My son is now over two weeks old. We’ve been visiting relatives, to stores, and out to eat. Guess what? My baby has to eat when we’re out.
I don’t think much of breastfeeding in public. In fact, my family has always been so cool about breastfeeding that it’s hard for me to realize that not all of society accepts it. I have no problem breastfeeding at a table. In fact, I have no problems breastfeeding in front of my dad or my 14 year old nephew. At this point. I do put a blanket over me and the baby when we are out. Since he is so young yet, sometimes he needs help latching on, epically if we are somewhere with different noises. So for now, I use the blanket. When he is older, I will be able to discreetly lift part of my shirt. Anyway, I in no way “whip it out” when I am in public.
Anyway, two experiences lately made me remember that not everyone is comfortable with breastfeeding. The first one happened the other night in McDonald’s. My finance and I were childless except for the baby. We went to get some last minute Christmas shopping done and stopped for dinner. By this time, my son was hungry. Looking around the McDonald’s, I chose a table in the section by the bathrooms as it was almost empty and away from the main doors to avoid a draft. One other couple had just sat down and I sat with my back to them at the booth in front of them. They were an older, retired couple and as I started nursing my son and I realized that they might be uncomfortable with me nursing right there. Granted, they couldn’t see anything at all but I just got this vibe. Nobody said anything to me and we had a nice meal. It just made me feel kind of strange.
The next day, we went over to my soon to be in laws house. We had been running a few errands and by the time we got there, Julian was hungry. This was the third time we were around my in laws since Julian was born and the third time I got the impression that my mother in law is not comfortable with breastfeeding.
The first time was when they came to see us in the hospital. They stayed for a little while and then when Julian got fussy and I said he was hungry, she seemed to beeline out the door saying to her 9 year old daughter, “Come on, she has to feed the baby.” Okay, I didn’t think too much of it. After all, they had their visit and sometimes when she’s ready to go, she just wants to go.
A few days later they came over and when I nursed the baby, she went outside to have a cigarette. Again, I tried not to read too much into it. After all, I know she smokes but usually she’ll go longer without a cigarette when she’s at our house.
However, this time I am sure she’s uncomfortable. When I said that Julian was hungry, she offered me the guest room to feed him in. I was a little taken back but I smiled and said “Thank you but we’re fine here.” My fiance agrees that he thinks she’s uncomfortable because she never breastfed nor knew many if any- people who have.
This situation reminded me of another time. When my oldest was about 2 weeks old, we went to my ex husband’s aunt and uncle’s house for Thanksgiving. When we got there, I was told that they set up a chair in their bedroom for me to use to nurse the baby. Being a young mother and new to the family, I went ahead and used the room. His Aunt was not uncomfortable with breastfeeding as she nursed all 5 of ker kids. However, she was very conservative and she would hide away to nurse them. She assumed I felt the same way.
People will make comments and be uncomfortable, it’s a fact of life right now. I wish that people would ask me questions instead of being uncomfortable. For instance, ask me why I nurse my baby, I’ll tell you all the good I am doing. Ask me if I would like to go to another room, I will tell you I want to be with adult conversation and I see no reason to hide a baby while feeding them.
Some people might try to disguise their discomfort by trying to sound like they are being helpful. For instance, you might hear “Why don’t you go into the other room so the baby isn’t distracted by the noise?” First of all, would they be saying that if you had a bottle in your hand? Second, babies don’t seem very bothered by noise when they’re hungry. Babies who have older siblings especially are used to noise. Christmas is coming and I might have to go to another room to nurse then as there will be about 15 kids running around in my parents very small house. Add to that another 15 adults and it gets noisy, however, that is an extreme case. Most often, my children have been fine with the noise while nursing as newborns. Older babies do notice the noise more as they get nosey but that is a different story.
If you feel more comfortable nursing in private, then do so. However, do not let someone else’s comfort level dictate how you feed your baby.
I found this poem on the Canadian Lactivis t site. She’s not sure who wrote it but shared it and I will share it as well. I think this syms it up nicely:
If a woman breastfeeds with her whole breast out of the shirt, there’s someone in the room wishing she would pull the shirt down a little more.
If she pulls her shirt down a little more, there’s someone in the room wishing she would put a blanket over her side boob, or cleavage.
If she blankets her boob, there’s someone wishing she would put the blanket over the baby’s head.
If she blankets her baby, there’s someone wishing she was in the corner.
If she moves to the corner, there’s someone wishing she would face the wall.
If she faces the wall, there’s someone wishing she would leave the room.
Can’t please ‘em all, so do what feels right to YOU, I say. But regardless of how you do it, keep nursing, ladies.