Breastfeeding in Public Has Made Me a Better Mom
Editor's Note: Today kicks off World Breastfeeding Week, and we're celebrating over here at BlogHer. We hope you'll take some time this week to learn more about breastfeeding, support a mother who wants to breastfeed, or spread awareness to enable mothers to feed their child in public without getting the stink-eye. --Mel
When my first son was born, he spent several weeks in a NICU and was fed breast milk through a feeding tube. Once we were able to bring him home, learning how to breastfeed was unbearable for both of us. So after four difficult months we quit.
When my second son was born he latched on within minutes. And 11 months later he hasn’t let go. Lucky for him, I am a SAHM now, which means that he has unfettered 24-hour access to his favorite binky: my boobs. And since he has emotionally bonded with my chest it feels unfair to me to deny him when he initiates his need to eat or his desire to be comforted when he is over tired or hurt.
Breastfeeding in public had always been a milestone of parenting that I was happy to avoid. I read lots of stories in the news and on mom blogs about how awful breastfeeding women are treated. Women getting kicked out of theaters, shopping plazas, cafés, and public parks are just a few recent headlines.
But then one day while I was grocery shopping, my baby started crying and he wouldn’t stop. So I held him close while he was snuggled under a Moby Wrap, and I nursed him right there, smack in the middle of the produce aisle.
And you know what? No one noticed.
But if anyone did notice then they certainly had the tact and respect to not draw attention to it. Perhaps the bags under my eyes and my general frantic disposition gave away the vibe that I might freak out if someone tried to correct anything about what was happening with me as I picked through avocados while bouncing a teary-eyed baby.
The grocery store broke the ice of public nursing for me. Since then I’ve nursed at farmer’s markets, clothing boutiques, cafés, the park, at a boat show, while pacing the waiting room at the hospital, in my back yard, in my front yard, in my car, at family gatherings, at the library, at the post office, at the gas station. I’ve nursed everywhere in my town.
Nursing in public has made me a better mom in a few ways.
- I no longer give a damn about my post-partum body issues
- I’m putting my sons needs before my own fears of humility
- My son is getting loads of bonding time not to mention great food
- I pay MUCH closer attention to what I eat and drink and am healthier
- I am stretching my advocacy muscles by being seen nursing in public. The more women who do this, the less powerful the taboo to nurse will be.
If you have questions about breastfeeding, I encourage you to check out the fabulous La Leche League here. Every mother has the legal right to nurse her child in public. You can look up laws from around the country about this here.