Tag Archives: Nursing in Public

Became Wiser About Breastfeeding – July 30

This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe’s Blog Carnival for 2012. For more information on the Breastfeeding Cafe, check out this site. If you would like to participate in this year’s carnival, just post on your personal blog and put a link in the comment section below.  To receive email updates for next year, contact Timbra landslidephotography {at} hotmail {dot} com. Today’s post is about how you’ve become wiser about breastfeeding. Please read the other posts in today’s carnival listed in the comments section of this post. The Carnival runs July 16th through the 31st!

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Krystyna Bowman, AAHCC strives to be a blissful mother to four children (2 daughters, 2 sons) and she is the wife of a very patient man.  She and her husband, Bruss, are Bradley Method® of Natural Childbirth instructors.  The Bowman family lives in Chandler, Arizona.  They enjoy sharing the joy of childbirth with other families and they celebrate every Sweet Pea and their birth.  Krystyna’s blog “Sweet Peas, Pods and Papas” covers many topics around pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.  You can find her other Carnival posts atwww.sweetpeabirths.com/blog

 

Today’s Prompt:If you have more than one child, how have you become wiser :)? How did your first nursing experience shape your thoughts, ideas, plans, views, etc for your future nursing experiences?

 

 

Krystyna Bowman

 first nursing relationship taught me a lot of lessons that have encouraged me and grown me as a human being.  When I nursed our first-born, I found that breastfeeding was painful, I felt like I was in a minority and I felt ashamed to nurse in public. Now I am a proud lactivist, confident in my choice to breastfeed.  I am ready to kindly and gently challenge people’s perceptions about why we nursing mamas do what we do to feed our children. 

 I have joyfully nursed three other children since our daughter was born in 2005.  We have a son born in 2007, we met another son in 2009, and we just welcomed another daughter in 2011.  All the lessons I learned with our first child have grown my confidence in our choice to breastfeed our other children:

  • –       Trust your instincts
  • –       MotherBaby are one unit living in two bodies
  • –       Be flexible
  • –       Do not apologize for your choices
  • –       Common does not mean it’s normal

 Our children have taught me that when I make choices out of love for them, and when we as parents make choices together, we can confidently stand by our choices for our family.

 Here is our story:

 I grew up watching my mother nurse my siblings.  When we got pregnant with our first child, it was a foregone conclusion that I would breastfeed.  We got a few pointers in our childbirth classes, and as part of that curriculum, my husband and I attended a La Leche League meeting together.  We expected that there was going to be a learning curve and that I would experience something called “engorgement”.

 Baby arrived.  Surprise!  Breastfeeding did not feel natural!  It hurt!  It made me cry!  I wanted to give up!  At the same time, I was motivated to persist in my efforts by our satisfied baby that was growing and thriving from my milk .  So I persevered through the discomfort and the pain until it went away. Eventually I got comfortable nursing in public covered by a receiving blanket so I would not offend anyone.

 Our pediatrician told me to introduce solids at six months.  Dutiful mother who wanted to be a good patient and follow “doctor’s orders” tried the commercial baby foods.  They made our baby sick.  So my husband and I talked and agreed to stop with the jars and “wait-and-see” if baby would continue to thrive on my milk.  She did well – no more throwing up and cranky disposition.  We had our sweet baby back, thriving on exclusive breastfeeding.

That instance of going against “doctor’s orders” gave me my first boost of confidence – it was okay to follow my mothering instinct instead of “professional advice”.  I knew my child: I had carried her for 39 weeks and 4 days when I was pregnant.  I spent most waking moments with her, and sleeping ones as well.  We were the MotherBaby and I knew what my other half did and did not like.  Lesson one:  Since we were a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby, it was okay to trust my instincts above anything else.

My second lesson was accepting that we, the MotherBaby, were indeed one unit.  Back then I did not know that it was called Attachment Parenting.  I knew that our daughter and I were happy together.  My husband was happy to see both of us happy together.  He was happy to hold a baby that liked to be held.  She was a baby that hardly ever cried and observed the world with her watchful eyes.  I politely acknowledged the people that told me I was holding her too much, that I was going to spoil her.  On the inside, it strengthened my resolve to trust that we were making the best decision for our family.  The MotherBaby unit worked for or family – everyone was happy, everyone slept, life moved on and our baby did not get spoiled.  Today she is a fiercely independent seven-year old (going on 25!).

