Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Give 'em Some Credit

OK, so I saw a post on the wall of Dispelling Breastfeeding Myths several days ago that got me thinking. Why are we always feeling so defensive and ready to pick a fight as nursing mothers? The poster said something like "most people DON'T say anything to a nursing mother!" The poster is right! Those nursing mothers who DO get approached get mad, and rightfully so, but it's actually something that only happens SOMETIMES. Most of the time when we nurse in public with reasonable discretion, no one says a thing to us. No one has ever said a word to me, and I've never actually noticed a sideways glance, but I'm not looking for it either. So why are we all puffed up if 9 times out of 10, nothing happens?

Probably because social media has made us paranoid and defensive. I mean really, if we didn't have Facebook spreading these stories among our community like wildfire it would rarely hit news media and few of us would know that it happened, but we share it with each other, so we know. Over time it starts to feel like we are being ostracized more frequently than we really are. In the last few weeks I have nursed at the Mall of America, the grocery store, Walmart, JoAnn Fabrics, the craft store, the car dealership, the mall and in my car in busy parking lots. No one has said a thing to me, not once. A pharmacy employee offered me the shot room if I was interested, but I didn't read into it, I'm more apt to give her credit for thinking that perhaps I would prefer a more private place to nurse my baby. While it did cross my mind that SHE might be weirded out by me sitting on the ONLY bench that wasn't in the middle of the check out lanes to nurse my baby in plain view, it's not really my assumption. Maybe that was her motivation, but does it matter?

Don't you love this image from Peaceful Parenting?
Every day mothers nurse their babies in public and tens, or hundreds, or thousands of people DON'T say anything. Maybe they think things, maybe they are offended or bothered...but they aren't saying anything, and I'm not going to hate on them or make assumptions about them just because of what they MIGHT be thinking. Most people are reasonable and leave you alone. Fact of the matter is that if we are always ready for a fight, expecting someone to walk up to us and say something or give us a dirty look, then we are inviting it! So let's just nurse, ladies...let's feed our babies, bottle or breast, without expecting to be pounced on. The more relaxed and natural we are about it, the more relaxed others will become about it over time. :)

As a public service announcement, mom-to-mom...I think we also owe bottle feeding moms a break. We've talked about this before at TGL, but let's say it again. You don't know her story, and so what if she CHOSE to bottle feed ok? You CHOSE to breastfeed and if you wish to feed your baby in peace, allow your bottle feeding momma peers to do the same. More on this later!


  1. Funny only because the greeter at IKEA told me in a very pointed tone of voice that there was a "family restroom" I could use to nurse in "if I wanted more privacy". Granted, I've been in that restroom and it is cordoned off into two areas - nursing chair/sink and toilets but still sorta gross. Not to mention that my toddler needed the extra space to roam while I nursed.

  2. Well said. It's true people DO say something, i'v e heard the stories, but I've personally not had anyone say anything to me. I've even gotten, gasp, approving smiles!

    We're still prepared to have someone say something but we shouldn't be constantly on the watch to the point where our nursing session is ruined because we're on edge.

  3. I've always been very lucky to not have anyone say anything negative - but I have gotten looks. I just carry on like I haven't a care in the world.

    You know, now that my nursling is a toddler, I sometimes get funny looks when she talks about "mama" in public. She doesn't even call milk "boob" or "chi chi" or anything that even resembles any code word for "breast" in any language. . . but I still get looks when she touches my chest and says something like "mommy has mama" or "I love mommy and I love my mama" or "mama please?"

    But, like I said, no one has ever said anything disapproving. Good thing, because as a breastfeeding counselor, I'm READY fora confrontation of beliefs, if there ever is one! :)