I Remember the first time I went out shopping with my new little baby and nursed in public. Xavier was about 2 weeks old and we had headed to the mall and to Toys R Us for something or other. As we shopped, Xavier grew hungry, started fussing, and then went into a full blown cry. I thought everyone was looking at us and I knew that I had to nurse him but I was so nervous.
I had nursed in front of friends and family but this was different. We headed to the exit promptly and as Simon waited in line to pay, I sat down on a bench, unbuttoned the bottom part of my blouse and with a blanket drawn over my shoulder I tried to latch my tiny son who was wailing because he was hungry and hot and had a mom that was not responding to his needs fast enough.
I finally got him latched, but he was still fussing as he was fighting the blanket that was draped over us both. Just then a woman sat down next to me. I don’t remember what she looked like, how old she was, or any small detail about her, but I do remember what she said.
She praised me for nursing, she told me that normal T-shirts were easiest for nursing since there were no buttons to fidget with and that I didn’t need the blanket because the baby hid enough…and then she left.
The conversation most likely didn’t last more than a minute or two but what she said changed my view of nursing in public from there on in…
I took the blanket off my shoulder and freed my sweaty and hot newborn baby and never looked back. I would ever nurse under cover again.
(Xavier at about 2 weeks old)
Over the years there have been so many times that nursing in public has been in the news and the same themes came back every time.
There are those that say go ahead and do it but be “discreet”, use a blanket, go to your car, plan outings around the baby’s usual times to eat. That nursing is a private act between mother and child
I hate that word… Discreet….what is discreet anyway? To whom do we owe the honor of choosing what discreet is? There are so many levels of what amount of skin is allowed to be seen and there is such a double standard between being sexy and being nurturing. Go to the car? What about when it is hot outside? or cold? what if you don’t have a car? Only go out around baby’s schedule? Hunger does not have a schedule.
And yes, nursing can be a special moment between mom and baby, you can gaze into each others eyes and cuddle, but breastfeeding is not only about that… most of the time, breastfeeding is just about getting needs met.
There are those that use the “fear card” and turn the tables and try to sound “concerned” by saying that there are perverts out there that are just waiting to watch women that breastfeed…
So what? I shouldn’t wear sandals because someone might have a foot fetish? I shouldn’t eat a banana because somebody might have a perverse thought? Come on! We are not responsible for the way other people may think.
There are those that say that women that breastfeed are just “whipping out their breasts” and enjoy exposing themselves and that nursing in public is not about feeding a baby it is about just making a point.
Yeah, so the fussy, hungry baby that is attached to my breast has nothing to do with it.. and you ever tried to nurse a baby that didn’t want to nurse? Not happening! Maybe all those moms out there are all pinching their kids just to make them cry so that they will nurse… (enter eye roll here)
There are those that say that it shouldn’t be done in front of kids…
ummm… I want my kids to see how normal nursing is…
tandem nursing Colin and Khéna
There are those that say that breastfeeding is equated to sexual acts in public or peeing in public and “EWWWW” I don’t want to see your tits while I am eating!”
So if breastfeeding is sexual, then isn’t bottle feeding equal to using a dildo in public?
And then of course there is always that one person that comes in saying that they once saw a woman taking of her whole shirt and bra to breastfeed…. because you must have shock value!
Really? I mean Really? Come on!!
(click to see this larger and scroll over the different parts to get translation)
Last week, after reading yet another article with the same comments, I realized that I have come so far away from that new mom struggling with buttons and a blanket and wondering what others were thinking as I was trying to meet my child’s most basic need.
As I read the same comments that have been making me angry for years, I looked down at my fourth child nursing on my lap and realized that she had unlatched and there I was with one of my breasts was fully exposed. Of course I was at home in my living room, but I hadn’t even noticed… nursing is now so much just part of my daily life that I am now one of “those” moms that you may catch a glimpse of when I am about to nurse my child. I am that mom that “whips it out” and am proud of it.
