DEAR ABBY: I was frustrated by the lack of empathy that "Rachel in Philadelphia" (May 23) seemed to have for nursing mothers. She's the writer who asked if a nursing mother was "right or wrong" to expose her breasts to visitors in her home.
As a new mom myself, I say the guests should have been more sensitive. Women who cover themselves with a blanket while nursing in public are practiced and experienced. If you've never nursed, you have no idea how hard it is to get your shirt and bra out of the way, get your baby positioned and latched on properly, all while your hungry baby is squirming and fussing.
When it became apparent to Rachel that the infant was hungry, she could have offered to leave the room temporarily or held a blanket in front of the mother until the baby was positioned and latched on.
Learning to nurse takes patience and persistence. New moms are tired, frazzled, and in physical discomfort from recently giving birth. We need support, not judgment, from friends and family. -- ANOTHER NEW MOM
DEAR NEW MOM: Many readers felt as you do, and many moms wrote to offer helpful suggestions for the nursing mother, while reminding visitors to be more supportive. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: When I first breast-fed my son, I discovered that the process is not easy. And I, too, sometimes "flashed" visitors in my first attempts to get the hang of it. It's hard to be discreet during the first week or so. Afterward, however, I became proficient, and my husband was wonderful at providing a burp cloth or another item to help shield me when we were out in public.
Please tell Rachel to rest assured. In time, most nursing moms become so adept at the process that most people don't even realize they're breast-feeding. -- PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
DEAR ABBY: It never fails to amaze me how a society that participates in the viewing of violence, sex, mean-spiritedness and idle gossip as entertainment can become "outraged" seeing the act of breast-feeding an infant. It's time we got our priorities straight! -- T.P., MANISTEE, MICH.
DEAR ABBY: Having a new baby can be a stressful experience. It is unfair to expect that mom to feel she must hide away in her own home for a half-hour or so while feeding her baby in the most natural and healthy way possible. If Rachel was that uncomfortable seeing a nursing baby, she should have offered to do a chore in another room, such as wash some dishes to help relieve the new mother. -- SANTA CLARA MOMMY
DEAR ABBY: While you are correct that nursing can be done discreetly, it is troubling that our society views breasts as purely sexual objects that should be concealed, instead of as the source of the best nutrition available to one's precious child.
In addition, infants who are breast-fed get sick less, so they don't have to go to the doctor as often as those who are not. Moms who nurse have less breast and ovarian cancer, and quicker weight loss after they give birth. The La Leche League Web site, � HYPERLINK "http://www.lalecheleague.org" ��www.lalecheleague.org�, can provide information and support. -- C. PAYNE, M.D. IN GAINESVILLE
DEAR ABBY: After I had my baby, my doctor came into my hospital room and asked if I was planning on nursing my baby. I said I was. He could see my roommate was listening to our conversation, so he asked her if she, too, was planning on nursing. She said no! My doctor, who was known for his frankness, said: "What do you think those breasts are for, sweaters? Nursing is the best way to go! The milk is always warm, and it comes in cute containers!" Needless to say, my roommate was speechless. -- NORMA IN HURRICANE, UTAH