The Inconsiderate Breastfeeding Woman

I’m writing this as a quick post in a local coffee shop because I’ve always wanted to get involved in one of those “breastfeeding in public” blogging debates, but I never felt qualified. I’m not a woman, and I rarely encounter women who I don’t know breastfeeding. But RIGHT NOW, at this very instance, as I type these words, there is a woman breastfeeding her baby in the coffee shop, no more than two feet from me. I am facing her. If I peer over the top of the laptop, this mother and child are right there… in my face. The mother is using some sort of paisley shawl covering her breast-feeding baby, but I think I got a teeny-tiny glimpse of something — not sure if it is her full breast or a white coffee mug.

Now, the question remains — as a full-blooded man — how am I dealing with this situation? Can I concentrate on my work? Am I distracted by this PDOBF (public display of breastfeeding)?

If I can be honest, I am finding this experience extremely unsettling, and I cannot look away. The problem is less the baby or the breast, but the bagel and cream cheese sitting on the woman’s table. Feeding the baby seems to require both of her hands — one to hold the baby and the other the shawl. Because breast-feeding is a two-hand operation, she is unable to eat her own bagel! So her bagel sits on a white plate, on the table, just waiting.

I stare at that bagel and cream cheese. I ogle it. Will she ever get a chance to eat it? She’s been feeding her baby for ten minutes already. How much does this baby need? The bagel is an “everything” bagel – the last one left at the front counter. I probably could swipe that bagel and run, and she would be unable to stop me, seeing that she is stuck with a baby at her breast. And hopefully, she would have postpartum depression, so she would be too depressed to chase me down the block.

This is all very uncomfortable. Please, women. If you ARE going to breastfeed in public, do not order your bagels with cream cheese until you’re FINISHED feeding your baby. I understand you have “rights” to do what you want, but when I think about those two round, juicy mounds of goodness, I can’t control myself. I want them in my mouth NOW! I’m sorry to sound crude, but bagels with cream cheese are meant to be eaten and enjoyed, not displayed for everyone to see, tempting the weak. Be considerate!

Now I’m stuck having to order a plain bagel.

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675 Responses to The Inconsiderate Breastfeeding Woman

  1. Keelie says:

    I don’t care who looks at me when I breastfeed. If you want a sneaky peak at my milk bar – go for it. It’s not like you can see much with a baby covering most of my boob anyway.

    It’s more about people saying ‘I don’t want to see that in public’, to which I would say ‘well, don’t look then’.

  2. Tracy says:

    I think I love you. Like one of the other women who commented said, if I hadn’t eaten when my son was eating I would have never eaten. He was constantly breastfeeding so I ate when I was hungry. I did not cover up though.

  3. Jenessa says:

    Control yourself man.. bagels come a dime a dozen. That bagel is rightfully bought & paid for by her. She can do with it what she wants. When she wants. You should have things in your own world to be enthralled in as opposed to this woman’s hungry baby & her lonely bagel. There are bigger problems in this world to be concerned with.. Breastfeeding in Public is not even a problem. There are 5yr old kids out here that live off happy meals and coke everyday of their life. I really wish people were more supportive of parents that want to raise their kids on healthy foods & natural momma milk. I, personally, want to make an intelligent & healthy man out of my boy.. & it started with my boob in his mouth.
    And any man that can’t control himself from being distracted by perverse thoughts of a baby being nurtured by breastmilk needs to get a grip. Rapists & Child Molesters are also people that say their thoughts couldn’t be controlled. Get a fucking grip or get the fuck out of the coffee shop.

    • Tami says:

      Seriously Janessa, do you not get the irony and sarcasm in this blog? Its FUNNY!! And he’s not dissing any mum for BFing in public or anywhere. Perhaps you should get a grip, or maybe more importantly, a sense of humour!!

      • Samantha says:

        I agree Tami. This is a great post. It made me chuckle (:

        • Moira says:

          I also agree, and start with “wow”

          How did you miss the completely hilarious intent behind this post? The author did not comment once about not having the right to breastfeed, he completely bypassed it and showed how ridiculous it is to be outraged by women breastfeeding … by pointing out that he didn’t even notice the baby or the breast, but was hungering after her bagel! And, in jest!

          I laughed out loud at what I thought was going to be yet another ranting post about women daring to breastfeed in public, then realised it was taking the p*** out of those who DO post that sort of stuff! Perhaps you’re having a bad day, and missed this but it was funny to the rest of us

          • Charlotte says:

            Wow, holy cow that was funny. You go Coffee Shop Guy. : ) Cheers.

