About once a week it seems we hear of a mom who has been told to take her Facebook breastfeeding photo down or to cover up while breastfeeding in public. Among moms, friends and spouses we all tend to have mixed feelings about breastfeeding in public. Let’s get real here. Our main problem with breastfeeding in public is: boobs.
- We’re uncomfortable seeing them out and about and being “used” even though in this day and age we are used to seeing boobs-mostly covered.
- We’re uncomfortable because breastfeeding isn’t something we’re used to seeing in our own families.
- We’re uncomfortable because breastfeeding didn’t work for us.
- We’re uncomfortable because we just don’t like breastfeeding.
Wherever you fall on the spectrum, the above listed or others I missed, there’s one singular factor. Breastfeeding isn’t about you.
I know that sounds harsh but its the simple truth. Breastfeeding isn’t about you or really even about the mom doing it. It’s about her baby. We’re not uncomfortable when we see a baby eating from a bottle-whether it contains formula or breast milk, so we need to get past the uncomfortable feeling we get when we see a baby actually breastfeeding.
What can we do to make this better? Well, we have to just let it go. Elsa helped us with that, right? Do you want me to break out in song? Ya, me either, I’ve had enough of it too.
Tips for non-breastfeeding people when they see a breastfeeding mom in public.
- Smile and keep walking-she doesn’t need you to break out in a cheer for her, but she doesn’t mind knowing you don’t think its disgusting either.
- If you’re sitting in a waiting room ask her about her baby, encourage her for breastfeeding or share your own story of breastfeeding.
- Don’t stare at her, covered or not, breastfeeding moms aren’t wanting to be on display, she had to stop and feed her hungry baby, she isn’t seeking attention.
Tips for Breastfeeding Moms
- Understand that not everyone understands or likes breastfeeding-and that’s okay!
- Sometimes young, old, men, women, boys and girls will stare at you-but they might have NEVER seen anyone breastfeed before. Obviously you don’t want to be ogled but if they are going to ogle you breastfeeding, they very well might also do so if you aren’t breastfeeding. Breasts have a dual purpose-isn’t that great for the multi -tasking mom? All kidding aside, breastfeeding in public is important because many haven’t seen it done and are curious. The more normal we make it-the more moms will want to at least try it or others will encourage another mom to try it.
- Be comfortable yourself. Breastfeeding a newborn, especially in public, makes you hyper sensitive to your baby’s flailing arms and legs. Maybe your baby won’t latch right away, milk is spraying everywhere and you feel like a one woman circus. Practice at home and in front of a mirror so you can see what others may see. Nursing bras/tanks are hard to find sometimes but makes the process SO much easier in public. Lifting the shirt from under instead of pulling down the top can be easier and is also less noticeable to others around you.
- To cover or not to cover. Its a personal choice and one that a mom makes for herself, not for others. Don’t let this be a debate between moms, we don’t need anymore mom wars than we already create for ourselves. Cover if you want, or don’t.
Our focus needs to be on the babies. These nursing babies either need to eat, be comforted or bond with mom. The more we remember that breastfeeding is about the baby, we won’t be as focused on our own feelings.
What are your best tips for a breastfeeding mom in public?
As a breastfeeding mom what do you want others to know about breastfeeding public?