“Turn Around and Face the Wall”: On Responding to a Nursing in Public Objection and Normalizing NIP

April 2nd, 2012 by Dionna | 74 Comments
Posted in Breastfeeding/Lactivism, Compassionate Advocacy, Feed with Love and Respect, natural parenting

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Whenever I read or write a piece about normalizing nursing in public (such as 9 Ways Google Can Help Us Normalize Breastfeeding), there are the inevitable commenters that cannot believe this is still an issue.

Unfortunately, it is.

  • There are still occasional news stories and nurse-ins after businesses ask nursing mothers to leave or to breastfeed in a bathroom.
  • There are still nursing mothers who cover up at home because they can’t stand the thought of their other children seeing them breastfeed their babies.
  • There are still nursing relationships injured or destroyed by the very polite (and usually well-meaning) friends, pastors, and strangers who ask them to cover up, use a bottle, or otherwise breastfeed in a way that is not comfortable.

I know this not only because I am part of the breastfeeding community, but also because I experienced it myself this past month. Today I want to share two stories. Both happened while I was nursing Ailia – one experience was negative, the other positive.

Why do we need to normalize nursing in public?

“Because people don’t like to see weird things.”

Kieran started taking a dance/tumbling class when Ailia was almost three months old. On his third week, the teacher pulled me aside before class started. Here was our conversation.

Teacher: “I have a favor to ask of you. When you nurse your baby, would you mind turning toward the wall?”1

Me: “I’m confused, if I was using a bottle to nurse my baby, would you ask me to turn toward the wall?”

Teacher: “No, we have a couple of homeschooled teenage boys in the building, and they would not be comfortable seeing you breastfeed.”

Me: “I really would not feel comfortable turning toward the wall to nurse my baby during class. You know, I haven’t seen those boys very often, they’ve only walked through this room once in the past couple of weeks. Would it be possible for them to simply stay out of this room during the 45 minutes each week that we are here?”

Teacher: “Well, they do walk through sometimes, and you understand how teenage boys might feel – the teen years are so awkward, and they are learning how to control their bodies. I was a breastfeeding mother myself, and I know how you feel. But sometimes we have to do things that make us feel uncomfortable in order to respect others.

Me: “I guess I still don’t see why this is my responsibility. I’m simply trying to feed my baby.”

Teacher: “The mother is just uncomfortable with it. You know boys, they just don’t like to see weird things.

Me: “I would be happy to discuss this with their mother, but I’m really saddened by this conversation. If I were a new nursing mother who was unsure of myself, this experience could make me never want to nurse in public again. That could jeopardize my entire nursing relationship. I do not believe it is my responsibility to make those boys feel comfortable. I nurse very discreetly as it is.”2

Teacher: “Well, I’ll leave it up to you – you go ahead and do what makes you feel comfortable.”

This was a condensed version of the conversation, but it gives you the gist – the teacher was very kind, very polite, but very insistent that it was my responsibility to make everyone else feel comfortable. I responded in a very respectful manner – I never got angry or upset with her. All in all, it was a very civilized conversation, which made it that much harder for me to stick up for myself. It would almost be easier to stand up for my right to nurse if someone was being rude about it.

These are the well-meaning people who can unintentionally sabotage a breastfeeding relationship. For the record, I am an informed, confident breastfeeding mother. But as soon as that teacher turned walked away, i turned to my friend and promptly started to cry.

What if I was not sure of myself? What if I did not know the law? What if that was one of my first nursing in public experiences? The outcome may have been vastly different – in how I chose to respond to the teacher, in how I decided to nurse in class (I continue to nurse comfortably and as discreetly as I feel necessary), and in whether I continued to nurse – at home or in public.

So how do we normalize nursing in public?

By nursing. By explaining to our kids that this is one of the ways babies eat. By allowing each breastfeeding pair the freedom to nurse in whatever way feels comfortable to them.

And now for the positive story. A few weeks after the incident at Kieran’s class, we were walking through Costco. I was nursing Ailia in a Maya Wrap.

