What is the law in your state?

The states in the US vary widely in the implementation of laws that protect a breastfeeding mother and baby...

Breastfeeding gift ideas for an expecting mom

A reader asks: I am attending a baby shower for a friend. I'd like to get her something that will help make her breastfeeding experience more comfortable. What should I buy?

The sole requirement for NIP

During my pregnancy with my youngest son, one of the parts of motherhood that I looked most forward to was nursing. ...

International and Religious views of NIP

Think nursing in public is only a concern in the United States? If so, is it our religious roots that has instilled our country's prudish (and misguided) desire for "discretion"?

Where are our breastfeeding role models?

I saw a woman breastfeeding her three month old son while walking around the busy farmer's market yesterday morning...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Breastfeeding and Signing: Your Stories, Part 2

We recently talked about signing with little ones - particularly, signing about breastfeeding. In one of our breastfeeding and signing posts, we shared a few stories from readers who have signed with their babes. 
We didn't get to fit everyone's stories into the first post, so here is part two! Enjoy these sweet stories of breastfeeding and signing.
Read more about learning to sign with babies and toddlers at Natural Parents Network, and find ideas on how to sign "breastfeeding" at Code Name: Mama.

Did your little one use a sign to nurse? 
_____________________

Hannah nursing her son, Tobias
From Hannah:
I remember the first time my son signed milk on his own without any prompting from mom or dad. One day when he was about 9 months old I pulled up on the driveway on my lunch break from work; my husband and son were outside waiting for me. My son's eyes lit up and with two hands in the air he signed milk.
He is now 14 months old and we have used the sign daily. Besides the cute factor, it is helpful on "strange" days (traveling, or when I'm away in the evening, or when our normal routine is thrown out the window for some reason) that he can specifically communicate that he wants to nurse. Sometimes if he is fussing or whining my husband asks him "Do you need something from mommy? Do you need milk? Can you ask her nicely?" and then he signs for milk.
I am glad that he can usually ask politely and happily, as I don't want to give any weight to the myth that breastfeeding toddlers or babies fed on demand are whiny and demanding.
Hannah is a former music teacher who is enjoying being a stay-at-home-mom this year.

Laura's nursling, Rosemary
From Laura:
I researched signing while I was pregnant and knew I wanted to use it in my parenting. I had first seen it through my sister, who had taught her daughter a few signs. I remember thinking how cute it was that a baby could communicate through signing before they could talk. So I was off on my own journey of teaching my daughter to sign. I tried to always be consistent with signing, showing her signs of simple things. I started when she was very young. Most of the time I wondered if she even was paying attention, and around her ninth month I even worried whether she would ever pick up on the signs.

I should have known that her sign for nursing would be the first one, but it still made me gush! I taught her the sign 'milk' for when she nurses, and when she first learned it she was so happy! If she saw a man or her dad with no shirt she would sign 'milk' near their nipples, it would make me laugh so hard, and of course while she is nursing she signs it over and over again with her little fist in the air. It was adorable and very memorable. Soon I made it a requirement, if she wants to nurse she must sign 'milk' for it, now I am working on getting her to sign 'milk please'.

I never would have experienced such sweet joys if I had not made it to nursing a toddler. She is now one year old and is signing many other things and learning to communicate very well!

Laura is a first time stay at home mom. She is the youngest of six children, and so when it came to parenting, she wasn't short on any advice! In her family breastfeeding beyond a year was normal. Rosemary, Laura's daughter, is now 15 months old and their nursing is going great with no end in sight. Laura blogs at Terra Cotta Momma.

From Shelly:
My daughter Lily is 15 months old and still nurses three to five times a day/night. We are also teaching her sign language and she knows signs like "more," "all done," "bath," and "water". When she was younger, I used to ask her if she wanted mommy's milk, and I would lightly pat my chest. She is not using words yet, but now that has become her sign when she wants to nurse. She gently pats her own chest and makes a little "mmm mmm" noise. I love it!

