Carnival of Nursing in Public: The First Time


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.

***

I was prepared for a fight.

We were finishing lunch in a barbeque restaurant when Baby E woke up and wanted to nurse. I had foolishly thought that we could make it through the entire meal while he slept. Now I was faced with a choice — to nurse or not to nurse?

During my pregnancy I had read about women being harassed because they dared to breastfeed their babies in public. I didn’t see anything wrong with nursing in public. I grew up seeing women nurse their babies publicly without shame. However, I was reluctant to take on the wrath of an anti-breastfeeding public, particularly at the beginning of my motherhood.

After all, a few days earlier a well-meaning woman in Babies R Us had chastised the hubby, C, and me for not covering our newborn with a blanket — in the middle of July. So, I expected someone to say something to me about nursing my son in public.

He was five days old and my milk had come in the day before. Although we had an uneventful birth we didn’t have a straightforward start to breastfeeding. My colostrum did not come in until he was two days old and it took him about three days  to learn how to suck. Now I was extra vigilant about getting my son to breastfeed.

Anti-breastfeeding sentiment or not, I decided I was going to nurse whenever — and wherever — my son needed it. Yet, I quivered on the inside at the thought of naysayers as I lifted my baby to my chest. To make matters worse, my outfit required me to lift my breast over the neckline of my top.

“Uh, you know other people can see you, right?” A mildly horrified look crossed my husband’s face.

“I’m perfectly fine. They’ll just have to get over it.”  I hoped my defiant smile made me seem more confident than I was. Besides, there were not that many people in our section of the restaurant, and certainly no one was facing me.

Then I heard, “Oh, what a precious baby!”

An older, white-haired woman spoke up from the booth behind me. Before I knew it, she and her companion, an older white-haired man, were leaning over their seats and smiling at me while I had my breast out feeding my son.

My heart beat faster. Here come the naysayers.

“Boy or girl?”

“Boy.”

“How old is he?

“Five days old.”

“Oh, he’s brand new! Is he your first?”

“Yes.”

“He’s beautiful! Congratulations!”

With that, they went back to their meals.

Not a word to me about how breastfeeding is disgusting.

Not a mention about me lacking modesty.

No “suggestions” of how I should go nurse in the bathroom.

This time I confidently smiled at my husband as I finished nursing Baby E. I had made it through my first public nursing session unscathed. As I gazed at my content nursling I knew I looked forward to the next time.


Art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/

Welcome to the Carnival of Nursing in Public

Please join us all week, July 5-9, as we celebrate and support breastfeeding mothers. And visit NursingFreedom.org any time to connect with other breastfeeding supporters, learn more about your legal right to nurse in public, and read (and contribute!) articles about breastfeeding and N.I.P.

Do you support breastfeeding in public? Grab this badge for your blog or website to show your support and encourage others to educate themselves about the benefits of breastfeeding and the rights of breastfeeding mothers and children.

This post is just one of many being featured as part of the Carnival of Nursing in Public. Please visit our other writers each day of the Carnival. Click on the links below to see each day’s posts – new articles will be posted on the following days:
July 5 – Making Breastfeeding the Norm: Creating a Culture of Breastfeeding in a Hyper-Sexualized World
July 6 – Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers: the New, the Experienced, and the Mothers of More Than One Nursing Child
July 7 – Creating a Supportive Network: Your Stories and Celebrations of N.I.P.
July 8 – Breastfeeding: International and Religious Perspectives
July 9 – Your Legal Right to Nurse in Public, and How to Respond to Anyone Who Questions It

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Posted on July 7, 2010, in Blog Carnival, Breastfeeding, New mommyhood and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. what a wonderful first time experience!! i noticed that older folks were much more encouraging and understanding of my baby’s needs to nurse than most others.

  2. That brought tears to my eyes! What a wonderful way to show support of a new breastfeeding mama. It makes me want to try to offer the same sometime.

  3. Awww that’s so great!! I’ve been afraid of the anti-NIP wrath as well, but so far either people haven’t noticed or have been encouraging. I hope these are all signs that times are changing!!

  4. I love it when people see me breastfeeding and act completely normal – I once had a male checker at Walmart peek into the sling while a 10 month old Kieran nursed. He didn’t jump back or make a face or look distressed – he simply smiled, patted Kieran’s head, and said “what a beautiful baby!” Love!!

  5. What a great breastfeeding story! I think women who nurse in public without a cover are amazing. I’ve been breastfeeding my little girl for 15 months now and have never nursed in public without a cover. I’m just not comfortable doing so for personal reasons, but I sure look up to women who are able to do it. You’re awesome!
    Thanks for stopping by my place. It’s always nice to meet new people. 🙂 Have a great day.

    Kristi, Live and Love…Out Loud
    @TweetingMama

  6. I remember my first time too. I wasn’t wearing anything convenient either, I didn’t know better. My husband hovered around me flapping and trying to give me privacy. He was trying to be a nice guy and all, doing it for my feelings, but for the first time the indignity that I and our baby should HIDE roiled up in me.

    I did the “confident” or “defiant” smile too back in the day, when I was still unsure.

    Happy to say I lived in a very pro-breastfeeding corner of the world and went on to nurse my kids for 3 years and 2 years (which included a year of overlap). It was just a wonderful, awesome experience.

    Today I saw a mama walking while nursing her baby (many ppl probably didn’t even realize this, contrary to the anti-breastfeeder talk about mothers FLAUNTING their breastfeeding). I told her it was wonderful to see her feeding her baby in public. I had tears in my eyes. I wonder if she knew I was a mom or not (I was alone).

    Thanks for a great post.

    • I’m happy to say that my husband is now pretty nonchalant about me nursing in public. He figures that if I don’t mind then he doesn’t either..

      And yeah, I hate that talk about “flaunting” breastfeeding. I think the people who say that really have no idea what modern women in America usually look like when breastfeeding.

      • My husband got used to it – and proud of family life and feeding babies – after a short time. In fact he got used to it around other ladies too (so… I guess all men aren’t constant-boner-machines who can’t possibly look at a breast without becoming sex-crazed? But I’ll save that rant for another time). Anyway, I remember one time in my living room and we were talking/ranting about something political and my friend Amy E. was talking all angry, and her son E. popped off her breast and Amy E’s nipple was pointing angrily along with the expression on her face as she spoke with passion and feeling. After a time E. resumed feeding.

        And no one – no one noticed or became embarassed (mixed group of men and women). We were so used to breastfeeding that a naked breast three feet away was No Big Deal. I pointed it out later and we all had a good laugh.

        Such good, healing times…

        Thanks again for taking part in the NIP carnival, I have been enjoying reading the pieces.

  7. How fantastic! Hopefully with our help to normalize NIP, more women will have similar positive experiences.

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