I am all for choice and non judgement. I sincerely feel that if a woman opts to breastfeed openly in public, then they should do so. Comfortably and confidently and unscrutinized. It is natural.
To say that breastfeeding is a journey is an understatement.
Breastfeeding becomes part of your identity. It is not just something you “do” but rather is a part of who you and your child are. As somewhat of a “hippy mom”, I have always known that I wanted to breastfeed my babies. It was not something that I thought would take work, practice and confidence. When I had my first son, more than 4 years ago, I was thrilled when my milk came in almost immediately and his latch was nearly perfect. Just a few adjustments and this breastfeeding thing was going to be a breeze! Since I had a c-section, we were at home for a lot of the first 2 weeks. And for most of those 2 weeks, I was naked. Which makes feeding a lot easier. At about the 15-day mark some of my husband’s family was visiting from out of town. We were entertaining more people then I would have liked and they were all passing around my new son, pouring their love into him, rocking him as he began to get fussy.
Breastfeeding him in front of them initially was very awkward. Since I had not worn many clothes while nursing in the past, I really didn’t know how to manage my baby, my boobs and a nursing cover or blanket to conceal what we were doing. So, I found myself asking to have my baby so I could go feed him in private. Unfortunately, this lead to me not feeding him for as long as I should have, and later that afternoon I began to develop mastitis. So horribly painful and emotional. From that point on I vowed to my son and to myself that I would not let others dictate where and when I breastfed my baby.
As time went on I become more and more comfortable breastfeeding my son in public. At restaurants, coffee shops, airports – anywhere really. I left the nursing covers at home and we just did it our way. And it was perfect. What I was most surprised about were the smiles and nods I would receive from on lookers. As if there were silently saying “high five mama! You’re doing great”. I clearly remember sitting downtown Barrie with a friend in a park and a group of older women passing by saying; “so great that you are comfortable to breastfeed your child in public.” It’s moments like this that really make a difference in a mother’s confidence and courage, to do what is ultimately good for herself and her baby.
Now my second son is nearly 2 years old and our breastfeeding relationship is still strong.
At almost 30 lbs he will tug at my shirt and say “nurse” in his sweet little voice. I am so happy that I live in a community where I do not have to worry about being judged for allowing him to do so. And I am the mom, who when I see a mother feeding her baby in public, give that other new mom the nod and smile – saying “You are doing a great job.”