Wednesday, September 15, 2010

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Nursing in Public: A Positive Experience!

Nursing in public seems to be all the rage lately. At least a few times a week I hear about a mother who was humiliated for breastfeeding her child in a public place, or even kicked out of public place for it. On the news, on breastfeeding websites, on forums, and in the newspaper.Those stories are awful and it should never happen to a mother who is simply feeding her hungry baby. But what about all of the positive experiences that can come from nursing in public? Surely not every woman who nurses in public has an awful time with it.

When I was pregnant, I swore up and down that I would never nurse in public. It seemed weird and much to difficult- surely popping a bottle in my baby's mouth would be easier and less stressful when I am out shopping or running around. My mind quickly changed when my baby girl was born and we were actually nursing. My bottles have never been used and I find myself nursing everywhere. In the car, in restaurants, in movie theaters, at church, and even walking around the store shopping.

Not once have I been given a dirty look, asked to leave, or received any kind of negativity from the people around me. The reactions seem to be the opposite, as I receive warm smiles from other mothers and older women, or no reactions at all. The best experience I've had so far was just a few days ago while walking through Old Navy and nursing. An older lady approached me asking if I was nursing my baby. I got nervous immediately, wondering if this was going to be one of those awful times when someone tries to humiliate me and how I was going to handle it. But when I told the lady yes, that I actually was walking around shopping and breastfeeding, her reaction was: "Good for you! I'm tired of hearing about all the mother's who are kicked out of places because of breastfeeding and people around them being disgusted. It's natural, everyone just needs to get over it!"

Not only did I leave the store with a smile, but she is absolutely right! Everyone does need to get over it, when a baby's gotta eat...a baby's gotta eat! I sadly have never seen another woman nursing in public before, but when I do I am definitely going to smile and encourage her. Help her to have a positive experience so that she will continue to nurse in public, and encourage others to do so as well . If we nursng mama's talk about our good experiences more instead of focusing so much on the horror stories, maybe we will begin to see more mom's nursing out and about!

- By Shay P.

22 comments:

Ballerina Baller said...

wow! i'm glad to see this! i nurse all over the place. even in my grocery store! we nip moms need to stop letting these haters get us down! this is one of the few times in life where one side is really wrong. if i can't ask the morbidly obese man eating kfc to cover up or ask one of these fashion plate teenage girls to put clothes on, no one can tell me when or where it is ok to feed my baby! the only place i ever got anything close to a dirty look was, oddly, at my peds office in georgia. now i live in norcal where this is normal! yay boobies!!!

Jenney said...

Good for you! I have nursed 3 babies, all in public. It is rare to see though. All of my kids were born during my husbands softball seasons, so they have all been nursed out on the ballfield while I am keeping his team's score book. The guys were SO weird about it with the first, but by baby #3 they don't bat an eye!

Laundry Lady said...

My experience has been that its mostly insecure formula feeding moms who have criticized breastfeeding in public or older women of a generation (like my father's mother) who believe that breast feeding is "unnatural." My sister-in-law is very critical of women who breastfeed in public, to the point of trying to shield her 1 year old's eyes, as though he'll see something better shown in an R rated movie. I think this is because she feels insecure about her own decision not to breast feed. There is nothing wrong with formula feeding, if that's your choice, but don't use it as an excuse to criticize those of us who choose to breastfeed.

Kara - Wife, Momma, Doula said...

This post brought tears to my eyes! I nurse in public and plan to do the same with baby #4. I do use a nursing cover though so that I am not exposed. I do see how uncomfortable it makes people but I haven't had anyone with enough guts to come up to me and tell me anything negative about it.

I love nursing!!

Mom of FIVE said...

This post made me smile. I have nursed all of my 5 children for at least some amount of time. Currently I am still nursing our 10mth old twins. It is completely true that we only hear the negative and I think that makes people shy away from nursing. I myself have never had anyone say anything to me. Maybe a dirty look but mostly smiles or no reaction. I think people are getting over it, but as always the few who can't make all the show.

Melissa said...

I was nursing at my moms house and my aunt, uncle, cousins, and even brothers were there and my mom began to run the kids out of the living room and told them to go outside or to the bedrooms and play. The two oldest are young teenagers, one cousin and one brother, and the others are 10 and younger. I feel like they need to know that breastfeeding is what breasts were made for. I now breastfeed in front of them after convincing my mom not to worry about it, but the bad part is my mom was a breast feeder herself. I also nurse around all of my husbands friends, in the beginning a few would run to another room but now its just normal and they don't even realize I am feeding her sometimes.

Do you that nurse in public and walk around the stores have a wrap carrier?

Jen Fluharty said...

I have had NO problems NIP. I've been to the state fair, the Renaissance Frstavil, walking around Home Depot and walmart...basically anywhere my babies are hungry! Its always good to hear others positive experiences!!

Rune Ariala said...

This is really an awesome story! I never nurse in public because my son is "one of those babies". You know, the ones that twist and squirm and want to do everything except eat when in public. I always love seeing mothers nursing in public, and try to smile and look encouraging. Mostly, I think they think I'm a little weird, looking at them wistfully. I'm really just jealous that my baby can't sit and nurse so serenely.

emboogie said...

I like your article Shay. I agree with you - I always get so frustrated when people talk about being shocked or grossed out by people nursing in public. Everywhere else in the world - nursing in public - even without a cover (which i think is perfectly fine) is completely accepted! Get over it people! I think if more people decided to nurse in public even knowing others might not approve - it would be a step in the right direction. People aren't ever going to get used to it if women continue to be ashamed of nursing in public - the more women decide to do it the better! Here in Orlando mom's have nurse-ins. They bring their babies to a certain place, at a certain time, on a certain day and they all nurse together. Sometimes 50 or so women at a time. It's a great way to open people's minds a little bit - realize its really not such a big deal!

