I would like to take a break from all the controversial topics I’ve been posting about and share my views on breastfeeding. More specifically, breastfeeding in public, which is not as interesting or divisive a topic, but I hope you’ll keep reading.
I had never thought I would breastfeed until I got pregnant, and I thought it would be a fun little thing to try, since it’s good for babies and mothers, and I have also seen a lot of celebrities doing it.
Unfortunately for me, my little princess got her laziness and aversion to hard labor from her mother, which coupled with some anatomical issues that I won’t share out of modesty (nipple stuff), made it so hard to breastfeed at the beginning. I had to use a shield in the hospital to nurse, which is a piece of silicone you use both hands to suction onto your breast so that your baby can nurse without having to work very hard. It is almost impossible to do anything that requires both hands with a newborn, but you’re really only supposed to use it for a few days until they get stronger and figure out your weird body; we used it for over three months.
During that time, I couldn’t leave the house unless I thawed a bottle and packed my pump to use in the car, since I wasn’t very comfortable with whipping out my boob and trying to secure the shield and balancing a squirming baby on my lap anywhere but my living room. As you can imagine, the day Winifred stopped needing it to nurse, I felt like a free woman, and I wanted to go out into the world with nothing but a few diapers and a dream, a dream to breastfeed anywhere and everywhere I happened to be when my little fatty got a hankering to eat.
As a mother, every single thing that I do or don’t do makes at least one person so angry they could spit, and I have a feeling where and when I breastfeed may not be any different. All a mother can do is what makes her baby and her most comfortable, and what makes Winifred and me comfortable is not worrying too much about using nursing covers, because we don’t like waiting for our food. We also don’t love warm, confined spaces. However, while I no longer feel any embarrassment at the thought of strangers seeing whichever of my body parts they please, I do try to be very conscious that most people absolutely do not please. A nice loose-fitting top is easy to lift up and drop down in a pinch, and a dressing room makes a quiet, private place to let it all hang out.
Any sort of success in a dressing room is a nice change of pace for me.
I try to be respectful of others, and luckily, most people are respectful in return. The closest thing I’ve gotten to a dirty look was an older Asian woman who sternly turned the other way when I sat down in the mother’s lounge at Nordstrom and asked if it would be alright to nurse there. She missed out if you ask me!
I don’t think that breastfeeding is something shameful or to be hidden, but I’m not under any delusions that flashing strangers is going to change the world, or make anyone who hates the idea of women using their goods to feed their babies suddenly okay with it. I’m not willing to add any more layers to my sweaty body, but I’m probably not going to nurse over a plate of chili fries like a soft, pasty Maggie Gyllenhaal. Unless I’m nursing when someone finally buys me a plate of chili fries--that’s an opportunity I would never pass up.
What about you, dear reader? How did you figure out what you were comfortable revealing to the masses, and how long did it take you to get the courage to do it? Or do you think the idea of worrying about it at all is silly? Or do you think nursing moms should stay at home until their kids are in college? So many questions!
Libbie Henrie is a new mother and really smart gal. You should believe everything she writes, especially the super sarcastic parts. She lives in Arizona with her husband and newborn baby. You can read more of her musings on her blog and follow her baby wearing adventures on Instagram @sweetcheeksbabywearing