It is not because I am trying to expose my self, It is not because I am trying to make a point it is just because it is such a part of my daily routine that I am really not even conscious of it while I am doing it.
After nearly nine years of nonstop breastfeeding, nursing has become as natural and as second nature as breathing to me. I have went from being nervous and wondering if people were watching and wearing uncomfortable and ugly nursing tops (you know, the ones that have a piece of cloth overhanging that if you are a bit more endowed in the boob area they would play peek-a-boo when you lift your arms up) to nursing wherever and whenever, without second thought and just wearing tops that have a bit of stretch in the neck area so that I can nurse quickly an easily over my shirt while wearing my baby and not skip a beat.
Seriously, if you know me you would know that I am actually quite a prude when it comes to exposing parts of my body, yet breastfeeding has made its own niche in my brain. It is not sexual, it is not private, it is not about making a point, it is about nurturing, comforting and feeding my child.
Besides for nourishment and comfort, there is nothing premeditative in feeding and nurturing my child…
I just do it…
baaa hahahaha! A dildo! That is the BEST one EVER. I love your perspective on this subject and I love the snark and humor you provide to the ridiculous views of breast feeding.
Once, in a mall, I was nursing my oldest girl, she was about 4 months old and I had practiced in front a of a mirror, endlessly so that I could nurse in public without being noticed.
It didn’t matter. A fella saw me nursing, stopped in front of me and mooned me. Said that if I was showing off my body parts, he would too.
I told him he was only showing off his personality, ass hole.
I had a nurser who was also a snoop. The slightest sound, or motion would have her craning her neck to see what was going on, nipple still clenched in her lips! FUNNY! Until she let go during a let down…FUNNY and wet.
The nursing relationship is so much fun and so precious and to have people poop on it with their stupid, uptight, holier-more modest-than thou, attitudes, makes me sad and mad.
The key to change….exactly what you’re doing, making it a non issue in your life, family and home. Your babies see it as completely natural, normal, nonchalant and they carry that attitude into their adulthood.
Kids pass attitudes around really quickly *especially in the public schools*, the more kids who know it is the ideal way to feed a baby, the more potential adults will have proper attitudes about it!
I will never look at bottle feeding the same way again – LOL!
I’m also not one to expose my body, but when it comes to breastfeeding, I’ve nearly answered the door with my shirt still up because, like you, I’ve been breastfeeding for nine years and it’s become the most normal thing.
“It is not sexual, it is not private, it is not about making a point, it is about nurturing, comforting and feeding my child.” Aaaahhhh … yes. Thank you for that! I’m a prude about a lot of things – I could never wear a bikini in public! But nursing in public is just not the same. My nursing days are behind me but since there were 12 of them, nonstop, I can look back with nostalgia but without missing it a bit! 😉
I always felt a little worried going into public places with my twins because I never knew if they would both become hungry at the same time and then, well, you get the picture. Nursing twins was (is) a little more complicated. However, nursing ONE child at a time was such a treat for me, and was never an issue. I think breastfeeding in public is just one of those issues where the more it is seen, the more normalized it will become.
I feel the same about breastfeeding. I have never have had anyone say anything about my breastfeeding in public other than “do you still have milk?” because my daughter really believed in Extended Breastfeeding. When I see a woman looking uncomfortable while breastfeeding in the the Family Washroom at our mall I always smile and say good for you. You are doing a good thing. We all need to know sometimes that we are doing a good thing.
Thankfully there is no such term as “Nursing in Public” here in England. People talk about breastfeeding but public breastfeeding is not a term I have ever heard.
However, there seems to be a rash of baby covering hooter hider kind of things appearing over here and that makes me mad. I don’t want mamas to think that the only way they can feed their child when out and about is if they have a cover over both of them!
The very fact that we have had no such covers here before has meant that no-one has ever thought of chastising a breastfeeding mama with the words “Cover up!”
