Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Oh, what a Beautiful Sight: Nursing in Public

Welcome to the July 2010 Carnival of Nursing in Public

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Nursing in Public hosted by Dionna and Paige at NursingFreedom.org. All week, July 5-9, we will be featuring articles and posts about nursing in public ("NIP"). See the bottom of this post for more information.

Everyday I hear stories about women discriminated against for nursing in public.  It makes my blood boil.  These stories remind me of everything wrong with our society.

These stories are not my stories though.

Sometimes I wonder what sort of strange cosmic joke it is that someone so geared up to be confronted while nursing in public is never confronted.  Not only am I not confronted, I'm praised.

I should clarify something.  I generally don't "cover-up" when I nurse in public.  I may throw the tail of my sling up to encourage Connected Daughter to sleep or place a blanket over her body, but I don't own a cover.  That said I don't let it all hang out, but that's mostly in an effort to hide my stretch marks, or as I prefer to call them mommy stripes. I just nurse in the easiest way possible for whatever I'm wearing.

So what has my experience nursing in public been?  A really, really positive one.  People help me out, smile at me, offer kind words.  Apart from flabbergasting a teenage waitress once and confusing a 4 year-old at the mall, no one has ever said anything negative.  I was stopped three times in one week while nursing Connected Daughter in her sling by women wanting to tell me that they were proud of me.  Complete strangers are proud of me.  It's sort of mind-blowing.

My favorite nursing in public experience involved a woman at the grocery store.  She stopped me to tell me it was awesome to see me nursing, adding in a hushed voice that she would have never had the guts when she was nursing her children and she's so proud of women who do.  Then she asked if I would ever participate in one of those nurse-in's.  When I responded yes, she agreed that she would at this point in her life too.

I walked away from this encounter and realized something.  She'd given me something she hadn't been given,  Support.  A stranger had taken the time to be encouraging so that I could have a good experience nursing in public.

I don't have anything provocative to say here.  It took me several days to write this and in that time I had several more positive public experiences.  A woman smiled as we took the picture in the park above.  Families and children continued playing in the spraygrounds.  People walked their dogs.  We were all there just living our lives and enjoying ourselves.  I happened to be nursing.   My point is pretty simple.  It's easy not to appreciate all the wonderful, supportive people there are out there.  If you never nurse in public, you'll never know.  If you do, look around, make eye contact, and see what happens.  People might surprise you.  And if you see a nursing mom out and about, take the time to smile and share a kind word.  Share your positive nursing stories.  Together we can make it the norm to have good breastfeeding experiences.

Art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/

Welcome to the Carnival of Nursing in Public

Please join us all week, July 5-9, as we celebrate and support breastfeeding mothers. And visit NursingFreedom.org any time to connect with other breastfeeding supporters, learn more about your legal right to nurse in public, and read (and contribute!) articles about breastfeeding and N.I.P.

Do you support breastfeeding in public? Grab this badge for your blog or website to show your support and encourage others to educate themselves about the benefits of breastfeeding and the rights of breastfeeding mothers and children.

This post is just one of many being featured as part of the Carnival of Nursing in Public. Please visit our other writers each day of the Carnival. Click on the links below to see each day’s posts - new articles will be posted on the following days:
July 5 - Making Breastfeeding the Norm: Creating a Culture of Breastfeeding in a Hyper-Sexualized World
July 6 – Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers: the New, the Experienced, and the Mothers of More Than One Nursing Child
July 7 – Creating a Supportive Network: Your Stories and Celebrations of N.I.P.
July 8 – Breastfeeding: International and Religious Perspectives
July 9 – Your Legal Right to Nurse in Public, and How to Respond to Anyone Who Questions It


Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said... [Reply to comment]

I love this, especially the thought of that woman giving you the support she'd never had. Even if we can't force society to recognize the beauty of the breastfeeding relationship, we can be a strong support network for each other!

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