by Shel Franco
Youre making me uncomfortable, said the woman with a disgusted tone.
Ellen Watson, of Salt Lake City, Utah, looked up from her nursing baby. Part of her wanted to cry, part of her wanted to run. She reached toward her breast in order to detach the peaceful three month old. Im sorry, she said to the woman. Hes just eating. Theres nothing wrong with eating.
Im not trying to start trouble, but watching him eat is making my family uncomfortable, said the woman.
A surge of energy swept through Watson. Well then, she replied, Please dont watch him eat. Thats only good manners, isnt it?
The woman stormed away with a huff, and Watson left before security was summoned.
It does happen. Fortunately, it doesnt happen often. But most breastfeeding mothers feel a bit of anxiety when first nursing in public. I was so nervous, says Mary Ketchum, of Omaha, Nebraska. The thought of someone scolding me for nursing my child made me sick. Each time we went out, I could barely get the baby latched on.
What Ketchum and all nursing mothers need to know is that breastfeeding in public is not illegal. In fact, most states have enacted laws to protect the breastfeeding mother and child. These states and their laws can be found on the La Leche Leagues web site under Breastfeeding and the Law.
But even the law cant stop the occasional nasty look or rude comment. How then can a mother relax and enjoy nursing in public?
I practiced, says Karen Strasser, of Scranton, Pennsylvania. I read in a book to sit in front of a mirror and practice. I got so good, neither my bra nor my skin showed during latch on. Thats when I finally felt comfort- able nursing anywhere.
Besides getting the motions down pat, some mothers find that a supportive companion helps them to relax. Liz Mitchell, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, enjoys an afternoon each week with a friend and fellow nursing mom. Since were both breastfeeding, we dont feel so alone, says Mitchell.
Ann Miller, of Madison, Wisconsin, has no qualms about nursing in public, especially when her husband is near. I cant imagine anyone having the guts to say something to me with him around, says Miller.
But sooner or later, where you nurse, and how comfortable you are may be out of your control. Mothers like Beth Esser, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, couldnt control little hands lifting up their shirts. I was very self conscious, says Esser. Ian liked to play with my shirt. Hed lift it right up over the breast, sometimes both. It was funny at home, but not at the mall. So sometimes, I used one of those nursing blankets.
Nursing cover-ups, made by companies like The First Years and Lansinoh, can be purchased at baby product stores on-line and in retailers, such as WalMart, around the United States. The price ranges from $9.00 to $15.00.
Esser adds that in her area, upscale department stores offer womens lounge areas. She is quick to point out, that they are not restrooms. The furniture is very nice- comfortable couches and chairs. Theres even one with a rocking chair, says Esser. Im picky. The place has to be clean, comfortable, and odor-free. If Id eat lunch or dinner there, then everythings all right.
In the end, Angie Croft, of Flint, Michigan says it best. Im not doing anything wrong. In fact, Im doing it right, says Croft. So, why in the world would I go hide in the bathroom.
Shel Franco is a freelance writer and the editor of The Nursing Mom's News.
She is the proud mom of two very big and very healthy breastfed boys.
More Breastfeeding Articles from Nanny's Place
Breastfeeding and Feminism Resources
Is That OK? (Nipple Twiddling during breastfeeding)
Eating Out (Breastfeeding in public)
Review: Breastfeeding: A Mother's Gift
Russian Study Shows that Early Mother-Child Contact Lessens Risk of Infant Abandonment
Last updated Sat, May 13, 2006
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