the reality of nursing in public…

Most stories about mothers nursing their children in public are negative. We hear the stories of discrimination and oppression. Those against breastfeeding will claim they saw a woman fling her breast out to breastfeed her child. Breastfeeding mothers tell of snide comments they heard, demands that they leave a public place or feed their child in a restroom. I’ve had my share of comments. They do exist, as much as some will have you believe otherwise. Occassionally a mother may have a positive comment or smile. Personally, I try to encourage other mothers I see nursing in public, even if it’s just with a cheesy smile. However, overall neither of these scenarios is the norm.  

I’ve never once seen a woman fling a breast, which frankly sounds quite painful. If you know where I can witness this, please let me know; I’ve never quite understood the logistics of it. The truth if the matter is, most people don’t notice a mother nursing her child. When a child shows signs of wanting to nurse, a mother matter of factly lifts or lowers her shirt enough to allow the child to latch on. They nurse and go on about their business. No fanfare precedes the event. There are no requests for cheers or hurrahs. The mother is merely attending to her child’s needs, just as she would hug the child or hand the child food.

While negative experiences sadly occur, in the thousands of times I’ve nursed in public, the number of negative comments are comparatively small. I’ve nursed in a laundromat full of college guys, out hiking, in stores while pushing a cart, while helping my older children with crafts at a children’s museum, next to a strange man on an airplane (who was kind enough to offer to pull my tray down for my water), at concerts, parks, libraries, and more. Most of the time, no one says a word.

So while we do need to normalize breastfeeding and nursing in public, new mothers shouldn’t feel frightened to do so. Chances are, no one will even notice. If they do, it’s very likely they won’t say a thing. And if they do, take confidence in the fact that you are doing the best for your child and stay firm in your rights.

This post was originally posted on Nursing Freedom.

if they are young enough to ask for it…

Photo by Christy Scherrer

We’ve all heard the phrase “If they are old enough to ask for it, they are too old to nurse.” There is absolutely no logic to it, and it only goes to show the ignorance of the person spouting it.

Babies ask to nurse from the day they are born. They cry, root, and open their mouths. As parents, we interpret this communication and respond accordingly, pulling our babies to our breast to nourish them. As children grow and develop, their needs do not diminish; their communication skills increase. Use of verbal (or visual in the case of ASL) communication is no different than a hungry child crying in an attempt to get his/her needs met.

The same person who advocates withholding breastfeeding because a child can verbally communicate his/her needs would not also advocate withholding food because a person could verbally communicate that s/he was hungry. It wouldn’t make sense to tell someone that they couldn’t eat because they recognized they were hungry and told us. If a visiting adult asked for a glass of water due to thirst, our reply would not be, “I’m sorry. You asked for it, so you are definitely too old to have a glass of water.”

The illogical phrase needs to stop being bandied about. The next time you hear someone say the phrase, reply back “If they are young enough to ask for it, they are too young to wean!”

food and feces…

Welcome to the July 2010 Carnival of Nursing in Public

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Nursing in Public hosted by Dionna and Paige at NursingFreedom.org. All week, July 5-9, we will be featuring articles and posts about nursing in public (“NIP”). See the bottom of this post for more information.

***

A celebrity recently caused another uproar in the debate regarding public breastfeeding. While eating at a restaurant, she witnessed a mother breastfeed her baby at the table and change it’s diaper. People came out of the woodwork saying that mothers should go to the restroom for that.

By that, I hope they are referring to changing a diaper. I agree that tables are no place to change a diaper. I have no desire to eat on a table that just had a pooey diaper on it. The aroma of poo as a diaper is changed doesn’t add to my culinary experience. I take my babies to the bathroom to change their diapers when we eat out. Food and feces just don’t mix.

And for that same reason, suggesting that a mother breastfeed her child in a bathroom is ludicrous. If a person recognizes that changing a diaper at a public dinner table is unsanitary, how is it that that same person thinks it is perfectly acceptable to expect a child to eat in a public toilet?

Art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/

Welcome to the Carnival of Nursing in Public

Please join us all week, July 5-9, as we celebrate and support breastfeeding mothers. And visit NursingFreedom.org any time to connect with other breastfeeding supporters, learn more about your legal right to nurse in public, and read (and contribute!) articles about breastfeeding and N.I.P.

Do you support breastfeeding in public? Grab this badge for your blog or website to show your support and encourage others to educate themselves about the benefits of breastfeeding and the rights of breastfeeding mothers and children.

