Yahoo's headline made me think this professor was using the classroom as political statement: "Feminist Anthropology Professor Blasted for Breastfeeding During Class," but nothing could be farther from the truth.
Professor Adrienne Pine had a dilemma on the first day of her Sex, Gender and Culture class at American University in Washington, D.C when her baby had a fever and couldn't go to daycare. She didn't want her students to miss the introductory class, so she brought along her child to it. Her child did fine for awhile, but when she got cranky, she breastfed for a few minutes until the baby fell asleep.
Professor Pine never meant to make a statement. She was just trying to teach her class. Unfortunately, some students went to the college's newspaper, where they were all too eager to make it a story. Despite Pine's attempts to explain the situation and show what a non-issue this was, it has turned into headline news.
Pine went as far as writing her own piece for CounterPunch to explain her story: Exposéing My Breasts on the Internet. The story does an excellent job of laying out the facts of what occurred and how Pine tried to make sure the non-incident didn't become one.
I agree whole-heartedly with Pine and have been faced with similar situations where I wondered what I would do if I had no babysitter available when I needed to teach a class. I even recall one day when I had a class, my babysitter was sick and I thought I would need to take baby with me to class.
Being an adjunct and not a full-time professor, I did not know what my school's policy even was on bringing a baby to class. I imagined I would let my baby play on the floor and carry him around if he got fussy. If he had needed to nurse? I thought of this in advance. I knew it would be a possibility. And as much as I am an in-public nurser wherever and whenever I need to, I admit I wasn't sure if I would nurse in front of my class.
For me, the problem would have been the situation of my students. They were first-year compositions students and as supportive and enthusiastic as they were toward me, I was not sure if I wanted to have to put them into a situation that might make them uncomfortable. But in the back of my mind, I knew if my baby got fussy and I knew nursing would have calmed him, I probably would have done it.
I was lucky enough that my husband was able to rearrange his schedule and stay with our baby while I taught my class.
What it comes down to is that if a mother is in a situation where she has no one to care for her baby and must take her child to work, and her job is of the type where she is in the public eye, what is she to do?
Must she choose one over the other? Must she just be a mother or just an employee? If the situation calls for it, sometimes a mother must do it all to have it all.
A breastfeeding baby hould not be any different than a baby bottle-feeding on public. And if that makes some people uncomfortable, then isn't that their issue and not the mother's?