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.
Making Nursing in Public Normal – Thanks to My Mom
Olivia was five days old the first time I ventured from the house with her. My husband was back to work, so my Mom was visiting with me during this time. We drove to Target. Read: Olivia screaming in the back and me completely freaking out. We pulled in and I grabbed her out, trying to calm her, fumbling with her baby carrier and feeling just awful for (gasp) leaving the house!
As we walk toward the doors, Olivia is still crying. I am tense, upset, and at a loss. “Why don’t we just sit on this bench and you can nurse her” my Mom says. Really? In public? Really? “Lots of women do it, you can’t even tell most of the time”.
So I do. It’s a bit awkward, breastfeeding for the first time in public, because breastfeeding is still so new to me. But we do it, Olivia calms down and I wonder why this didn’t just occur to me. I mean, I guess I’ve seen women breastfeed in public before, hadn’t I? I could remember once when I was pregnant seeing a woman breastfeed at the mall. Other than that, nothing stood out.
The benefits of breastfeeding seem countless to me. They’ve been recounted many times, and frankly it’s not the point. Even if there were NO difference between breast milk and formula (I know, hear me out!) a woman should still not feel uncomfortable to breastfeed in public! It is not considered odd to see a baby take a bottle, so why does it seem foreign to see a mother breastfeed in public.
In the months since, I have nursed Olivia when she was hungry. The winters in Maine didn’t give us much opportunity to breastfeed outside, but I’ve nursed wherever whenever. I always give a smile and a nod when I see another woman NIP, which is surprisingly seldom. No wonder, I suppose, since people (I have a hard time with “celebrity”) Kim Kardashian and Adrienne Curry have recently posted their thoughts on how “gross” it is to see a mother breastfeeding in public. I am quite sure that less people have seen my boobs when I’ve nursed in public than theirs! Again, however, this is not my point. We need to SEE other mamas nursing their babes in public, we don’t need anything special, we just need NORMAL. I’ve heard women say, “Sure, breastfeed in public, but show some modesty and use a blanket”. Isn’t that nearly as bad, suggesting using a boob what it’s designed for is shameful and a baby should be covered while nursing? I am quite sure no one has actually “seen” my boobs when I’ve nursed in public, just noticed the idea of my boobs because there was a baby at my chest!
My daughter is 13 months old now, and doesn’t need to breastfeed as much. But I still do, proudly. I am thankful for the encouragement my mother gave me a little over a year ago. A little gentle encouragement makes a world of difference, especially in those fragile first days. I think of this often and the message it sent to me. One I would like to give to my daughter. One that I hope reaches others as a result of things like the Carnival of Nursing in Public. Keep nursing those babies, mamas, it’s a beautiful, NORMAL thing.