NATIONAL BREASTFEEDING MONTH SERIES: BREASTFEEDING IN PUBLIC
As I said in my last post, August is National Breastfeeding Month so I’m going to focus on Breastfeeding in Person, this time. What better way to celebrate it than to talk about my uncomfortable breastfeeding experiences? Everyone always loves to talk about how it benefits the children and all that jazz. I’m reading to talk about what it’s like to exclusively breastfeed a baby. This is my experience as someone with Major Depressive Disorder and PTSD. Yes, I still breastfeed, and no it does not affect my child who is a very happy child.
We spent our first long day out. Of course, she got hungry a billion times. In Macy’s, she screamed bloody murder for a good ten minutes. While waiting to be matched at the mac makeup counter, I sat at the empty Lancôme makeup counter, threw a blanket over me, and fed this little girl. With all the stories of people getting kicked out of stores and restaurants for breastfeeding their baby, I waited for it to happen to me.
I sat there thinking about what I would say and do if I were approached. Was ready to defend myself and other women like me. But then it happened…. She was fed and no one said anything. No one that passed by us as I fed her complained about what they witnessed. No security guards were coming to escort me off the premises. There were no angry people yelling about how disgusted they were that I was feeding my baby. We survived and everything was fine.
I had my first experience with breastfeeding my baby girl in a public bathroom. It was while having lunch with my sisters-in-law. I fed the baby while standing up in the handicap stall to avoid being looked at by women passing through the bathroom. I even waited for one chick to get out which is what gave me the idea to go into the stall. There is no need to clutch your pearls, I was not preventing anyone from using the stall. Nobody but my sister-in-law came into the bathroom while I was in the stall. The stall situation has become very common.
While Father’s Day Shopping in Marshalls, somebody decided they were hungry. I was alerted by a loud wail while I was in the shoe department. What do you think I did? I found a seat, got a blanket, and fed little Cherie right there in the middle of the shoe department. Me being me, I waited for someone to say something so that I could rip them a new one. Again, nothing happened. Nobody paid us any mind. I was free to nurture my child who fell asleep while eating.
Every Sunday, I try to plan out her feedings so that she will not get hungry during church and will instead sleep through each service. Since my fiancé is a Minister of Music, he plays at two different churches each Sunday. You can learn more about him by checking out his interview for the Voyage Houston Magazine. While you’re there you can check out Mine Too.
But I digress. During the first service, if she does get hungry, I will take her to the back and feed her. This is his family church and I’m always around them, so it doesn’t bother me much. At his second church, I am known to just take her to the car to feed her. Why? Idk, sometimes I just feel like running to the car every chance I get. So, sue me!
This was the last time. At this point, she was three months old and I had so many experiences with public breastfeeding. I didn’t even cover up the first time because it’s not like these people haven’t seen the human body before. They see body parts so much that a breastfeeding baby is nothing. As our stay went on, I decided to wrap both her and me in a cover and feed her that way. We both ended up falling asleep. I woke up with snot coming from my nose because it was so cold in that place. It was like they were trying to turn everyone into popsicles.
As you can see, breastfeeding in public has been very eventful for me. It’s more so due to the attacks on breastfeeding women that we hear about so often which causes me to remain on guard when I breastfeed. Whenever I hear about those stories, it makes me feel more and more uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public but then I start to think about my daughter. No matter how other people may feel about it, my child has to eat, and nobody is going to prevent that from happening.
You know those stories that cause a lot of outrage and debate. I can assure you that I did not breastfeed my son in public when he was a baby. During that time, I was not mentally capable to handle any negativity that it would have caused. Do you want to talk about being mentally unstable? That’s exactly how I was at that point in my life, but I am so proud of how far I’ve come since then.
I no longer exclusively breastfeed but I still find myself having to breastfeed her in public sometimes. The thought of “She takes the bottle sometimes, so this is not an issue” is what helps me to mentally accept it. I have become a lot more comfortable with it. When I breastfeed her in public these days, my only concern is her. I will sit there and talk to her because she has a staring problem and is staring at me a lot of the time. If she doesn’t sleep after eating, she starts talking up a storm, staring at me and then looking around, or she’ll try to walk up my body and face if I pick her up. Correction, she runs. She’s been running since birth. Although it may not be important for some, I am thankful for this breastfeeding opportunity so I will continue to support it.