 My third lesson was that flexibility is a great parenting tool.  We had learned to be flexible through our birth experience.  It did not stop there.  We decided our lifestyle was easier to change than it was to force our baby to fit into our needs and desires.  Our baby changed how much time it took to go places.  She influenced our choice of activities.  She changed how we travelled.  In such a blessed way, living through all her firsts enhanced our lives immeasurably and we embraced our new life as a family of three.

 This flexibility served me well in relation to our breastfeeding relationship.  I initially thought that I would nurse her until her first birthday.  Then I would be done and I would throw myself back into my career outside the home.  As her first birthday approached, I realized that neither she nor I was ready to stop nursing altogether.  Although she was comfortable eating table foods by then, she and I both enjoyed nursing when she woke up in the morning, for naps, and before bedtime.

 I realized that although there were some things I could still control about our daily life, our breastfeeding relationship was not one of the things that I wanted to control.  As we celebrated her first birthday I became aware of how quickly time passes with our children.  I had the epiphany that our children are actively in our lives until they are pre-teens.  Then they start to move into the sphere of their friends.  Before we know it, they are moving out of our homes to pursue careers or schooling.  I did not want to stick to our twelve-month plan.  Why force a separation, especially one at such a tender and sweet age?

 My stubborn nature came into play again.  When people questioned me, it made me even more determined to follow my instincts and do what was best for our child.  If you are an extended nurser, you know the questions people ask. “You are still nursing?”  or, “How long are you going to nurse?”  How about this one, “Why are you still nursing if (s)he can ask for it?”  My “favorite”, usually in the form of a statement: “You are just doing this for yourself.”  I gave the same answer that I gave when people asked why we chose natural childbirth, babywearing, or co-sleeping: “This choice works for us and our family.”

 In those five words, I accept the mantle of responsibility for our choices and our family.  I hope that it relieves the guilt or feelings of judgment that other people may feel because their story is different, whether by choice or circumstance.  There are those who cannot accept that answer, and that is okay.  I am not going to change their minds anyway, so I save my energy and do some deep breathing!  

 The last lesson I learned the hard way.  All three of our older children caused the same pain when feeding on my left breast.  I could kick myself: it took until our third child to learn that something about our birth experiences was causing our babies difficulty when positioned to nurse on my left.  Our third child got an adjustment when he was ten days old.  One visit to our chiropractor for a pediatric adjustment and I was in heaven!  It eased the discomfort that did not allow him to turn his head comfortably.  He stopped stripping my nipple and chomping on the nerve that made me cry every time.  I learned that nursing could be pain-free and tear-free when baby is a newborn if you seek help at the beginning. 

 Now I am a childbirth educator.  I tell our students that while breastfeeding is a learned behavior, and that although it is common for it to hurt, “Common does not mean it’s normal.”  The lesson I learned the hard way was that a mom should not ignore pain during breastfeeding.  Seek help as soon as possible so that your breastfeeding experience improves sooner than later.

 Not all situations warrant a visit to a chiropractor.  If you are experiencing pain or difficulties of any kind, get help now.  You can make an appointment with an IBCLC certified Lactation Consultant.  Another option is to talk with a La Leche League (LLL) leader or attend a LLL meeting in your area as soon as possible.  These options offer support, encouragement and a variety of information and tools to lead you in the direction of problem solving your situation.  Generally an IBCLC charges for their time.  LLL has a time-honored tradition of peer-to-peer counseling offered at no charge.

 Today I am nursing our child about to turn three as well as our nine-month old.  I remind myself of my “epiphany moment”.  I never imagined that our journey into tandem nursing would last this long.  I expected our third child to wean sometime between 15 months and 22 months like his siblings did.  He is re-writing my parenting experiences by simply refusing to give up his daily nursing session.  Sometimes he pushes for two, and when the timing works out, he is a happy person.

