Nursing in Public
Christmas Eve 2002. Plane delayed at Texas airport. Baby is exactly one year old. It’s her birthday. She was barely on solid food. Hungry. I found a quiet corner of the airport, pulled out a receiving blanket, and attempted nursing in public for the first time. My husband shielded me during the latch on process. I tried covering her with the receiving blanket, but she hated it. She kept pulling it off. I finally stopped trying, and just pulled my shirt down to cover as much as I could. I successfully nursed in public for the first time. Prior to that, if I was at the mall and she was hungry, I would slog back through the mall to my car and nurse there. No nursing rooms. Can’t nurse in the bathroom. Not only is that gross (who wants to hang out in a public bathroom any longer than they have to. Even a clean one?), but there’s no arm supports on a toilet. Also didn’t want to nurse in the restroom lounge at Nordstrom because I’d have to be in there by myself, and I wanted to be able to talk with my husband.
Nursing in that airport was remarkably freeing.
July 2004. Second baby born in February. Took baby and toddler to Disneyland. Baby still nursing frequently. Still young, so nursed often and for a long time. Tried walking back to baby care center every time she needed to eat, but after three walks from Critter Country or Small World all the way back to the baby care center, I was tired. When everyone else was eating at Carnation Café, I was in the baby care center. Finally, I nursed on the Railroad. Then in a quiet corner by Small World.
With baby number three, there were no big milestones. I nursed her where and when she needed it.
Christmas Eve 2009. Disneyland with three children and a baby. Dad and girls set to go on Star Tours. Baby hungry. I sit on a planter bench outside the Star Tours entrance and confidently nurse. And you know what, as I looked around, not ONE SINGLE PERSON even looked at me. They were too busy getting where they were going to care about a woman sitting on a bench holding a baby.
One of the reasons women don’t breastfeed is they think a bottle gives them more freedom. The only way it gives them more freedom if we continue to let others intimidate us to not nurse our babies when and where they are hungry. I can go wherever I want on a moment’s notice. I don’t have to prep bottles or premeasure formula. I can stay out longer than planned because I’m not going to run out of food. If we want to go somewhere spur of the moment, I don’t have to calculate when he last ate, when he will next eat and how much I need to bring with me. If there’s a disaster (like an earthquake), I don’t have to worry about having clean water or access to sterilizing equipment or electricity.
I just read an article that says Generation Y kids don’t want to nurse in public because they think they will be embarrassed. That’s sad! But it proves the point that the younger generation are raised to be more sexualized. Breasts are for ogling in wet t-shirts, not for feeding a child. The more we nurse in public without shame, the more we teach the younger generation that it’s normal and nothing to be ashamed of.