One of the biggest hurdles new parents face is taking the baby out.
And for those of us families who are breastfeeding, in the beginning, another big hurdle is the first time nursing in public.
My wife is exclusively breastfeeding and we are slowly beginning to introduce a bottle, but we are doing that on a schedule, and errands don’t always coincide with the planned bottle-feedings.
So that means she must face some fears and do the dang thing…in public!
While you may think we live in a modest culture, if you look around, there’s lots of skin, and plenty of cleavage. But cleavage is just different than women’s nipples. Just look at the fall-out from Janet Jackson’s nipple making a cameo at the Super Bowl several years ago. Nipples are private. And to breastfeed out in the open means making them, to some extent, public.
Hava’s first long adventure that we knew would require breastfeeding was to lunch at a local diner and light errands around town.
At the diner, just after my wife, mother-in-law and I finished eating, the baby started stirring. We had a choice to make: go into the scorching-hot car or dingy bathroom for the feeding, or suck it up and just do it at the table. Can you blame us?
My wife took Hava out of the car seat and placed a receiving blanket over her shoulder. Discreetly, with dozens of people surrounding us, she began to nurse.
This was met by a giant “ho hum” by everyone who walked by. They either didn’t realize what was going on or just didn’t care.
Nobody seemed to really care, from our waitress to fellow patrons. Those who recognized what was going on were very respectful of our space.
While nursing out in the open like that will likely be the exception and not the rule, it was a very positive experience for all of us. As my wife begins pumping, we will bring bottles with us when possible.
So am I still uncomfortable watching a woman nurse in public? Yes and no.
I think I understand what’s happening much better now.
Seeing my wife feed our child at a restaurant was an enlightening experience. It’s going to take some getting used to as we go along. And I think I’ll always do a double-take when I see a mother breastfeeding.
But baby’s gotta eat.