Jessica nursing her son after finishing her first marathon!
From Jessica:
I have two year old boy/girl twins that I am still breastfeeding. We took a sign language class when they were about 9 months old. I really only ever used the signs for "milk" and "more" and "food," but they used all three all the time. In fact my son still uses the sign for "more" even though he can talk a lot now. Before they could talk they used the signs all the time. It was so cool to know what they needed even though they couldn't express themselves verbally.
Jessica is a mom, wife, runner, alumni relations director, photographer, reader, cooker, thinker, list maker, swimmer, redhead, cat-person, neat freak.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Suggestions for Starting a Breastfeeding Support Bag Project in Your Area

Laramie Breastfeeding Bags
ready for delivery.
We recently featured a story on the Laramie Breastfeeding Bags, a project started by one mama - Amanda Mack, after she was given a bag full of formula samples and coupons after she gave birth to her son in a hospital. Today we are sharing Amanda's tips on how to start a similar project in your community. It's easier than you might think!
1. Contact business and organizations that you know are pro-breastfeeding: I started by looking through the ads in Mothering magazine, because these are typically businesses that support breastfeeding and natural family living. I also contacted business that I had purchased products from and loved. I explained what I wanted to do and asked them for any donations they might have - samples, brochures, coupons, handouts, etc. I made a huge list of possible contacts and e-mailed them.
2. Contact businesses/organizations in your local area to ask for donations: bags, folders, supplies, copies, etc. We began by using reusuable bags from local stores because they were donated. Our budget was zero dollars and our goal was to have all information in the bags relate directly to breastfeeding and natural family living. We made sure that all donations reflected our goals and reserved the right to not include things that didn’t adhere to that goal.
3. Assembly: Once you decide the bag has a variety of necessary information and goodies, it is time to assemble a sample bag!
4. Contact your local hospital: see if there is a lactation consultant or coordinator that you could meet with. Explain the project and show the bag. Suggest that the bags are given out when the mom is discharged from the hospital. Our hospital also had to approve the bags before we began giving them out.
5. Determine numbers: find out how many births there are per month at your hospital and assemble bags accordingly. We typically try to fill two months at one time. So here at our local hospital, we have 30-40 births per month, so we try to fill 50-60 or so bags each time. We then have some time in between to contact those companies again to ask for a “refill” on donations. That way when it comes time again to fill them, our supplies are all stocked and ready to go.

If you have any questions or you need further information, please feel free to contact Amanda:

Amanda Mack: Amandamack5 {at} yahoo {dot} com
Laramie Breastfeeding Bag Project

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This post has been edited from a previous version posted at A Mother's Boutique. Our thanks to Amanda Mack - for her inspiring project and for allowing us to share it!
If you are part of an initiative to promote breastfeeding and/or the normalization of breastfeeding, tell us about it! We want to share your good work with our readers. Email us at NursingFreedom {at} Gmail {dot} com

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Laramie Breastfeeding Bag Project

On December 21, 2009, our second son decided to come into the world with the assistance of our midwife Esther and our doula Michelle. We were so full of the bliss that comes with bringing another sweet baby into the world naturally and the wonderful breastfeeding experience that was to follow. As we were leaving the hospital, we were given a “breastfeeding support” bag from Similac and other formula companies. You know the ones. In all, we were given five full-sized cans of formula in a bag with a tag on it that read, “For breastfeeding moms.” Not one thing in there even mentioned the word “breastfeeding.” Hmmmm . . . I thought as I politely declined the bag. In the weeks after Owen’s birth, my husband and I began a discussion about this. We hypothetically talked about what would be in a real breastfeeding support bag- what were the products and bits of information that made breastfeeding better for us? My husband, the ever supportive rock that he is, knew that this discussion, coupled with a type-A, freakishly organized woman such as myself, would lead to something . . . and it quickly did.