Two little boys, probably around seven and eight years old, were standing on a cart near me, and one of them spotted me. He asked his mother, “Mom, what is that lady doing with that baby?” His mom glanced at me and said – in this perfectly nonchalant way – “She’s breastfeeding her baby. I used to do that with you guys, I’d put you in the sling and nurse you and be able to walk around. It’s the perfect way to feed a baby and be hands free.”

And then the boy said,

“Oh. Ok.”

And that was that. It wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t an intricate explanation. Those little boys did not think it was weird, because (well, besides the fact that it wasn’t weird) their mom made it seem ordinary.

She normalized it for them.

It will be these small encounters that continue to normalize breastfeeding, especially for the next generation.3

What have you done to normalize breastfeeding – for yourself, for your child, or for someone else?

  1. By the way, turning to face the wall would have both ostracized me from the other mothers who I visit with during class, and it would have made it difficult or impossible to watch the dance class.
  2. I wear a nursing tank top (and have almost every day since Kieran was born over four years ago), so not a lot of skin is exposed when I nurse. Not that I think every woman should wear a nursing tank top, of course! It’s just how I feel comfortable nursing.
  3. And for any new breastfeeding mother who was scared by that first story – that is much less common than the second story.

74 Responses to:
"“Turn Around and Face the Wall”: On Responding to a Nursing in Public Objection and Normalizing NIP"

  1. Amy   presenceparents

    Thank you for sharing these stories, Dionna, and for doing what you do to normalize breastfeeding – one of the most “normal” acts on the planet that has allowed our species to survive as long as it has. :)

    I totally agree with your assertions that is up to those who breastfeed to normalize it through breastfeeding in public, having those conversations, and sharing our experience with children and other people it may help. Thanks again.

    • Holly N.

      I love that comment and plan to use it in the future when the situation warrants it. Thanks!

  2. Tonia

    My family and I went to the KC Ren Fest and if you have ever been there (or to a similar Ren Fest) you know how a lot of women are dressed there. In fact I have a pin from there from before I was a mom that is meant to be worn on your chest that says “what color are my eyes?” Making fun of the fact that it’s basically a breasts on display type of place for a lot of people.
    Anyhow, I was there with my family – we were in the kids play area and my son wanted to nurse. There were benches to sit on so you could watch the kids play. I sat down and nursed him (I wear nursing tank tops so with his head in the way there wasn’t much you could see and certainly not as much as several of the outfits out there showed). I had one kind worker walk up close to talk to me, she was right next to me before she noticed I was nursing and she said – “aw he must be hungry” :). Then I had not 1 but 2 workers come up and tell me to cover up or go behind this screened area they had prepared. Um my daughter is playing and I can’t see her from behind the screen, and my son won’t let me cover his head up – it irritates him. I kindly pointed out that it’s against the law to ask me to cover up and that I wasn’t going to stop feeding him. One of them literally argued with me about it and I was so mad I stopped my son from eating and we left. My wonderful hubby stopped at the gate on the way out, and told one of the people in the gate that we come every year, spend a fair amt of $ there and how pissed he was that I was treated in such a manner. And that they should do some education on the laws for the people who are apart of the fair. Especially at a place that is known for having breasts essentially on display!
    It bothered me a lot and made me very self conscious about nursing in public afterwards :( I was unable to breastfeed my daughter for many reasons and I was so excited to have a successful nursing relationship with my son. While it bothered me, I continued nursing him (still do at age 2 :) ), but I could see me 5 years ago or so and this would probably have ended me wanting to breastfeed at all :(

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I’m so sorry that happened, Tonia!! I would have gladly helped you write a letter or talked to someone further. I agree that it is so hypocritical to ask a nursing mother to go somewhere else in an environment where breasts are being admired for a more sexual purpose.

