If there are any breastfeeding moms out there who figured out a way to avoid breastfeeding in public, please teach me your ways. No, seriously; write a book and launch a speaking tour about how fellow moms can avoid a situation that is and can be fraught with discomfort and a wide variety of feelings. When I asked moms asked to describe what it feels like to breastfeed in public, the answers I received detailed experiences that were a mix of apprehension and judgment, with the occasional spark of comfort and nonchalance mixed in. So, if you never had to breastfeed in public — or just found a way to avoid the entire situation — the breastfeeding community needs you. (Or, breastfeeding mothers need our society to get with and realize that breastfeeding is normal, natural and necessary. You know, whatever comes first.)
My own public breastfeeding experiences were careful and calculated. For context, when my son was really tiny, I even declined a private room at my doctor’s office because I felt like we both needed the comforts of home to get him to latch. We eventually got the hang of it though, but I still opted for the car over, well, anywhere else and on numerous occasions. On that note, apologies to the couple who waited for my parking spot for like ten minutes outside of that Portland, Oregon mall in Summer 2015. My kid was especially hungry that night.
Breastfeeding in public shouldn't be this anxiety-inducing, but prevailing societal notion's of women's bodies and what they can and cannot do with them have created environments that aren't necessary breastfeeding friendly. Times are changing but, if the following breastfeeding mom's descriptions of public breastfeeding are any indication, they're not changing quickly enough. So, grab your water bottle, because if you’re breastfeeding you’ll probably need it, and even if you’re not, I still recommend tipping it in solidarity to these brave mamas.