Breastfeeding Support Bags
I e-mailed every company that I believed in, had heard good things about, had personal experiences with or my friends had, and asked for their help. Within days, I had teamed up with over forty companies and organizations who were nothing short of thrilled to help. Donations of information and samples flooded my front porch and my guest bedroom. And so, like Owen, the Laramie Breastfeeding Bag Project was born naturally and out of great determination.
After putting together sample bags, I called our local hospital and spoke with the the lactation coordinator. She was very receptive to the idea of true breastfeeding support bags. We met and she approved the bags with flying colors.
As of March 2010, women who give birth at Ivison Memorial Hospital are given the bags from the Laramie Breastfeeding Bag Project.
I then teamed up with my long-time friend Sarah Pruis, owner of One Creative Mama and natural childbirth educator. Our goals remain the same:

  • To complete the bags at no cost or with funds from fundraisers or donations
  • To support and encourage breastfeeding mamas with accurate information, and
  • To include only pro-breastfeeding information, samples, coupons, etc. (For example, we don’t put in coupons for something like photography as “fillers” but we would include brochures on baby slings since that promotes bonding and facilitates breastfeeding.
Fundraising and Project Success in Laramie
We are now approaching 300 bags filled. Currently, there about about 30-40 births per month at our hospital. We continue to get more donors, both at the local level and at the national level. This includes the hospital, who worked along with midwife Esther Gillman-Kehrer to donate reusable bags. They purchased 400 more reusable bags to keep the project going. The bags say, “Breastfeeding is (Eco)logical.” This means that we now have the donations and supplies to continue the project for at least another year, and hopefully indefinitely! The Laramie Breastfeeding Bag Project has also purchased stainless steel (BPA free) water bottles that say, “Laramie Supports Breastfeeding” and features the International Breastfeeding Symbol on it. ALL money raised goes toward the purchase of more stainless steel water bottles to include in the breastfeeding bags. Because of the success of a recent fundraiser, the Laramie Breastfeeding Bag Project was also able to purchase additional items to add to the bags so that new breastfeeding moms get even more goodies.
The Laramie Breastfeeding Bag Project was also able to purchase International Breastfeeding Symbol stickers. Local organizations and businesses are being given these stickers to display in their windows as a statement of support for breastfeeding moms/customers. This project has just started. Along with the stickers, the businesses and organizations are being given information about breastfeeding laws in Wyoming, ways to support breastfeeding customers, and how breastfeeding impacts the entire community.
Our local hospital, Ivinson Memorial Hospital has also initiated the Laramie Breastfeeding Coalition as a result of the momentum. This group meets once a month and includes representatives from Ivinson Memorial Hospital, WIC, Public Health, area midwives, local nurses, La Leche League, area doctors, a clinical nutritionist, myself, and others. The group encourages interested healthcare professionals and others to join in order to promote breastfeeding city-wide. The group will also be working with the Laramie Breastfeeding Bag Project to promote the stickers in local organizations and businesses.
And what's even better? Ivinson Memorial Hospital now proudly displays their international breastfeeding symbol stickers in all entries and on each floor, it has banned the free formula bags entirely, and it is making steps toward becoming a certified “baby-friendly” hospital.
Whenever I see Deb, the lactation coordinator at the hospital, she always says to me, “All this from one little lady.” And I immediately say the phrase, “It takes a village.” This high school English teacher, turned stay-at-home mama, turned lactivist wants my two boys to be a part of a society that embraces and encourages breastfeeding and for us, it starts in our “village” of Laramie, Wyoming. Each month when it is time for Sarah and I to crowd into my guest bedroom that has now been dubbed the “breast room in the house” to fill more breastfeeding bags, there is a mantra that keeps playing in my head: ‘Take that Similac!
If you are interested in starting something like this in your town and don’t know how to begin or you have questions, please feel free to contact me and I would love to help you take the steps to get started. Amandamack5 {at} yahoo {dot} com or join us on Facebook: Laramie Breastfeeding Bag Project. Happy nursing!
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This post has been edited from a previous version posted at A Mother's Boutique. Our thanks to Amanda Mack - for her inspiring project and for allowing us to share it!
If you are part of an initiative to promote breastfeeding and/or the normalization of breastfeeding, tell us about it! We want to share your good work with our readers. Email us at NursingFreedom {at} Gmail {dot} com

