Thursday, June 17, 2010

Nursing in Public

I just read a GREAT article on nursing in public! 

This is a topic that hits close to home.  Adam was formula fed and as we all know, formula fed babies can be fed just about anywhere with very little complaints from anyone!  Not once did I worry what someone might think as I prepared my babies bottle of artificial breast milk.  Not once did I fear that someone would chastise me for feeding my child there.  I certainly never expected anyone to suggest that I prepare or feed my child in a germ infested public restroom.  I mean really, who would have a problem with me feeding my baby?

I'd imagine this is how most bottle feeding mothers are- completely oblivious to the blatant discrimination and alienation that breastfeeding mothers must endure.

I'll be honest, when I had Adam, I was 16 and didn't know my ass from a hole in the ground-excuse the verbage.  I formula fed him because I didn't know anyone who breastfed (or I thought I didn't...turns out my aunt breastfed her kids but I guess I just don't remember it as her youngest are 2 years younger than me and the rest are all older than me) so the thought never even crossed my mind.  When Adam was about 6 weeks old, he was crying like something fierce.  I couldn't calm him but I got this OVERWHELMING urge to put him to the breast.  I didn't because I thought it was too late and didn't have any idea how to even go about latching a child on or anything like that.  I did not know that a lactation consultant existed.  I did not know ANYTHING about breastfeeding.  In fact, I don't even recall being asked in the hospital if I was planning on formula feeding or breastfeeding!
I'm not sure how I would have reacted had I seen someone breastfeed in public, I mean, they're just boobs.  Maybe I would have stared for a minute but certainly not out of disrespect- but out of curiosity  because as I said, I'd never seen something so beautiful.

When I was trying to potty train Adam, a friend of mine pointed me in the direction of where I've been a member since.  I joined my prospective birth board of August 2006 when I found out I was pregnant with Logan.  Then the question was asked "are you planning on breastfeeding or formula feeding".  What? I need to know more about this breastfeeding! I mean yes, I KNEW what they were for but I needed to know WHY people still did it, how, and I wanted to learn everything I possibly could about the subject.
In 2006, my beautiful baby Logan joined our family and at first it was akward for me to nurse in the presence of other people but after I went home and got some more practice nursing, things became second nature.

When he was 4 weeks old, Ed's step mother threw me a "baby shower" that she had intentionally had after he was born so everyone could meet him.  Great but when he clearly started rooting, SMIL (step-mother in-law) told me that I could go into the spare bedroom to nurse him.  Now, in her defense, she was not hostile or anything when she said this.  It was definitely said in a friendly tone.  She meant well and was probably trying to make me comfortable but not one of the women at my party offered to keep me company or suggested that I just nurse him out there, I mean we were all women afterall and it was a party for me and my baby.  So off we went into the spare room all alone while they continued without us.  I nearly cried because I felt so hurt having to be left out.

It's not as though I was doing anything wrong, I was just feeding my little guy.  Had he been formula fed, I would have been welcome to continue participating in the party but because I had to bare my breast, things were different.
Because of this instance, I just naturally assumed that I should retreat to the spare room every time we were there.  I also went into a different room at Ed's moms.  It was strange because I had no problems nursing out in public or around my own family!  One day though, I pretty much just snapped and just nursed him right there on SMIL's couch.  I was doing something and wasn't going to exclude myself anymore.  I do still go into another room at Ed's family functions because I'd rather not have to constantly defend myself.  I am comfortable, it's the rest of the family that is close minded and would prefer that I hide so to save myself from the stress, I just do it.
At the beginning of this year we welcomed Xander into our lives and he is fed openly except for at family functions.  I hate the way it is and wish they weren't so immature and obnoxious about something so natural but I've decided to pick my battles- I don't see these people often enough to warrant fighting with them ;)

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