This week we were discussing Breastfeeding Tents that are starting to be used at a number of baby fairs and events. Neither of us particularly like them. Shannon wrote this post and summed it up nicely for my Banned From Baby Showers readers. Enjoy.
I don't like Breastfeeding Tents. I kinda think they suck, actually.
Before you get riled, give me 4 minutes and then you can decide if it's worth the time to insist I be excommunicated from the crunchy mom club (I homebirth, ingest placenta and nursed until 3 -- my stripes are legit).
1) They are bad for breastfeeding moms. They imply you should nurse your baby in them. In fact, I have been approached at an event while nursing and told there was a breastfeeding tent. I was sitting within eyesight of it. I didn't need to be told. I have no desire to interrupt my conversation or relocate it somewhere I don't want to be. Even if I see it as optional, the person who told me about the tent did not. She thought I needed to be in the tent.
This makes the tent more offensive, in my opinion, than the controversial Hooter Hider, or nursing cover. At least with a nursing cover, I have to pack it in my bag and make the choice to put it on my body. A Breastfeeding Tent is kinda like having a stack of Hooter Hiders in the corner for "those" breastfeeders. And empowering someone to walk up and hand me one.
2) They are offensive to moms who bottle-feed. Do those moms not also deserve a special place to put their feet up and rest on a soft rocker while their baby eats? Or should they just sit in the sun and suffer? While I'm all about breastfeeding, I have no idea why the bottle feeding mom next to me made that choice, or if it was made for her. She isn't a second-class mommy, she doesn't love her baby less and she shouldn't be excluded from the Tent of Happiness and Joy. Oh wait, it's called a Breastfeeding Tent. Bet she feels really great about going in there and mixing up a bottle. And if she fought really hard for a breastfeeding relationship and lost, she's gonna feel even better about herself after hanging out outside of the tent.
3) There is an easier way to still give moms a quiet place to nurse without alienating everyone. Just don't call it a darn breastfeeding tent. Call it a Baby Pit Stop, call it a Mommy Oasis, call it whatever you want -- just find a name that says it's a spot to feed and care for babies without shaming (by insinuating some moms should hide or others just plain aren't welcome there). I totally get that babies are distracted at some ages and mommies need to sit and look at what they are doing while nursing their baby. Some bottle-feeding babies are also distracted and need a quiet spot. If you are a super shy mom who is just getting started breastfeeding and REALLY needs the privacy you won't be comfortable in a small nylon tent where anyone could wander in anyway.
I'm not saying to banish the tent, just change the marketing a little. Go on, someone in your organization can come up with a catchy name.
P.S. One more thing - breastfeeding moms are not the only ones who need information on breastfeeding. The masses should be exposed to the breastfeeding propaganda. Otherwise you are just preaching to the choir. Sequestering the breastfeeding information within a tent only for certain people implies that breastfeeding is for an exclusive group.
It's not. Breastfeeding is something every mom should feel is accessible and attainable, and the marketing of those promoting it should reflect that.