Monday, November 22, 2010

CarNIP Creme de la Creme, Part 7

We are happy to share some of the wonderful pieces that were submitted during the Carnival of Nursing in Public as "Crème de la Crème" posts. I'll be posting a few at a time so you can look at them at your leisure. If you feel so moved, please click over, read the whole post, and leave a comment in support of the writers who participated in the Carnival.

  • Lactation Narration, Nursing at Sharper Image Have you ever been harassed about nursing in public? If so, you’re not alone. Alicia at Lactation Narration shares her harassment story and how it turned her into a breastfeeding activist.  
I have researched the issue and talked to other mothers who have had similar experiences, and I stand up for them in hopes that it will not have to happen to more women. I think that most women probably don’t even know that there is a law that protects them, and many would not stand up for themselves even if they knew about it.
Read more from Lactation Narration.
  • PhD in Parenting, Covering Up Is A Feminist Issue: Few breastfeeding mothers are strangers to the “covered/discreet” discussion. Annie at PhD in Parenting would like to point out that shrouding women has been a tool for oppression throughout history. This article takes you on a pictorial path ranging from shrouded to nude, reminding us that it is the woman’s right to decide how covered – or uncovered – she chooses to be. 
Any time a woman is told to cover up or told to undress, I see that as an attack on her person. Telling women to cover up and telling women to strip down are frequently used tactics for oppressing women. There are both practical and philosophical reasons why no one other than the woman herself should decide how covered or uncovered to be.
Read more from PhD in Parenting.
  • The Connected Mom, I've Got Two Boobs . . . One . . . Two: America has a strange relationship with boobs. We love them, so long as there is not a baby attached. Could this be because of our conservative Protestant heritage? Is this a result of the beliefs on which our nation was founded? Jennifer, The Connected Mom tackles this question and more.
The teacher from the school actually says "she doesn't have the right to impose her agenda on other people's children." Ok, I hate to break it to everyone but 99.9% of the time, breastfeeding moms are just trying to feed their child.
Read more from The Connected Mom.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Breastfeeding and Signing: Your Stories

We are talking about signing with little ones this week - particularly, signing about breastfeeding. Today we're sharing a few stories from readers who have signed with their babes. 
Read more about learning to sign with babies and toddlers at Natural Parents Network, and find ideas on how to sign "breastfeeding" at Code Name: Mama.
Did your little one use a sign to nurse? 
_____________________
From Megan at Purple Dancing Dahlias:
My son is very clear when he wants to nurse. He will very enthusiastically ask anyone he is with to nurse if I am not there. My mom watched him on Wednesday nights while I took the older kids to AWANA, and without fail he would ask her to nurse when he wanted to go to sleep.
Last Easter the topic of me "still" breastfeeding came up when my mom told my grandma that my son will sign when he wants to nurse. With certain family members still a bit horrified over the fact that my sixteen month old son was still nursing, he came running in the room, hands in the air, laughing and doing the sign for milk. It made everyone else laugh and I am hoping that those members of my family that were rather surprised (to put it nicely) that I was still nursing opened up their minds to the fact that full-term nursing is normal and wonderfully okay. I love the fact that he can tell me what he wants.
(Side Note: A couple of weeks ago he changed his sign from milk to please. When he wants to nurse he will sign and say "peez-peez.")
Megan is a SAH homeschooling, AP farmer mama to 4 crazy, wonderful kids and an adoring hubby.


