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Thoughts on Nursing in Public
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why am i embarrassed - Page 2post #21 of 369/15/13 at 1:05pmMy fear comes from people seeing my breasts. I know that I have a right to feed my baby where and when I please but I also have a right to modesty. My breasts are huge!! Easily an F or G. I just hate them and don't know a way around exposing myself if and when I feed my baby in public. He is 4 weeks but already over 11 lbs. and over 24" long. Bulky baby. The nursing cover is a last resort. Usually I feed him in the car.post #22 of 369/15/13 at 6:46pmI'm a plus size mom with large breasts and felt self conscious with my first. We had issues and I worked very hard to establish a strong nursing relationship and after 10 weeks of EPing, once she finally latched well, I simply thought "screw it. I earned to hold my head up high and feed my child naturally and without embarrassment." I just started NIP and kept at it. She nursed to 2, when my supply tanked halfway through my second pregnancy and she stopped. I'm now nursing my 7 week old younger DD and despite recently losing the support of my in laws and my brother being an immature jerk about it, I nurse anytime and anywhere proudly. I don't care if some pervert stares or some older woman thinks I'm indecent/immodest. I care that my girls see a strong mother and good role model who does what she believes is right. I care that my sweet girls grow up seeing nursing as a natural part of having babies. I nurse in public so that other kids can see a baby eating naturally and it becomes the norm, not the oddity. I guess in a way I'm nursing in public so my girls won't even have to think about it when they have my grand babies <3post #23 of 369/15/13 at 7:04pm
My breasts were huge when I was nursing (seriously porn star huge). I was uncomfortable NIP at first since DS did not like the cover and liked to pop on and off a lot. Eventually, I just stopped caring if other people saw my breasts. DH and I had been together 12 yrs by then, and I honestly did not care who saw what after a while (sleep deprivation is a great tool for determining what is really important). I once stopped and nursed in the patio furniture section of Sears, a male store employee very nicely informed me that the mall had breastfeeding rooms, but they were on the other side of the mall, so I kindly informed him DS would be done before we got there and I thought feeding him here was less likely to cause a ruckus than walking through the mall feeding him.
By the time I had DD, I was not at all concerned about who saw what where. Just know that what you are feeling is common, many moms are uncomfy NIP at first, it will get better. I was always more open nursing in front of strangers than people I saw on a regular basis.post #24 of 369/16/13 at 12:59pmI'm still confused with how to nurse in the Ergo. I have really small breasts (I think A/B-ish cup) and I just don't get how to situate him in the ergo to nurse! Is it easier with an older baby (mine is almost 9 weeks)?
Skycheattraffic, good for you. I can't imagine not having family support, that would make it so much harder to establish a good breastfeeding relationship.post #25 of 369/16/13 at 1:04pmWhen mine were under 3 months, I would often use the ergo for supporting their bottoms while in a cradle hold position. It was mostly for coverage. But once they were old enough to latch on belly-to-belly, I wore them the intended way. I also used pouch slings and ring slings for nursing/wearing regularly. The ring sling was nice, since the excess fabric could be pulled over as a nursing cover.post #26 of 369/16/13 at 2:38pm
Just wanted to add my 2 cents: When DS1 was born, I felt embarrassed at first, too. Then I realized that if someone is offended by seeing a breast do what a breast was designed to do - nurture our babies - then maybe they need to see more of it, and maybe I'm just the girl to give them the opportunity! I've seen many people who smiled supportively when they saw what I was doing. I would just smile sweetly and pat my baby's back if anyone gave me a cross look, and they'd usually just look away real quick. No one ever said anything, but if they had, I'd have been happy to educate them on the health benefits of nursing on demand, and the laws that protect a woman's right to breastfeed anywhere she and her baby have a right to be.
I figured out how to use the burp cloth draped over my shoulder & top of my breast as a discreet cover (in that position, it's functional in many ways) - none of mine would ever tolerate being fully covered with a wrap or blanket, besides, I think it looks even more conspicuous than a baby just snuggling up to mom's breast. Like a big neon sign saying "HELLO! TITTIES HERE!!" When baby wiggles, just pull the burp cloth down a couple inches and hold the baby over your boob.