  3. Shannon at The Artful Mama   The_ArtsyMama

    I am always impressed by your composure. I would have turned beet red and not been able to have that conversation and I’m not a new nursing mother either. It really can be unfortunate that people do think that we should be responsible for the reactions of others. How will anyone learn to “behave” if we never give them the opportunity to be responsible for their reactions. I applaud that second mother for having that discussion. It was a wonderful teachable moment that could have been lost if she had not felt comfortable discussing it or felt that she might upset you. Cheers to open discussion and NIP!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I’m pretty sure that I was pretty pink, and I was definitely nervous! And I agree – the second experience was awesome.

  4. When my oldest child was born, we lived with my ILs for a few months. While they were very verbally supportive of breastfeeding, my FIL would not stay in the same room where I was nursing, no matter how well covered we were. This meant that I spent a lot of time making him comfortable, by being shut away in my bedroom with just the baby. And since babies breastfeed OFTEN, I spent a LOT of my post partum time feeling lonely and uncomfortable. I rarely got to eat dinner with everyone, because the baby would wake and need to eat and I would have to go lock myself in my room so that FIL didn’t need to leave the table.

    When we were able to move out to our own apartment, I made the decision that I would not be put out like that in my own home. FIL spent a lot of time walking the dog when they would visit, back then! Now, on number 3, neither of us flinches when I whip the boob out. I guess we are both used to it – nearly 6 years later!

  5. Thank you for posting this.
    Just the other day, I was breastfeeding my daughter in the daycare area at my gym. There was a little girl (10-11 y/o maybe) who came up to me and said, “what are you doing?” I responded, “I’m feeding my baby”
    I have never in my life seen a kid look so confused.
    I was wearing a cover, but had her pulled out of it, because she gets too sleepy if she’s warm and covered. So all it was covering was my stomach.
    I went home so disappointed that children think that bottle feeding is completely the norm, and have no idea about breast feeding.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Don’t be disappointed – what you did normalized it for that girl! That’s what it takes!

  6. Annie

    I love your second story. The first one made me so sad. I totally get it about how it can be harder to address someone who is being gentle and kind (but still saying the wrong things) trying to “help” everyone out…and all over a hypothetical “what if” the teen boys were to see and “what if” it made them feel uncomfortable.
    Yesterday I taught Sunday school to 5 kids ages 3-4. There was a helper with me (11th grade girl), and later a mom joined us when she brought another child in. My toddler (19 mos) was with me, and in the middle (well, mostly from the start!) of class she started getting fussy and pulling up my shirt to nurse. I just went with it and nursed her like I would at home–continued to teach, walk around the room for our activities, etc. I looked at the kids who were sitting close with me as she started nursing, and there was not one iota or confusion or discomfort. Just little sweet smiles and expressions of interest. The 11th grade girl’s eyes just about popped out of her head though (according to my husband’s observation–he had come in during the class too). The other mom didn’t bat an eye. I wondered if the 11th grader had ever seen someone nurse, or nurse in public. Or maybe she was just impressed with my ability to dangle Eliza from my boob, holding her up with one arm while I wrangled the preschools and taught a lesson with one hand. ha!! I’m SO an advocate for normalizing nursing whenever, wherever. I welcome someone saying something to me (positive or negative–so that I can discuss it if negative!). But I’m also like you and easily adrenaline-ized when something does happen!!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      You just did your part to normalize nursing for that girl, though! Is she a regular helper? I’d think of a very simple something to say to her next time it happens, something matter of fact that shows how normal nursing a toddler is.

      • Annie

        I wasn’t even thinking of the toddler-nursing aspect (it’s now so “normal” for me!). Good point, maybe that was the shock-factor for her. :) Yes, she is planning to teach with me again from time to time, so I will try to work in some conversation about it where I can!

  7. Jessica

    “But sometimes we have to do things that make us feel uncomfortable in order to respect others.”

    If this is the case, then why couldn’t the teenage boys just stay away in order to respect YOU, instead of the other way around?

