Monday, September 19, 2011

breastfeeding in public

Not only is it really important to me to exclusively breastfeed my baby, it's also important that I breastfeed him in public. Why? Because I want the world to know that it's normal. When my baby is hungry, he needs to eat. Right now this is the way he eats and there's nothing shameful about that. I was actually really nervous to publicly breastfeed Liam in the beginning. I would make sure to go out right after I fed him so he would be satisfied and I would return home before he would be hungry again. This would make for very hurried outings. Little by little, though, I have become more comfortable with nursing him where ever I am. Here are a few tips that I've picked up along the way. If you're a new mother who is exclusively breastfeeding and need a bit of help getting comfortable doing it in public I hope these tips help you...

  • Start small. The first "public" place that I nursed Liam was at a friend's house. It was the first time I nursed him out of the privacy of my own home, but it still wasn't out in public in front of strangers. I was in the company of trusted friends who didn't make me feel weird about it at all. Next I nursed Liam in the back of the car in front of a coffee shop. Again, not too public, but I was getting out there. Now I've nursed him at Starbucks, church, and restaurants while eating lunch. Baby steps. 
  • Dress appropriately. You have to have easy access to the boob in order to nurse in public. I like wearing v-neck shirts (easy to pull down), button-up shirts (just un-do a few buttons), or anything with a zipper in front. Also, I don't find much use for nursing tanks. They're either expensive, ugly, or not very comfortable. I just use regular camis if I need to. They're easy enough to pull down. 
  • Be modest. This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. I don't know about you, but I don't exactly want the whole world seeing my breasts. No, I'm not ashamed of them...and no, I don't think there's anything obscene about breastfeeding...but I'd rather not make anyone else feel uncomfortable with the sight of my breasts (even though it's perfectly acceptable to hang giant Victoria's Secret ads with half-naked women in the middle of a mall...dumb). That's why I always use a nursing cover. I have to say, nursing covers are not my favorite. I find them a bit clumsy to use, but I am not yet a nursing ninja. [Nursing ninjas are what I call those women who nurse their babies while they're in a sling as they stroll the aisles of Target. Amazing. I'm just not there yet, but maybe some day.] 
  • Stop caring about what others think. In my experience, people absolutely do not care that you are nursing your baby in public. I've never gotten any nasty stares or comments. Most people just mind their own business. I think if you don't act weird about it, neither will anyone else. And even if you do get weird looks, who cares? You are doing something so important, you are nourishing your child. If a bottle-fed baby can have his dinner in public, then so can a breast-fed baby. Just relax and don't even worry about it. 
  • Look at helpful resources. It is within your legal rights to nurse anywhere you need to. Maybe you could read up on breastfeeding laws so that you are well-informed and feel more comfortable. I also looked at a few youtube videos of women talking about how they nurse in public and read some blogposts to get tips, like this one and this one. Also, I love It's helped me feel empowered and see what fashionable nursing-friendly clothes are out there. 
Happy breastfeeding to all! :-)

Nursing at the Starbucks inside Target.

Cute little legs peeking out from under the nursing cover.


Krista said...

I totally agree.

Kortnie Wertzbaugher said...

You're a much braver first time nursing mom than I was. I refused to breastfeed in public my first time around... probably why I only lasted for 4 months. With Gabri and Levi I've exclusively nursed them and so I didn't have an option, I had to nurse whenever and wherever they were hungry. What kind of nursing cover do you have? I've never used one, I just use a blanket.

Merari said...

hahaha, i love that you're on the Iphone while boob feeding.

Funny story: My boyfriend met a lady who is still breast-feeding her 4 year old. He found this out when one day he had a meeting with the mom and the kid just walked up, stuck his head in her shirt, and drank away.

My bf is totally pro breast feeding, but he says to this day, that was his most awkward meeting ever. lol.

M. Turner said...

I'm totally not trying to be a crazy controversialist and I'm a dude so I might just be weirded out by this whole thing.

But... don't you think that there are a lot of other natural things that are not shameful but are best left in private? I think of husband and wife activities or bathroom habits as two particular examples.

Again, I think your blog emphasizes modesty and discreetness so I am not really opposed to what you are saying. I have just been in a few situations (once on a train ride to Philadelphia and another in a shopping mall) where it seemed that a mother was being totally immodest and awkward.

Please, please, please see my comments as those from a confused husband rather than a criticizing misogynist.

jenniayla said...

Awesome Kristel!! The more we get out there and do it, hopefully it will show other moms that breastfeeding is totally natural! I nursed everywhere, and when Ayla was in her wrap, most people didn't even know unless I told them! It did feel weird at first, but I'm so glad I kept at it, because it got totally normal feeling then!

I agree with M. Turner, there are some private things that should not be done in public, but maybe a helpful way to think about it is, do you want to only eat alone in the privacy of your own home, or is eating pretty necessary where ever you are? All the babies are doing is eating :) If you're gone from home for 12 hours at a stretch sometimes, do you want to be hungry until you get home? Not to mention, they are eating the most healthy, God given food there is for them! :) Yes, some mothers are not modest, could they be more so, yes, but it's our society that has us all freaked out about it... oh my gosh, I can see a small part of a woman's breast while she nourishes her baby. Like Kristel mentioned, just look at the half naked women all over the TV and ads and society isn't uncomfortable with that, and there is no moral or nourishment to that display and it shows a whole lot more!

If more men made an effort to understand and support breastfeeding it would help society come around and realize it's normal and the best choice, and maybe more babies would be blessed with the healthy goodness of it, instead of being raised on formula (which basically amounts to raising your baby on Mc Donalds!). So thanks for being open to understanding! :)

jennyibasan said...

Wow jenni well said :) and btw kristel you can't even see liam's head through that cover... Can't get any more modest than that :)