This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Nursing in Public hosted by Dionna and Paige at the new NursingFreedom.org. All week, July 5-9, we will be featuring articles and posts about nursing in public ("NIP"). See the bottom of this post for more information.
so, after yesterday's little rant you may be thinking fine FINE the grumbles, FINE. i won't throw things at you when you nurse and make inappropriate references to circus porn. it really is my goal to take all the fun out of your day, you know. but if i can't do any of my normal things what the hell do you expect me to do? how exactly can i support a breastfeeding family?
let's keep it simple and the way i like it best– with strangers in public.
(i'm in rare form today. maybe during a nursing carnival wasn't the best time to find my ridiculous innuendo button. or maybe it was destiny.)
there are a few levels of reaction to consider:
bad. don't: glare/stare/frown/whisper/point. yes, she can see you. and since the nursing mom is in the sensitive situation of having half her shirt off she probably already thinks you're talking about her. if you do have nasty things to say? good god don't go tell her about it, keep it to yourself. you're an adult, in public, so it should be understood that you might see things you'd rather not. like, me? i'm not crazy about teenagers in tiny outfits looking like hookers. but it's none of my business so i just move on.
passable. complete avoidance and denial that it's happening is... well, alright. pretending that she doesn't even exist over there breastfeeding is a big step up from bad but not quite good. if that's all you can bring yourself to do, i'll take it but it's certainly not going to inspire any confidence.
good. acknowledgment that yes, she is nursing over there, and continuing on with your business because hey, it's no big deal. there's a fine line between pretending that a breastfeeding mom doesn't exist and you, as a viewer, really trying to be so comfortable with it that you don't react at all. sometimes it's hard to tell which is happening– are you so down with it that you don't care? are you denying that such things happen? did you even see her? i'd like for people to continue about their business as normal because breastfeeding is indeed, normal. but there's a gold standard above and beyond good and that's...
great. eye contact. smile. a kind word or a coo over the cute baby. i have gotten this a few times when i've been out and about and guys? it makes my day. i'm just a regular girl feeding my kid and yeah, he's pretty damn cute. not everyone has the time to do this but it's above and beyond at making her feel that what she's doing is truly being accepted.
gold star. there's a special level even above that, for people who offer to make a breastfeeding mom more comfortable. glass of water? pillow? friend to sit with you and chat? i've heard whispers in the night, rumors of amazing stores and restaurants where as soon as they see a nursing pair they bring over some water. or let her know– take your time and be comfortable.
to achieve a good or great rating on the grumbles scale of awesome breastfeeding public supporting you really don't have to do much and you can really make a difference in someone's confidence. like mine especially, as a nervous nurser. it takes minimal effort on your part and makes maximum impact.
i'd like to add an additional note for friends and family of breastfeeding moms, which takes it out of the public realm and makes it private. if you support her, let her know. because unless you tell her she has no idea that you're down with it. you might think that you're supporting her by acting like everything is normal and nothing is happening and she might be wondering if you're getting the skeevies because you haven't mentioned it. chances are you or her or both of you are uncomfortable with the process at some point. what do you have to lose? throw it out there. that way she isn't wondering the whole time if she's offending you.
i have to say, a smile and some eye contact is good enough for me. nursing mom readers past or present, what helped you feel more comfortable?
Welcome to the Carnival of Nursing in Public
Please join us all week, July 5-9, as we celebrate and support breastfeeding mothers. And visit NursingFreedom.org any time to connect with other breastfeeding supporters, learn more about your legal right to nurse in public, and read (and contribute!) articles about breastfeeding and N.I.P.
Do you support breastfeeding in public? Grab this badge for your blog or website to show your support and encourage others to educate themselves about the benefits of breastfeeding and the rights of breastfeeding mothers and children.
This post is just one of many being featured as part of the Carnival of Nursing in Public. Please visit our other writers each day of the Carnival. Click on the links below to see each day’s posts - new articles will be posted on the following days:
July 5 - Making Breastfeeding the Norm: Creating a Culture of Breastfeeding in a Hyper-Sexualized World
July 6 – Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers: the New, the Experienced, and the Mothers of More Than One Nursing Child
July 7 – Creating a Supportive Network: Your Stories and Celebrations of N.I.P.
July 8 – Breastfeeding: International and Religious Perspectives
July 9 – Your Legal Right to Nurse in Public, and How to Respond to Anyone Who Questions It