    I also find it interesting that it was the boys’ mother who was complaining. If my son were going to see a stranger’s breast in public (and I’m sure your breast wasn’t even exposed), I would much rather him see it being used for it’s intended purpose instead of as a sex object.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Jessica – I thought of that reply later and really wish I’d said it. Oh, hindsight :)

  8. It is so saddening to hear of these things happening. I have had only one negative confrontation about me breastfeeding publicly, and thankfully I, like you, am confident in my breastfeeding. The lady wasn’t trying to be mean, which does it make it harder in a way. I was nevertheless livid and shaky afterwards, and vented to my friends and husband, and blogged about it: http://archaeologycatmusings.blogspot.com/2011/12/act-of-charity.html It needs to be normalised so people see nothing amiss with it.

    On the flip side, when I was flying overseas with e kids, I was breastfeeding, and the lady next to me told me to keep doing that as long as I could. She lamented how difficult it was to continue after she returned to work (luckily she had a whole year of maternity leave).

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I think that positive experiences are much more common than negative ones, thankfully :) I’ll be sure to read your post today!

  9. Anna

    Good for you (and all bfing moms) for holding your own. I would’ve gone beetroot red and muttered out an angry, unintelligible response. Isn’t the mother a little suspect in this story? Seriously, how likely is it that teenage boys would want breasts – any breasts – to be made less visible? Maybe you could tell the teacher next time that you’d be happy for the boys to come and chat with you, and ask you questions, to make it all less ‘weird’ for them. That would help their future partners too!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      After inviting a conversation with the mother, I’ll admit to being VERY nervous to go back the next week. But she apparently did not want to speak with me. I’ve seen the boys on other occasions – they even walked through once while I was nursing, and they did not act weirded out at all. In fact, one of them smiled in our general direction and kept walking! I’m sure it was the mother, not the boys.

  10. Kate

    I have rather large breasts so it’s difficult for me to be discreet while nursing. I’ve still never had anyone say anything about it except my mother who is always trying to get me to cover up more (and this is a woman who nursed me until I was 18 months old!). It’s been getting better though; last night we had a Passover Seder for 30 at my house and she didn’t say or do anything when I started nursing at the table.

    I definitely feel like I’m helping to normalize breastfeeding by doing it in public and my 2 year old son even tried to nurse Sophie the giraffe the other day so I must be doing something right ;)

    • Rebecca

      You about gave me a heart attack with this one. I thought I’d somehow missed the beginning of Passover!

      I only had two bad experiences nursing with my daughter. One was with a boarder who would leer at me, so if he was at the house (he and his wife were renting a room) I would not nurse in front of him. However, I regularly avoided his company, so it wasn’t anything new.

      The other was my DH. I was getting ready to nurse my daughter in a sling at JC Penny and he freaked out because he looked down while I was trying to get her to latch. He was loud enough that an employee came by and offered to let me use a fitting room (though she also mentioned that it was natural and that my DH needed to calm down about it LOL) I hurried to nurse her, and it was the last time I tried NIP while he was around. Nursed anywhere when I wasn’t with him though.

      • Kate

        Sorry about that. My mom is having surgery this week so my parents decided having a Seder early was better than not having it at all.

      • Dionna   CodeNameMama

        I *love* that the employee said it was natural! Hilarious. I think my hubby has gotten uncomfortable before, but it’s also because hubbies have more of a birds-eye view while we’re fiddling with clasps, etc. Someone standing 5 feet away does not have the same vantage point!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I do believe that the negative interactions are very rare. I only had one mishap happen when I nursed Kieran in public, and we nursed in public for . . . three years??
      Good for you for normalizing it for others!!

