I remember last February, when I was about 8 months pregnant, going to Target. We were looking at the baby stuff and I saw a women sit in the display chair and start breastfeeding her baby. I was shocked! I couldn't believe it. Why wouldn't you just leave or go to your car? I swore I would never do that!
Well, I'm hear to apologize for my 28 year old self. She (as in I) didn't know better. She had never nursed a baby. She didn't realize how time consuming and life altering it can be. I still haven't nursed in Target (we life 1/4 of a mile from it, so I can just go home), but I have nursed in several public places. (doctor's offices, Sonic drive-in, several Panera restaurants, museums, etc)
Recently, a kindergarten teacher and I got into a discussion about nursing in public. She said that she had nursed in a dressing room before. I told her that would be a good place, but I didn't mind nursing out in an open place either. She said, "Yes, but I would." As in, she feels uncomfortable for me to nurse in public. I was surprised by this, since she was a nursing mom at one point in her life. But I'm sure it's like many things, you forget what's it's like. You forget how the baby needs to eat every 2-4 hours. You forget how if you only wanted to nurse at home, you would be chained to your house.
Now, I'm not suggesting women just hang out exposed... there are ways to be discreet. But I don't think women should have to cover up either... babies hate that and it's really hot and uncomfortable for both. Sometimes I pull out the blanket and make a half hearted attempt to cover up, just so people think I tried.
The reason why I (and many others) were/are put off by seeing a woman breastfeed in public, is because it's not a normal siting. Breastfeeding in public is not an everyday occurrence. It stands out. I found a great link a while back to a series of historical pictures of women breastfeeding in public (pre-formula days, when there wasn't a lot of other options). In those pictures, the people around the women don't seemed to be bothered at all.... it was normal and nothing to write home about.
When I first had Heath, I didn't mind nursing in public, but I was conscious about making others uncomfortable. I did go to the car or make sure I was completely covered. I would apologize if I had to feed him at someone's house. However, that level of concern is hard to sustain for a whole year. Now I just do what needs to be done.
Now that I have been on this breastfeeding journey for almost a year, Michael and I will probably not even blink an eye when we see someone breastfeeding. We may think, "Cute baby" or "Good for her." But no shock or discussion about it later. She's just doing what she needs to take care of her baby.
A friend posted on Facebook that a lady came up to her at a restaurant and congratulated her for breastfeeding her baby. She asked is it really something to be congratulated? I'm eating and my baby got hungry, so now I'm feeding her. It's really not a big deal. I think that's so right... it's really not a big deal!