Kacy tandems Felicity and Theo
From Kacy:
After 12 hours of labor, my daughter, Felicity, entered this world crying loudly and sucking on her wrist. Being a new mom, I asked the midwife how to hold her to breastfeed, and after following her instructions, Little Felicity began nursing contentedly. This soothed her to sleep. I was committed to giving my daughter the best nutrition available, which meant that I would exclusively breastfeed her. She loved nursing, and I soon realized that anytime she cried or put her wrist in her mouth, she wanted to nurse. From the beginning her cry had a very distinct syllabic pattern, "El-La-El-La." Thus, my husband and I began calling my milk "Ella." When Felicity was about five months old, the cadence of her cry changed, but she continued to put her fist in her mouth when she wanted to nurse. Around this time we decided to make up a few baby signs for Felicity. We wanted to understand her needs better and help her communicate with us. The first sign we taught her was the "Ella sign," which is made using a fistted-hand and tapping the wrist twice against the mouth. The sign was inspired by Felicity's own actions as she entered the world. Felicity is now 21 months old, and although she has a large verbal vocabulary for her age, she still asks for "Ella" by making a fist and tapping her wrist twice against her mouth.
Kacy is an attached parent and SAHM who is currently tandem nursing Felicity and baby brother Theo. While the children sleep, she likes to knit, crochet, make soap, and prepare traditional meals for her family.

From Michelle:
Nursing moms know that nursing is about more than just the milk. Once when my daughter, who was maybe 11 or 12 months and had just learned to walk, was beginning to tip over - this was not going to be just any fall as her head was going to land between two couches where she ended up stuck until I helped free her - she saw where she was headed, stuck her hand up in the air and on her way down, signed "MILK!!" Her hand was still up in the air signing when I got to her! She knew before she landed and got stuck that she was about to really need some comfort!!
This is a video of Michelle's daughter, at around one minute you see that she's still using her sign for "nurse."
Michelle is a tandem nursing, homeschooling, stay at home mama.

From Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom:
I started my daughter Naima on baby signing when she was four months old. But it wasn't until she was about 7-8 months old that she started signing back. She's now a very talkative toddler who still uses her signs a lot.
Right now, I'm trying to wean her (she's turning three this December). So we usually count 1-10 during her nursing time. But more often than not, she doesn't want to stop, so with her mouth full (of breast), she puts her fingertips together and signs "more" indicating that she doesn't want to stop nursing yet.
The "more" sign has been most useful - signing more reading (when her mouth is full while nursing/eating).
We love signing - and we particularly love Rachel Coleman of Signing Time. You can see photos of Jenny's kids signing book and leaf, she's also been featured in an article on toddler signing!
Jenny, mom to nursing toddler Naima who's trying to keep sane this busy September in the midst of a full-time government job and a growing business.

From Virginia:
I started teaching my son Jetsun sign language (Auslan) from the age of 5 ½ months. He didn’t really start signing back to me until about 13 months. One of the first signs he did was the milk sign (which looks like milking a cow with his hands opening and closing), which is the sign I use for breastfeeding - I wanted him to relate the word milk to my milk, instead of the milk from a cow being the norm.
He is now 19 months old and still signs when he wants my milk. He has started saying a few words but still signs, even if he knows the word as well, and now he knows at least 20 signs.
I am really glad that he signs for milk, as it saves me the embarrassment of him pulling my top down in public when he wants the boob! I started teaching my son Jetsun sign language (Auslan) from the age of 5 ½ months. He didn’t really start signing back to me until about 13 months. One of the first signs he did was the milk sign (which looks like milking a cow with his hands opening and closing), which is the sign I use for breastfeeding - I wanted him to relate the word milk to my milk, instead of the milk from a cow being the norm.
He is now 19 months old and still signs when he wants my milk. He has started saying a few words but still signs, even if he knows the word as well, and now he knows at least 20 signs.
I am really glad that he signs for milk, as it saves me the embarrassment of him pulling my top down in public when he wants the boob!
Virginia is a herbalist, nutritionist and doula; runs childbirth education sessions for expectant Dads at her local pub, volunteers for Homebirth Access Sydney and edits their quarterly magazine "Birthings."