Creative wardrobe choices are good, like nursing tanks or really stretchy cami tops under a cardigan, zippered hoodie, button-down shirt, etc. Lots of nursing tanks have a built-in bra, which is awesome! You just have to find what works for you, and practice discreetly un-doing and re-doing your clothes one-handed (ok, and with a wriggling 10 lb weight in the other hand).
The Ergo Baby carrier is the most amazing thing for NIP: wear in the front-wearing position, baby facing you...loosen the straps enough to let baby's face down by your boobies, and snap up the hood. Nobody can see anything, except a little on the side, which I remedied by pulling my sweater under the strap on that side. I've nursed that way while pushing the cart around the grocery store, with one happy baby!
I found the best way to remedy being nervous about NIP is simply to do it! The more you do it, the more efficient at it and comfortable you will become. Good luck!post #27 of 369/16/13 at 6:58pmpost #28 of 369/16/13 at 8:35pmpost #29 of 3610/3/13 at 12:44pmi have been guilty of accidentally sorta staring (well, i think perhaps seeming like it): i am noticing the cute little momma/baby-in-sling duo, not really aware they're breastfeeding, then i will suddenly notice there's a big swath of exposed flesh (oh! they're breastfeeding! shit, i bet they thought i was gawking! look away, but not too abruptly! awww, what's wrong with me?) b/c i have strong, unabashed feelings that breastfeeding is super important and should be supported in all ways, including (especially?) that breastfeeding in public is given priority over some people's unfortunate discomfort. i'm righteous & indignant & outraged by any suggestions that breastfeeding whenever & wherever baby needs it should be discouraged for any reason. but then i find myself also trapped in the messy cultural hangups. i'd like to believe that it's 100% altruistic that i try to avert my eyes – just in case they are feeling uncomfortable, i want to spare them the unwanted attention. but i'd be lying if i didn't admit there's some shyness/awkwardness i myself am experiencing – not inherent in seeing someone breastfeed, but in possibly appearing to be staring, like that makes me voyeuristic. what i wish i felt was total lack of any awareness of the possibility of discomfort for either of us. but, alas, i am not totally immune to the cultural stuff. so i totally relate to the OP's feeling of not having your ideal mindset match with your in-the-moment reaction.
i was surprised to see from the responses here that many of you were pleased to receive positive feedback. i usually feel like it would be arrogant and presumptuous of me to think anyone cares to hear my approval or congratulations – and that this would do the opposite of normalize breastfeeding in public, by making it stand out as cool or exceptional instead of everyday, run-of-the-mill mammalian feeding (which is basically what i think it should be!) so i never, ever comment. i generally have mixed feelings about verbally engaging people in public who may be exhausted (that i'm forcing them to socialize) so i generally just tend to equate keeping quiet with respecting their privacy. so if you've ever noticed the awkward, young, tattooed, dykey-looking chick seeming to almost be staring but then look away, i would say attribute to that encounter the very best of motives, as it was probably me or someone like me, who totally supports you but wants to leave you alone to shop in peace. and now that i'm about to become a parent, i extra notice babies everywhere i go (i hear this is a thing, and not an actual increase in the number of babies present in public – just my noticing). and so now, on top of all that, i'm actually curious about things like what type of sling they're using, how it's fastened/tied, how baby is situated, whether they're intentionally bouncing around for baby's benefit, or just moving how they need to move to do their shopping activity, so i might actually be looking for a few moments to take mental note of those things, and that's when i'll notice, oh, they're breastfeeding!post #30 of 3610/4/13 at 6:12pm
I've nursed in the ergo, but it's awkward--probably depends on the height of your baby, but I had to take one strap off my shoulder and lift my boob up and tilt the babe to the side...not the most comfortable for me. I've had MUCH more success nursing in a sling. Actually ran around LA while we were visiting, was able to nurse even when we were rushing around! The sling that worked for me is called a "Over the shoulder baby holder"! It even came with instructions on different positions to use and which one works best for nursing. I was super thankful for that. http://www.motheringfromtheheart.com/catalog/25.html
Also wanted to share this video, it's awesome. Spoken word defense of public breastfeeding. "Embarrassed" by Hollie McNishpost #31 of 3610/5/13 at 5:48am
I think it might be more difficult to nurse in the ergo if the breast on the smaller side but I wouldn't let that stop me trying! I nursed in the ergo from 2 (or 3) months onward. Basically, I'd pull my boob out (size E or D at the time) and literally put it in the direction of DD's mouth. It was winter so I had a jacket on top of the ergo so you couldn't see anything from the side, and I'd put up the cover attached to the ergo so no one can see anything from the top. Babies don't have to be in a horizontal position to nurse, they can nurse sort of lying vertically on you.
