Parenting 2.0

Posts Tagged ‘nursing in public


Despite all my qualms about breastfeeding, after 10 months it seems to have come to a natural end for me and Niko. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy I nursed him and it worked out really well for us, but our time is over. I had planned to breastfeed for one year, but over the past few weeks it seems to have just naturally tapered off. I didn’t really feel like I was producing enough milk and little Niko was often frustrated during and after feeding, so I introduced more bottle feedings and he seemed more content and satisfied.

Another sign that it was the end for this little guy? Even though we’ve been tapering off, sometimes I still try nursing him when he seems fussy and I don’t have a bottle on hand. (And let’s face it, breastfeeding is more convenient than preparing a bottle.) When we gave it whirl yesterday he went for it, for all of about 10 seconds, then stopped, looked up at me and started giggling, showing off his six white and ever growing teeth. (And trust me, the fact that those chompers are in there doesn’t make it any easier either. Let’s just say I’ve bared the brunt of a few bites.)  Anyway after the bout of giggles, he pulled himself away and focused his attention elsewhere. Yah, I think that’s pretty much a sign that he’s done. I’m done. It’s over, but also the beginning of a new era as well. After all aren’t all endings just the beginning of something else anyway?

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Now that  I have been a mommy for close to five months, I have honed quite a few taking-care-of-baby skills: changing diapers, getting up in the wee hours of the night, entertaining a newborn, and (drum roll, please…) breastfeeding in public! Although I can’t say for certain I’ve honed this skill to perfection, I have done it and met with success and am sure I will do it again in the future.

Is the public arena my place of choice to feed little Niko? No.

Have I developed a comfort and skill level that allow me to feed my baby when he’s hungry out in public? Yes.

And, truth be told, most of this comfort developed on the recent trip Niko and I took to Halifax, where airports and airplanes became ground for free-range feeding! Being discreet helped a lot with building up my level of comfort: I mean a lot of times I don’t think that anyone was even aware of what I was doing, that is unless they took note of the big pink, Babe au Lait nursing canopy draped over my front. But seeing as most people are so wrapped up in their own business, I find they for the most part don’t even look at others, as I will explain later…

Interestingly enough, in the March 2010 issue of Today’s Parent there is an article (p. 107-108) about Breastfeeding in Public. The writers are all for it, despite the qualms that nursing mothers may have about this task. The most important thing is to get that hungry baby fed, right? And I agree with the article – hungry babes do need to eat, and when the time comes, they pretty much need to eat pronto! The article goes on to give tips to mothers who breastfeed in public, and one of them is as follows: “Smile at people. Make eye contact. Look confident.” OK, looking confident is one thing, but smiling and making eye contact?! Come on! It’s not like I am looking to make new friends while I am nursing my baby. I mean people out and about in the general public barely even look each other in the eye – so yes I would feel a bit awkward sitting on a bench in the mall, breastfeeding my baby, while giving the old wink and smile to passersby! Confidence – YES! Smiling and eye contact – WEIRD!

Note: Like Greg mentioned in his comment, I’ll just “have to take what ‘they’ say with a large grain of sea salt”.


BreastfeedingCartoonAll things considered I would say Canada is a society where the rights of women are advanced and for the most part pretty much on par with those of men. That said I am curious to see how most women or for that matter men, feel about women breastfeeding in public. This is a perfectly natural phenomenon: babies need to eat and this is feeding in its most natural form. But, do women feel comfortable breastfeeding in public? As a new mom, I am certainly not there (yet). And now that I think of it, I really don’t see (or maybe I just don’t notice) any women breastfeeding their babies in public. But does it happen? Are women comfortable?

My sister Carolyn, who until recently lived in highly conservative (and hot) East Timor, where women do not even swim or wear bathing suits or show much skin in general, told me that although women for the most part remain covered up, once they have a baby it is socially acceptable for them to breastfeed openly in public, sans blanket, just out there! This really does make sense: babies needs to eat and they feed them. Why then does it seem difficult for women to do this in emancipated North America? Or are these just merely my viewpoints and feelings toward it?

In talking with a friend (and new mom) over coffee today she told me she has breastfed in public once, but only when the positioning was right did she feel comfortable. (I think she said her back was to a wall and she was in a booth at a restaurant.) Well kudos to her for going for it! However, today, in the wide openness of Starbucks this was not happening and her baby got the bottle.  (I too had a bottle packed in my diaper bag, just in case…) As my little Niko  snoozed away I couldn’t help but wonder, will I ever breastfeed in public? As it stands right now, I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing it, but if faced with a crying and hungry son, my feelings could change. Perhaps I would resort to feeding him in my car… 🙂

What is it that makes us feel uncomfortable? Is it because of “women’s rights” that women don’t feel comfortable? Is this just a little too intimate a thing for equal rights women to be sharing in public? Or I am just too modest and thinking about this too much and most people actually do feel comfortable? Hmm…see the polls below.  I think women should breastfeed in public, but so far I am just not ready to take the plunge!

 


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