From Mallory:
My son Dorian turns two years old this month. I started signing to him when he was three months old, and after about 6 months he started signing back. His first two (and still most used) signs were "Mom" and "milk." We've had our ups and downs along the way but he's still happily nursing. One of the sweetest things is when he starts saying "Mom" and signing "Milk please". He'll curl up in my lap or cuddle up with me in bed, start nursing, and then sign "Thank you." Usually his blinks will get longer and slower, and then before I know it he's fast asleep. Now that he's constantly running from one thing to another, and I'm taking college courses full time, the little bits of time when we can take a quick break and relax together are some of my favorite moments of the day.
Mallory is a mother of a wonderful two year old son, a full time student (working towards a degree in Anthropology), and am also a WAHM attempting to earn a living by selling handmade items on her etsy store (GriffinFamilyCrafts).

From Whozat, Author of "Lucy and Ethel Have a Toddler: The Adventures of Shrike and Whozat and Peeper!)":
Peeper's really gotten into Sesame Street lately (Yes, our "we don't even have TV" kid is obsessed with it. She's seen videos at her grandparents, and then we started showing her clips online. I fear an intervention may be in order. But, I digress.). One of her favorite songs is "C is for Cookie" which, of course, gets in our heads, and pops out at the oddest moments.
One evening, we were sitting on the floor playing with her magnetic letters, when I picked up the G, held it up to my breast, and sang "G is for goody," (our word for nursing).
Needless to say, she got a big kick out of it, and now she does it all the time.
She finds the G, brings it over and signs "milk." Sometimes she also signs "music" (asking me to sing) or sings "Bee-beebee-beebee," herself.
Then, once I've gotten my breast out, she'll put the G right next to my nipple and keep it there while she nurses.
I wonder what the "If they're big enough to ask for it . . ." crowd would have to say about that?!
Whozat is the natural birthing, breastfeeding, cosleeping, babywearing, cloth diapering, babyled weaning, babysigning, 40-something, lesbian stay-at-home mom of twenty-two month old Peeper, who was conceived via IVF using her partner, Shrike's, egg and donor sperm.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Joys of Breastfeeding Past Infancy #26

Today I am happy to host a guest post by Whozat. Whozat is the natural birthing, breastfeeding, cosleeping, babywearing, cloth diapering, babyled weaning, babysigning, 40-something, lesbian stay-at-home mom of two year old Peeper, who was conceived via IVF using her partner, Shrike's, egg and donor sperm. She blogs at "Lucy and Ethel Have a Toddler: The Adventures of Shrike and Whozat (and Peeper!)
If you are interested in learning to sign with your baby or toddler, stop by Natural Parents Network for more information on the benefits of signing, then head over to Code Name: Mama to see how other mamas and little ones sign "nurse."
Here is Whozat's breastfeeding guest post:
_____________________


Carrie, a Natural Parents Network reade,r breastfeeds
her 31 month old son, who signs "milk" while he nurses.
Carrie blogs at http://clothdiaperbooty.com/
"Peeper," at two years old, recently had a language explosion; until now though, she communicated primarily through signs. I can't imagine how frustrated we would all be if she couldn't communicate with us by signing. Not only can she tell us what she needs and wants, but we also get such insight into what's going on in that little head of hers - what she's noticing as we go through the grocery store (hat! glasses! baby! wheels! dog!) and how she's interpreting things in the world around her.

I was a little disappointed when "milk" (or "goody" as we call it in my family - a term coined by my sister's son, now in his 20s, back when he was a nursing toddler :-) ) wasn't her first sign, but then I realized that she's been able to communicate that to me since she was tiny, she didn't need to sign it!

She did pick it up pretty shortly after that, though, and she usually uses the sign to ask to nurse. She sometimes still tries to just help herself, but I usually ask her to sign "goody please" to reinforce proper "nursing manners" for public. (Please don't lift my shirt in the restaurant, sweetheart!)

