When can we stop talking about it?
It might be that we live in a bubble here in the greater Boston area (possible). It might be that the “breast is best” dictum has magically been accepted into the hearts and minds of everyone I’ve encountered while breastfeeding in public (doubtful). It might just be that I’ve been terrifically lucky (this). Because despite my concern about outside hostility, judgement and stares, my experience nursing in public has been overwhelmingly positive.
After my initial struggle with breastfeeding my oldest, I had mentally talked myself through possible breastfeeding confrontations or comments. Nursing was so hard in the beginning that the idea of being able to control something outside my own body was actually appealing. I could picture someone approaching me, eyeing my nursling and my partially exposed breast; in my mind, I rehearsed retort after retort. “If it bothers you, why are you staring?” “My baby is eating; what are you doing?” Thankfully, I never needed any of those lines.
On the contrary, I’ve been complimented time and time again for breastfeeding in public. Nursing in public normalizes it for everyone. Once while visiting family on the west coast, someone put this card in front of me thanking me for modeling breastfeeding in public. Instead of leering, an affable soul informed me that my nursing my baby, while grocery shopping, was the best thing I could do for the baby. Admittedly, that last one made me a bit uncomfortable; it’s almost as if my expectation or fear of hostility swung too far in the positive direction. It felt like overcompensating.
My discomfort got me thinking, what’s the ideal, best case scenario? What would it look like if we actually normalized breastfeeding? It would be nice if society got to a place where no one felt the need to comment on breastfeeding at all – or better yet, if no one felt the need to comment on all styles of parenting, feeding baby, etc. at all. You see someone nursing and instead of looking away or staring you just continue what you were doing. My advice – talking to a mom that suddenly needs to nurse an infant? Just keep talking!
For now, let’s all get on the body positivity and individual choice train. If you’re nursing in public, and you’re comfortable rocking out with your boob out, that’s great. If you prefer to keep it under wraps, get a handy poncho (like this stylish one) or scarf or use a muslin blanket. Feed your baby in whatever way is most comfortable for you. We’ll celebrate your choice (without shouting about it in the check out line)!
Contributed by: Sandy Bartone