 I have lost my shyness about nursing in public anymore.  I thank all the women who have gone before me. They claimed breastfeeding as the “normal”, and they advocate for our society to accept breasts as food sources above all their other uses. I was covered from my neck to my ankles when I fed our first-born in public.  Now I am a big fan of the blouses designed to nurse discreetly in public without having to use a nursing cover.  I hope to lend confidence to other mothers so that they come out of the restrooms and the uncomfortable corners, and so that maybe one person’s mind is changed about the real function of our breasts: they have functions outside of being sexualized and their use as marketing tools.  Their primary function is to be the original source of “perfectly formulated” food for our children.

 My favorite anecdote is from a friend who could not breastfeed her children.  Heretofore, their feeding paradigm was bottle-feeding.  After hanging around with our family, her daughters started to nurse their baby dolls instead of bottle-feeding them. I did not expose my breasts to them, or lecture them on the benefits of breastfeeding.  The shift happened because I nursed when the baby showed signs of hunger.  It was an acceptance that came from simply doing what I was doing for the baby, without shame or apology.

 I am grateful that the choice to breastfeed has been a joyful one for our family.  I wish all you mamas peace in the choices you make for your family.  Aspire to make your choices with intention and remember that we are all growing and learning together.  Write your story with confidence that you are doing the best that you can for your child(ren) and that you are shaping the best path for your family.

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First Experience Nursing in Public

Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe’s Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com. For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today’s post is about your first experience nursing in public. Please read the other blogs in today’s carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st!
 


 
I’m not sure I can recall my very first time nursing in public. I remember that I took it pretty gradually. My baby was born in late October, and with the winter weather, many days we stayed home all day, so I didn’t have to worry about nursing in public. I am grateful for my childbirth educator, though, who reiterated in our class that nursing in public was normal, acceptable, and legally protected. She helped my husband and me to have a great attitude about nursing in public, so I knew at some point I would do that.

If you can even call it nursing in public, I started by breastfeeding while at my parents’ or in-laws’ houses. I wouldn’t leave the room to nurse, but I would attempt to be discreet, by using a nursing cover or blanket. I soon discovered that the nursing cover was more for the comfort of my brothers-in-law than for me (at a certain point, when my baby was hungry, I cared a lot more about getting her fed than I did about covering my exposed skin). Still, it was a step.

The first, and most frequent place, I nursed outside of homes has to be the mothers room at church. Pretty much each Sunday, I find myself in this tiny little lounge, really a corner, of the women’s restroom with two rocking recliners and a little curtain (we’re Mormons, so we spend 3+ hours at church each week, so I usually nurse at least once while there). I enjoy when another mom is in the lounge as well, and often we end up talking about our babies. Especially in the beginning, as I was learning to nurse, I was so curious about other babies nursing. Without staring, I would sometimes try to take secretive glances at the other mom, to see how her baby was positioned and I would listen carefully to see if her baby sounded like mine while eating. Now I realize that every baby is different, and there is no one exact “right” way to nurse, but I recognize how hungry I was for validation that what I was doing was correct. The mothers’ lounge was still not exactly totally “public,” but it was another step.

As the weeks went by, if we were out shopping and my baby was hungry, often I would sit in the car and nurse for few minutes in between stores. Another step…

However, one particularly blustery day, right before Thanksgiving, I was shopping at Target. Of course, I had to park far away from the store in this inclement weather. About halfway through my shopping trip, my baby was out of patience. She was hungry. I debated going out to the car to feed her—could I leave my half-full shopping cart somewhere, run back out into the freezing slushy weather and nurse her in the car? At that moment, that little voice (of my childbirth educator) popped into my head, “Why would you do that? You should be able to nurse your baby wherever you would like!” So I headed over to the food court area in the front of Target (which was pretty deserted), ordered a snack (so I had a “reason” to be sitting there), parked my cart and sat down to nurse my baby. It was slightly awkward (too many layers of clothing in the winter), but she latched on gratefully as soon as she was given the opportunity and immediately calmed down. The girl who was working at the counter brought my food over to me and even got the utensils and condiments I needed, since she could tell my hands were full. No one accosted me or even really seemed to notice. Victory! I felt so great that I was able to take care of my baby’s needs without having to abandon my errand. A first “real” stamp for my breastfeeding passport.