This post is just one of many being featured as part of the Carnival of Nursing in Public. Please visit our other writers each day of the Carnival. Click on the links below to see each day’s posts – new articles will be posted on the following days:

July 5 – Making Breastfeeding the Norm: Creating a Culture of Breastfeeding in a Hyper-Sexualized World

July 6 – Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers: the New, the Experienced, and the Mothers of More Than One Nursing Child

July 7 – Creating a Supportive Network: Your Stories and Celebrations of N.I.P.

July 8 – Breastfeeding: International and Religious Perspectives

July 9 – Your Legal Right to Nurse in Public, and How to Respond to Anyone Who Questions It

feel free to be offended…

Welcome to the July 2010 Carnival of Nursing in Public

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Nursing in Public hosted by Dionna and Paige at NursingFreedom.org. All week, July 5-9, we will be featuring articles and posts about nursing in public (“NIP”). See the bottom of this post for more information.

***

There are those who are offended by the sight of a mother nursing her child in public. To them I say, “Feel free to be offended.” 

In a world as diverse as ours, something is bound to offend another person – sexuality, race, gender, religion, clothing, speech, habits, etc. We have the right to our individual beliefs and, as a part of that, a right to feel offense. Where our rights stop is where they interfere with another person’s rights.

Personally, I’m offended by smoking. I think it’s disgusting, and I really don’t want to be anywhere near it. However, I’m not going to ask someone to quit smoking. I will quietly go somewhere else so that my children and I don’t have to be around it. I am also disgusted by the site of people chewing food with their mouths open. Apparently the memo that watching partially masticated food is unappealing didn’t make it’s way through the entire human population (or my in-laws’ house). I reserve the right to look away in my offense.

What I don’t have is the right to dictate how people legally live their lives. I may be offended by some things, but frankly it’s none of my business. I don’t have the right to dictate what they can and cannot do based on my sensibilities.

So the next time I’m out in public and breastfeed my child, feel free to be offended. Feel free to look away, walk away, cover your head in shame, or however you choose to deal with your uncomfortable feelings. You have that right, just as I have the right to nurse whenever and wherever I have the right to be.

Art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/

Welcome to the Carnival of Nursing in Public

Please join us all week, July 5-9, as we celebrate and support breastfeeding mothers. And visit NursingFreedom.org any time to connect with other breastfeeding supporters, learn more about your legal right to nurse in public, and read (and contribute!) articles about breastfeeding and N.I.P.

Do you support breastfeeding in public? Grab this badge for your blog or website to show your support and encourage others to educate themselves about the benefits of breastfeeding and the rights of breastfeeding mothers and children.

This post is just one of many being featured as part of the Carnival of Nursing in Public. Please visit our other writers each day of the Carnival. Click on the links below to see each day’s posts – new articles will be posted on the following days:

July 5 – Making Breastfeeding the Norm: Creating a Culture of Breastfeeding in a Hyper-Sexualized World

July 6 – Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers: the New, the Experienced, and the Mothers of More Than One Nursing Child

July 7 – Creating a Supportive Network: Your Stories and Celebrations of N.I.P.

July 8 – Breastfeeding: International and Religious Perspectives

July 9 – Your Legal Right to Nurse in Public, and How to Respond to Anyone Who Questions It

public intimacy…

Welcome to the July 2010 Carnival of Nursing in Public

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Nursing in Public hosted by Dionna and Paige at NursingFreedom.org. All week, July 5-9, we will be featuring articles and posts about nursing in public (“NIP”). See the bottom of this post for more information.

***

Intimacy. 1. The state of being intimate. 2. Something of a personal or private nature. 3. Rituals of connection.

Breastfeeding is definitely an intimate experience. It allows mother and child to bond and promotes connection. And due to its intimate nature, many would claim that mothers should only nurse their children in private. Afterall, intimate acts should never occur in public…

…except that intimate acts constantly occur in public. People kiss. Hands are held. Hugs show affection and lift someone’s spirits. High fives convey excitement. Conversations occur. Hands are shook. Special looks are given. Personal jokes and stories are shared. Intimacy is all around us.

Those who claim someone should only breastfeed in private are merely intruding on an intimate act. Rather a social faux pas, isn’t it?

