A couple of months ago, McKay and I were talking to someone about nursing in public. Overall it was a positive discussion, but there was one comment that has stayed with me. I had been saying that Margaret doesn't nurse much in public anymore: about 1-5 minutes when it does happen.
"But you'll need to think about how you'll be doing it again pretty soon," he said, eyeing my belly.
I think he thought that with all I've been through about nursing in public that I would be more "careful" the second time around. You know: make sure I 'train' my next baby to be under a cover or make sure I always use layers of clothing (I did this for 18 months with Margaret until she decided that she didn't like cloth by her face).
You see, with my second baby coming, I have the chance to start over! Be a 'good' public nurser and not cause waves. And this made me wonder: what would I say to the person who was myself 2 years ago when I was learning to nurse in public the first time around? What would I do differently this next time around?
The first time you nursed in public, it was at a Burger King. You were nervous. There was a table of teenage boys a couple of booths away and Margaret was only a few weeks old. You were leaking, leaking, leaking and still learning how to help Margaret latch quickly and on the first try. You didn't know how your first attempts to nurse in public would be and your hands were shaky and you looked around nervously as you latched her on. That's ok. Take as long as you need to make sure the latch is good, accept the fact that you just might be soaked in breastmilk for months, and know that no one's really looking at you and no one really cares.
When you wrote your first post about nursing in public, you nervously clicked "publish." Try clicking "publish" with purpose instead of anxiety. It'll be good for you.
There's a secret to nursing in public: do it confidently, even brashly. Be strong. When your baby is hungry, don't hesitate and put off nursing until later because of what others might think. That stranger isn't the one who will be in bed for the rest of the weekend getting over mastitis if you put off the next nursing session too long. Also, it's better to latch when the baby's first hungry instead of waiting until they are screaming their lungs out. Breastfeed the way that is most comfortable for you and the baby. This will make it easier to latch and relax which will reduce squirming and fussiness in your baby - ultimately leading to less attention on you! The more you do NIP, the easier it will be. Each stage comes with its own difficulties, but you can do it. I promise. After all, hindsight is 20/20.
-The More Experienced Heather
NursingFreedom.org is grateful to Heather for allowing us to share her NIP guest post. Heather/TopHat is a mom to a 2 year old nursling, Margaret, and just recently little Isaac who was born last weekend. She knits, blogs, and is most well-known for organizing the nurse-in at Facebook Headquarters in December 2008.