The Milk Truck: One Boob at a Time

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Have you seen this?  It’s called The Milk Truck (A Mobile Breastfeeding Unit) and is “part guerilla theatre, activism and a little slapstick humour”.  It was created in September 2011, but I only learned about it when it was scheduled fairly recently to make a stop at a maternity shop where I got fitted for a nursing bra (an aside:  knowing how your boobs are supposed to look in a nursing (or other?) bra and getting them to look that way is absolutely, positively, not common knowledge).

The Milk Truck’s raison d’etre is to provide a mobile breastfeeding unit for mothers to nurse their babies in places where they have been discouraged to breastfeed.  No doubt also to raise awareness and eyebrows.

I don’t think I’ve ever been made to feel uncomfortable breastfeeding in public, and I do it all the time.  But I suppose that just means I’ve been lucky or sheltered from breastfeeding bullies, who obviously exist.  Generally I like to be thoughtful of other people’s comfort, so if I’m in company that I think might feel a little self-conscious by an exposed breast, like maybe an older man, I might use a nursing cover or slip somewhere a little more private.

But that’s always been my own initiative; I think if someone were to come down on me for breastfeeding, I would be mighty provoked.  Maybe I’d strip to my undies and nurse lying on the floor while singing the anthem.  Or maybe I’d call The Milk Truck, and find myself in the following scenario:

A woman in a restaurant is nursing her baby at a dining table. Restaurant management ask her to stop creating a spectacle and use the bathroom for nursing, or leave the restaurant. The mother is in a dilemma –  she simply wants to feed her baby in the same space where she is eating her food. Who wants to eat lunch in a bathroom? Not her baby! And she shouldn’t have to. The woman tweets to The Milk Truck her location and situational information. The Milk Truck posts the information to Facebook, Twitter, and The Milk Truck’s website. The Milk Truck (and supporters) arrive to the restaurant location, park in front of the establishment, and set up the mobile breastfeeding unit. The woman feeds her baby in the comfort of the truck’s cozy chairs and shaded canopy, and the restaurant owner is left to ponder the sense of making a woman feel uncomfortable for doing something as simple as feeding her baby. Thought the nursing mother created a spectacle? Meet the Milk Truck!

As soon as I learned about The Milk Truck, I knew I had to tell you about it.  What do you think?  Do you love it, as I do (see the nipple/siren as its crowning glory!)?  Or do you find it all a little much?  In hopes of persuading you to love it, here’s The Milk Truck’s answer to concerns about offending people with that “obnoxious boob on the top of the truck”:

I’m concerned that we offend hungry babies every day by not letting them eat when they need to.

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18 thoughts on “The Milk Truck: One Boob at a Time

  1. I was asked, while living in France, why I was still nursing when my 2nd child was a mere four months old. Ironically, the questions was posed by my soon-to-be former pediatrician! He said, “Your husband must not like that very much.” I responded, “He’s not the one waking for the 3 AM feed!”
    Thanks for the giggle this morning. Desperately needed!

    • What an annoying exchange with the pediatrician! Apparently the Milk Truck and the awareness it’s raising is much needed. Glad we got you with a laugh this morning.

  2. I think that there’s a difficult line to be drawn here, to be honest. Not all of us like feeding our children in private, not all of us like the possibility to stare at nude boobies when they go out for dinner. One option would be to build a seperate nursery room, but that would be discrimination of the breastfeeding women I suppose.

    As much as I understand that breastfeeding women want to be treated the same way as any other woman, I have to admit that I will feel uncomfortable if I am confronted with it in public. I understand why -you- want to do that for -yourself- but why you have to impose on -me- and make -me- feel uncomfortable is beyond me.

    I suppose that in the end it boils down to personal morals. -I- would never want to impose on anyone, in whatever way possible. So I would find a secluded spot, knowing I could upset other people if I breastfeed in public. But what decide others do in this case is not up to me and as I care about “live and let live” far more then “don’t push your boobs in my sight by nursing a babe” I suppose that in the end; whatever makes you happy and floats your boat.

    And according to that “live and let live” code, I have to adjust.

    Which leaves me just one question: how is it that breastfeeding women seem to think it’s okay for them to -not- adjust to a society that might not appreciate what they do?

    I don’t mean to be hostile. I just want to express the other side of the story 🙂

    • Hi Intermittante,

      I think the point that breastfeeding advocates are making is breastfeeding is not an issue of personal morals, but a matter of meeting basic needs – of both the baby and the mother. No one objects when a baby gets a bottle, so the idea is to get beyond the breast and see breastfeeding at its essence, which is to feed a hungry baby with the best food possible. Breastfeeding is an expression of health and vitality, and should be encouraged, to the benefit of babies (and thus humanity, including you and me!) everywhere.

