Don't breastfeed in public! There's an app for that.

Pluck
Kim Schomburg

Moms in Chicago are furious after a local TV anchor compared breastfeeding in public to nose picking. Three FOX Chicago anchors discussed a viral video on Thursday’s morning show where a mom breastfeeding her 16 day-old baby is told to cover up for the sake of “decency” while she waited for her daughter to finish dance class at the local rec center. The mom told the rec center employee that according to Texas law, she was able to breastfeed anywhere she was legally allowed to be. 

FOX Chicago’s Susanne Negovan disagreed. She said the woman may have a right to breastfeed, but that doing so infringed on her own right not to see it. 

“I don’t want to see it,” said Susanne Negovan. “It’s not illegal to pick your nose in public, but I don’t want to see you do it.” 

A group of Chicago moms were thoroughly enraged by the anchor’s comments, and are planning a “nurse-in” on Sunday to protest.

“Breastfeeding is in no way comparable to picking your nose,” writes the group. “Breastfeeding children do not need to eat covered up or in bathrooms.”

One hilarious comment on the station’s facebook page suggested that babies and moms aren’t the ones who need to cover up – perhaps Negovan should just walk around with a blanket over her head. 

As a breastfeeding mom, I was offended. But what I found doubly offensive was the topic that the hosts were talking about just before they started shaming mothers who nurse in public: apps for babies.

The hosts seemed to criticize a move by the nonprofit Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, asking creators of digital apps aimed at babies and young toddlers to remove false claims that they have educational value. All three anchors talked about the value of digital apps for kids, including the two moms who say they use the apps with their children and say they’re educational. 

Are you kidding me here? We’re shaming moms who are nursing their children but applauding those who use their ipad to keep a kid quiet? Apps may be popular and even necessary for some families busy schedules, but there’s no evidence to support that they’re educational. We might feel like they’re teaching our kids colors or numbers, but the truth is, we’re just entertaining them. 

In fact, I was just talking to psychologist Kim John Payne, author of the book Simplicity Parenting, who called apps like these the “digital breast.” Payne says we’re pacifying our children with an electronic device. He says parents have the right to decide if this technology works for their family, but said he finds the trend disturbing. 

We don’t use apps in our house, but I respect that some parents choose to. But to laud the plug-in pacifier over the one nature intended? I think that’s ridiculous. 

Women of FOX Chicago, not all women can cover up while breastfeeding. First of all, covering up isn’t easy. All that extra material can be difficult to deal with when you’re dealing with a tiny, squirming human. Second, some babies just don’t like it. They’ll scream their heads off when a blanket is thrown over them. I should know – my son was one of them. 

In addition, would you ask a woman with cleavage to cover up? Would you say it disrupts your right not to see breasts? Do you shun beaches where women where anything other than t-shirts? Do you refuse to patronize companies that use breasts to sell products because you find it so distasteful? I didn’t think so. There are lots of things people would rather not look at. Maybe you find tongue rings a little gross. Maybe it weirds you out when a woman has so much plastic surgery that she looks disturbingly fake. Perhaps hair plugs give you the willies. Whatever it is, I doubt you’d tap some dude on the shoulder and ask him to put a hat on because he’s disrupting your right not to see fake hair. 

I find it incredibly frustrating that three women would sit there, criticizing one woman’s completely natural decision to feed her child in the way doctors and society are telling is absolutely best for the baby, and then criticize an organization trying to keep kids from using technology that’s been proven to have no educational value and is perhaps even harmful. 

Breastfeeding is hard enough without being shamed by fellow moms. Apparently, the actual breast upsets people, but the digital one suits them just fine.

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