Welcome to the July 2010 Carnival of Nursing in Public
This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Nursing in Public hosted by Dionna and Paige at NursingFreedom.org. All week, July 5-9, we will be featuring articles and posts about nursing in public (“NIP”). See the bottom of this post for more information.
I’ve really had good experiences nursing in public with my two children. I started nursing in 9/2006 when my daughter was born, nursed through my entire second pregnancy, and am still nursing my son at 19 months. I wanted to share my experiences as part of the Carnival of Nursing in Public to encourage you to do whatever you feel comfortable with. I’m in Montana, where we don’t have a huge ‘crunchy’ population, but I have never been asked to cover up or leave. People have been respectful, or actually excited to see a baby feeding the way he was designed.
When my first baby was born, it took me a while to get the hang of breastfeeding. I didn’t breastfeed her in public until she was a few weeks old; before then I’d take my floppy newborn to the truck or a bedroom to get her latched and nurse in peace. It was all so new to me that I didn’t want to try and figure it out with an audience. Soon baby and I were working together well, and I had the confidence and coordination to turn to latch her on without feeling self conscious. I did end up covering while nursing for the first few months until we had a really efficient system set up that didn’t unexpectedly leave me exposed. I’ll write more on breastfeeding modestly down below.
I started nursing my second baby in public right away. He latched easily from birth, was 11 lbs and not nearly as floppy as his sister had been as a newborn, and I had a better idea of what I was doing since I already had two years’ experience breastfeeding. I don’t think I’ve ever covered him while nursing unless I was trying to get him to go to sleep.
As a new mother, your main goal is to start a good breastfeeding relationship with your child, to provide them with the nutrition and bonding that they need. If this works best for you to nurse right where you are, that’s wonderful. If you feel more comfortable breastfeeding in a different room, that is just fine too. It is A-okay to be fully supportive of breastfeeding in public, yet you yourself feel more comfortable not nursing in public.
How Others React
As I stated before, I really have had good experiences breastfeeding in front of the vast majority of people. With my first, when I was more unsure of myself I got a few looks and comments that weren’t ideal, but they weren’t bad and nobody ever asked me to cover up or leave where I was at. As time progressed and I would confidently latch baby on wherever I happened to be, I was surprised to see that most people who saw me with a nursing babe (or even toddler) assumed I was holding them with their face towards me so they could sleep. Usually the only people who knew I was breastfeeding were mothers or fathers whose children were breastfed. There have been a couple times when I’ve had to interrupt someone who wanted to see my child’s face by telling them with a smile, ‘oh, she’s eating right now, but she’ll be done in a minute’.
What has Worked for Me
I do prefer to breastfeed showing the least amount of skin possible. I’m naturally a quiet person, and I don’t like to draw attention to myself. Thus, breastfeeding in public- because a crying baby sure does draw attention! To breastfeed I wear nursing tanks that I get from Target. I’m small up top, so that’s all I need for support. I think some women also wear nursing bras underneath them. That covers my belly, I quickly unhook the flap, and nestle baby in, pulling the shirt I’m wearing on top up (you can see in the picture) around his nose. I cover my nipple with my hand as I bring baby in to latch, and if I’m in a room with people I don’t know very well I’ll usually turn away briefly to latch, and then turn back around. As I feel baby start to let go, I’ll cover again with my hand, flip up the tank flap again, and pull my shirt down. It’s amazingly fast and easy once I got the hang of it!
I find my attitude plays a big role in how people treat me. If I’m unsure of myself, feel ‘guilty’ for nursing my baby as God intended, or am apologetic, naysayers seem to feed on that and tsk tsk me. After I learned to be confident and friendly I haven’t had any issues at all. I have also acquired the mama bear ‘don’t mess with me’ attitude as well, but only if someone is looking for something to criticize. (For more information on using a mama bear instinct, I recommend the book Protecting The Gift- not about breastfeeding, but it’s a good read for all mothers, or anyone really).
Lastly, nursing in public works really well for me. It helps my babies fall asleep when they’re tired, while we’re visiting friends or at the park. It allows me to use otherwise wasted time; I used to nurse my daughter (a frequent eater) in lines at the grocery store so she’d be ready to go for the next errand. No more sitting in the parking lot to feed the baby! I also think it’s important for young girls to see that there are women everywhere who breastfeed. I know seeing mothers breastfeed as I was growing up made an impact on how comfortable I was with nursing my own children.
Welcome to the Carnival of Nursing in Public
Please join us all week, July 5-9, as we celebrate and support breastfeeding mothers. And visit NursingFreedom.org any time to connect with other breastfeeding supporters, learn more about your legal right to nurse in public, and read (and contribute!) articles about breastfeeding and N.I.P.
Do you support breastfeeding in public? Grab this badge for your blog or website to show your support and encourage others to educate themselves about the benefits of breastfeeding and the rights of breastfeeding mothers and children.
This post is just one of many being featured as part of the Carnival of Nursing in Public. Please visit our other writers each day of the Carnival. Click on the links below to see each day’s posts – new articles will be posted on the following days:
July 5 – Making Breastfeeding the Norm: Creating a Culture of Breastfeeding in a Hyper-Sexualized World
July 6 – Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers: the New, the Experienced, and the Mothers of More Than One Nursing Child
July 7 – Creating a Supportive Network: Your Stories and Celebrations of N.I.P.
July 8 – Breastfeeding: International and Religious Perspectives
July 9 – Your Legal Right to Nurse in Public, and How to Respond to Anyone Who Questions It