            • Glenni says:

              I literally laughed out loud at this! I LOVE it!
              Way to go, Citizen of the Month! You have done an amazing job of showing just how normal breastfeeding in public should be.

              Sorry you got stuck with a plain bagel ;-)

  4. Naomi says:

    Just curious. Was this at Peet’s on Westwood? You look awfully familiar, and I always get an Everything Bagel.

  5. Kellie says:

    LOVED this entry! As a retired breastfeeding counselor (I wound up with too many young kids to have the time; I’m still into the whole cause), I appreciate this lighthearted, honest male opinion :)

    The negative responses trouble me. You came across as totally supportive of breastfeeding. You only coveted that bagel. Just know that the mom who was breastfeeding her baby probably REALLY wanted it as well. After 3 kids, I have learned to either balance my plate on the baby’s head or to (gasp!!!) feed myself first, before the cream cheese and bagel got cold!

    On a side note, coffee houses really need to stock more “everything bagels.” Could be a conspiracy…

  6. Rat-Face says:

    You know what? I appreciate the hell out of this. And I’m kind of sorry that there are idiots out there that have chosen to take this far too seriously and “defend the cause” when you have not done anything.

    Also– she’s just inexperienced. Rest assured that once one becomes more practiced, a woman learns to feed herself as she feeds her baby, as long as it can be done one-handed. Not much longer will you have to suffer the discomfort of wondering how long a bagel will have to go uneaten.

  7. luvmysailor says:

    You know what pisses me off is the people who go to a coffee shop with there laptops and sit there for hours eating and drinking coffee. I have gone to a shop once where there was a guy there forever on his laptop just sitting there while there were people who could not seat and eat cause he was at a table for 4 rather than a table for 2.

  8. Cathy says:

    As a nursin mum, I promise not to bother with the cover so that I can eat my bagel. It’s the least I can do to say thank you for a wonderfully funny article!

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  10. smitha says:

    next time am nursing in public… i will make sure to keep an eye on my food!! great post!

  11. Newmom says:

    Would it have been easier on you if she didn’t have the shawl covering her baby’s head? She then would have a hand free to eat that bagle. — Or would it have been better for you to have a shawl over your head while you drank your coffee? After all, if that baby must eat while covered, maybe all of us should eat while covered – cover those offending lips, lips which are used for kissing, which often leads up to exposing boobs . . . .
    Good post – I agree – we ALL should be able to eat in public

  12. Jessie says:

    HAHA this is great!!! As a nursing mom I can so appreciate this! Poor babies shouldn’t have to eat under the covers…Mine never did! I used to ask people if they were taught any manners b/c it’s rude to watch other ppl eating(when they were staring at my nursing son!) Usually got them to mind there own business…or I got some cool story about that person’s BF experience!!!

  13. Ado says:

    While I get and appreciate the honest description of a male watching a BF’ing mom, I can’t help but be somewhat irked by the fact that it’s this type of man in a peep-show response – however unintentional it may seem – that drove me indoors when I was breast-feeding my child on the East Coast. I was fine w. my first in California – no bother at all – but then we moved to the EC with my 2nd and on two occasions, as soon as I started to nurse my newborn (and I was uber-uber discreet, I had a blanket that would fit 12 draped over me) a waiter came over to me and gave me a speech about how “the management thanks me in advance for my discretion” – this happened twice! In two different places! And both waiters were really, really nervous and uncomfortable – kind of like you were in that cafe (and I bet the mom you were peeping at/avoiding eye contact with spotted you the minute she sat down with her baby…) – and their reaction made me nervous, and so uncomfortable I went underground with my nursing. And how sad is that. Why can’t all men in America just desexify the boob as it relates to nourishment for Pete’s Sake? And why are they all so afraid of nursing mothers, and of their own mixed reactions to them? I applaud your honesty – I really do – it takes real guts to write that – but I wish you and all those other people out there could just be more blase and neutral about the whole nursing boob thing. (-: Thanks for the post. Sorry for blathering on….

    • Jodie says:

      Peep show response? didn’t realise ogling a bagel was actually a peep show

      Learn something new every day

    • Neil says:

      No need to applaud my honesty, Ado. I didn’t have a clue that I would get this type of reaction to this post. I thought I was being funny. I appreciate you for expressing your opinion. I agree with your basic premise — that breast-feeding should be desexualized. However, I’m not sure I agree with your frequent use of the extremely negative term “peeping” and you throwing this issue on the shoulders of men alone. Our culture does sexualize breasts, and we too often use sex in America for consumerism. That is our society.

