It's World Breastfeeding Week. Did you know that? Kind of a big deal in the circles I run in. The moms like to talk about breastfeeding. Whether they are doing it. How awesome (or hard) it is. How to deal with each new situation that comes up (nursing strikes, cluster feeding, latch issues, slow weight gain, thrush, weaning, biting etc.).
I've been seeing a lot of posts about nursing in public floating around the past few weeks. On my reader, on message boards, on my Facebook feed, on Twitter. A lot of them are in reaction to a blogger who posed the question: Do mother's openly breastfeeding in public make you uncomfortable?
I think back to my pre-baby, pre-nursing days and I am ashamed of the things I thought about women who chose to nurse in public (the few times I actually witnessed it). Bottom line? I thought it was disgusting, I thought it was distracting, I thought it was something that should be hidden away behind closed doors. I thought women were just trying to get attention. I'm pretty sure I shot a few dirty looks to nursing Moms.
I was embarrassed to be in the presence of another woman's breasts. And you know what? That was my issue. Before I nursed a baby, I didn't "get it". It never occurred to me that a baby might be uncomfortable under a cover (would like to eat with a blanket over your head?). It never occurred to me that a woman shouldn't be banished to another room to feed a child (If you think a bathroom stall is suitable for nursing a child you should be voted off the island.). It didn't occur to me that anything was actually happening beyond a long slow flashing. Who cares if she's feeding her baby...she's showing everyone her breasts!
Fast forward a few years and I am thankful that I have never run into the likes of me.
I nurse in public. More often then not, without a cover. I'm discreet, yes, but that could quickly change depending on the mood of my son. Nursing in Public is not about putting on a show. It is not about getting attention. It's about feeding your child. If you want a show, put a cover over my sons head, I guarantee you'll see more that way as he flails about and I try to keep him covered.
I am lucky, I have never come across a dirty look or heard a nasty comment. On the contrary, I have had many knowing glances and very positive words of wisdom bestowed upon me as I've nursed my son. In the grand scheme of things, nursing in public has been fairly easy to do considering all of our struggles.
Nursing in public will never be fully accepted if more women don't nurse in public. Obviously there are some women who would rather not ever be in that situation to begin with, for various reasons, and that is fine. That doesn't mean ALL women need to stay home, go into the next room or cover up their baby.
Next time you see a mother nursing her child, give her a smile. Tell her she's doing a great job. I promise you will make her day.