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Daughter's embarrassed by breastfeeding

1084 Views 18 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  smurphygt
Hi there! I'm not sure if this belongs in parenting or breastfeeding, so I hope it's ok here.

My 6 year old daughter gets embarrassed when I nurse the baby in public. She first said something a couple of months ago while we were eating at a restaurant. She thought I should go to the bathroom to nurse her brother so people wouldn't see me. We discussed it and I explained it's normal and there's nothing wrong with breastfeeding, but she still insisted on her point of view. I dropped it and I thought she did too, but yesterday she said something while I was nursing Kian in the dr's office. Again I told her breastfeeding was completely normal and nothing to be ashamed of, but she replied, "But it's from your breast."

I honestly have no idea why this is such an issue with her. I'm not an overly modest person, although I do encourage her to be modest. I also try to act very confident when I NIP, but sometimes I don't always feel comfortable. Maybe she's picking up on that? I'm at a loss to what I should do to make her more comfortable with this and it bothers me that she even has this attitude in the first place. It makes me so sad because I want her to think breastfeeding is wonderful, not shameful. Should I nurse more often while we're out with the hope it would bother her less eventually, or should I try to accomodate her and avoid NIP if possible? How would other mamas handle this?
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Did someone say something to her about it?

Did you ask her WHY it's embarrassing to her?

Did you ask her if SHE would want to eat in the bathroom?

Did you ask her why she thought you should go to the bathroom?
You know, I'm guessing this has more to do with her being 6 than with your breastfeeding.

That's a prime age for being hypersensitive about modesty, and also for anything that doesn't conform to her view of what's normal.

I'd just keep talking to her about steps you do take to maintain modesty (bet she doesn't see them) and how many people you know you have (or are) breastfeeding. In fact, if you can point out examples (maybe a trip to a store with a mother's room?) or get someone else to talk to her about it, she might decide it's okay after all.
Good advice above. Honestly I'd talk to her about it then just basically tell her tough cookies. I'm sorry you're embarassed but baby's got to eat.

Thanks so much for your thoughts. I talked to her this afternoon and she said no one has said anything to her, but she noticed people staring while I nursed at the restaurant. I just explained to her that some people aren't comfortable seeing a baby nurse, but that's their issue to deal with, not mine.

I'd love for her to see other mom's nursing in public, but I rarely see them myself (2 times that I remember). We're moving to northern CA in a couple of months so maybe we'll have more opportunities then. Thanks again.
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My ds was the same age as your dd when I had my second... at first he thought breastfeeding was a crazy thing to do (he had never seen anyone else do it before) and would draw pictures and bring his little friends to see what I was doing and all sorts of things like that. He eventually got over it and is now (at age 10) a strong proponent of breastfeeding. He actually comments when he sees mothers bottle feeding their babies in public (I have to remind him not to be judgemental!).

You mentioned that you had explained to your dd that if people were looking and uncomfortable with your breastfeeding then that was their problem... that's totally true but you might also want to explain to your dd that perhaps these people aren't being critical - maybe it's refreshing for others to see a woman feed her baby naturally.

Your dd will get used to this and you breastfeeding your baby whereever and whenever you need to is setting a great example for when she grows up and becomes a mommy herself.
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This is coming from the 6-9 year old in me, not the 30 year old who have been nursing for 5 years.

I think it's because she's six, I was 6 when my brother was born, mom continued to NIP him whenever he needed it until he was 3+, (as an adult I think that was great, as a child I was mortally embarassed).

Think about it 6 to about 16 is ultimate fit in time, she wants to be "normal" and doesn't want to be embarrassed, how many kids does she really see nursing other that ds, it's not that common.

I would try to walk a fine line between her comfort and feeding your son. Her comfort and perseptions are important too.
About the people "staring" - I would say that it makes people happy to see a woman breastfeeding, so they can't help it.

Personally, I have a "look-away" reflex, I'm never sure what to do. I've tried to smile at the moms, but they usually look embarrassed or give me a funny look... I guess it's the flipside of the coin - am I supposed to look away and pretend I don't see, when I think it is normal and wonderful and great?

Such a strange world we live in...
You guys are so right about the staring. I didn't even think to say that maybe people are looking because they think it's great to see babies eat the way nature intended. I will definitely be sure to say something along those lines if she mentions it again. I had to nurse while we were out with my sister today, and she didn't say anything at all or act bothered by it. Maybe it just depends on her mood.
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Another issue to bring up is a discussion about how all mammals nurse and talk to her about puppies and dolphins and chimpanzees and humans and how they all nurse and how that's the purpose of breasts is to make milk for babies.

