20 August 2007

Adventures in Public Breastfeeding

I never breastfed my twins in public. (Yeah, yeah, I know. That phrase just opened me wide up for smart-ass responses from the peanut gallery! Let the comments begin!) There was no way I could nurse Miss-Miss and Bubba at the same time and manage to keep myself covered; it was impossible! So, anytime we took them out, we fed them formula from bottles.

J-man, on the other hand, is a different story. Nursing one baby is SO easy! Well, let me re-phrase that. Nursing one baby is easy when I'm at home, with my nursing pillow, my couch and pillows, my TV remote, and I don't have to worry about covering myself. Breastfeeding in public is a whole different ball game.

So far, I've nursed J-man at Monkey Joe's (an indoor play area), the Georgia Aquarium, the Red Lobster in Gainesville, the Ippolito's in Kennesaw, in the front passenger seat of my minivan in the Bed, Bath, & Beyond parking lot (by far, the most uncomfortable experience), and the cafeteria at the Atlanta IKEA. Six places. That's it! And, the whole time, I was on guard.

The most important thing to remember regarding public breastfeeding is COVER! For those of us not gifted with a breastfeeding cloaking device (In other words, the ability to expose oneself and nurse for 30 minutes with no one even seeing any skin. I'm talking about you, Kristi!), we require a blanket or drape to cover the obvious. This is needed for those members of the general public who don't care that breastfeeding is natural and that you're using your breasts for the purpose in which they were intended. All these people care about is that you are exposing yourself in their line of sight and they are severely offended! So... cover, check. Next is something to cushion your baby's head. I've used my nursing pillow once. That was at the Red Lobster and was a huge mistake. The booths at the Red Lobster aren't wide enough to accommodate a baby AND pillow. If you don't have your pillow (which, admit it, makes you look like a dork), what do you use? Well, if you're super-nursing-mom Kristi, you use your arm. If you're a wimp like me, you use your baby's diaper bag. It's lumpy, constantly in danger of slipping, and has contained in it all the things you need during the feeding (burp cloths, your water, etc.). Chairs with armrests are a bonus and chairs with armrests and cushions are awesome. Yeah, right, like you can find those in a restaurant! Snort!

Now, the people you're with can also contribute to a successful or horrible public nursing experience. At the Ippolito's, I was surrounded by members of the Red Hat Society, about 20 women over the age of 50 who were like, "Aw, honey, just whip it out and go for it!" Yeah! That's what I'm talking about! At IKEA, Teri was ready to head-lock and body-slam anyone who said anything to me (my personal bodyguard!). My Mom mumbled under her breath at the Georgia Aquarium, daring someone to say something to us, and a teenage boy stared at me for the whole 30 minutes at the Monkey Joe's. Needless to say, all six times have been quite an experience that I will never forget.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you see a woman nursing in public, whether she's modestly covered or not, she's got her fur ruffled and her guard up. She's probably ready for you to say something insensitive or for you to stare. So, just smile, nod your head, and tell her, "You go girl!" You just might make her day. Or, you just might get the crap knocked out of you by her husband, mother, or friend. Good luck!

Call me the Dairy Queen!


Unknown said...

Ill remember that for future references!!!!!!!!!! (lol) So a teenage boy stared at you. Talk about annoying. Good thing u have body guards. You really need them. and by the way 'You go girl'!!!! ttul bye kiss kiss

Unknown said...

Awwww, "Teri was ready to head-lock and body-slam anyone who said anything to me." So sweet of you to say. I'm all verklempt. Sniff. Sniff. And I woulda too, you know. Don't mess with my Heather while she's FEEDING HER BABY. Let me at em!!

JB said...

Look! A Boob! :-)

P.S. I can not ever recall being offended by boobs...

Anonymous said...

Thanks hun. My ta tas feel all proud and accomplished!

Love Ya!