Breastfeeding or Nursing?

Almost two years ago, Josh and I went out for our first date after becoming parents. It was a beautiful spring evening, and we left the baby with her grandparents while we ate at a cozy neighborhood restaurant in Southwest Minneapolis. I enjoyed a delicious glass of red wine as we waited for our food, but when our server came around to refill our glasses, I declined. “No, thanks,” I said, putting a hand over my glass. “I don’t want anymore. Well, that’s not exactly true. I do want some more, but I’m breastfeeding.”

As soon as the young man left our table, Josh looked a little embarrassed.

“Honey, I’m pretty sure that the politically correct term is ‘nursing,’” he said under his breath. “If you say ‘breastfeeding’ to a man, he’s just going to be thinking about breasts.”

I had to laugh. I had never thought about how I referred to the act of feeding my baby. “Nursing” and “breastfeeding” seemed interchangeable to me, but Josh’s comment certainly got me thinking.

It’s no surprise that men have breasts on the brain at times, but I had always assumed that in the context of breastfeeding, most people—men and women—tend to desexualize them. But based on recent news stories about women being asked not to breastfeed in public spaces, it’s pretty clear that many people see even a peek of breast as indecency. S-E-X.

At this point in my pregnancy, I’m getting ready to bust out my nursing bras and my trusty pump. I am comfortable nursing just about anywhere, but I always cover up with what I call my “nursing tent.” Still, I am not put off by anyone who chooses to breastfeed more liberally in public. Nor am I inclined to tip toe around the topic when talking about it.

Still, I wonder if there’s something to what Josh said.


I Want to Know

Do you prefer the term “breastfeeding” or “nursing?”

What’s your take on breastfeeding in public?

What do guys really think about breastfeeding?