In the immortal words of Run-DMC, it’s tricky. Granted, I don’t think they were talking about breastfeeding, but the fact remains that breastfeeding can, in fact, be very complicated. While all it takes is just a couple of postpartum breasts and a baby (or two or more), many breastfeeding moms know it's not that simple. If you add an extra complication in the mix, like a blocked duct, or forgetting your phone (heaven forbid) or breastfeeding in public, lots can go wrong, I’m afraid.
Thankfully, becoming a mom also means you become slightly more of an all-around badass, so of course most women (if they choose to and feel comfortable doing so) are able to handle public breastfeeding issues like absolute bosses. The ease with which many women breastfeed in public, however, doesn't keep us (or shouldn't keep us) from acknowledging how difficult it can be and usually is. Just because a woman is willing to put herself in a situation where she may be judged, shamed and discriminated against, doesn't mean we should act like those things don't exist or that breastfeeding women are faced with those situations on a daily basis.
Acknowledging how difficult it can be to breastfeed in public shouldn't deter women from doing so (if they choose to and are able to), but rather highlight all the ways we need to #NormalizeBreastfeeding. So, with that in mind, here are a few things that can go wrong when you're breastfeeding in public, because it shouldn't be this difficult.
There's Nowhere Comfortable To Go
When you're breastfeeding outside your home, you're at the mercy of whatever venue you happen to be in when your kid starts getting hungry. Some can be super accommodating and some, perhaps, um, won't be.
You're Visible To People You Don’t Want To Be Visible To
Part of being in public means that other people are around, too. If I ever have an insanely disposable income, I will do what celebrities do which is, like, shut down entire restaurants (except for me and my entourage) so I can eat my fries and breastfeed in peace. Until then, however, there's a high likelihood that others will see you breastfeeding.
It's Hard To Have A Response Prepared For Judgmental Stares Or Comments...
Okay, sure, everyone's entitled to their own opinion, but I'd prefer to not be able to tell what it is based on someone's angry eyes boring into my soul from across the restaurant.
...Or Gracious Words For Support, For Other Breastfeeding Moms
Now that I've been on the other side, I kinda wish I encountered more breastfeeding moms in public. I feel like a subtle head-nod-of-support would go a long way.
You'll Get Thirsty When A Drink Isn’t Easily Accessible
I've never spent any extended time in the desert, unless you count one underwhelming off-season road trip to Palm Springs. However, the thirst a new, breastfeeding mom feels during letdown was, for me, on par with what I imagine the fourth or fifth day of being lost in a desert would feel like. When you breastfeed in public, you don't have access to your own stash of beverages. This is a problem, you guys.
Your Baby Doesn’t Tolerate The Cover You Attempt To Use (If You Attempt To Use One)
I mean, why wouldn't anyone want to eat with a blanket over their face? Oh, snap. I think I just answered my own question.
Your Baby Kicks The Nice Restaurant Table, Upon Which Sit Multiple Water Glasses
The few times I've been able and willing to breastfeed in restaurants have rendered a variety of different results. One, in particular ,was to scoot as far back from the table as possible.
It Can Take Longer Than Anticipated
Oh, hey guys! Oh, nah, it's OK. Go ahead and order desert. I'll just, um, be over here, attached to my baby. Still.
Your Kid Could (Read: Will) Get More Distracted Than Usual...
I guess that's to be expected, though. I'm pretty sure the first time I was ever inside a coffee shop, I was mesmerized, too. However, trying to get your kid to pain attention to the task at hand can be difficult, to say the least, which will only prolong the breastfeeding session.
...And You Don’t Have Your Regular Comforts
It probably doesn't help that we are without a nursing pillow and rocking chair (for the baby) and charged phone (for me). Whenever one, or both of us, has our usual breastfeeding necessities, if you will, things feel slightly easier.
The Tears. Oh, The Tears.
It's like stage fright, but instead of a stage, it's a breast.
You Can Be Breastfeeding During Appetizers So, By The You’re Ready To Eat, Nothing Is Left For You To Eat
This happened to me two years ago, and even thinking about it right this very moment makes my stomach growl and my heart harden. I just wanted some nachos, guys. Was that so much to ask? You know what, don't answer that question.