  11. Lisa N

    As I was reading this article, I was sitting here nursing my 4 week old daughter and thinking what a well written post this was. That is, until I got to the end and read this statement; “I wear a nursing tank top (and have almost every day since Kieran was born over four years ago) and have fairly small breasts, so not a lot of skin is exposed when I nurse.”
    This disappointed me a bit because you are making large chested mamas feel like they are showing too much too NIP. The size of your breasts should have no impact on your level of comfort while nursing. Being a 38I myself, this was the number one thing that kept me from NIP with my first child. It was hard to overcome. Not only because of statements like yours, but because of the fact that just finding nursing bras and tanks in these sizes is near impossible without spending a small fortune.
    3 years and 3 babies later, I no longer worry about what others think and I feed my baby whenever and wherever she and I are comfortable.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Lisa, that comment wasn’t meant to make anyone feel bad, but to explain my personal circumstances. I’m of the opinion that mamas should nurse however they feel comfortable, and my definition of discreet will not match anyone else’s definition. I think I wrote that in response to the people in my head who were going to comment and say “but breastfeeding moms just whip their boobs out and flash everyone!” I very rarely intend to pass judgment on anyone, much less a fellow lactating mama. :)
      btw, you might enjoy this article posted on NursingFreedom.org: http://www.nursingfreedom.org/2010/07/nursing-in-public-with-large-breasts.html

      • Dionna   CodeNameMama

        By the way, I’ve edited that footnote :) It was not my intention to make anyone feel like large-breasted mamas have a hard time nursing “discreetly.” Heck – I don’t want mamas who don’t wear nursing tank tops to feel like they aren’t nursing discreetly. ;)

      • hj grow

        Sure, having an enormous bosom can make getting everything into and out of a nursing bra a little wonky every tenth time or so, but really, the biggest challenge I’ve had to nursing discretely was having twins! After that, nursing one baby is a walk in the park… and it has made me really appreciate being able to do so. Thank you for your post, and your participation in making our culture one step healthier. I like to point out (especially to the more rude people) that any time they cut down breastfeeding, they are also cutting down the IQ of our population, a drop for every drip as it were. At the same time, they are actively encouraging childhood obesity. “So, next time you see a fat kid, remind yourself, you did your best to make sure there’s more of them.” Since most of the negative people in my life wander over because they notice my ‘huge brood’ of children and then notice the breastfeeding, they tend to be anti-population perfectionists, and that last bit tends to make them pale. If I’m going to be red-faced, I’d rather they be ashamed of themselves. (It might also be they notice me because I’m 6’2″ and watching everyone who looks at my kids. If they scowl at the kids and come over to comment, there is no way I’m going to let them go without a sweet, well-spoken verbal spanking.)
        Fortunately for my comfort, that sick crowd sticks to our city, and our county is full of breastfeeding mothers – often with six to twelve children – and little old ladies whose adult sons love them enough to drive them to the store. When ladies like that tell you your kids are great, you get all the energy in the world!

  12. Alissa

    Thank you for sharing this! What a great story, even the first to help others realize they can be calm and polite when being asked to move or cover! I spent this Saturday in the Mall of America passing out “Thank You for Nursing in Public” cards while I was shopping with my husband and children. I wanted my 9 year old to see that other women breastfeed in public (not just her crazy mom!)as well as thank them for helping to normalize it! My daughter, who was breastfed for 18 months but never saw anyone else do it until 20 months ago since she had no siblings or cousins born until then, is still stuggling with being embarrassed with me. I keep telling her, when she is a mom, she will be happy I was such an advocate! Thanks again for more ideas of how to handle situation and for the second story that gives me so much hope!

  13. Thanks for the positive article! Seeing nursing in public is very important for all ages. Good job for standing up for yourself and your baby. I would have cried too. I have posted a link to your article in my nursing in public post today – http://doublethink.us.com/paala/2012/04/02/breastfeeding-sweet-links-overcoming-nursing-in-public-fears/

  14. I love the second story! The first… I just have to say that it’s the people who are kind about it, ESPECIALLY a women who say that they breastfed their children, so they’ve been there, who do the most harm. It’s much easier to ignore or be angry with a jerk.

    And I can guarantee that teenage boys don’t give a hoot what a woman is doing with her baby. Even if they giggle or make a joke about it if they’re not used to seeing it, they are not going to be scarred or damaged in any way whatsoever. I don’t even think arousal is an issue in that situation.

