If you are nervous or fear breastfeeding in public, please read on.
Outside of the #1 reason to definitely nurse in public, that being your baby is hungry (feed that baby, Mama), you should also nurse in public
to expose others to breastfeeding in general.
I was recently, personally, reminded of the fact that breastfeeding a baby, is not as common to everyone else, as it is to me; the mother of two breastfed babys, owner of a business that supports breastfeeding women, and friend to many nursing mothers.
Last week, I took my whole gang of kids to our local heated pool with my 10 week old son. Soon in, I see the sweet, fussy hunger cues from my baby boy. My thought was "Great, I can finally test out my swim nursing slips in public for the first time since I had my Son!" Without a thought, I pulled down one side of my swim top with my nursing slip still covering the flesh of my breast, and began to nurse. "Great, this is super easy and I feel completely comfortable with what is being exposed", I thought. In fact, I was covered so well, a little girl, about 8-9 years old, comes over and tells me how beautiful my son is without realizing I was nursing him. She precedes by walking over to her group of 10 other kids or so, slightly in shock. I hear whispers,
"That woman is nursing her baby" ,"what?" ,"That's Disgusting" ,"Gross", "That's Disgusting!"
My emotions began flowing around in confused, contrasting, directions. This was the first time, I had ever experienced head on negativity over breastfeeding. It hit me that
I became an object of disgust simply for partaking in the act of breastfeeding.
For the rest of the time we were at the pool, I was watched by these children with a look of disgust and confusion on their face. However, It didn't hit me until later that it was a good thing they saw me there, at the pool, in public, nursing him. A few of the children went to tell their parents about what they had seen. I over heard some of the conversation,
"I don't want to hear you say that about another mother", "Yes, that mother is feeding her baby..."
Most of these children ended up being talked to about breastfeeding by their parents, opening up communication over the topic. I quickly realized, I was the only experience these children had with breastfeeding.
This is actually Really Important; to encourage our future generations and new parents to breastfeed. Breastfeeding in public impacts by opening minds and opening communication in otherwise unexposed youth. This exposure also helps minimize that fear of the unknown, many new moms experience.
The truth is, too many people do not know enough about breastfeeding. The AMAZING benefits for both, mom and baby. The perfectly created living liquid that can nurture a baby like no other can. Nor do they understand how breastfeeding is often completely different from one baby to the next that requires new techniques, difficulties, and preferences.
So keep nursing in public, however, it is you need to; for you, for your baby, and for everyone else your going to impact along the way.