Wednesday, 25 February 2009
by Mama Fox
Before I jump into this topic I want to say something. It is extremely irritating that breastfeeding is flagged as misspelt by my browser.
Anyway, I am a NIPer. I Nurse In Public. I thank my brother-in-law for helping me learn to nurse discreetly in my own home, as he stayed with us for a couple of weeks when my son was a few weeks old. I'm sure he saw more than he probably wishes to see of his brother's wife, but he was a gentleman about it and generally ignored that for a good portion of the day, I did have a baby on my boob.
After that, being in public was no big deal. My first ever in public nursing session came at the WIC office. I was there to return the breastpump they gave me and, of course, my barely a month old baby was hungry. I had him in my ring sling and after a bit of maneuvering, he latched on and everyone was happy. I was thrilled that it worked so easy.
That was the start of many public feedings of his life, at restaurants, at department stores, at the park. With the help of my sling, I even fed him while walking around Walmart. I am on the larger size of breast sizes so I did have a few issues that other "less lucky" women wouldn't, but overall, I kept things discrete without the help of a blanket.
I had never once felt uncomfortable nor did I ever have someone tell me that I needed to stop, leave, or feed my baby in the bathroom. I am extremely grateful to have a supportive husband, with a thorough knowledge of the laws. Although he's not extremely comfortable with it, I know that if we are approached, my husband would be there to back my and our child's rights up 100%.
One thing I do want to state is that breastfeeding in public is legal in the United States. You can whip your boob out and feed your bundle of joy in any place you are allowed to be. It is your right to provide nourishment to your baby and your baby's right to receive it when and where they want it.
Now it does get a bit sticky when you are told to leave a place, specifically a restaurant. They can refuse service to anyone and if you are told to leave, you can be charged with trespassing. You can inform the manager for your legal rights and hope they say "okay my bad," but if not, it's your best bet to leave, stating that they lost your business and you will be spreading the news about their callous ways of treating mothers. News stations are particularly fond of stories like these.
By breastfeeding in public we are increasing awareness that this is a normal and healthy way of feeding our baby. In previous years, it has seemed that feeding your baby in the way humans were designed to feed our babies, should be done locked away in the back room where no one can see. Mothers have been excluded from family meals, going to sit on the toilet in restaurants, sitting in the car at parks all for the sake of making other people comfortable while she feeds her baby.
It's nothing to be ashamed of. Of course you don't want to be all in your face about it, but at the same time, you should be able to nurse when and where you need to. Nursing tops make it even easier to nurse discretely without going through the hassle of blankets or covers. I always found that having the blanket always draws more attention then just breastfeeding quietly.
Here are a few quick come backs if you have just encountered an anti-NIPer... all should be delivered with a sweet smile.
Why don't you feed him in the bathroom?
Would you like to take your meal and eat in there?
Do you have a blanket to cover up?
I don't eat with a blanket over my head, why should she?
Isn't he a little old to still be nursing? (regardless if your baby is 6 months old or 2 years or older)
If you don't feel comfortable breastfeeding in public, that is okay too. You do whatever you need to do, but always remember that if you choose to do so, that it is legal and just may inspire others to feed their babies in public as well.
Are you a NIPer? Have you ever been approached and told to cover up or leave?