The debate over nursing recently reached a new high (or low—depending on your opinion), when a photo of two military mothers nursing while in uniform hit the web this week.
Air Force Sgt. Terran Echegoyen McCabe and Staff Sgt. Christina Luna, both in active service, were photographed in uniform to support Breastfeeding Awareness Month for the Mom2Mom Breastfeeding Support Group, a group that promotes, educates and creates awareness for breastfeeding.
Sgt. McCabe told the Today Show:
“I’m proud to be wearing a uniform while breastfeeding…I’m proud of the photo and I hope it encourages other women to know they can breastfeed whether they’re active duty, guard or civilian.”
Apparently, the two women violated a policy that forbids military members from using their uniform to promote a cause, product or imply an endorsement.
The U.S. Military wanted nothing to do with the photo. And a lot of people are saying that the photo is a disgrace to the uniform.
Crystal Scott, founder of Mom2Mom, said people have been “comparing it to urinating and defecating [while in uniform].”
Wow! That’s quite a comparison for two hard working moms who’ve amazingly and inspirationally managed to breastfeed while serving their country. And furthermore, since when is breastfeeding unbecoming and unpatriotic?
The criticism of the photo goes far beyond the usual nursing-in-public debate.
Breastfeeding in Combat Boots, a military mom blog, received a comment from a retired captain in the Marine Corps who said she is an advocate for breastfeeding moms in the military and that she nurses freely on base. However, she writes:
“I would never nurse in uniform. I took my child to the bathroom or a private office when her nanny brought her to me …. Not because I was ashamed of nursing, nor of being a mother. All the guys knew I pumped. The military is not a civilian job. We go to combat and we make life or death decisions, and not just for ourselves but for those we lead. The same reason I would never nurse in uniform is the same reason I do not chew gum, or walk and talk on my cell phone, or even run into the store in my utility uniform. … We are warfighting professionals. Women before us have worked too hard to earn and retain the respect of their male peers. I don’t want my Marines to look at me any other way than as a Marine. When I am asking them to fly into combat with me and do a dangerous mission, I do not want them to have the mental image of a babe at my breast. I want them to only see me as a Marine. Let’s be realistic folks. We give up many freedoms being in the military…Breastfeeding in front of my fellow Marines was one of them.”
What do you think?