I had a momma friend suggest I write this post. It was a great suggestion, and she pointed a few things out that I didn’t think about. I knew breastfeeding in public was hard, but I always put the issues on myself.
I need to be clear that this post isn’t about choosing breastfeeding over any kind of bottle feeding. I know that choosing not to breastfeed is just as hard when you’re out in public around the judgey mommies. Everyone does things differently. Everybody has the right to choose their own method. However, this is a post that’s specific to mommas breastfeeding in public.
Basically, the world is all for breastfeeding, until you want to breastfeed in public, or until you want to breastfeed a toddler.
I’ve spoken before about how hard it was at the beginning to breastfeed. That’s not what this one is about. I’m writing about the idea my friend gave me, but I need to do it from my point of view. Luckily, I have one. She made some good points that I honestly hadn’t thought of before in great depth.
Breastfeeding in public was hard for me. We are told from the start to breastfeed, and it’s recommended to breastfeed exclusively for six months, and then for as long as you can, even into the toddler years. However, society doesn’t really make it easy on us.
I know people who seemed so confident and comfortable nursing in public places. I’ve seen them do it covered or not covered, and I’ve always been a little jealous of their ease. I was never at ease. I was constantly worried about glares and people shaking their heads at me. I was worried to show too much. As though feeding my son is something I should be ashamed of.
I remember being at a baby shower that was thrown in a public building, and having to ask where I could breastfeed. They didn’t know so pointed to a chair behind the coat rack. It was that moment that I realised how entirely wrong it felt to be hiding in a corner to feed my son. (Yet if I gave him a bottle, I’d most likely still get looks from people.)
Malls have started opening up places for women to breastfeed. Of course, some of them are in a shared family room. A family room in a mall is also known as a bathroom. Essentially, we are given a washroom to feed our children. Don’t get me wrong, I would hate to have those taken away, but do you eat in a bathroom?
I will point out that Lawson Heights Mall continues to get more and more baby, child, and breastfeeding friendly. They have a section, as well as actual comfortable seats you can sit in so you can have a conversation.
My friend pointed out that there are so many businesses that should be more accommodating. Especially because we aren’t supposed to feel a stigma. We do feel it though. She mentioned grocery stores, for instance, should have a place to sit and feed your child. I don’t know why I never thought of that. I found shopping with a baby hard enough, I think I would have appreciated a place to sit and feed him instead of shopping at a time I knew he wouldn’t be hungry.
It took me a long time to breastfeed my son in public. In fact, I used to plan outings around feedings. Life would have been so much easier if I had just feel comfortable enough to feed him in public. I’m well aware that this was also something I had to get through on my own. The biggest thing stopping me was my fear.
We drove to Ontario when my son was four months old. Every few hours, we would pull over, and I would feed him in the car. It was hot out, we were sick of the car, but that was seemed easiest for us. I wish it wasn’t. I wish I had stopped worrying about pleasing others by hiding away, and been brave.
I wish every woman that chooses to breastfeed or bottle feed (whether it be formula or breast milk) could do it in public without any judgement from other people. One way to do this is to actually make it something we can do while we’re out. Having a place to feed our growing babies is pretty important. Keeping mommas comfortable while they’re feeding their babies would be nice. We hear from the moment the baby is born that every decision made needs to be about keeping our kids healthy, and all our choices should be for the baby’s happiness. A mother’s happiness and comfort level is often forgotten. Especially when it comes to breastfeeding.
It’s supposed to be acceptable to breastfeed your child into their toddler years, and it should be. I’m not sure everybody feels that way though. I was lucky enough to breastfeed my son until he was just over a year. I was sad to stop, but I was also okay with it. We had made it a year, and I was proud of that.
As I said before, I know some moms don’t have this problem. Some mommas feel comfortable, at peace, and happy feeding their baby anywhere they need to be fed. I am happy for you mommas. Other moms, especially new ones, don’t always find it as easy. Speaking for myself, I did not find it easy.
Society lately is all about getting rid of stigma that is associated with taboo topics (that shouldn’t be taboo). I agree with this. We should talk about so many things instead of feeling ashamed. We should talk about mental illness. We should talk about baby loss. We should talk about domestic abuse. We should talk about postpartum anxiety and depression.
We should talk about breastfeeding. This topic isn’t the same as the things I just named, but for some reason it’s still ignored. I agree with my friend, and I’m so glad she suggested this. The way to make this easier on women is to actually give us a place to feed our babies. Let us be comfortable, and don’t make us hide. Do this for our mental health.
If I were to change one thing about Anthony’s first year, it would be a less timid breastfeeding course. I wouldn’t be nervous about feeding him in public. I would do it because it’s his right to eat, and my right to feel comfortable feeding him.
Thanks for reading. If you have anything to add, please let me know.
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