Gabriella
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Mama’s Milk: Breastfeeding in Public


I must admit, when I was younger and no where ready to be a mom, I thought breastfeeding was gross – I was very immature.  As I got older I realized that not only is it natural, but it’s great for babies.  I think a woman should be able to breastfeed her child whenever, wherever.  If you are nursing your child then at some point you’ve had to whip your boob out in public to feed your baby.

Nursing In Public

When I see other women nursing in public there’s a part of me that’s a bit jealous at how elegantly they can do it without having their goods on display. I feel like the more discreet I try to be, the more on display my boobs are!  I initially tried a nursing cover but the Tiny Dancer didn’t like it – and I can’t blame her.  Do you like eating with a curtain around you? Um, no.

I’ve nursed my daughter at the airport, on an airplane, at the mall, in the doctor’s office – pretty much every place we go.  It’s gotten easier but the idea of nursing in public freaked me out.  I’m very modest and I don’t like having my tatas out for the world to see so I’ve always been very private about it.  Usually hiding in a corner, creating obstructions and visiting every family room in department stores and malls.  The Tiny Dancer gets very easily distracted so I’ve found that nursing her in public doesn’t work – she’s too concerned with what’s going on around her.  Instead, I have a traveling nursery pillow/blankets/burp cloths that I keep in my car and my car has become my mobile nursing station.  It’s not the most convenient all the time, but it works for the Tiny Dancer and me so we’re going with it.

Society’s Mixed Messages

One of the beauties of nursing is that you can do it anywhere, anytime – and you need that flexibility when feeding on demand.  All you need is you and your baby.  It’s unfortunate that society has so sexualized women’s breasts that their intended purpose is obscured – and even deemed obscene!  It’s funny when people like Kim Kardashian have no problem having sex on tape and having her breasts on display but finds it repulsive to see a woman feeding her child.  And it’s not just her.  Earlier this week Facebook deleted The Leaky B@@b’s account because photos of women nursing their babies were deemed obscene.  Really?

How can one of the most natural, loving acts – a woman nursing her child – be deemed obscene?  After much ado, Facebook reinstated The Leaky B@@b‘s account but it’s an example of how society looks at mothers – and shows the conflicting messages we send to ladies.  On the one hand, society wants women to be mothers but calls feeding your child in the most natural way obscene.  It’s ridiculous.  And if nipples are so offensive and covered on women, why can men go shirtless? Don’t they have nipples too?

Resources

Alas, I’m digressing.  I just think women should be able to nurse their children as they see fit.  It’s funny but some states have restrictions on when/where a woman can nurse in public, and some states merely decriminalize it.  Whatever the case may be (and however sound), be sure to know whether you are protected in your state.  Mothering Magazine created this handy map as a reference on what states protect nursing in public.

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3 Responses to “Mama’s Milk: Breastfeeding in Public”

  1. Skim says:

    I love this post. I’m not one of those women that yearns to be a mother. I don’t coo at babies. However, when I see a mom and baby sharing the nursing experience, it really does send me into heartfelt overload. It’s one of the most beautiful human moments I can define. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    • GDK says:

      Hi Skim!
      Thanks. I was never really the googoo gaga type either – and I’m still not – except when it comes to my Tiny Dancer. I really do feel like we have a stronger bond because I’m her milk machine ;)

  2. Sha! says:

    This is a great post. I’m from Toronto, Canada and the moment you give birth, the nurses urge new parents to fulfill breastfeeding before trying formula.
    After a month of breastfeeding my son, I wasn’t able to produce enough milk for him, so I was getting a lot of slack for turning to the alternative (formula) – really though, what was more important? Breastfeed vs. formula-feeding or feeding my baby?
    Anyway, at the hospital, I felt very safe feeding him – well, in the maternity ward and NICU. Once I stepped out in public, it was an entirely different story.
    It’s tiring and also very disappointing to see that people still haven’t learned to mind their own business and let a Mama do what she must for her child(ren) – feed them.

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