When my baby was about 10 weeks old, I flew to Denver for my training as a childbirth educator. The flight over was very easy, as I had two seats to myself and the lights were dim, so no one seemed to notice when I nursed the baby. At the training, everyone was extremely supportive, so I felt no need to try to “cover up” while nursing. It was liberating.

The return flight, though, was not as convenient. I was squished in a row with two young single guys (probably about my age). My baby was hungry, though, so I let her latch on and avoided eye contact with my seatmates. (I was prepared with a comeback if they protested, “Would you rather she screams the whole flight?”). No one said anything about it. A girl across the aisle struck up a conversation with me about babies, pregnancy, and birth and we had a great flight. Another success to add to my breastfeeding passport!

A few months later, I had lunch with some friends at a local restaurant. There, I nursed my baby in her sling while I ate my food and chatted with my friends. Finally- this was my ideal! Talk about multi-tasking! It was so nice to be able to take care of both of our needs. Stamp in the breastfeeding passport!

Since then, my passport has gotten many new stamps as I have nursed at the zoo, parks, stadiums, restaurants, an amusement park, etc. I’ve definitely gotten less awkward as I (and my baby) have gotten more experienced at nursing. I’m grateful for those who have been so kind (or pretended to be oblivious) as I’ve nursed. If people were uncomfortable, they’ve never confronted me about it.

I am very grateful for the breastfeeding relationship I have with my daughter. I love knowing that what I do for her is something she can’t get from any other source. Breastfeeding, while it can be frustrating at times, is an amazing gift.

In my area, I rarely (if ever) see mothers nursing in public. Maybe I’m just not that observant, or maybe people feel uncomfortable and choose to nurse in private more often. My hope, now as a childbirth educator myself, is that my classes will help other women feel empowered to nurse wherever is best for them and their baby. That’s what it comes down to—a mom meeting the needs of her innocent baby. Wherever, whenever, and however.

Is nursing in public inherently better than nursing in private? In some ways, no. For me, at least, it feels like more of a struggle to keep my baby focused (she’s at such a distractible age), my clothes covering some of my body, and my boob in her mouth while balancing on whatever ledge I found myself on while attempting to maintain a conversation- let’s just say I’m a slow learner and still need more practice. In private, I can usually keep her focused and I’m more comfortable. However, if she’s hungry and I’m out and about, I will absolutely feed her wherever and whenever she needs to eat.

On the other hand, there are some benefits to nursing in public. The obvious benefit is not having to interrupt your activities and not making your baby wait when she’s hungry. Beyond that, though, I feel like you do a service to other women and babies when you nurse in public. You are showing them that nursing is normal and definitely feasible. Your example might help another woman decide that she’ll breastfeed her next baby (or she won’t quit nursing so soon).

Let’s all be a bit more gracious with each other. Let’s remember that we’re all at different stages. Some are just learning of the benefits of breastfeeding, and have never really been exposed to women nursing before. They might not appreciate seeing us nurse in public, but they’ll remember that impression, and the more they see it, the more “normal” it will become. Others are just trying baby steps, and may choose to feed their baby a bottle when in public. Then there are the women who are earning their first stamps in their breastfeeding passports. And, of course, there are those veteran women who are able to nurse their babies while climbing mountains and solving the world’s problems all at once.

Where ever you fall on that spectrum, I hope we can recognize the women around us for trying their best with their situation. Judging others isn’t helpful to anyone.

Offering an encouraging word or smile to a mom will go a lot further to make a difference. Do your best to show what you’ve learned, and you never know who might follow in your footsteps. Our babies will thank all of us.

Today’s guest post is from Hailey Maloney. Hailey is a former an elementary school teacher and is now a childbirth educator and mother. Her website is http://www.birthutah.com. She loves spending time with her amazing husband and their hilarious, active, and chubby 9 month old baby girl.
 


 
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