We Are Free to N.I.P.

July 5th, 2010 by Dionna | 12 Comments
Posted in Breastfeeding/Lactivism, Carnival and Special Series, Carnival of Nursing in Public, Compassionate Advocacy, Feed with Love and Respect, natural parenting

Welcome to the July 2010 Carnival of Nursing in Public

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Nursing in Public hosted by Dionna and Paige at NursingFreedom.org. All week, July 5-9, we will be featuring articles and posts about nursing in public (“NIP”). See the bottom of this post for more information.


My friend Tara, nursing her (then) one-year-old while she reads with her older children.

Why do I N.I.P.? Mainly for the obvious reasons – for my son’s nourishment and comfort. But I also nurse in public to do my part to normalize it and to instill confidence in other breastfeeding mamas. Several months ago I was inspired to do something creative in an effort to normalize nursing in my city. I posted about it on a widely read local mom’s forum, and I was surprised by the response. I think what surprised me the most was that many people said something like this:

“Breastfeeding doesn’t need to be normalized, just go do it and stop talking about it. Oh, and don’t let me see it.”

Does Breastfeeding Really Need to Be Normalized?

If the majority of society’s attitude is still one of discomfort, if most people still find the sight of a breastfeeding pair stare-worthy instead of commonplace, when we still have celebrities causing heated debates about whether it is appropriate to breastfeed in a restaurant, when we still have breastfeeding mothers being asked to nurse in the bathroom or their car or somewhere else but not around us, then we still have work to do to normalize breastfeeding.

Can we normalize breastfeeding simply by doing it in public?


What does it mean to normalize?

1 : to make conform to or reduce to a norm or standard
2 : to make normal (as by a transformation of variables)
3 : to bring or restore (as relations between countries) to a normal condition

We need to restore breastfeeding as the normal condition of feeding a child. Anytime, anywhere. Only then will mothers feel completely confident nursing in public without the fear of harassment or rude stares.

And it isn’t hard. All we have to do is nurse our children and know our rights.

  • Whether you nurse with a cover or without, nurse proudly.
  • Smile at passersby.
  • Decline a move to “someplace more comfortable” if you’re comfortable where you are.
  • Definitely decline the bathroom.
  • Carry a card that has your state’s law (and the federal law) about breastfeeding. And carry a few extra to gift your breastfeeding friends or people you see nursing in public.
  • Be confident that you are giving your child the standard.

What do you do to normalize breastfeeding in general and nursing in public in particular?

Art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/

Welcome to the Carnival of Nursing in Public

Please join us all week, July 5-9, as we celebrate and support breastfeeding mothers. And visit NursingFreedom.org any time to connect with other breastfeeding supporters, learn more about your legal right to nurse in public, and read (and contribute!) articles about breastfeeding and N.I.P.

Do you support breastfeeding in public? Grab this badge for your blog or website to show your support and encourage others to educate themselves about the benefits of breastfeeding and the rights of breastfeeding mothers and children.

This post is just one of many being featured as part of the Carnival of Nursing in Public. Please visit our other writers each day of the Carnival. Click on the links below to see each day’s posts – new articles will be posted on the following days:
July 5 – Making Breastfeeding the Norm: Creating a Culture of Breastfeeding in a Hyper-Sexualized World
July 6 – Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers: the New, the Experienced, and the Mothers of More Than One Nursing Child
July 7 – Creating a Supportive Network: Your Stories and Celebrations of N.I.P.
July 8 – Breastfeeding: International and Religious Perspectives
July 9 – Your Legal Right to Nurse in Public, and How to Respond to Anyone Who Questions It

12 Responses to:
"We Are Free to N.I.P."

  1. MomAgain@40   karentoittoit

    I love this campaign! Thanks for your effort in normalizing the most natural thing in the world! Nursing your own child whenever and wherever!

  2. Cara @ Health Home and Happiness   healthhomehappy

    I love this campaign as well! Though it’s not *normal* here to NIP, I think enough of our older (grandparent) generation in Montana was breastfed that they’re happy to see me doing it. It’s more my peers or my parent’s generation that gets flustered. I think it has to do with the area, a lot of the older people that I talk to here didn’t have running water when their kids were babies, and so breastfeeding would have been a necessity.

  3. Rebekah C   RCThoughtfulMom

    This is such a wonderful idea! Thanks so much for helping to get this off the ground! Wonderful article and I agree whole-heartedly!

  4. Melissa   vibreantwanderer

    Perfectly stated! Unfortunately, where I live there is nothing on the books that specifically protects breastfeeding women, but I’m not too worried about it. I have gotten nothing but positive responses from “locals” — it’s only others from the states who seem uncomfortable, so I keep on trying to normalize it for their sake! :)

  5. Our Sentiments   oursentiments

    I give a knowing nod to nursing mothers when I see them. I have also informed mothers in the bathroom nursing that our mall is baby friendly (there is medical buildings around the area and in order to get baby intuitive the mall had to become baby friendly).

  6. Michelle @ The Parent Vortex   TheParentVortex

    My neighbourhood is extremely NIP-friendly, and sometimes I forget that women in other parts of the world (especially the US) find it much more uncomfortable to NIP. It’s absolutely true that the more women nurse in public the more normal it will be – it’s happened in my community and it can happen elsewhere too!

  7. I love the list of tips there at the end… I think looking confident and smiling at others who look at you really diffuses anything that might happen. They either smile back, or they look away and continue walking.

    I am glad there are other moms out there who understand why it needs to be talked about and normalized… I think many “mainstream” moms have the “just go and do it, and stop talking to me about it.” It is unfortunate that we have to talk and try to normalize it, but that is where we are. And it doesn’t make us “obsessive,” as some people say… we just want to help it to be normalized. One day, we won’t even have to hear the word “lactivist,” because we won’t need them once breastfeeding is just seen as biologically normal, the standard (at least, I hope that day will come!).

  8. RedPowerLady

    Great post. I agree that it needs to be normalized. I wish it just “were” but right now it isn’t so we need to make it that way.

    To answer your question.
    What I do is NIP proudly. Last week I NIP’d during a cake walk, lol. I also talk about BF comfortably around my family who needs BF education and my nieces and nephews (other side of family) so they can see it as normal. In addition I hand out copies to “the womanly art of breastfeeding” to all my acquaintances who are preggo. If they don’t want it I tell them to just pass it along. It has a nice section on NIP.

  9. Darcel   mahoganywaymama

    This is a great Carnival. I can’t wait to read the other posts. Also love the pic of your friend with her other children.

  10. Melodie   bfmom

    Nursing in public is all about normalizing it for me. If my seeing me with my breastfeeding my child can change the mind of a mother or future mother to nip, then I have done my job.

  11. Maman A Droit   MamanADroit

    I hate that it’s seen as a deviant behavior, like my cousin who formula-feeds is doing things “right” and I’m doing things “wrong”. That’s the message I got at our last family holiday. My plan is just to keep breastfeeding proudly, and act like it’s the norm. I am buying my pregnant sister-in-law a copy of “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” and I keep sending my mom links to cute nursing clothes on sale so she can buy them for my sis-in-law (my mom didn’t know nursing clothes existed until I told her a few months ago!!)

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