      But men and women both live in this society. Men don’t live in a vacuum. So, now that we are working on this issue together, what exactly can we do to desexify the boob during breast-feeding? It is not going to be an easy task to wean men off their breast obsession in general because our society pushes it. Victoria’s Secret. The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. Hooters. Men can try harder to be respectful of women’s right to breast-feed in public, but women like yourself can go a long way in helping men understand the difference between the breast as sexual object and the breast as nourishment for the baby.

      Don’t just blame men. If you are a mother of a son, it is up to you to raise him to be more open-minded and blase about the female breast. That should be our experiment. In 25 years, will your son be yawning and reading his Kindle as a woman breastfeeds at the next table, or will he be “peeping” at her like most men of 2011?

      So to answer “Why can’t all men in America just desexify the boob as it relates to nourishment for Pete’s Sake?” Because we didn’t learn to do it. Not even from our mothers.

      • Deborah says:

        Well who’d-a-thunk-it…. Here we are, over six months later, and this blog is still going strong! I am writing to say just two things. First: Ado — you COMPLETELY (and unfortunately) miss the point here. Neil was NOT ogling (sp?) the breast; he was ogling the bagel and cream cheese! He writes, and I quote: “If you ARE going to breastfeed in public, do not order your bagels with cream cheese until you’re FINISHED feeding your baby. I understand you have ‘rights’ to do what you want, but when I think about those two round, juicy mounds of goodness, I can’t control myself. I want them in my mouth NOW! I’m sorry to sound crude, but bagels with cream cheese are meant to be eaten and enjoyed, not displayed for everyone to see, tempting the weak. Be considerate!” It’s those two halves of a bagel piled high with mounds of cream cheese that Neil covets. Didn’t you get that? Rather than berate him, you should thank him. He, even if unwittingly, initiated a dialogue about breast feeding that hopefully has served to educate those breast feeding phobes out there. And maybe, just maybe, as a secondary result, he has helped to make the lives of future breast feeding moms (and their little ones) easier. Second: Neil — KUDOS TO YOU for initiating this amazing dialogue with such “taste.” (Bad pun, I know, but I just couldn’t help myself!)

        • J-Bone says:

          Deborah: I completely agree and had to comment on this.

          Some people miss the point when it comes to sarcasm and humour. It’s quite frustrating.

          Neil: great article.

          On an unrelated note, I somehow stumbled across this article while searching google images for A-OK. How weird is that?

          • BrittanyG says:

            This article made me chuckle. As a breastfeeding mom, I have no problem eating while my son does. I apologize for all moms who tease you with their full plates. But I had to reply here because I stumbled upon this article while “google”ing metal free watches. Weird.
            Hilarious post. I have to say I love you for it, Neil.

  14. Sarah says:

    I just have to say what a fantastic article. I loved the humor and honest opinions. I also agreed with your response to Ado. I honestly couldn’t stop reading! I have breastfed three babies and have a fourth on the way now and honestly have worried a bit about men’s possible peeping, but I feel confident now that they will just be ogling my bagel! :) Love this article and agree with Neil’s comments about men desexifying the female breast. Anyone with sons sees that that fascinations starts from birth! It is our jobs as parents to give our sons true education and not knock them for what is not only taught them by the media but also comes as a natural inclination. What can I say, Men are from Mars. LOL.

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  16. Sheridan says:

    I actually never use a shawl at all, which easily would allow me to nurse and eat at the same time! :)

  17. Elisa says:

    I am going to ruin the awesomely devilish (perhaps symbolic?) number of comments (666) to say that this post is awesome and I, too, if faced between lusting after breasts or baked goods would definitely pick the second.

  18. Johnna says:

    I love this post! I love that you didn’t mind that she was breastfeeding in public, but rather were concerned she wasn’t able to get to her bagel – well, at least that’s my take on it! I’m with some other people, as a former breastfeeding mother, she’ll learn to eat and feed at the same time. Now I want an everything bagel with veggie cream cheese!

  19. LOVE this post! Sad that others misunderstood your sarcasm.. that is what makes me leery to write sarcastically… I’m a super sarcastic person, but sometimes it doesn’t come out correctly when written. I think this post was perfectly written! Seriously… love it.

    Did I mention I loved it?
    Nicole @ Some Call It Natural posted Best Purchase Ever -{ WW }

  20. Karen says:

    I love it! Snarky and all. I find myself lusting after people’s baked goods too!

  21. Pingback: The Boob Juice Debate | The Frazzled Life

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