Before her recent language explosion, there was a night when I was in the kitchen washing dishes. She came in and said, "Mama!" took my hand, and led me down the hall to the bedroom. As we got there, still walking and pulling me by the hand, she held her other arm straight up and signed "milk," then looked over her shoulder and said, "Mommy?" (my partner, "Shrike") because she wanted her to go lay down with us, too.

Two words and one sign, and she was able to say, "Mama, I'd like you to come to the bedroom with me, because I'm ready to nurse now. Mommy, would you please join us?"

The story would be better if that had turned out to be bedtime, but she nursed for a few minutes, declared "Uppa!" and got out of bed for another half-hour or so. Oh well . . . .

We cosleep, and many times I've seen her sign "milk" while whimpering and rooting for me when she wakes in the middle of the night.

She also signs it while she's nursing. I'm not sure if she's just saying "Hey, look what I've got!" or if she's announcing my letdown as it happens, or maybe complaining about the service "Hey, Mama, turn this thing on!" when it doesn't happen as quickly as she likes.

Recently we were shopping and a child was crying somewhere a few aisles over. Peeper looked concerned and signed "cry" (or "sad" - we use the same sign for both). I told her, "Oh, yes, that baby is crying, but it's okay, his Mama will fix it." Then, just for fun, I asked her, "What do you think she'll do about it? How will she fix him?" Without hesitating, she signed "Goody!" I told her I thought that was an excellent plan!


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Breastfeeding past infancy is full of laughter, joys, and heartbreaking tenderness. I am publishing a series of posts dedicated to   the beauty of nursing toddlers in an effort to normalize this healthy and beneficial nursing relationship. But this isn’t just about me – I want to hear YOUR joys. If you are nursing a child who is older than one year, please contact me and  tell me about your favorite moments. I will include them in the series and  credit you, your site, or post it anonymously if you so   desire. (This series was formerly called “The Joys of Breastfeeding a  Toddler.” I changed the name to reflect the fact that we are celebrating  women who breastfeed past infancy, regardless of the age of the  nursling.)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Breastfeeding and Signing

Alicia's daughter signing "milk."
This week we are talking about signing with little ones, and how sweet it is to see your baby sign "nurse."

Alicia from Lactation Narration wrote all about the benefits of signing at Natural Parents Network today - please go add your own experiences in the comments.

She's also come up with several options for a sign to mean "breastfeed," find them - and videos of babies and toddlers signing "nurse" - over at Code Name: Mama.

Does your little one sign to breastfeed? Tell us about it in the comments!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Problem with Defining "Discreet"

Discretionary Language
In the state where I live, Georgia, the law which protects a mother's right to nurse her baby in public was changed several years ago. (By the way, I think it is sad that we have to have a law to protect our right to do this, that is like having a law that protects my baby's right to sleep in public.) The law here used to have the word "discreet" in it; that is, as long as a mother is "discreet," then she has the right to nurse her baby.

Thank goodness the word "discreet" was removed from the law. Why? So mothers can run around topless all day to nurse, so they can jump up on a chair and yell, "Hey, I am BREASTFEEDING!" as they pull their shirts up over their heads? Of course not, these are examples of those mythological breastfeeding mothers that don't really exist. So, why remove "discreet" from the wording of the laws?

