Welcome to the July 2010 Carnival of Nursing in Public
This post was written for inclusion in the 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 don’t consider myself a lactavist. I didn’t call the CBC when I was asked to move into a change room at Superstore while nursing my daughter. I have not been to a nurse-in. I have never smuggled breastmilk onto a plane.
I do think that breastfeeding is a normal natural beautiful act. I breastfeed my daughter anywhere I choose. I don’t let people’s opinions or rude looks stop me. I will breastfeed in a restaurant. At my table. Without a cover. I exclusively breastfed both of my children to 6 months. I continued with my son until he was 2.5 years old and probably will with my daughter as well. I breastfeed because it’s part of the package deal of pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding and for me, it never became a choice.
I was lucky in that both of my children latched well and I had an abundant supply. We took to breastfeeding with relative ease. Sure there was some soreness and some leakage and some fumbling with breastpads and straps and gaping wide rooting fussing baby mouths, but overall, it was pretty easy for us.
I was lucky in a couple of other ways too. I had good role models: women in my family who went before me and treated breastfeeding like the most normal part of life. Women who paved the way for me to feel just a bit less self-conscious during all of that fumbling in the early days. I had supportive extended family members who didn’t bat an eyelash when I fed the baby in front of them, in-laws who never say anything unless it is a kind word.
So for me nursing was just nursing. I never had to make a distinction between nursing and nursing in public. It was all the same. I didn’t have to go into a different room because my father-in-law was visiting. I didn’t feel like I had to cover up because I was at a restaurant. I didn’t have to go out to my car because my baby got hungry in a store.
Sure there are nuances when I’m in public, like wearing a bra or sometimes having a hard time finding a comfy seat, but overall, I treated the act of feeding my baby the same no matter where I was. I got good at nursing while walking around a store (though I never figured out how to nurse in the sling) or even just sitting on the ground or leaning against a wall if I couldn’t find a seat. And I fed my baby.
I am also lucky to be a very internal, introverted person. I tend to get lost in my thoughts a lot when I’m out and about. I can be kind of oblivious to those around me. My husband is always noticing the people who pass by while I am busy noticing the sky, the flowers or zoning out to my internal to do list and inner monologue. Surprisingly, this is a nursing in public superpower. This means that I can honestly say that I’ve almost never noticed a person glancing askance as I lifted my shirt to latch my hungry baby in the grocery store or a park or the library. I feel kind of oblivious and sometimes this is a bad thing but when it comes to nursing in public, it’s the equivalent of a very thick skin.
My experience, breastfeeding my babies in Canada, was almost entirely positive, but I know that isn’t the case for the majority of women in North America. I know that too many women feel unsupported and self-conscious. I know too many women feel frowned upon for attempting to feed their babies in public. I feel terribly sad that we even have to make a distinction about nursing in public.
What if it was just nursing, just breastfeeding, and we could do it anywhere, anytime?
Well, the truth is we can. It’s our right. It’s our babies’ right. And it’s protected by law.
But until the rest of society catches up and realises this, I challenge you to do what you can so that more women can have a positive experience. Encourage your friends. Smile at women who are brave enough to nurse in public. Don’t be shy. Give a kind word. Post pictures on your facebook page. Talk with your family members about the benefits of breastfeeding. Share your experience.
I dream that one day it will just be nursing and no one will ever feel ashamed for it, no matter where they are.
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: