Going Public

   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.

About Toni

Mom. Wife. Artist. I take care of the kids and pretend to clean sometimes. I can cook spagetti and I have never been arrested. View all posts by Toni

6 responses to “Going Public

  • miranda

    All I have to say on the matter is, there are plenty of grown people who I’d rather not watch eat (I mean, seriously, CLOSE your mouth…) and if they’re allowed to eat in public so should be an infant…

  • Hilary

    I agree that people should be subtle, but I’m totally okay with it in public.  The thing that irks me beyond belief is people who change their children in non-appropriate areas.  My mom saw a man changing his baby’s diaper on the cold floor in a store.  No blanket underneath or anything.  Its probably not safe for the baby (what if someone tripped or something fell off of a shelf) and not terribly sanitary.  My friend knows a girl who changes her baby’s poopy diapers EVERYWHERE she goes.  Yuck. Okay, sorry, no more judgments! :)

  • der

    I feel bad for your experience with the hurricane and all, that’s too bad.  But sorry, I can’t agree with you on the nursing thing.  Yeah I know the baby’s gotta eat, and I feel for the little tot.  But it’s really not discreet or fair for others to stroll by and watch your boobs come out (or that it has to be up to them to look away, that’s not fair to them).  Think ahead before leaving "home" — that’s the real issue. 

  • Toni

    In Response to Trish,
    I guess I should clarify; I too get skeeved out when I see actual boob in public; I’ve always, always got a blanket draped over the entire "area" when breastfeeding somewhere other than the comfort of my home. I don’t agree with the ladies out there that throw breasts and nipples all up in your face and dare you to say something about it; I think that’s a little much. So if that’s what you mean, I’m with you.
    But I see no problem with mother, obligitory blanket and all, breastfeeding her child in a quiet corner booth, airplane, whatever…covered up as best she can…and I see no reason to hassle the poor woman. Trust me, most mothers know how to prepare like no other…we obviously cannot be expected to be at home every 2-3 hours or whatever the baby’s eating schedule dictates. Ideally we would be able to do this just like someone bottle feeding their baby, revealing no part of our naked body whatsoever to the general public. Worst case scenario the blanket slips for a minute, we retrieve it and all is well again. Surely this is not an issue?
    Thanks for the feedback–everyone has their opinions so thanks for sharing yours. ~Toni

  • Sheryl-Ann

    Hi Toni, I don’t see anything wrong with breastfeeding in public.  Being discreet is good, but there may be instances when you cannot be as discreet as you would like to be.  Geez, it’s a hungry baby and it’s boobs – what is the big deal????  Stay on that soapbox, Toni – I agree with you.

  • Unknown

    Huh?  Well Im the wrong person to get started on this one… but I can’t help but add my two-sense.  It’s a boob, get over it!  :)  I’m the queen of ‘whipping it out’ – ask anyone who knows me.  Quite frankly, when my baby’s head is nestled there you can’t see all that much – but the art of getting snapped back up & settled without exposing oneself is quite challenging, so unfortunately I got some boob-action going on.  It’s natural and we are one of the ONLY countries in the world that seems to make issue with it.  I nursed Caleigh well into her second year and that child was not gonna settle for staying at home at all FEEDING times.  Evan gets his boob wherever/whenever he likes, too.  We were anatomically created with breasts for one sole purpose: to feed our young as mammals.  And I do try & cover up while nursing but another thing to keep in mind – most babies don’t LIKE to be covered up & mine personally won’t latch on with a blanket hanging over his head.  He pushes it off (and Caleigh always did the same thing.)  

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