Thursday, July 11, 2013

Breastfeeding. In Public.

Frequently, an article or blog post will go viral in defense of breastfeeding in public. The message tends to be the same, although worded or presented differently. Here's an article that I've seen in multiple places today. To summarize: a poet who was once shamed by breastfeeding in public put together a defense of why she will no longer be shamed. She speaks the truth.

I'm passionate about breastfeeding. My own breastfeeding journeys I've taken (and are currently on) with my babies is sacred to me. I didn't start out breastfeeding to take a stance or to make any type of statement - in fact, when I put Ellie to breast the first time, it was just because that's what you're supposed to do. A mother is meant to nurse her babies, and it honestly never even occurred to me that I wouldn't. Of course I would.

With Ellie, I will admit that I was a bit cautious and shy at first. I wasn't comfortable breastfeeding in front of just anyone, and would use blankets to cover her if we were out and about. I'd duck into the back room if male members of my family were around, and hesitate to nurse on occasion when she was hungry if we were in a public place. The fact that my breasts are large made me even more nervous, and left me with few options when it came to being super discreet. Some skin would always show, and it made me feel very vulnerable.

But then I got the hang of it. And I started reading about other women's journeys, and reading supportive online articles and books, and was subtly encouraged by older mothers (even great-grandmothers!) and eventually, all my hesitation fell by the wayside. I found myself responding to her hunger wherever we were, because...wait for it...a hungry baby should be fed. And I was her source of food. I dropped any effort to cover her head with a blanket, because that's not fair and it's not convenient for anyone, let alone the infant who is being asked to eat with a blanket over her head. And I continued to nurse her, for as long as I had milk. She was about 19 or 20 months old when she weaned (I can't even remember!), because I was pregnant and had no more milk left.

And now? I continue to breastfeed my baby. I will breastfeed him wherever, whenever he is hungry or needs it. I will not walk away, find a corner to hide in, cover his head, nurse him in a restroom, or do anything but feed my baby to meet his needs. I, like all breastfeeding mothers I've known, do not "whip it out" or "flash it around" to show off. No one does. We are not exhibitionists who get thrills showing skin because it's some sort of taboo. We are feeding our hungry or sad or hurt babies. I am not doing it to make a statement - I am doing it to feed my baby. Although, if anyone dares ask me to move, stop or cover, I have no doubt that I will make a very, very strong statement. I dare anyone come between me and feeding my baby - luckily nobody has tried. :) (not even today, when I was walking and shopping and feeding my baby!)

I haven't been a picture poster, because I always thought to myself, "no one wants to see that" but actually, I don't think that's true anymore. It's beautiful, and it's helpful for other mothers to see. Frankly, it's helpful for everybody to see, so as to not encourage the notion it should be done in private, with a cover, etc.

So, here we are. My favorite moments captured.

Eleanor, 1 month. Our photographer snapped some pictures, and I was a bit uncomfortable then, but am SO glad he did now.
My friend took this of Ellie in her christening gown. 3 months.
Dash's second day nursing ever. I love how he's looking up at me, and I even love the little feeding tube in his nose. He was so little.
Same session, in the hospital. I was so incredibly happy.
Dash at the park, three weeks old. Probably our first public breastfeeding session.
Dash at his Auntie's High School graduation. 2 months.
Sunny day at the lake. Showing no more skin that was showing in my bathing suit.
Sweet, eager, hungry boy.


  1. thank you for sharing this Julia! I agree wholeheartedly that allowing ourselves to feed our babies in public gives the message and may empower other's to do the same, I know it took me a while to feel comfortable with it. these are such beautiful photos of you and your babies!!

  2. Good for you! I lost my shyness after awhile, too... I was just too exhausted to care about someone seeing little more than they would have seen in a bathing suit. The only times I removed myself were when I knew that the baby was going to fall asleep and that, hmm, this was just the perfect time for me to take a nap, too! Then, sleep-feeding in bed was the preference.

  3. Love the photos! Like you, I never even thought of not breastfeeding Nico. I tend to be shy about a lot of things, but breastfeeding in public was never one of them. I think Matt worried that someone might say something to me, but luckily no one ever did -- but if they had I was ready to tell them about my right to breastfeed my baby in public! I really think that if you're relaxed and don't worry about it most people don't even notice what you're doing :)

  4. Love you sis! (Also I pinned you ~