Today, I nursed in public. You are not going to believe what happened. It was quite shocking, really; and it's not the
first time this has happened. In fact, for me, and for most of the nursing women I know, it happens more often than not when we dare engage in the shameful and controversial act of leaving our homes for long enough that our babies might become hungry.
Let me start at the beginning.
My children and I spent the morning out shopping with my mother, sister, and niece; for school clothes for Delilah, who will be starting preschool in a few weeks (*sniffle* *tear* "MY BABY!" etc.). Canon, my 6 month old son, spent the shopping spree wrapped snugly against my chest, sleeping through most of it. When we had finished our marathon shopping (because a child beginning preschool also requires some new threads for her mother, brother, grandmother, aunt, and cousin, obviously) we were famished.
We headed to what we consider a family friendly restaurant, which, not to name any names, was TGIFridays. The restaurant wasn't totally deserted, nor was it extremely busy. We were seated near a few other families, most of whom also had children with them. After getting the three adults and three children settled at the table, Canon, having been very patient and delightful in the over two hours since he'd last eaten, started to get a little fussy.
For my own comfort level, because I was wearing a tank top I'd have to pull down at the neck to nurse him, and because I have substantial jugs, I fished a cloth diaper out of the diaper bag and placed it over the top part of my chest. Because no, I don't cover my baby's head with a blanket while I nurse, because I guarantee you'll see a whole lot more boob skin and maybe even a nipple flash while he fights to remove the blanket from his head. I don't blame him. Have you ever eaten with a blanket over your head? Me either. Because it probably sucks.
Anyway, the cloth diaper slipped out of place a few times as I was getting him settled in my lap and latched on, but I'm pretty sure we got to business without too much scandalous skin showing. I continued to converse with my mother and sister while my daughter and niece chattered away and played with their crayons. After a few minutes, Canon was satisfied, so I clumsily re-fastened the clasp on the cup of my nursing bra, straightened my top, got rid of the cloth, and put him back in the high chair.
A few minutes later, the waitress came over to take our order. We all ordered our food. A little while later, our food came, and we ate it. We finished eating, got ourselves packed up, paid the bill, and started heading out. When we reached the door, the hostess opened it for us, smiled at us and said...you will not believe this...she said, "Have a nice day!" So we smiled back and thanked her and got into our cars and drove home.
Can you even believe that? Seriously. No one gave me any dirty looks. No one stared. No one asked me to be more discreet or to go feed my child in the bathroom or the car. No one covered their child's eyes to protect them from an obscene sight. No one gave me one of those cute "thank for nursing in public" cards or bought my meal. It was like no one even noticed; or, if they did notice, it was like they didn't even care. You would almost think I was just doing something pretty normal, or something. Like I hadn't just bared my breast to use it for its biologically intended purpose right there for anyone to see.
At this point, you might be scratching your head, wondering why I bothered to share this very boring tale of public breast feeding. I share it because you've probably seen stories of nursing mothers having their rights violated by being asked to stop nursing, or to cover up, or to leave. You've probably seen stories of nursing women being congratulated and celebrated. But maybe you've never seen a story of a nursing mom who just fed her baby, in public, and that was that. I share it so that new or expectant mothers know that they can expect that, most of the time, when they nurse in public, no one is going to yell at them, and no one is going to cheer for them either. More often than not, breast feeding babies in public places isn't a spectacle at all.
So, moms? Feed your babies. Feed them confidently. Know your rights as a breast feeding mother, but don't expect to have to cite them every time you feed your baby outside of the confines of your home. And everybody else? Let most nursing in public stories be as boring as mine. Or, you know, pay for the meal, or give a smile, because that's nice, too!