As to feeling exposed, I agree with the OP, I really did not like feeling my boob hanging out there. What I did is I either had scarf around my neck that I used to cover the cleavage or a small burp cloth. That way the upper part of my breast is covered but not my baby's head.
And honestly, breastfeeding in public is good practice for all the embarrassing things that will happen in public: crying, throwing tantrums, throwing up... after a (very short) while, I just stopped worrying what other people thought, there was simply no time/energy left for that luxurypost #32 of 3610/5/13 at 6:43amQuote:Yes, very much!! I feel like since becoming a mom, I simply don't have the time/energy to worry about what strangers think. What matters is what my kids thinkOriginally Posted by LilyKay
And honestly, breastfeeding in public is good practice for all the embarrassing things that will happen in public: crying, throwing tantrums, throwing up... after a (very short) while, I just stopped worrying what other people thought, there was simply no time/energy left for that luxurypost #33 of 3610/18/13 at 7:10pmI too found it embarrassing at first. It isn't as easy as it would seem to discretely feed a baby, especially if they let go often to look around:-) Traveling alone with my son on multiple flights got me over it. There was just no way to be bashful and my son's comfort trumped that of myself and my fellow passengers.I just fed him as much as he liked. So many people commented about what a great traveler he was and how quiet he was during the flights.
I want to add one thing about our perception of people staring. That may be our own insecurity and not that the onlooker is necessarily judging us. I caught myself staring at a young mother who happened to be nursing in public a couple of days ago. I didn't intend to make her uncomfortable.I just got caught in my own memories of nursing my son and probably didn't look away as fast as I should have.
I nursed my son for 15 months. I am really proud of that and was also ready to stop. It was a huge gift for me to be able to do it and it went by so fast!post #34 of 3611/12/13 at 7:12am
PP, A scarf is a great idea!
I don't NIP much, but I've come to appreciate a cover, as well as easily accessible clothes. Yes, a cover screams nursing mom -- more so than simply being discreet. But if I want to promote breastfeeding, than it may as well scream it. Plus, I don't have to be exposed. I have a really fast flow, so my babes pull of a lot. I find a strap around my neck with a rigid section in it allow better airflow and a view of my baby.post #35 of 3611/12/13 at 10:25am
The thing about pervy people watching you is that they are actually there, all the time, everywhere, but we don't notice unless we're breastfeeding. It's a sad reality of our existence that women are treated like sex objects a lot of the time, but if we're wearing a short skirt and heels, being objectified seems normal, even flattering. It's when we're in a place of specifically not wanting to be treated that way, such as being on a dark street at night, or breastfeeding our baby, that the attention starts to feel creepy. The problem is the people who chose to look at a woman that way, not the woman herself.
I decided that I wouldn't let someone else's pervy inclinations change the way I dress, act, walk, live etc. a long time ago, and I'm certainly not going to let someone else influence my nursing relationship due to their lack of insight and evolution. I wear a nursing tank and tshirt for my own comfort, not that of others.
Breastfeeding *is* a feminist issue.post #36 of 3612/1/13 at 1:16pm
I used to feel that way, but it's gotten easier and easier the more I NIP. I can say that I have never had anyone stare or make a rude/inappropriate comment. Mostly people don't even seem to notice or if they do, they smile and walk on by. I have a list of comebacks in my head for the day when someone says something nasty but fortunately I've never had to use them. LOL
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