    Good for you for standing your ground. I would have done the same, and just like you, I would’ve cried after. Those situations are so hard. I nursed 2 kids, and never had that happen to me. I feel really lucky. If it does happen with my 3rd, I’ll be as prepared as I can be, but I still won’t like it.


    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      What a good point about the fact that they won’t be damaged – shoot, they see the “ideal woman” (and her perky, round, ideal breasts) advertised every day I’m sure!

  15. Suchada @ Mama Eve   mamaevetweets

    Thank you so much for sharing these stories, Dionna. I’m so impressed at how you handled being told to face the wall — I don’t know if I would’ve kept it together long enough to answer or had the presence of mind to say what you said. I’m inspired for my next go-around!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I *did* have forewarning – the friends who told me about the class did mention that a breastfeeding mom was asked to be more discreet the year before. They said it was an isolated event, though, so I didn’t really expect anything to happen. But I suppose it didn’t entirely shock me when something was said!

  16. Charise@I Thought I Knew Mama   ithoughtiknewma

    I admire you so much for how you handled these situations! I just wish they could all be positive stories.

  17. Destany

    Ever wonder why it’s usually women who are uncomfortable and complain about it? I really don’t get that. :( I have had far more trouble in my own home or in front of inlaws than I have ever had in public. I remember with my now 12 year old, I couldn’t visit my mother-in-law because seeing me breastfeed made her squeamish. I had to go sit in the guest room and spent my while time in there during trips to her house. It strongly contributed to my giving up early because I had NO support at all. My husbands attitude reflected his mothers and he encouraged me to stop because he worried what she or his siblings thought. I applaud every woman who nurses in public and helps change attitudes. I finally gained confidence to stand up for myself (and other nursing moms!) but I shouldn’t have had to.
    Your stories are inspiring, I will say that things have definitely gotten much easier. :)

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Thank you Destany! And I *know* it was the mother. It is interesting – and sad – that it is often women.

  18. Audrey

    Personally, I believe that if we make others more comfortable, they may become more accepting of breastfeeding in public. Not to a ridiculous degree, of course, but I didn’t have a problem with a lightweight blanket. My daughter is a Mom now, and uses a nursing cover. That being said, in the instance you describe, I can’t believe someone ASKED you to turn toward the wall. I wonder if a Mom had been there in a low-cut blouse with her breasts spilling out the top, would the teacher have asked her to toward the wall so the teenaged boys would not see her breasts? I know when I take my son to his dance class, there is almost always someone there displaying their cleavage, which I believe is usually more than a Mom shows when breastfeeding.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Being raised in a Southern Baptist church, I get where you are coming from ;) And that is probably why I choose to wear nursing tank tops, because they cover so much of my skin. The problem I have with that train of thought, however, is that everyone has a different definition of discreet, and a different level of comfort. Breastfeeding mamas already have so many other things to worry about, they just cannot be expected to please everyone! I think as a whole, though, breastfeeding mamas are very respectful – we’re not out to normalize seeing naked breasts in public, just the actual nursing of the children :)

  19. Alice

    I nursed my son in public for the very first time on Saturday, at our local Chuck E Cheese! I contemplated going to the car, but I realized if I got up I’d have to take all of our stuff with me, and then they’d clear off my husband & son’s food & drinks, so I didn’t want to leave (it was a very packed day!), so I managed to cover him up & nurse just fine. I got a few stray looks, and immediately thought “oh crap, what am I doing?!!!” but quickly reassured myself that I was doing nothing wrong. My husband walked over and was a bit shocked as well, since I had never NIP before. He made a comment that hurt my feelings a bit (a typical man response of thinking bfing in public is weird and he wouldn’t want to see someone doing that and that there are other things you can do like pump & bottle feed), but we had a long conversation when we got home about feeding on demand, supply & demand, not to mention how that’s how a baby is meant to be fed, etc, and I think he’ll be more supportive of me NIP if I have to do it again. He actually said he saw another mom in there doing it as well!