      I realize that some people may feel uncomfortable seeing an exposed breast (and I do think breastfeeding is an act of intimacy, although not the way that that’s usually understood), and so I do try to be discrete and considerate of others when appropriate. But although I am around nursing women all the time, I have to say that I’ve rarely seen a woman’s breast while she is breastfeeding – probably because I’m not looking. Perhaps if you see a nursing mom and feel awkward, you could give her the privacy you want her to have by averting your eyes? I don’t think breastfeeding women need appreciation so much as they do respect.

      Thank you for commenting here – I’m glad you felt you could do that and enjoyed thinking through what you wrote.

      Carol

      • Hi Carol,

        Thank you for your response; despite my previous answer to your post I do want to emphasize on the fact that I understand -why- women do it, -why- it’s good for a woman and for her baby and why woman would feel they need to do this.

        I don’t understand what’s wrong with preparing mothers’ milk in a bottle before you go out, so you don’t -have- to endure other people perhaps staring at you, being uncomfortable by you, being offended by you, and so forth. Wouldn’t that be just as healthy?

        Now if mum was out 8 hours of a day on the streets, I could understand the issue and lack of intimacy between mum and child. But really; if that’s not the case, then for that once or two times feeding, why not avoid the hassle and go the safe route?

        Yes, I do look away. I might feel uncomfortable, but I’m a modern European woman and I understand that women may want to do this. I don’t have issues with topless sunbathing either so why is this a genuine problem then? It isn’t. So I accept it.

        But thank heavens’ I’m not a strict catholic prude, or an Islamic man who might take religious offence.

        Do you see my point? Their opinion would be worth as much as the breastfeeding woman’s opinion. At least imho.

        Why provoke and force others to just accept something they can’t do anything about?

        In your opinion, would it be alright to ask a breastfeeding woman to stop doing it in public if someone would take offense, for whatever reason possible?

        Looking forward to your next answer,

        – Kim

      • P.S: I think that we might not see eye to eye on this one and before that becomes uncomfortable, I want you to know that I do respect your fight and opinion 🙂 I realize I might come across rude or disrespectful, so I apologize for this in advance. Such attitude is not everywhere appreciated, but trust me that I mean no harm.

  3. Love it! Wish I would have had one in my town when I was breastfeeding my twins. It was easy to be subtle with baby 1 and baby 2 but 3/4 being twins – it was a lot of exposure to breastfeed in public. I would try to do one at a time but occasionally both would want. I actually stayed home a lot durin gthis stage. Love this and will post it to my facebook as my momma freinds will love this!!

    • Nicole, that’s the rub, isn’t it? That women need to feel comfortable to nurse, exposure or no, and our society still doesn’t allow for it. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could help a nursing mom of twins (holding one baby while you get settled or whatever), and see her for the rock star that she is, instead of making her feel like she ought to “find a room”. Obviously the need for The Milk Truck is alive and well. So glad you liked this!

      • One of the first times I went out “for real” I had a tribe of woman encourage me that they would help. It was a trip to the Science Center and I was nervous for so many reasons including what if one of the four had to go to the bathroom. Ughh – double stroller and two sort of toddlers (3,5) gathered up for the “can”. They were so supportive and I do beleive it was the one and only time I was in public with two babes on boob. Lovely ladies were throwing nursing towels over my exposed parts. But indeed even with these very open and liberal mommas their was a sense that I needed covering up. Otherwise I was fortunate and can not think of a time that I got dirty looks BUT I know so many woman who’ve been out right challenged. AND I was sort of in a daze all those years – might not have noticed;). Do you think it is changing? It has too as we beome so much more aware of the benefits and more woman just do it! Certainly has had lots of public exposure over the recent years. REcently woman did a breast feeding sit in in front of – I think it was Wal Mart as a protest to an incident in the US. An aquiantance of mine was on our news as she spoke out against being asked to leave the pool where she was feeding her wee babe. It is intersting and indeed big applaud for the Milk Truck!!!

  4. None of my babies took a bottle willingly (ie. much fighting, spitting up, and angry refusal occurred when my husband made attempts to fill in, if I was away for a few hours and had expressed milk for him to use). Breast was the only option that worked for us. I fed four babies. And I had to do it in public sometimes. Sometimes it worked to use the sling to give us some privacy, but that wasn’t always an option. Babies aren’t great with blankets over their heads either, I found–it would become a plaything rather than a visual obstacle. I tried to be discreet on occasions when I recognized that others were uncomfortable, but breastfeeding can be messy and imperfect. I also tried not to let others’ discomfort stop me from meeting the needs of my babies. I love this idea. Mobile breastfeeding comfort!

  5. What? This is crazy? Aren’t we legally allowed to feed our children in public in Toronto now? I don’t understand how this service can even exist! It is quite funny though and I love your comment about stripping to your undies and lying on the floor singing the anthem. LOL!! I would love to know what other women and men for the that matter think about breast feeding this whole “milk truck” service! There is a new website where you can post a free opinion poll on any topic you wish – but this would be a REALLY good one! See http://www.tellwut.com to run your own free surveys and opinion polls.

    • Personally I think it is crazy! Thanks for telling us about your site – I hadn’t heard of it before and it sounds like a great idea.

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