There are some nice books on nursing, like Breastmilk makes my tummy yummy, which has the mammal theme I was talking about. If you look at that book on, you'll probably see some other good ones.
Yeah, it never occoured to me that Breasts were Milk Glands until I was, oh, 16 or so. I always knew, but the gravity of reality never weighed on me until I saw it for myself.

I live in a very anti-BF city. I see it sometimes, but it's not always embraced with open arms. Even my SO, who is so thankful that I'm nursing his son, gets a little red in the face when he sees me reaching for my shawl.

He made that same sudjestion a little while back, about me going to the RR. Well, I just asked him if he wanted to take his plate to the toilet to eat. Needless to say, he sees it a little differently now.

Maybe explain that you're using a cover (you are, aren't you? If not, offer to use one) and I second what the PP said about the books. Explain that it's the way nature intended, and that you BF'ed her when she was a baby, and cite some health facts as to why it's better..

Plus, BF'd babies don't need braces as often. Braces are not something you get to be cool!
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Moved to Breastfeeding...

Originally Posted by Greenie
Maybe explain that you're using a cover (you are, aren't you? If not, offer to use one)
I don't see any reason why she should use a cover. BFing is perfectly natural and does not need to be hidden.

Kids go through weird stages, I'm sure she'll get over it. My dad used to wear short shorts when I was a kid which mortified me... actually it probably still would... but parents don't have to dress or act a certain way so their kids won't be embarrassed- my 3 yr. old is already picking out clothes that embarrass me and just wait til they're teenagers!
Maybe showing her pictures of other women nursing would help? Where's that NIP website again?
Yeah, why should she use a cover?? Wouldn't that be contributing to the PROBLEM??
my step mom nursed my younger brother till he was about 2, which put me at about 9 and I was always sooo embarrassed, i think its like others have said, when your young you want to fit in and when people are looking at you mom like shes a nut its kinda hard, but when shes older she'll look back and realize how great you were and when she goes to have kids she can count on our support
Just keep doing it, and normalizing it. Explain that breasts are for feeding babies. Period. I'm doing my best to have these discussions with my 2.5 year old as they come up. She openly tells people that she has "little breasts" but that there is no milk in them yet, but they'll get "big big big" and she'll feed her babies with them when she's a grown-up.

I can remember being absolutely mortified of my step-mother's breastfeeding, when she had my brother when I was 13. I'd walk into a room, and see her topless and "airing herself out."
And forget NIP'ing. For awhile, I'd wander away and pretend not to know her. But I'm really really glad that she continued to openly nurse around my sisters and I, because without her, I wouldn't have had ANY breastfeeding role-models in my life, and my kiddos probably would have ended up on formula from birth.
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I'm glad to hear this is just typical kid behavior. I think I started to panic, thinking she'd grow up to think breastfeeding was something bad that needs to be hidden behind closed doors. I never saw anyone breastfeed as a child, but my family has always made a big deal about me loving the boob until I was 3. I always knew that breastfeeding was how I would feed my kids.

As far as covers go, nope, I don't normally use one. I feel a cover attracts way more attention to what I'm doing and Kian can't stand anything over his head anyway.
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I don't think that you should ever have to use a cover. I'm not saying that BFing is wrong at all. Please don't think that.

I feel self concious about NIP, so I use one. I feel really good about it, but it's still something that feels a little strange.

I only thought that it might help. I know that around here, it's really weird to see someone nursing. I leave Elias's little legs hanging out, so that you know what I'm doing, but I just don't feel comfortable going 'Top Down' so to speak.
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Originally Posted by Greenie
I feel self concious about NIP, so I use one. I feel really good about it, but it's still something that feels a little strange.

I only thought that it might help.
No worries!

When my first was a baby I used to nurse him in the far corner of the parking lot, and then I still covered up with a blanket. One time I even tried to get my dh to cover all the windows so nobody could see in.

With my second, I would nurse behind closed doors and then gradually became comfortable nursing in public with a blanket. I remember sitting in a filthy restroom with her (the 6 year old in question) and becoming so angry! I told myself that I would never go hide in a bathroom again, and I never have.

With this one, I nursed in front of a mirror a few times and realized you really couldn't see anything at all. Sometimes I DO use a blanket, but it's usually to cover up my tummy and not my boob.

If you need a blanket to feel comfortable nursing, then use a blanket and DON'T feel guilty. At least you're not sitting in a stinky bathroom.
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