Few things cause moms anxiety (not necessarily new moms, but all moms) than nursing in public. We hear horror stories about women called out and shamed, harassed, or humiliated, because they had the audacity to feed their babies in public. The anxiety of facing an angry mob, coupled with the anxiety of a crying baby, can make even the most seasoned mom second guess herself. When both my sons were newborns, I had all these plans for breastfeeding in public that went right out the window when we actually got down to it.
When my older son was an infant, I had total angst about breastfeeding in public. I could never find my comfort zone. Should I use a cover, or not even bother? Should I go to the car, or just stay in the store? Should I make sure to wear two shirts, or should I try a nursing tank? Until I found our groove, I was riddled with anxiety and paranoia anytime I took my breastfeeding baby out in public. I just knew someone would approach me and say something negative and judgmental. Now that I'm two babies in, I'm more comfortable breastfeeding whenever and wherever, but it definitely took some time.
It can be a scary and intimidating time, especially when you and your baby are still learning the ropes and things don't go as smoothly as you'd hoped. Some moms are fearless and just whip out the boob, not missing a beat or batting an eyelash. They don't use a cover, and they don't have a single worry. Other moms like a little more privacy when nurturing their baby, and choose to use a cover or even take a little trip to their car. I say, go with your comfort level. Every breastfeeding mom tackles nursing in public differently, and sometimes it's a process to find what works for you. So, if you had a few breastfeeding in public plans that went right out the window, know that you're not alone. In fact, here's what I thought I'd do (that I never actually got around to doing, like, at all):
I'll Be Fearless
I'm totally going to be one of those mamas who nurses whenever, wherever, and without an ounce of shame. Women have been breastfeeding babies since the beginning of time, so I say down with the status quo. #NormalizeBreastfeeding, right?
Except, it is really uncomfortable. I mean, people are staring at you and some people do say things to you and you feel, well, exposed. It's not as "easy" as some might suggest, and there's nothing "wrong" with you if it turns out you don't particularly like breastfeeding in public. A woman can only handle so many raised eyebrows before it all gets overwhelming.
I Won't Run Into Any Issues, Because It's "Natural"
Yeah, breastfeeding in public an get awkward. Milk just goes everywhere and it takes so long to get your kid to latch on and it's not like you can just sit there with your boob out all damn day. I mean, people have feelings about it, you guys.
There's No Way I'll Ever Use A Bottle
These plans are for "breastfeeding in public," so there's no way I'm going to bring a bottle and feed my kid as if I've packed a bunch of formula, right?
While pumping is a gigantic pain, and it can be difficult to figure out if the bottle that's been in my kid's bag for however long is still safe to give him, I ended up pumping and packing bottles for errands. Whatever, it was easy and, well, that's what breast pumps are for, right?
I'll Never Wear A Cover
I ended up using the "perfect compromise" that is a breastfeeding cover. I mean, yeah they're super cute and most of them are pretty easy to use.
However, it's difficult to get your kid to latch when you can't really see them, and when they're grabbing at the sheet covering their face every two seconds. I'm pretty positive, in the end, the breastfeeding cover just drew more attention to what I was trying to accomplish.
There's No Way I'll Walk All The Way Out To My Car, Just To Breastfeed
I was so sure I would never get up from whatever table I was at, leave my food to get cold, walk outside and breastfeed my kid in the car. I didn't want whoever I was with (probably my partner) to sit and have their dinner by themselves.
however, that happened on more than one occasion because, sadly, sometimes it's just easier than dealing with someone who is going to be judgmental or rude. I even discreetly abandoned my cart full of Target goodness in a corner of the store and go nurse in the car. Again. Ugh.
I'll Never "Just Stay Home" Because Of Breastfeeding
A valiant notion, but after so many public mishaps, staying at home for a while (or at least until my kid is no longer breastfeeding on demand) just sounds reasonable.
I Will Never, Ever, Breastfeed In A Public Restroom...
I was going to make a stand, you guys. I was going to make a point, and refuse to feed my kid in the same place other people are going to the bathroom.
Until, of course, I fed my kid in the same place other people are going to the bathroom. Honestly, it sucked. I was lonely and bored and I wanted to be around other people, you know, not going number two.
...Or A Fitting Room
Why would I take up a changing room breastfeeding, when I can just breastfeed in the store itself? That just doesn't make any sense.
Then again, a changing room is private, quiet, and no one is going to the bathroom next door.
If Breastfeeding In Public Is Hard, I Just Won't Do it
Unfortunately, our society doesn't necessarily make it easy for women to breastfeed their kids in public. Is it getting better? Yes, I would argue it is, but that doesn't mean it's easy. I told myself — especially after hiding away in my home like a hermit, pumping for hours on end, or going to my car or the stall of a public restroom to breastfeed — that if feeding my baby in public was too hard, I would just stop.
Yeah, that "plan" never happened, either.
My baby needs to eat, and deserves to eat whenever and wherever he is hungry. It might not always be easy, but I'm not going to deny my newborn food just because someone else has an issue. In other words, come at me. #Fearless