Breastfeeding in public

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…Because the zoo, that wedding you were invited to, the beach, the park, that doctor’s appointment you have to be at, and the dinner reservations you made won’t come to you…
I’ve never had a problem breastfeeding in public. I lean more toward the side of hippie feminist who feels it’s my god damn right. If someone has a problem with it, which truthfully I’ve never encountered, I assume it to be their problem as opposed to my own.
When I knew I’d be breastfeeding Hooper, I always made sure I had a hooter hider and dressed with feeding him in mind. I’d get apprehensive before going wherever we were going; an inner anxiety would fester over where I would feed him and how it would all work out. In any event, it always worked out.
The second time around, I’ve thrown caution to the wind. The apprehension and anxiety, while still there, have diminished significantly. I’m no longer shy about where I am or how frequently he eats or if my nipple is visible for the 2 seconds it takes before he engulfs it in his mouth. I breastfeed him wherever and whenever he’s hungry. If someone has a problem with this, I write it off as their problem and their problem alone.
We used to take Hooper to the Rose Bowl Flea market when he was an infant. I remember breastfeeding him in a vendor’s van. When we went the other month with Van, I breastfed him while sitting on the curb. When you have more than one, you don’t have the luxury of finding the perfect spot. As it is with much of life, the more you do something the more confident you become at doing it.
I rarely use the hooter hider anymore. It’s most always buried somewhere in my car in case I need it, but more times than not I free ball. Van gets too distracted with the hider anyway and instead of hiding my ta-tas from people that aren’t looking anyway, it looks as though I’m putting on a puppet show and all the characters are getting ready to come out as they dance behind the curtain.
The other day, I fed Van on a bench at the zoo. A dad walked by with his little girl and the little girl would not stop starring. The dad looked in my direction to see what was keeping her from walking in a straight line and instantly he grew noticeably uncomfortable. My heart, however, did not skip a beat. His discomfort is his own problem. I wouldn’t be feeding my child in public if I weren’t comfortable with it and I try to own that as much as I can.
Things I keep in mind when nursing in public:
-I try to keep a low profile. If we’re sitting in a restaurant, for example, I may switch seats with Willy if the direction he is facing is more private.
-I make eye contact with people around me. People are less likely to stare, I feel, if they catch your eye the moment they glance over. If you’re looking down at your baby, creepy creeperton may try to sneak a peek. That’s what I tell myself, anyways.
-Think about what you’re wearing. Tops that pull up, down and over, or button down all work for breastfeeding, but tops that you can lift up provide more cleavage cover. With your baby covering your abdomen and your top covering the base of the mountains, the only thing left to show is nipple which is down your kids throat anyway.
How do you feel about nursing in public? Any tips worth sharing? Any funny experiences?
Minus the ad for Luvs, a cute video and oh-so-true.
You can read my other posts on breastfeeding by clicking here.

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10 Responses

  • I wasn’t able to nurse because of the medication I had to be on following a really scary and problematic birth, and I was severely depressed for months because of it. When I first felt brave enough to venture out of the house with my son and had to mix him a formula bottle, a mom called over her little girl who was admiring my baby and said “we don’t play with kids who drink poison.” I was bawling so hard I had to call my mom to calm me down before I felt comfortable enough to make the drive home. Once the depression faded and I felt confident as a mother, I really started to feel passionate about infant feeding choices. Mostly in the “what the hell does it matter how someone is feeding their kid?!?!?!” sense. I don’t get it. I don’t get who even notices if a mom is nursing in a public, or who takes the time to study and inquire about what is inside the bottle. (I’d gotten the “is that breastmilk or formula in there?” a few times back in the day!) The other day a mom was nursing her child at one of our mommy and me classes and someone said “I wish she’d been using a cover.” Honestly, I hadn’t even noticed. Who notices? And who cares about something like feeding an infant? It’s a little mind boggling.

    • I couldn’t agree more. I’m sorry for what you had to go through. I would have had a hard time wrapping my brain around not being able to nurse as well. In fact, one of the reasons I’m weaning now is because I’ll be having back surgery and will obviously be on some heavy meds… it makes weaning feel like it’s less on my terms even though I know it really is.

      I don’t get by people judge. We all do the best we can, we all deal with the cards we’re dealt, and we all make choices that we feel are best for us and for out children.

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • I love this post. I, too, have no problem nursing in public. My eight month old Noah is our first child and at first I was nervous every time and thought everyone was looking at me and noticed. Like you said, the more you do something, the more confident you become. And when you nurse eight to twelve times a day for months and months, you definitely get the practice. I know a ton of women from my ultra conservative hometown who are appalled that I would breastfeed in public, especially without covering up. I, like you, found it to be more of a pain than anything and if there is a little nip slip, nobody is close enough to see anyways. I feel your inner “hippie feminist” and channel her, too. I get livid when I hear stories of women asked to cover up or move somewhere more private. Great post!

  • Ha, this post is funny, especially: “it looks as though I’m putting on a puppet show and all the characters are getting ready to come out as they dance behind the curtain.” Hahahahaha.

    Remember when you breastfed Van on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland? That was pretty classic. I was impressed.

    Personally, I’ve never really noticed or cared when women breastfeed. I wonder if it’s more likely that men or women are uncomfortable with it. I’m guessing men. I don’t really understand what the big deal with boobs is in general. Maybe men don’t like to think of them as anything but fun bags. Viewing them as feeding tools kind of ruins the fantasy for them. Maybe. But, whatever, they can look down at the porn on their phones.

  • Ill be a first time mom in December and I’d like to hope I have the balls to be comfortable with breastfeeding in public, but I may not be mature enough. I still giggle at the word and sight of boobies.

  • In Australia it is illegal to discriminate against breastfeeding ANYWHERE!! We are very lucky. From what I’ve read on facebook lately in America people can actually ask you to leave a restaurant. Is this true?

    Anyway. My daughter is 16 months old and rarely needs a feed while we are out and about anymore.

    At the local library today, during Rhyme Tine, she was asking for a feed. I whipped it out no problem. I was actually quite proud of myself, and her, for showing everyone that its ok to breastfeed in public. And that I’m not ashamed of my “extended” feeding. Really why is it considered extended when all but the Western word consider it normal?! No one usually feeds while at the library and today two other mums got their boobs out and fed their kids. Part of me wants to think I helped them.

    I could talk about this topic for hours- but I won’t.

    Get em out mumma. Feed that baby!!

    • I’ve never had anyone give me trouble about breastfeeding in public here in the US and I think the general public would be outraged with anyone who had anything negative to say to a breastfeeding mother. But I have heard horrible stories too… but they seem to be the exception.

      I’m sure you were the motivating force behind other moms who decided to feed their children as well. Good for you, mama.

      I too could talk about it for hours… Thanks for sharing.

  • A fab post.

    I think it is easier when they are very small and becomes harder at that time when they are just too interested in everything going on around them to stop and feed properly and feeding in public just means more things for them to stare at rather than getting on with the job in hand :-)

    I would love to see you at the The Friday Baby Shower … the link party for bump + baby posts, Alice @ Mums Make Lists

  • I would probably be nervous about breast feeding in public. Wish people wouldn’t make it a big deal and understand the baby has to eat and not worry about it.

  • It completely baffles me that anyone would give a shit about women feeding their babies! I am one of the few of my friends still BFing and I’ll do it anywhere and everywhere. I used to always use the cover but now Benjamin hates it and I don’t really care anyway. I mainly used it for other people but now I don’t really care what other people think. Just like you said.. if they have a problem it’s their problem! :)

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