Erin said...

i was in the park today and another mother told me how beautiful it was to see me nursing my son. its the first time anyone has ever said anything to me and it really made my day. i have been lucky and have never had an issue nursing in public.

Erin said...

i was in the park today and another mother told me how beautiful it was to see me nursing my son. its the first time anyone has ever said anything to me and it really made my day. i have been lucky and have never had an issue nursing in public.

katastrofikkatacombs said...

What a fabulous post! I have been NIP for 4 months now and have had only positive experiences. I was nursing in a restaurant yesterday when the waitress took my order. After I finished ordering, she looked at my daughter nursing and said, "and she brought her own lunch, so that will be all?" and smiled and walked away. It was lovely! I have to hand it to my husband who encouraged me to nurse our daughter in public whenever and wherever she needed to, the first few times doing it in malls or restaurants were a little nerve racking but with him by my side I was soon able to do it without a thought and now I just NIP without giving it a second thought.

Alicia said...

There is absolutely nothing wrong with breastfeeding your baby, it's proven to be healthier. In public even... IF you cover yourself! However, if you whip out your breast in front of others to nurse I would say that is offensive and indecent. So for God's sake if you breastfeed your baby in public please do so decently, under a blanket or some such thing.

Anonymous said...

Great post! I love hearing about good experiences like this :) I am not a breastfeeding mom, both my kiddos were formula fed for reasons I'm not going to get into here. Mainly I wanted to comment on Laundry Lady's comment. It's pretty hypocritical to assume that FF moms are insecure and therefore judging BF moms! The haters out there giving dirty looks to BF moms becuase for whatever reason they think it's indecent or inappropriate to be BF in public. This post had NOTHING to do with BF vs. FF. It's people like you that create opportunities, that continue the divison between FF and BF moms! Let's all be supportive of each other because we're MOMMY'S! And not jump to any conclusions about someone simply because of their feeding style :)

Lauren said...

I've never received any bad feedback when I would try to nurse in public. And I say "try" because it was my little one who considered nursing in public to be beneath him! =) But all the adults around me never had a problem. ha!

Dreaming Mama said...

I have never had a bad experience nursing in public and I am on my second round doing it. I have always had positive feedback from everyone (including dads and grandpas.) I have seen other women breastfeeding and always try to smile. I just don't understand all the negativity about it.

Katie L. said...

I've had mixed experiences feeding in public. I'm wondering if all these posts that didn't mention a cover feed without one. I'd prefer to feed my baby without a cover, and I wish that I and everyone else were okay with it, but I do feel a little insecure showing that much of my breast....or alternatively that much of my stomach if I pull my shirt up. My husband and I have discussed this after I threw a fit about trying to breastfeed at church and having some people act uncomfortable. I guess we have to nurse in public in order to make people more aware of breastfeeding.

Tiffany L. said...

I live in Harlem and in my 42 years I've seen it more often now than bottles being given. When I'm at the doctor's office I've seen more women nursing than giving bottles. I was actually at a doctor's appointment and a woman (Old West Indian) said something under her breath but not directly to me lest she get into it because I will say something to defend my right to feed my child. She said "I can't believe she's doing that in public," and I said nothing because it took a moment to register. Then I said, "People need to mind their business," and happily kept my daughter fed and content. And just for argument's sake I was completely discreet. I have to admit it's not easy nursing while walking around because I have large breasts but I will if I have to and I use pumped milk and always encourage moms who do and can nurse. I too have a squirmy nosy baby so she will expose me. Oh well. Shouldn't be looking that way. Oh and a good tip for those who feel self-conscious about it: avoid eye contact. If I see a woman whose clothes don't allow her to be discreet I just look away because those who have a problem with it, it's their problem, Anonymous.Thanks, Kelly. Love you!

Laundry Lady said...

I wanted to clarify my last post based on the comment by Anonymous. I didn't mean to imply that all formula feeding moms are insecure. I just meant to say that the insecure ones that I know (i.e. my sister-in-law) seem to be the ones from whom I've received critical comments about breastfeeding in public. If anything we need to be more sensitive to moms who couldn't breastfeed for whatever reason and realize that negative comments might be a way of coping with disappointment, and not really criticism. I'm had a similar experience with moms who did have the facilities to cloth diaper and feel the immediate need to explain why they don't or why it's not really better for the environment, etc. I'm not judging either way. I made my choices because they were what was best for me and my family. So sorry for any confusion.

Alycia said...

Finally! I get so angry hearing all the negative stories...especially because I was unable to nurse and I've gotten dirty looks for using a bottle. Yeah...hard to believe right? No mother should ever be made to feel bad about feeding her baby, no matter what the method. Seriously. I would give anything to be able to nurse all together, let alone in public, and I applaud everyone who takes a stand and sticks up for us moms!

Katie L. said...

Yeah, the nursing debate is similar to cloth. I guess some can't cloth diaper and we shouldn't judge. But the defense thing is true - a friend of mine wanted to cloth diaper but her husband wouldn't let her. So she often tells me another piece of news about how disposables are GOOD for the environment! ??????

I do nurse in public, but I'm working up the courage to nurse - with a cover - in public even when I feel uncomfortable so that I and others get used to it.

Emily said...

I'm looking forward to the reactions I get when I nurse in front of folks. I wasn't able to nurse my son, so baby #2 will be completely new experience.