I secretly love breastfeeding in public

Mary Renee - posted on 11/10/2010 ( 13 moms have responded )

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Aloha,



First off, let me say that I'm not exhibitionist. To be honest, after having a breast reduction at 17 I didn't want ANYONE to see my boobs. I wouldn't even let my boyfriends take my bra off. Six and a half years later after having my daughter and finding out the wonderful news that I was still able to breast feed in spite of my surgery I could care less if someone sees my boobs!



Being able to breastfeed in public has given me a freedom I was desperate for in the first six weeks of her life. She breastfed every hour and a half FOR an entire hour until she was almost two months old (so basically constantly). There were times I thought I'd give up and at her one month check up my pediatrician suggested I supplement but I refused and stuck with it. Eventually her feedings spread out to every two hours and I could actually make it grocery shopping if I fed her at the grocery store before heading home.



Now that she's six months old, I will breast feed her anywhere. I have a hooter hider that I use in indoor public places (the mall, in line at the pharmacy, the grocery store, on a plane) but when I'm outside at the park or at the beach (I live in Hawaii) I just feed her without a cover.



To be honest, I get a kind of satisfaction doing it. I've had people stare, or act weird (I get worse looks for looking like I'm fifteen with a baby - it's an every day occurance for total strangers to straight out ask me how old I am) I've had well intentioned family memebers suggest I supplement or that she be weaned soon. Breastfeeding in public is my own peaceful revolution. To me it says "I'm doing what is best for my baby and I'm proud that I've made it this far." I feel like if I breastfeed in public, it will help normalize it. Every man, woman, and child who sees me will eventually recognize what I'm doing as a natural every day occurance and perhaps other woman who are afraid to breastfeed might feel more encouraged by my occasionally shameless behavior. I guess the best way to normalize something is to put it out there so I'll put it out there. If someone feels uncomfortable, that's totally their problem. Why feel shame about something natural?



I was only 23 years old when my daughter was born and it's sad that a lot of young mothers don't breastfeed. Some don't even try. Less women of minority background breastfeed, as well as women who are not college educated. Maybe not everyone has the opportunity to learn about importance of breastfeeding and I'll take it as my personal task to put it out there!



My daughter will not be a baby forever. I won't be able to have this special bond with her forever. She just started solids and as much as I love the snuggling and the closeness of being able to nourish my lovely little one with my body - it's only a matter of time before she's a little girl going off the preschool! I cherish the ability to breast feed and don't take it for granted. And being able to breastfeed in public makes be able to remain a strong independent woman I'd want my daughter to have as a role model.



So instead of complaining about looks or stares or comments I say we take the opposite route and use their ignorance as encouragement to normalize breastfeeding by smiling and proudly doing our best to nourish those babies as often as possible. Enjoy it!



Mary



p.s.



Just to share a few real life stories you might enjoy...



*1.* I was on a red eye with my daughter when she was three-months old. I nursed her when we took off and she was sleeping like a baby. Around 2 am the guy next to me decided to turn his light on and read. The light and noise woke up the baby and she started to fuss so I pulled my boob right out. Nothing got that light turned back off faster!!!!!!



*2.* I was exercising at the park when I had to nurse my daughter. A two and a half year old boy came up to me.

"What is she doing?" he asked

"She's eating." I told him.

"Why?"

"Because she's hungry"

"Is that breast milk?" he asked

"Yes it is." I said, starting to get worried that it wasn't my place to tell him that. Luckily, he already knew plenty!

"Oh, that's nice, I miss breastmilk!" he said. Haha, what an articulate toddler!



*3.* My best friend from highschool came to visit and we were able to go hiking up Manoa Valley to see a waterfall, snorkel at Hanauma Bay (daddy watched baby on the beach while I swam back to feed her) roadtrip to the North Shore, hike Makapu Lighthouse Trail, go to the beach, go shopping, visit Pearl Harbor and the Arizona (where they don't allow diaperbags!) all with my baby and my breastmilk!

13 Comments

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Johnny - posted on 11/11/2010

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Great story! Love it. I also breastfed (for 2 years) after breast reduction. I had to supplement until she started solids, so I didn't enjoy the accessory free lifestyle, but I'm hoping next time, I can go bottle-free. My little girl still talks about nursies & how much she liked it. I'm glad she remembers and I hope it sticks with her until she has her own children.