  20. Lacey

    I bottle-fed pumped milk when we were in public starting at @3weeks for my little guy because I had to start him at a daycare so early. When he was VERY young I had a few people come up to me and gently express their disappointment that I had chosen to bottle-feed my son! It was very polite phrased, but made me blink :P Now that he’s on cow’s milk at the daycare it’s not worthwhile for me to pump anymore, so when we’re out in public I do cover up (big chest and a shortage of nursing shirts), but I have no fear of nursing in public, and have never encountered more than a double-take :)

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I’m sorry you were approached like that about bottle feeding – not only does one never know what is in a bottle, but we also don’t know what the other mama has experienced. Plus, I doubt many women would be swayed by hearing disappointment in their choices :(

  21. Alice

    oh and being afraid to NIP and relying on pumping & bottles is what killed my supply with my now 2 year old, so I am holding my ground on NIP this time around!

  22. Tiffany   raisingpaityn

    Thank you for sharing this! It is so hard to nurse in public because I have found the general attitude is not a positive one. I’m very sorry you experienced that, but I think you handled it well. I hope you continue to nurse at that class the same as you always have.

    My defense has always been, “I’m feeding my baby. A baby is not capable of being able to wait to eat. You ARE capable of not looking if you are offended. My baby’s right to food takes higher precedence than your inability to look somewhere else.”

  23. Holly

    I am currently breastfeeding my 4 month old and I have to say that I don’t mind if others do it in public, but I actually like going someplace a bit more private to nurse. He is my first, so I am fairly new at this, but I have had complete support from everyone around me. I choose to go into another room when at my families and friends homes because it gives me a chance to hold my son and bond with him without all of the aunts and uncles, grandparents, and friends wanting to hold him or see him. It is our time and gives me a chance to have my peaceful moment with him. I also am constantly aware of other people at my job paying attention to every little thing I do, whether it is typing an email or pumping, so I like to get away from the public eye and the feeling of constant supervision when feeding my son. That said, I plan on NIP when I am more comfortable with it myself, more sure of not “flashing” anyone while getting situated. I am also in the larger bust category so I can’t cover up my entire breast with my child but have seen a lot more skin at a bar or beach!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I think every mama should do what makes her feel comfortable, whether that is covering up with a blanket or leaving the room, wearing a nursing tank or not, etc. I just wouldn’t want a mother being pressured into doing one of those things.
      And you’ll be an old pro very soon. :)

  24. Amy   anktangle

    Thank you for sharing these stories, Dionna. I’m sorry the teacher asked you to turn around. I definitely would’ve cried afterward, too! Most of my NIP experiences were totally uneventful, with people not noticing or not saying anything at all. That didn’t take away from the fear I’ve had that someone *will* say something, or that I’ll have to defend myself, so I tried to give myself a pep-talk about it when I was feeling particularly concerned about a reaction. It’s sad that we still do have to talk about this and advocate for ourselves, that this IS still an issue. But we do, and it is. I appreciate you continuing the conversation.

  25. Catie

    Thank you so much for sharing these stories. I’m glad that you were confident enough to hold your ground in the first situation–like you said, the confrontation might have been enough to make a less-confident mama quit nursing in public all together! I think it’s really healthy for boys of all ages (teenagers especially!) to see women nursing–I think it helps create a more holistic image of who women are and what breasts are for. We live part time in Peru, where nursing in public is totally accepted, and I have often nursed my son in front of groups of adolescent boys, who showed no signs of shame, embarrassment, or discomfort. These young men were even comfortable enough to hold conversations with me while I nursed and even direct comments to my son–who’s mouth was attached to my breast! I respect the gymnastic teacher’s position that adolescence is a confusing time when it comes to bodies and sex, but our culture makes it even more difficult for young men (and women!) by over-sexualizing the female body. Just some thoughts…thanks again for sharing!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I couldn’t agree more, Catie. I’d much rather my son understand and appreciate the biological purposes of a woman’s body – the ones that include nurturing babies!

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