I Support Breastfeeding in Public

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.
I’ve even seen thank you notes.

Don’t just ask for change. Be the change. 🙂

Comments

  1. I never even knew this was an issue until recently. I don’t have kids but I’ve been an aunt since I was 12. My siblings all nursed their kids with no problem. They’d use a cover in public and no one ever seemed to care. At home, even with visitors around, they’d nurse with no problem. So I guess I grew up thinking it was normal. Then recently there’s been so much controversy about it. I think it’s ridiculous. A baby needs to eat! What else are the moms supposed to do?! I also think it’s a shame that some moms are so uncomfortable that they go to a bathroom. Bathrooms gross me out so much I can’t even chew gum in a bathroom, much less eat my food in there.

  2. Interesting. I feel much more comfortable breastfeeding anywhere now, with my second child, than I did first time round. I can’t explain it. I just feel like it’s natural and I don’t care if I’m bothering other people. Infact , I think I kinda judge people that are bothered by it.

  3. Amen!! I was very nervous with my first child, and often used a nursing cape. Once she got old enough to play around while nursing and pull the cape off her face, we had a hard time finding a place that both of us would be comfortable going to to nurse. All until I nursed her on an airplane, and not only did people NOT give me ugly looks, but offered to give me extra room, or help me if there was anything I needed. Thats when I realized that not ALL people held a grudge against it. With my second child, I nursed in public from the get-go without a cape and never looked back!

  4. Thank you for this! I’m not comfortable going sans cover, but the first time I nursed my wee one in a restaurant made me so nervous!

    Also, I just happened to have found your blog probably by pinterest with one of your fitness posts. My brother in-law is in the Marines and was stationed in Quantico this last time & just moved to North Carolina a few months ago. He flies helicopters and I think was there for some extra schooling. His name is Fred & his wife is Jen and they have 3 kids. It would be really neat if you happened to know them! If not, it’s ok. All military is family from what I understand!

  5. I had to formula feed Ethan for medical reasons, but I still can’t believe this is an issue. I guess as a formula feeding mom you don’t realize it’s an issue because no one ever says it to YOU. I’ve never heard anyone remark about anyone breastfeeding in a public place (granted the only places I hang out at are mommy and me classes these days, ha!) but I would definitely jump in to defend them…because it’s ridiculous. “Breastfeeding in public.” That alone is so silly. A baby is eating. Why the “in public?” It’s so bizarre to me! As a flip side, as a formula feeding parent, I have gotten tons of rude stares and even ruder comments (“wow, so brazen to feed your baby poison with people watching!”) and so I think I’m always amping up my formula feeding pride. Because that affects me. My breastfeeding friends can’t understand that THAT’s an issue, because it has never affected them, if that makes sense. It’s all so ridiculous that there is so much drama around babies eating. Maybe we should all focus on the children who have no food or resources and put our energy there, right?!

  6. Thank you!! I plan on breastfeeding my baby when she is born. I asked my husband about this and he said that he would want me to cover up. I’m not torn right now but breastfeeding publically seems so freeing without feeling like you HAVE to cover. I use to look at moms who would and be like really..not to their face. When my husband and I was out to dinner with my friend who had three girls, one an infant, she just started breastfeeding at the table. She did it discreetly but she didn’t cover. At first I was shocked and a little uncomfortable but then I became okay with it and my husband didn’t think anything about it.

  7. I breast fed my little boy until about 3 weeks old. Main reason why I stopped was due to the “fact” that I couldn’t produce enough.. Now months later I come to understand that I could have produced more if I breastfed every where we went! We were out places a lot during those 3 weeks and I would bottle feed since “It’s too complicated to pop my boob out.” UGH I regret not breastfeeding longer. I loved breastfeeding, especially knowing that I was the one helping him grow healthier!
    I most definitely can not wait until my next child, so I can exclusively breastfeed. Anywhere and everywhere!

  8. Yes! Preach, girl! I support breastfeeding in public too! I just hope I’m able to do it! Right now I’m stuck using nipple shields which aren’t too convenient for public nursing. Hoping my boy will be able to figure out how to nurse without them soon, because it would make my life sooo much easier!

    http://www.floatonblog.com/

  9. “This bothered me in a way that I can’t explain…” I UNDERSTAND!! I never thought about this either (before having baby) but feeding a baby is the most natural thing! And it gets hot! I try and wear a cover (if it works out and baby is comfortable) but I have taken it off before more than once. I’m lucky I haven’t gotten any mean looks from anyone, *knock on wood*.

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