March 17, 2010
You’d think after nursing my son for 15 months, I’d be a pro at nursing in public. In all honesty, I still find breastfeeding in public to be challenging. I was at church a few weeks ago…we were at our couple’s small group. Our daughter needed to nurse. The room was filled with young couples…most who have children. I left our table and went to the back of the room. I had a nursing cover. I still managed to get flustered and ended up going to the car. Why? Why does something that we’re biologically programmed to do cause women around the world to feel awkward…uncomfortable. Why are we constantly apologizing for nursing our babies in public?
I was skimming through a parenting magazine recently. I happened upon an old picture…it was black and white. It was a picture of a woman nursing her baby at a table…uncovered. It was so natural. Everyone was eating at the table…including her baby. I so wish our society viewed nursing this way.
This week’s breastfeeding article was written by Kimberly Seals Allers. Kimberly is a leading authority on issues relating to modern, mothers of color, author of The Mocha Manual™ series of books and editor in chief of MochaManual.com, the fast growing web-based publication and lifestyle destination for today’s African American moms and moms-to-be. She is also a featured blogger for MomLogic.com and Babycenter.com.
So you are finally comfortable with the rhythm of feeding your new baby at home… Wonderful! But, who wants to stay home all the time? Some new moms might feel a little hesitation when it’s time to take the show on the road. This is quite natural, and also quite easy to overcome!
Some amount of public breastfeeding is inevitable. According to a recent Bravado Breastfeeding Information Council report, where, when and how to feed your baby away from home is a source of concern for many new breastfeeding moms. Up to 30% state that having to breastfeed in public creates anxiety for themselves and their spouses. Over 85% of breastfeeding moms surveyed by the BBIC stated they would go out of their way to frequent establishments that were comfortable and friendly to breast feed in. We asked BBIC board member Kimberly Seals Allers for some advice about how to find your public “comfort zone”.
Q: When planning trips out and about with your baby, how can you find a place that is breastfeeding friendly to stop for a feeding? What types of places should new/expectant moms be on the lookout for?
A: Moms just rave about the lounges at Nordstrom, but hotel lobbies and fitting rooms are also great and I heard of one woman who slipped into a dark pew in the back of a church! If public places like a park bench aren’t available, there’s always the passenger seat of your car. When in doubt, ask a local breastfeeding friend. There’s a fair chance that they have “been there and done that” in the same public places. They will likely have suggestions about comfortable places to stop for a feeding.
Q: Is it appropriate to call ahead to an establishment you will be visiting for the first time? What should you say?
A: It’s a great idea to call ahead. But don’t place an establishment on the spot, by demanding to know if they are “breastfeeding friendly”. Many people don’t know what exactly that means, and it means different things to different people. When you call, you should be specific about your needs. Do you need a quiet room with a door that locks? Access to a refrigerator? A place to plug in a breast pump? Your needs are probably very simple and once the establishment hears them, they may happily come to realize that they are indeed “breastfeeding friendly”.
Q: Are there any tools, tricks, or accessories that breastfeeding moms can keep in mind, to make it easier & more comfortable to breastfeed in public?
A: It’s always a good idea to carry a scarf. It can be used in so many ways; to keep warm, for privacy, etc. Slings are a great accessory for breastfeeding moms. They allow you to carry your baby hands free, and with a little practice, you can nurse your baby in them. It’s possible to breastfeed a baby in public in a sling, even while grocery shopping, without anyone noticing. However, the most important accessory for a breastfeeding mother who is planning on nursing her baby wherever she goes, is confidence. Don’t be focused on others. Focus on your baby!
* Ask a breastfeeding friend about local places they have found comfortable to stop and feed their baby
* When in doubt, call ahead and be specific about your needs and requirements
* Carry a scarf and/or a sling to make yourself and your baby more comfortable when nursing in public.
* If you are out of great options, retreat to the passenger seat of your car.
* Don’t leave home without it: Confidence!
Want to learn more? Just visit Bravado!
This information is courtesy of Bravado Designs, the brand synonymous with nursing women and their success for eighteen years.