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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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