside has to do with wet nurses or Bill O'Reilly. Personal "ewww" reactions aside (and that's rarely a particularly good basis for formulating policy), I just don't get it.

While I am not familiar with the Ann Arbor YMCA, I have yet to visit a YMCA that gives off much of a conservative Christian vibe. The "Christian" aspect seems to have evaporated quite as much as the "Men's."

Let's give lifeguards a little credit, shall we? Every lifeguard I've known, adolescent male or no, has taken his/her responsibilities very seriously and is pretty much inured to the distractions of human body parts.

Adults bring children (often more than one) to pools with lifeguards specifically so that they WON'T be exclusively responsible for their kids' safety. Nursing one kid with an eye on the other(s) is no more of a "recipe for disaster" than any other sort of multitasking a parent might take on when escorting more than one child to the pool.

If we're really that concerned about tiny bits of organic matter entering a public pool (and breastmilk is a pretty wholesome thing, considering the various alternatives), we'd better ban all babies and children still in diapers, any lactating, menstruating, or post-partum women, anyone with allergies or sinus infections, and, of course, easily stimulated teenaged boys.

Quelle horreur indeed.

My but it is getting strident in here, isn't it? This thread is almost as good as the one on circumcision.

I just want to offer a quick point about this mess that seems to have been overlooked. According to the article the YMCA rule DOES NOT say, "no eating or drinking in the pool area". Instead, it says, "no food or drink in the pool area". Note the difference, please. That means that the Y not only could, but actually MUST ban any lactating woman simply because she is always "carrying" food. It may be a case of semantics but, after all, it is the YMCA that seems obsessed with the "letter of the law" in this case.

Think the rules will change?

[I didn't know that the Y was one of those textual literalism kinds of Christianities. And I looked this morning at the Y we go to for the kid's swimming class. There is a sign about no shoes, another one about no scabs, one about no diarrhea within 2wks, another one about running, etc. The kind of situational rulemaking that has as much to do with the proximity of a laser printer as with the cultural standards of a community. So never mind. And since I believe there was a poolside bar in that Tom Cruise classic, Cocktail, I'm throwing in the towel. And I don't care if it lands on a suckled breast or not. One thing's for sure, though; your kid'll never get laid in the States unless he's circumcised. heh. -ed.]

No scabs?

No diarrhea within a specified time frame?

For reals?

And I had thought I was exaggerating to make a point in my last comment, but decided that "suppurating sores" was too gross & extreme to make the list.

Unable to let it go now that I have started, let's look at another scenario...

What if a devoted mother with a full schedule brings her little pollywog to the pool but knows feeding will soon be required? What if she, dedicated rule-follower that she is, does not put tadpole to teat but instead breaks out her trusty portable medela and proceeds to bottle a meal poolside to be used later in the car? No eating taking place now. How do the powers that be at the Y deal with that one?

And by the by...
If the rule actually stated no eating or drinking in the pool area that would not prevent the goldfish/jolly rancher goo from invading the pool. Assuming the kids weren't consuming the items they would, if the rule were followed literally, still be able to have the items.

Rules sometimes cancel common sense, especially when so little common sense is used to write them.

[you should definitely hook up with the Cantor on that one and sketch out The Lactivist's Talmud. -ed.]

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