Society cannot accept breastfeeding as normal if it is continually hidden as if it is shameful and I think covering makes acceptance much harder.
Oh and the mis-spelling of discreet as discrete drives me nuts too:lol:
fantastic post! and I love the dildo comment!
Thanks for all of the comments everyone!
Greenteacher, I can definitely see how twins can be more daunting, especially when you are new to nursing…which is why t I each time I see someone doing it i think they are amazing!
Over my years as a breastfeeding mother (my oldest is 15), I’ve changed so much in my comfort with NIP. I’ve always supported NIP but my first time around, I wasn’t comfortable doing it. I’d stop whatever we were doing and find the nearest bathroom or car!! And then when my middle child was born many moons later, I was still not comfortable with NIP but not because of breastfeeding at all but because I was not comfortable with my body and didn’t want my squishy sides showing. Now here I am with my third baby and I’ll breastfeed her in public anywhere anytime with no worries at all. But I’m not comfortable nursing my 3 year old (even though I’m thrilled when I see moms of “older” children NIP)…. which I’m wondering what kind of signal I’m sending him by telling him “no, wait until we get home”. I’m basically telling him that it’s shameful. 🙁
i wanted to share this photo i took of two of my friends on friday : https://picasaweb.google.com/joanna.desseaux/Juin2011?authkey=Gv1sRgCKrwwpiH6feykQE#5619404087478741026 nursing todlers in the beaver lake parc.
I wrote a post about nursing in public too, here, http://matteovoyage.canalblog.com/archives/2011/01/23/20202483.html when there was the whole story about a mom asked to leave a kids clothe’s shop in montreal for nursing her baby.
Yes nursing in public is not a straightforward thing, the first times are the hardest. I remember the first time it happened to me, i was at the atwatermarket at the première moisson bakery/cafe. I asked the 2 men sitting next to me if it was ok for them if i nursed my 2 week old son. They said “madame, it would be criminal to say no to feeding your child”! i loved that!
then i went travelling in asia and nursed everywhere. Once the ice is broken and you have done it a few times, it is ok and i still nurse in public with my 2.5 yrs old sun! Last week i even nursed sitting right in the middle of place jacques cartier with all the tourist!
Images are hard to change in the public’s idea of what can and can’t be done. It’s by seeing more and more babies and toddlers nursed in public that this will become normal. Just as it has become normal to see boobs in adds and almost naked women in adds, no one sees them anymore!
i love when little children see me nurse, they litterely stare at me, some even want to touch or try! kids are so open minded, it’s beautifull to see!
thanks for this post and for taking away your blanket!
forgot: note to kim: i think it’s fine if you don’t feel confortable with nursing your 3yr old in public. You don’t teach him it’s shamefull. you can explain to him that most people are not used to seeing a toddler nursing because it has not been part of our culture for many years and therefore you prefer it to be private. culpability is not usefull, you do the best you can and you are doing a fantastic job! tell him what’s realy going on and he will understand. kids are so smart!
all the best!
Hi I have a request. I’m writing an e-book for my clients about the brain and I have a section where I talk about the importance of breast feeding and the gaze that connects the mother and child. I did an image search and your gaze picture in this blog is amazing. Would you mind if I used the picture to illustrate this section. I’m happy to send you a copy so you can see it context prrior to making it available and make a link to your blog – or not whatever you would prefer. Let me know if you feel comfortable with this if not that’s absolutely no problem.
Thanks for your time.
Thanks for the compliment… I love that picture also! I wouldn’t mind at all but yes, I would love to see it in advance to make sure and have a link to my blog.
You can e-mail me at melissa @ paxye.com (without the spaces of course)
“So if breastfeeding is sexual, then isn’t bottle feeding equal to using a dildo in public?”
Love it! Sounds like this puts the onus on the child. How dare they SUCKLE in public! Wait, that means pacifiers are also obscene, right? And what about thumb suckers?! Ew, those little sicko babies!
Scandalous isn’t it!! 😉
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