N.I.P. or Nursing In Public

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For the life of me, I don’t understand the provincial attitude about breastfeeding in public.  As if feeding your child “in public” is somehow different from feeding your child any other place.

I am raising my children in a world where they are exposed to larger-than-life ads featuring mostly naked women who sell everything from tanned flesh to alcohol, and yet it is considered unacceptable by many to nurse an infant or, heaven forbid, a toddler in plain sight.

How effed up is that?

For the record, I have never had a negative experience nursing anywhere.  No one ever dared suggest that I stay home to nurse, cover it up, or worse, that I nurse my baby in a restroom.

It is the fate, however, of many women to be made to feel they are doing something provocative or wrong when they attempt to nourish their little one wherever and whenever they need.

Part of me would just LOVE to have someone suggest that I should feed my baby in the toilet, because I am just tittsey enough to tell that person that they can go and eat their breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack in the toilet.

(BTW- “Tittsey” is a word I just coined.  It is the female equalavent of “ballsy”, thank you very much.  Feel free to use with gusto!)

It saddens me that we are more accustomed to people feeding their babies from bottles than from breast.

It also saddens me that women are made to doubt their nature-given-power to feed their children.  Formula companies prey on female insecurity from the moment of birth when many moms are given those hospital goodie-bags of free formula, “just in case.”  How many nursing relationships, I wonder, have been sabotaged by that conveinent “just in case” bottle of formula during a moment of sleep deprivation, nipple damage, or fear of low production.

It amazes me that Facebook frequently removes pictures of women nursing their babies, labeling them as “obscene,” when on other pages women are posting gratuitous selfies in their skivvies.

And for those of you who are wondering “Well, why would a woman have to post private photos of herself nursing?  I mean, isn’t that a private act?”  Um, no.  Number one:  It is just a baby eating.  Eating in our nation is anything but private.  I mean, look at the instagrams people insist on posting of their every glistening hot dog and beer mug.

Second, it is important to see breastfeeding as a normal, everyday act.  Part of the reason for our weird attitudes about nursing is that it is not commonplace enough.  Even I, a breastfeeding mother for crying out loud, am somewhat surprised when I see another mother nursing in public.  Breastfeeding needs to be open and natural to encourage others to set about doing it!

It is no wonder that breasts have been made into these mythical entities that can sell anything and titillate anyone (pun fully intended).  They are freaking amazing!  But let’s remember why they are so amazing in the first place:  because they produce an almost magical substance that feeds, grows, and protects tiny humans.

I am not a judgmental, nipple-worshiping purist.  As I mentioned previously, I have supplemented both of my children for one reason or another.  While I fully support the scientific evidence that shows us that breastmilk is amazing, I don’t believe that formula, when used properly, is poison.  

This is not a post to judge those who chose for whatever reason to bottle feed their babies.  Judgement is just NOT what Momasteblog is all about.  As long as babies are getting fed one way or another, I am happy!

But there is empirical data that breast milk and breastfeeding has numerous benefits for both mother and baby.  

And there are so many women who want to nurse their babies and either fall victim to formula companies’ brilliant marketing, lack of education, or lack of support.  This post is just about encouraging and supporting women who want to, or do breastfeed.

A British poet named, Hollie McNish posted this slam-style poem, called Embarrassed.  It is about her experience as a breastfeeding mom being relegated to toilets to nurse her baby.  It is an amazing piece of work that made me want to scream, cry, and hop around all at once for sheer joy and inspiration.  Huff Post calls it, “A new anthem” for mothers who have felt ashamed of nursing in public.

In America, all 50 states have passed legislation that allow breastfeeding in any place where you are legally allowed to be.  Although it is somewhat pathetic that we need a law to allow us to feed a child in public, at least you can know you are protected from being charged with public indecency.  

It is just not acceptable for anyone to suggest you feed your child in a bathroom.  

Feed your baby wherever you want with pride, Mamas, knowing you are doing what is best and right for your child.  

Momaste!  The mom in me bows to the mom in you.  

 

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14 responses »

  1. LOVE this. Fortunately I’ve never been shamed or embarassed to nurse in public. I’m either naively bold or tittsey enough to do it regardless! I actually found nursing openly around male family members (did it without a cover around my dad/brother, but under a cover for brother-in-law and father-in-law) to be more uncomfortable then some random ass stranger.

    Then again, I also did the naked solstice parade here, so nudity isn’t much of an issue for me 😉

  2. I am so grateful my wife breastfed all three of our children wherever and whenever it made sense, including into their toddler-hood. She’s tittsey, thank goodness… Be well, Charlotte~

  3. Great post! My almost 11 months old (in 3 days!) is still nursing and it is one of the great joy of my life (it wasn’t a given due to thyroid issues and she will be my only child so I enjoy this all the more!). I wasn’t comfortable nursing in public at first but it was what she needed so we did it. We did it and do it walking in the street and in the forest, at the supermarket, at the museum, in parks and restaurants etc… I never got one comment about this but I have to say, in France, people are not so kind with babies and children. So i got positive comments because “we did not hear her” (well her mouth was full ;-)) but most of people did not even realize that she was nursing! And now, in France, I am almost a Bigfoot or an unicorn because very few are breastfeeding “this long”. At the daycare it becomes complicated to give my milk, they always find a new reason to say “it’s complicated” … I have to go, my baby unicorn awakes 😉

    • I just love you Elea!! I’m surprised breast feeding in France is even more rare then in USA! You go mama unicorn!!! (Love love that analogy!). Thank you so much for dropping by and commenting. I love hearing from you and also about motherhood in other countries!

      • I love you too! Yes Breastfeeding is rare in France. Since I am half Swiss and lived there for 15 years before going back to France (and I cannot wait to go back to Switzerland) I was more open to other possibilities. But I have to say, the best “supplies” for breastfeeding (breast pump, hand-free bra, etc etc) are either swiss or US!
        As for the daycare, they supply their own formula. I am the only one to breastfeed and they seem to find this not so convenient (they have to heat the milk, my daughter has her own bottle and not those provided by the daycare, and “worse” she knows what she wants and when she wants to drink and eat! ), but I do not yield. Even in France Breastfeeding is recommended till 2 years (even if nothing is done to help the mothers to do it)

      • Great for you for standing your ground! Daycares can be so tough to deal with sometimes. sometimes they think that they “know best” or that they know better for your child than we do. I’m glad to hear that you are enjoying your nursing relationship. It is such a special bond.

    • Btw. Giving breast milk at daycare is actually more simple than formula in my opinion!! It is more stable, stays fresh longer, and there is no measuring and mixing involved! 😛

  4. Pingback: Silly Sunday– A Photo For The Hypocrites at Facebook | momasteblog

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