Disclosure :: World Breastfeeding Week is recognized August 1 – 7, 2015. This year, World Breastfeeding Weekcalls for concerted global action to support women to combine breastfeeding and work. Whether a woman is working in the formal, non-formal or home setting, it is necessary that she is empowered in claiming her and her baby’s right to breastfeed. Our World Breastfeeding Week series is sponsored by Touro Infirmary.
When I gave birth, I knew I would breastfeed. It seemed natural; I also saw my own mother breastfeed my younger siblings, and I wanted that connection to my child. I gave it a try, and it turned out that I loved it. It wasn’t always easy though. My daughter and I had a couple of rough months where my supply did not match her ravenous hunger, and I had to nurse her very frequently in order to compensate for my low supply. I did try formula to supplement, but my little peanut was allergic to milk protein and could not drink the regular formula; she hated the other kinds. Being at home, I had the luxury of being able to nurse often and whenever she needed it, so I stuck with it.
One issue remained: nursing in public.
If you nursed your baby, maybe you had no problem pulling out the boob at the mall or so. Heck, maybe you were one of these moms who was actively engaged to promote nursing in public, because it’s our right to feed our babies if they’re hungry. Well, I just could not. I was just not comfortable to expose myself. I did have to get out of the house though, and with nursing sessions still less than two hours apart by the time my baby was five months old, I chose to get over it. At first, I would go back to my car and nurse there, or just plan my life around nursing. That did not give me much time to do … well, anything. So, I practiced in front of a mirror to make sure that I did not look ridiculous (and I sure did when I first tried! I was hot and red with hair all over my face.) One of my friends gave me a nursing cover. It was yellow with blue and purple flowers.I looked like a lighthouse, beaming for attention. So, I dropped it. And little by little, I felt more and more comfortable nursing out in the open. I chose strapless bras for comfort and convenience, would read a book while nursing, and pick quiet spots.
When my daughter weaned at fifteen months old, I had nursed in the most random places, and it felt great. I felt no shame and nursed quietly without getting attention. If you are in my situation right now and do not feel particularly at ease with nursing in public, please know that someone (me!) nursed…
In the courtroom of my naturalization ceremony
Just after taking the oath, while listening to the judge talk about education in the United States. Next to me was my husband, and on the other side, an Egyptian family celebrating their long wait for the father to become an American citizen. The room was packed and the air smelled like victory. Officers saw me while I nursed and smiled at me. The feeling was unbelievable.
In the waiting line of immigration at the Boston airport
Standing up. A lady from immigration offered me a chair. People let me pass in front of them. No judgment, just understanding.
In a flight over the country
Not only did the older gentleman next to me look away the whole time to make me comfortable; he even offered his lap when I found out that there was no changing table in the plane and kept my daughter entertained while I cleaned her. I wish I could find him to thank him again.
At the gardening store
On a rocking chair for sale. It’s not so unusual, but it was for me because the store was filled with men and older couples. My daughter screamed for a couple of minutes because I was not as ready as I wished, and my shirt was too tight to pull. We were the center of attention for quite a while, and I must have looked so embarrassed. An older lady said to me: “Don’t worry dear; you’re doing great. I nursed my son and looked a lot worse.” It changed everything. A wave of relief washed away my worries.
At a campground between two rounds of ping-pong
In France, on the Atlantic coast, in a small town called Pornic. We spent two weeks there with my family and camped among people from all over Europe. The camp was full and people passed in front of our spot multiple times a day. I received lots of smiles and even a free plate of pancakes to “give me energy” from the British couple just in front of us.
All this to say that if you are starting to nurse, or are pregnant and considering to nurse, but feel unsure about nursing in public, you’ll make it. We mostly hear about the negative reactions to women breastfeeding in public, and it’s too bad because there are also a lot of supportive people who will not hesitate to make you feel good. I am currently pregnant with my second baby and may have to do a couple of rounds of “practice” with my cherished mirror, but I do know that I will be out nursing as soon as I can.
If you have nursed in public, what are the most unusual places where you nursed? How was your experience?