Art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/

Welcome to the Carnival of Nursing in Public

Please join us all week, July 5-9, as we celebrate and support breastfeeding mothers. And visit NursingFreedom.org any time to connect with other breastfeeding supporters, learn more about your legal right to nurse in public, and read (and contribute!) articles about breastfeeding and N.I.P.

Do you support breastfeeding in public? Grab this badge for your blog or website to show your support and encourage others to educate themselves about the benefits of breastfeeding and the rights of breastfeeding mothers and children.

This post is just one of many being featured as part of the Carnival of Nursing in Public. Please visit our other writers each day of the Carnival. Click on the links below to see each day’s posts – new articles will be posted on the following days:

July 5 – Making Breastfeeding the Norm: Creating a Culture of Breastfeeding in a Hyper-Sexualized World

July 6 – Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers: the New, the Experienced, and the Mothers of More Than One Nursing Child

July 7 – Creating a Supportive Network: Your Stories and Celebrations of N.I.P.

July 8 – Breastfeeding: International and Religious Perspectives

July 9 – Your Legal Right to Nurse in Public, and How to Respond to Anyone Who Questions It

normalizing breastfeeding through solidarity…

Photo by Christy Scherrer

While the US pretends to be a progressive and educated society, we come up lacking when it comes to the basic needs of our young. This is clearly evident when the topic of breastfeeding comes up. US breastfeeding rates are abysmal, and the public view on nursing in public, and nursing in general, rank even lower. While evidence supports numerous benefits for child, mother, and society, breastfeeding support is lacking and breastfeeding mothers frequently are treated poorly. Many, including the two-faced individuals who claim that they support breastfeeding and yet vehemently exclaim that they shouldn’t have to see that, would have others believe that discrimination against breastfeeding mothers and rude comments are a mythical occurence. However, too many breastfeeding mothers can attest to discrimination and comments. Those instances that make it to the media are not isolated events.

How do we normalize breastfeeding against such ignorance and intolerance? Some mothers (and fathers) prepare and practice informative and/or witty comebacks. Some work towards educating the public. Others are setting the example, either with a purpose in mind or merely by meeting their children’s needs by nursing anytime and anywhere. While educating others, meeting our children’s needs, and protecting ourselves are all important aspects of normalizing breastfeeding, I think we are missing the one thing that will go the furthest: empowerment!

Most of us have received a negative comment (or more) about breastfeeding at some time or other. If not, there are the comments about us, said loudly enough to make certain we hear them. How often have we heard positive comments?

Nothing we say is going to change these people. Expecting a majority to band together to support a minority is unrealistic, at best. Instead, I call for solidarity! Support other nursing mothers you see out and about. Anyone can do this. A kind comment, a cheesy smile, or even a thumbs up to show support goes a long way. If nursing mothers and their support networks (husbands, partners, parents, siblings, children) band together, we can empower each other (and future nursing mothers) and make a change. Vow to make a small difference in the life of a nursing mother you don’t know.

 

 

nursing and multi-tasking…

Many nursing mothers have learned to multi-task while breastfeeding. If you have other children, you often need to be doing other things while you feeding your nursling. Sometimes nursing is a chance to have some time to do something you like such as reading a good book (or just sitting down). Some little nurslings are also multi-taskers.

My older daughter was a multi-tasker from early on. She liked to have a book to look at, a toy to play with, or my hair to play with. As she got older, she would sign to have conversations with me and later added singing (well, humming) to her repertoire.

While I nurse my children whenever and wherever, that doesn’t apply around my husband’s family. As a low supply mom who has to use Lact-Aids to supplement while we nurse, I haven’t wanted the additional grief they would give me about it (or the ensuing gossip and grief from other extended relatives on that side). I’ve always left the room to nurse when around them.

On Halloween when my daughter was two years old, we had taken the kids trick-or-treating in my in-laws’ neighborhood and stopped at their house to visit. It was later in the evening and my daughter was stressed out from the visit. She wanted to comfort nurse (i.e. nurse just for comfort without the need for the Lact-Aid), and I decided to go ahead and nurse her in the living room. My daughter was a blueberry fairy that year and had a big tutu that stuck up and blocked any view of use while she laid in my lap.

After a couple of minutes, she began humming. I’m certain my husband was chuckling to himself. After a few minutes he couldn’t help it and innocently asked, “Is she singing?” I, just as innocently, replied back, “And nursing.” The wide-eyed shock on his parents face, and the resulting grin on my husband’s face, told me he had gotten just the reaction he had been going for. He had a good laugh about it later.