Welcome Carnival of Breastfeeding readers! This month's theme is "Nursing in Public."
Please visit the other carnival participants, listed below.
(More entries will be added through the end of the day on June 22, as they are posted - check back!)
I should probably preface this by saying that I considered myself a lactivist long before I ever lactated, and that I told Shrike, well before Peeper was even conceived, that "You do know I'm probably going to get kicked out of somewhere at some point, right? And I am going to make a scene about it."
It's always been my attitude that if someone is freaked out by seeing a baby breastfeeding, or thinks it's weird or inappropriate or whatever it is that people have a problem with, it's their issue to get over, and it's not the mother's responsibility to accommodate them.
I think that the discomfort that some people have about breastfeeding in public stems primarily from the fact that it's not something you see every day - which is one of the reasons that I do it.
Of course, it's mostly because my baby is hungry and, well, here we are, but once we're in that situation, my decision to just get on with it wherever we are is very much influenced by my belief that I should nurse her in public.
I am a proud breastfeeding Mama for the same reasons that I am an out and proud lesbian Mama: Visibility, normalization and I-will-not-be-ashamed-so-screw-you-if-you-don't-like-it-edness.
We exist, we (and our babies) have (or should have) the same rights as anyone else, and the more people see of us, then the more used to us, accepting of us and supportive of us they will be.
For many years, I've been completely nonchalant about my relationship with Shrike, presenting ourselves publicly as any other couple would and, even in our very conservative little town, we've run into no problems.
Likewise, I am completely matter of fact about nursing Peeper whenever and wherever the need arises.
If she's hungry or fussy or sleepy or pretty much any other adjective besides "happy," I just nurse her and fix it.
I don't ask people if they "mind," or ask them where it's okay to nurse, and we don't hide in bathrooms or backrooms or behind blankets or shawls.
And we've never had a problem - no comments, no complaints, no hairy eyeballs, no whispers behind our backs (that we know of).
Of course, it wasn't completely comfortable in the beginning. In fact, I was pretty nervous and uncomfortable, but I was probably as uncomfortable about my discomfort as anything else.
I knew in my head that it was fine, it was right, it was important that I nurse her in public, and I wanted so badly for it to be no big deal - but I just wasn't there yet.
Practice makes perfect, though, and we are definitely "there" now.
Of course, it's much easier to breastfeed a seven-month-old than a seven-week-old under any circumstances, and much easier to do it in public without feeling like you're exposing yourself.
(Hmm, I'm actually not so sure, now that I think about that. Peeper no longer needs help latching - just show her the goods and away she goes - but on the other hand, she didn't let go and turn around to look at the waiter quite so often when she was younger!)
As importantly, though, I just kept at it, refusing to hide or cover up, despite feeling self-conscious and uncomfortable, and each time it got a little easier, felt a little less weird, was a little less awkward, until here we are.
Another key to getting to this level of comfort has been the fact that Shrike has been so supportive. If she was ever uncomfortable about it, I certainly couldn't tell.
Especially in the beginning, she often encouraged me to "just go ahead and feed her" when I thought maybe it would be best to go elsewhere (typically when we were around her family), she has put up with innumerable changes in seating arrangements, to get me in the most comfortable spot for nursing (physically or in terms of being a bit less exposed from the back or side), and can always be counted on to let me know if I am showing more skin than I intend to (albeit, usually by way of a "woo hoo!").
I don't particularly care what a waiter or a fellow diner or a passerby thinks, but I do care very much what she thinks, and I would not be nearly as comfortable with breastfeeding Peeper in public without her support and encouragement.
And if that waiter or fellow diner or passerby is surprised to see me nursing, then maybe that's a good thing.
Maybe it will make them think a bit about their assumptions about what's "acceptable" or "normal" or "expected," and maybe they won't be so surprised next time.
Or maybe that other new mom at the next table, who has a bottle of expressed breastmilk in her diaper bag, will feel comfortable enough to just nurse her baby instead of bringing it out.
Or maybe the pregnant woman down the way will think, "Hmm, that looks convenient, and nobody's bothering her about it. Maybe I should consider breastfeeding, after all."
Maybe if they see me breastfeeding Peeper - if they even notice, because it usually seems like they don't - it will make breastfeeding just a little bit less "weird" and a little more "normal" to them.
And if Shrike and I are open enough about both who we are and how we parent, then maybe, just maybe, folks in this conservative little town of ours will see our little nursling and her two moms as the most natural thing in the world.
Because we are.
Other Carnival of Breastfeeding Posts
(Keep checking back - more will be added through June 22)
- Here? At the Restaurant? - Kim Through the Looking Glass
- Breastfeeding in Public- Talents- I Haz It - Dirty Diaper Laundry
- Would You, Could You, Breastfeed in Public - PhD in Parenting
- Nursing In a Room Full of People You Know - Grudge Mom
- Aww, Is He Sleeping? - MumUnplugged
- Breastfeeding in Public - Mommy News & Views
- Nursing in Public as an Immigrant - Tiny Grass
- Breastfeeding in Public - Mother Mary's Soapbox
- Nursing in Public: Chinatown, the Subway, the Vatican, and More - Massachusetts Friends of Midwives
- To Cover or Not to Cover - Breastfeeding 1-2-3
- Thank You for Nursing in Public - Blacktating
- Breastfeeding and the Summertime - Warm Hearts, Happy Family
- Why Worry About NIP? - Chronicles of a Nursing Mom
- Little Old Men . . . & Nursing in Public - Stork Stories. . . Birth & Breastfeeding
- Products That Can Help You Breastfeed in Public - Mama Knows Breast
- Get Kicked Off a Bus for Nursing in Public? Here's How To Respond - Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog
- NIP, No Tuck - Musings on Mamahood
- A Wee NIP in the Park - babyREADY
- Planes, Trains and Automobiles - We've Breastfed in Them All - Tales of Life With a Girl on the Go
- Breastfeeding Hats? YES! Nursing Covers? Uh... Not So Much - Never a Dull Moment
- Nursing in Public: A Fresh Perspective on Nurse-Ins - Breastfeeding Moms Unite
- Nursing in Public - What's a Breastfeeding Mother to Do!! - Breastfeeding Mums Blog
- Easy, Discreet Way to Breastfeed a Toddler in Public - Hobo Mama