Do you know the phrase or the acronym? Have you ever seen someone nurse in public? To some it’s a controversial issue. To others it’s a natural way of life.
Before I had a baby, I had never see anyone nurse in public. Either I’d never noticed it or I’d never been in the situation. I didn’t have any opinions on the matter because I didn’t have any experiences to shape my opinions. In fact, I don’t think it was an idea that really even crossed my mind. I guess I didn’t think about what would happen if a baby who was breastfed was hungry out in public.
In the months leading up to Maximus, I knew I was going to breastfeed but I had no idea what it would be like. I had minimal experience being around other’s who were breastfeeding. Again, I didn’t think about doing it in public. I tried to imagine what the experience would be like in a logistical sense. I was worried about the ins and outs of doing it and not the whens and wheres. I knew I wanted to register for a cover-up but I never thought about using it.
After I had Maximus I spent the first few weeks getting the hang of nursing. If you’ve been through the experience, then you know what those first few weeks are like. Words don’t do the experience justice. It’s an out-of-body experience. It’s an emotional and physical roller-coaster.
In the beginning, Maximus ate every 2-3 hours. We limited our public outings because of his eating schedule. When Maximus was about a week old, we went to a bigger town to buy some last-minute baby items. My first experience nursing in public was in our car at an abandoned gas station. We were on our way home and Maximus started crying. We knew he was hungry so we pulled over and I nursed him. I suppose I eased myself into nursing in public by doing it in the car. I can’t even remember the number of times I had to do it in the car the first few weeks. When a baby eats every 2-3 hours, you’re either forced to stay home or you figure it out. I don’t feel like we left the house a lot those first few months, but I do feel like I quickly got the hang of nursing in public. I never thought twice about it. I was more worried about my baby and keeping him happy. I put my own uneasiness out of mind. Motherhood is about being selfless and being outside your comfort zone.
I should remember this better, but I don’t. I think the first time I nursed outside in public was literally, outside. Maximus was about four weeks old and I was at a softball tournament. I sat on the bleachers watching my husband play softball with a bunch of co-workers. I felt a little outside of my comfort zone because I wasn’t sure how to be around others. I wasn’t sure how to act. Should I go about my business? Should I act as if I wasn’t doing it? Was I making others uncomfortable? I realized that my insecurities came from knowing the people I was around. I felt like I was doing something very personal because I had only done it in the comfort of my own home. Now, I was doing it out in public and they knew what I was doing. I quickly decided that I was going to act normally. I continued talking to my friends in hopes that they would feel comfortable with what I was doing. I decided that if I acted normal, this would be a normal experience for them. I decided then and there that I would help others be aware of the amazing thing that breastfeeding is. I decided I wouldn’t hide the fact that I was providing nutrients for my baby.
I have all kinds of public “badges” for nursing. I’ve nursed in restaurants, at football games, in the baby section of Target, in other people’s homes, sitting on the exam table at the doctor’s office (twice!), in the bathroom of a department store, in the car, and of course at that softball game. I’ve figured out my opinion by doing. I’m not afraid of nursing in public. I’m not afraid to be the one nursing and I’m not afraid to see others do it. I still haven’t seen others nurse in public. I’m not sure if that means it’s not common around my area or if that just means I’m not in the right place at the right time. I don’t have any qualms about being the minority or even only person to do it around here. I’m not afraid to stand up for myself and my son’s right to eat. It’s a natural thing and my body was made to do it. I hope that people can get past the specifics and think about the amazing miracle that is going on. My body is producing milk to keep my baby alive. How amazing is that? Can you fathom it? I know I still can’t. How is my body doing this?! I surely won’t let societies insecurities prevent me from doing this amazing thing for my son (and myself).
Again, I’ve either never noticed or never had the experience of someone not approving of what I’m doing. I always use my cover-up and make sure that nothing is shown. I am conscious of my surroundings and pick the best place to sit or stand that doesn’t make me face the majority of the people. I do take other’s into consideration, but that’s so they aren’t in my direct line of sight. I would never not feed my child because of others. I believe that I’m pretty discrete when I nurse in public. Maybe that’s why I’ve never gotten any weird looks or bad comments. I’m not sure how I would handle the situation if I found myself face-to-face with someone against it. It makes me sad to think that some may be disgusted by the act. Again, I think if they can get past visualizing what’s going on they can appreciate the miracle for what it is. I hate that society could make people think that breastfeeding is not ok. It is ok. It’s normal. It’s beautiful. It’s natural. So, if you see me out in public and my baby is hungry, don’t be surprised when I pull out my cover-up and continue to carry on a conversation with you. After all, you eat when you’re hungry, right?
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About KYLEY LEGER
I’m Kyley, mom to Maximus who is six and a half months old. I have surpassed my original goal of breastfeeding for six months! I am a career mom who pumps during the day so my baby can have what’s best for him while we are a part.