There have been a few articles floating around about breastfeeding in public (like this one). A friend of mine recently told me she doesn’t feel comfortable nursing in public, and that she has gone to a bathroom to nurse before. This bothered me in a way that I can’t explain… Not that she nursed in a bathroom, but that she felt so uncomfortable about nursing in public that a public restroom seemed like a better option.
I’m glad to have had a great experience with breastfeeding in public so far. The first time I did it I was in Virginia Beach. Damian was about three weeks old and I was wearing him in my Ergo carrier. I just lifted up my shirt and let him nurse while watching Eva and taking pictures of my husband surfing. A man came up to me and was like, “Wow! I have to tell my wife about this. She’d love you. You’re like, super mom!” The next day at the beach without the carrier and I fed him again, without a cover. I didn’t own a cover at that point and didn’t have much of a choice. I never, ever thought I’d be that woman. I guess since we were at the beach, sitting in a chair under a tent I didn’t think it was a big deal. I felt completely comfortable.
But a few weeks later I found myself sightseeing in DC with the kids and family. I found a tree to sit under, wrapped a nursing cover around my shoulder, and began to nurse. Damian wanted nothing to do with it. I couldn’t blame him. It was 90+ degrees outside and he was probably wondering why I was putting a blanket over his head. So I said, “F*ck it,” and took the cover off. To my surprise, I felt completely comfortable with my decision again, even after getting one (just one) dirty look from a woman in her 30’s.
It’s not that I used to think that women should cover up while nursing in public- I just understood where people were coming from when they insisted it. But now?
I think it’s completely ridiculous.
And I think it’s really depressing that there are women out there afraid to nurse their baby in a public area even with a cover.
I’d like to convince them that they shouldn’t care what strangers think about it, even though I shouldn’t have to. When I lived in Tanzania, not only were women nursing in public (without a cover) all over the place, I frequently came across artwork celebrating it.
And I kind of think it’s up to us, breastfeeding mothers, to change people’s minds in the United States. If we don’t breastfeed in public, people will never see it, and they will go around the same mindset that breastfeeding in public is not the norm. That only crazy hippies do it, or something.
Even if you’re not a crazy hippy, even if you are a bit shy, or
whatever your reason, I encourage you (ask you even) to nurse in public
whenever you find yourself in that situation.
Don’t go to your car. Don’t go to the bathroom. Just nurse when your baby asks.
If not for you, then for womankind.
Or if you’re not breastfeeding, whether you ever have or not, encourage a woman you see doing so.
Even if it’s just a smile or thumbs up.