a few months ago i wrote a blog post called "why moms breastfeed in public, part one" which received more hits than possibly any other post on this blog. true to my track record, i never wrote "part two." i finally decided to finish what i started!
in my previous post, i listed four suggestions often given to a public-breastfeeding mother. they are as follows:
just stay home
go out after or before baby needs to eat
go to the restroom
pump a bottle
the two that i saved for this post seem to be the easiest, most sensible solutions to the "problem" of public breastfeeding.
solution #5: cover up
since the day he was born, when my son breast feeds, he kicks, wriggles and wiggles, waves his arms, pulls on stuff, flips his body around, and performs just about any dance move you could think of. it is hilarious, frustrating, and adorable. so covering up always seemed like a good idea, but it was never really doable, for me anyway. when he got old enough to realize he cared, he hated being covered up. he'd much rather see what's going on than have a blanket thrown over his head. by the way, have you ever put a blanket over your head? it's kind of uncomfortable. it gets real stuffy and sometimes it can be hard to breathe. that's another reason i don't cover up. babies have to breathe through their noses when they breastfeed, and it is important that they receive enough oxygen and don't feel stifled. however, sleeping with a blanket over your head is the best way to stay warm when you are camping during the cold months, because your breath really warms up the inside and the top of your head is covered so it helps your body retain heat. which brings me to the third reason i will not cover up: i live in texas. the summer river was born, we had record breaking heat of over 100 degrees for 57 days straight. i will NOT cover up my baby's head -- indoors or out -- when i can cook scrambled eggs on the sidewalk.
solution #6: go to another room
as i've said before, i am an ecological breastfeeder, which means i feed river anytime he asks, or any time i sense he needs or wants to nurse -- whether he's bored, hurt, sleepy, sick, or is getting wild and needs to take a little chill pill. he caught onto this rather quickly, and since he was teeny, he nurses off and on all day long. we do this for a few reasons, one of the main reasons being that i'm okay with it. as a stay-at-home mom who works occasionally at my computer desk, it's not inconvenient for me (most of the time). i don't think moms who ecologically breastfeed are better moms or breastfeeders, it just works for us, right now (get back to me on that in six months). for me, it was and is an important part of our relationship and my parenting path. so, really... go to another room? if i was going to another room every time river wants to breastfeed, sometimes i would quite literally be leaving every fifteen minutes or so, sometimes for twenty minutes, sometimes for twenty seconds. i'm not going to inconvenience myself because you're offended that i'm nourishing my infant at my breast. nor am i going to deny my child something he is rightly used to receiving when he asks. breastfeeding is largely a way i bond with my son. although he receives 90% of his nutrients at home through breastmilk, he is not very interested in a bottle of expressed milk when i am not around, and would rather fill his belly with solids. and at home, he would much rather receive milk from me than from a bottle. telling him he couldn't nurse would be like me pushing my little tot away, saying, "sorry, i can't hug you right now, there are people watching." nope, not happening.
and call me lazy or a mom starving for social interaction with people taller than two feet, but i don't want to miss out on the conversation! i can't tell you how many times i've sat there, in the Other Room, listening to them laugh, talk, enjoy one another's company, and wondering what i'm missing out on. oh, there was this one time, i'm sitting there and a friend asks my husband, "so, how do you do the cloth diapering thing anyway?" and you know me when it comes to cloth diapers. if anyone could talk about poop all day, it's me. it would be as if he started a conversation about baking, or conan o'brien, or twilight, or whatever you're into. i'm into cloth diapers. but anyhow.
when i'm feeding my son at my breast, i'm not doing anything wrong... right? think about the things you go to other rooms to do. blow your nose, scratch your butt, poop, smell your pits to make sure you wore enough deodorant. you get the picture, and you could probably use your imagination to add to it. when i breastfeed my son, i'm not doing anything wrong, gross, or indecent. but when i get the feeling that someone is thinking:
i don't want to see that
i don't want to think about that
i'm not used to that, and it's kind of weird
that should be kept private
please do that in another room
it sure sounds like someone is saying it is gross, wrong, or indecent. it is hard enough to breastfeed as it is. breastfeeding can be challenging, painful, tiring, draining, frustrating, difficult, and a very emotional experience for women who don't have the easiest time. the last thing a new mom needs is someone telling her she is doing something that she should be embarrassed about, too. we should be creating a culture where women feel comfortable nursing wherever they want. and i know it's a huge shocker but... womens' breasts are for feeding their babies.
so there you have it! a mostly-complete list of why moms breastfeed in public. i'm definitely not saying that a woman shouldn't cover up or go to another room -- when it comes to breastfeeding, it should be all about what makes a woman and her child most comfortable, even if that means breastfeeding in public without a cover. my mom went to the car to breastfeed all her babies, and i think we all turned out okay. me, i'd rather just leave my ass where it is and not have to use my legs any more than i have to! ;)