Before I had a baby and started breastfeeding, it was fairly rare for me to expose my breasts in public. OK, I did have a short amateur career as a burlesque dancer but, well, pasties cover quite a lot. Despite my past, I did initially find nursing in company a little embarrassing. With support from my partner and family, I eventually became more comfortable (thankfully). In fact, I was surprised by the ways even a few strangers actually helped me feel empowered when I breastfed in public.
Anyone who has tried to feed a baby in a busy mall or restaurant knows that protecting your modesty (if you care about that sort of thing) is really tricky when a squirmy, hungry baby (who doesn't appreciate a nursing cover) is thrown into the mix. Articles of clothing are bound to move in ways you didn't intend, flesh is bound to be exposed in ways others may not entirely appreciate, and you may very well be left feeling exposed when, honestly, any woman who is feeding another human being with her body should feel emboldened.
As a society we need to support women in their decisions and not shame them for deciding to either breastfeed or bottle feed. After all, how anyone chooses to feed their child is a personal parenting decision, made more difficult when people place their own judgments on new moms. So, when breastfeeding mothers fear comments or negative attention when feeding their baby in public, the entire "How am I going to feed my kid today?" decision making process can be altered.
Thankfully, I did find that even though people continue to have a problem with breastfeeding in public (it's 2016, people) there are more than a few supportive people around, too. In fact, the following strangers made me feel strong, empowered, and capable when feeding my kid in public, so there's hope, breastfeeding moms. There's definitely hope.