I’m going to say something a little controversial here: I hate breastfeeding in public. There, I said it. But let me back up a bit. I hate public nursing as a thing I have to do. I fully support other people and their public boobies.
I love breastfeeding in general. It is natural, and healthy, and bla bla benefits for the baby bla. Stella is 14months old, and still nursing like a champ. But I really love breastfeeding because IT ISFREEEEEEEEEEE! And I’m loath to spend money on something (i.e. formula) when there is a better, cheaper (freer) option. Second reason I love breastfeeding: it is the lazyman’s way. Wash bottles and mix formula? Punch me in the throat because I’d like that better. Third reason I like breastfeeding: I eat like a hungry trucker man, and still don’t gain weight. And now that I’m back in Japan where snack options are few and less delicious (oh, falafel chips...*sigh*), I’m actually having trouble maintaining my weight. You can hate me. It is okay.
But still. I hate breastfeeding in public. Not because I think that it is gross, or sexual or anything weird. I mean, since having a child, my shame-o-meter is pretty much set to zero. It is just that stories like this have me convinced that when I do nurse my baby in public everyone is looking at me, and thinking boobies, gross.
The fact that I live in Japan (which is admittedly pretty breastfeeding friendly), and am a tall white woman who already attracts enough negative bumbling foreigner attention, compounds the anxiety (as in, what is normal practice re. boobies in Japan? Will I be that weird foreigner if I nurse here? OMG, crying baby....what do I dooooooo?) Still, I nurse in public. Because what else could I do? I like to leave my house. My daughter wants to nurse ALL THE TIME, so. I nurse in public. Let me count the ways:
- On the airplane (it’s pretty much boob in mouth about 70 percent of the seated time)
- In the car while moving with the baby still strapped safely in her car seat. (I am also a contortionist, in case you didn’t know)
- On a train
- In a boat. While driving. In torrential rain
- In many a restaurant, where I may or may not have dropped ramen on my girl’s head
- In the middle of my german lesson, about a million times
- Walking down the street, baby in mei tai
- In the park with a seven-day-old baby (this particular nursing session was interrupted by two Japanese grandmothers who walked right over to me, lifted my nursing cover so that they could more easily admire the cuteness that is a foreign baby. That was not awkward AT ALL)
So, yes, I hate nursing in public. But I do it any way. Because the benefits outweigh my anxiety. And, truth be told, the worst thing that has ever happened re. feeding in public has been an awkward “avert eyes...boobies...omg..don’t look!) More often people smile kindly. And I’m glad of that, for it means that acceptance of public boobies is the norm and public-nursing-phobic a-holes are the exception.
I’m celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with Natural Parents Network!
You can, too — link up your breastfeeding posts from August 1-7 in the linky below, and enjoy reading, commenting on, and sharing the posts collected here and on Natural Parents Network.
(Visit NPN for the code to place on your blog.)