Where I live, it's normal to breastfeed and to do so in public. But we took our daughter to Las Vegas when she was 20 months, and I got a secret thrill from the shocked looks that I got the couple times I nursed her in public. I was totally covered, but I think those people had never seen a nursing toddler before ever. And definitely not in a casino hotel, lol.

Naomi - posted on 11/11/2010

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Wow! Thank you for sharing! Very inspirational. I love the story about the little boy! How cuttteee! I would just like to share that I am 19 years old, and exclusively breastfeeding my 5 month old boy!!! I love to breastfeed in public, it makes me feel very proud that everyone can see me (as young as I am) breastfeeding my baby. I wish more women would take the time and effort to educate themselves on the benefits of breastfeeding, and understang it is the ABSOLUTE best. Just a personal feeling, but I would be terrified to feed my baby formula. I LOVE knowing that my milk is providing the very best, and I can control exactly what I am feeding my baby, no unknown chemicals in my milk!

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Mary, you sound like a passionate and strong young woman and I love it that you "do it in public'! I might not be college-educated but I have always gone with my instincts in regards to my children. Breastfeeding is the best nutrition in the first 12 months and if they are hungry then by George, I'm gonna feed them no matter where we are.



I've fed my children at coffee shops, shopping centres even a church once. Respectfully mind you! I would never deprive them for the sake of others. My children are more important than what others think of me.



Thanks for sharing!

[deleted account]

I totally get the pride-thing! My daughter is 14 months old and already people are a bit uncomfortable about me still nursing her. So I make a point bringing it up in conversation just like I might mention other things concerning her. And yes, I still feed her in public. You are right, every little bit helps to normalise breastfeeding again. And it does feel like being a little revolutionary!

Christina - posted on 11/11/2010

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p.s. I will also breastfeed ANYWHERE : ) If someone doesn't like it, they don't need to be looking. I do however TRY to be modest as I really don't want my huge boob to be exposed lol I always have two shirts on, a tank top or cami and then a top over. The top comes up and helps cover most of my breast while the cami keeps my (I had babies) belly covered : )

Christina - posted on 11/11/2010

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OMG I know exactly what you mean! I breastfed my first for 22 months and now have a 4.5 month old that I am breastfeeding. Whenever I have breastfed in public I feel like I am swelling in pride lol. I feel a bit guilty but I do esp love to do it when I see others feeding with bottles knowing that there is formula in there. I have tons of friends who all gave birth to babies in the last several years and not ONE has breastfed. I even tried to help my neighbor out but I could tell, she just didn't want to put in the effort. Beats the hell out of me why you would want your baby to scream and cry because you have to make a bottle and then wait some more while it heats up when you have the best for him ready to go on demand at the perfect temp always! Oh and I love that part where the kid came up to you at the park! My first doesn't remember breastfeeding : ( she does know though that she was! And that my breast full of milk, she even tells me when Lilly (my 4.5 month old) cries to "get my boob out, cause Lilly is hungry" lol

Shenea - posted on 11/11/2010

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I am only 22 and I breastfeed! I am slowly getting to the point where doing it in public doesn't bother me. We took my son to chuck e cheese for his 2 birthday and my 2 month old was hungry the first time I was a little weird about it but the second time was much easier. I love the feeling that people can see what I am doing because I think there is no better feeling than doing what's best for my baby :)

Beki - posted on 11/10/2010

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Awesome!! Thankyou so much for your story and encouragement. Very well said, loved it!!

Minnie - posted on 11/10/2010

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:). Thank you for choosing to tend to your baby and normalize the breast. You encourage other mothers to do the same and help children grow up with an accepting attitude of the nurturing purpose of the breast.

Brittany - posted on 11/10/2010

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Thanks for sharing. I was having the same kind of thoughts today! I wish I had had the confidence to breastfeed in public when my daughter was younger.

I especially like the story of the little boy. How sweeet!! =)

Staci - posted on 11/10/2010

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Wow!! Thank you so much for sharing!! That is an amazing story!! I am in the same boat as you, wishing more young girls would breastfeed their babies!! I work at our local health dept and I am a Peer Counselor for breastfeeding, so an Advocate for breastfeeding mothers!! I am still nursing my daughter, she will be 1 on sunday, I thought when we introduced solids at 5 months she would wean herself...but i do not see that happening any time soon. She gets whole milk sometimes, when i do not get a chance to pump enough for her! and she is doing great with that! I will miss nursing when she does self wean :( Thanks again for the amazing story! Very proud of you!!

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