Normally I’m a little too lazy to climb up on a soapbox, but I’m rowled up. I’m jumping on the bandwagon of controversy thanks to MSN’s "Lewd or Food" big debate on breastfeeding in public.
Here’s the thing: babies need to eat–and they won’t wait long when they’re hungry.
People, get over it. Let mommies feed their kids. Most of them try to cover up as best as they can–sometimes it’s just not that easy. Okay, most of the time it’s just not that easy. I have a Toni story just perfect for a touchy subject like this:
Mia was less than a month old. We were staying with a friend in Jackson, Mississippi while Hurricane Ivan did a number on our home in Pensacola, Florida. We were tired–worn out and short-tempered. An outing to the local mall sounded like a nice way to pass the time, so off we went. I could see that Mia and I needed to tour the shops at our own pace, so our group split up: my mother-in-law and Cheyenne going one way, me and the baby the other…
Not much time went by before Mia needed to eat. Nursing in the car was out; my mother-in-law had the keys. There were a few lovely benches smack dab in between the stores, but I opted to look around for a more private, quiet location. It was much harder than I anticipated and after precious minutes spent searching, Mia started to fuss–I sat down on a bench and tried and tried to cover up and relax and breastfeed that child…but I was one-handed, frustrated, and extremely uncomfortable, especially with the dirty looks I was getting. My face was on fire, and I started to tear up a little (ah, the emotional rollercoaster that is new motherhood)…Mia’s fussiness took the form of blood-curdling screams and I was at my wit’s end.
A kind woman pushing a stroller (I can only assume she had been in my position once or twice) stopped by and told me about a nursing room on the second floor of McRae’s department store. Saints be praised; I packed up my bag and my baby and my boobs and got up to that store just as fast as my legs could take me. This room–this wonderful room behind closed doors–hand a section where younger children could play, a softly-lit sitting area with big comfy chairs for poor worn-out nursing mothers like me, and even a CLEAN diaper changing station. I started crying as soon as I sat down, not out of stress, but out of thankfulness to McRae’s. To this day I haven’t found anything like it.
But that’s at a busy shopping mall. What do you do on an airplane? Or a restaurant? You’re stuck–the last thing you want to do is call attention to yourself by plopping right in the center of all public activity, whip ’em out and have everyone stare at you like you were the anti-Christ or something. Geez. Haven’t these critics ever been parents? I don’t get it. I mean, you don’t have to look–but the woman does have to do it…I can’t speak for all of them, but it was always my intention to be as discreet as I possibly could be. Give a breastfeeding girl a break, folks! And as for stone-cold witches like Barbara Walters–get a private plane and shut the hell up.