Here are some reasons:
  • Because "discreet" means something different for different people. Some people may insist that to be discreet, a woman must go into a bathroom to nurse, for instance.
  • Because a new mother learning to breastfeed may inadvertently show more skin than she was intending as she learns how to get her baby settled to nurse at the breast. Think of how terrible it would be to have these mothers accused of indecent exposure, these new mothers who are already struggling to learn to breastfeed? These women need our support, not our misplaced harassment!
  • Because some babies get distracted or are sociable while eating (as are most humans, no?) and might pull away from the breast momentarily, causing what was a "discreet" mother to be not-so-discreet temporarily.
  • Because the very word itself could cause people to think that breastfeeding must be somehow wrong, if "discretion" is to be observed while doing it.
  • Because most babies don't like having their heads covered with a blanket, particularly if it is hot.
  • Because a mother shouldn't be required to buy a new wardrobe of specific clothes designed for discreet nursing in order to be allowed to feed her baby when they go to the store.
  • Because no other humans have limits placed on the way that they must eat when in public.
  • Because a mother caught up in worrying about being perfectly "discreet" may actually be more distracting to the general public as her baby gets more frustrated and upset because she can't just feed him normally. A nursing baby sounds much better than a screaming one in public! 
  • Because other people can use their own discretion as to where they choose to look. They can also use their discretion to move to another position in the building if their proximity to a nursing mother makes them uncomfortable.
Can anyone add to the list?

Limits on nursing in public are problematic, as shown in the examples above. I'm not sure how many states still use the word "discreet" in their laws. However, I have read numerous comments from people essentially saying, "I don't care what the law says, a woman should have to be discreet and either cover up or leave." Public opinion is slow to change on this one.

The Legal Right to NIP Past Infancy
Speaking of limits on breastfeeding in public, I would like to point out (again - I point this out any time I have the chance!) how backward the law is in Tennessee regarding nursing in public. The law actually puts a limit on the age of the baby and says that a woman is legally authorized to nurse a baby 12 months or younger in public. This really gets my goat for two reasons: one, we live quite close to Tennessee and visit there at least a few times each year, and two, my first daughter didn't eat any solid foods until she was 13-14 months old (and even then, she was just getting started and didn't get much of her sustenance from solid foods). So basically, laws like this one are saying that my child could not eat in public when she was just a bit over the age of one (at least, she wasn't guaranteed this right - you better believe that I nursed her there anyway, because thank goodness knowledge of the law's wording is not widespread!). I hope that many in the state of Tennessee will contact their representatives about getting this law amended to remove the age limitations.

Discretionary Marketing
Of final note on the topic of "discreet" breastfeeding, I have to mention the nursing covers that are now on the market. Most women find that they can cover most of their bodies with their shirt and the baby, and some women wear an undershirt that can be pulled down so they don't have to expose any belly flesh (helpful in colder months especially); however, some are more comfortable using a nursing cover. I personally do not like them, but if they allow some women to feel more comfortable nursing their children in public, then it is much better than mothers feeling like they have to take bottles when in public. But to the companies who make these covers... why not use some tact and decency when naming these covers? One is called a "Hooter Hider." Where to begin with all that is wrong with that name? First off, it uses a term for the breasts that has a definite sexual connotation. Breastfeeding is not sexual, so why link the sexual function of breasts to the act of nursing an infant?  Then it contains the word "hide." This implies that breastfeeding should be hidden. They might as well be named "I'm doing something sexual under here, don't look" covers. There is another cover called the "Udder Cover."  So, this one is at least getting it right in that udders are for lactation and not sex, but we don't refer to human women as having "udders." There are many, many animals that lactate and nurse their young, but culturally we tend to think cows = milk.  I don't think that comparing women to cows is exactly kind, nor do I think it is a good marketing strategy.  I think that companies whose intentions seem to be to help mothers breastfeed should think about the image they give: breastfeeding is not sexual, it is not something we have to hide, and it is not uncivilized.

So, fellow nursing moms, use a cover or not, but please don't feel like you must go nurse in the bathroom or your car, pump and bring bottles along, or quit breastfeeding so you can reappear in public. Remember, the more people who see us nursing in public, the sooner breastfeeding will be seen as normal.
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We are proud to host a guest post today from Erin. Erin is a 31 year old stay-at-home mother of two girls, ages 5 and 2. She just started homeschooling this fall and can be found blogging about parenting, Catholicism, raising backyard chickens, and more at Growing with My Girls.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Breastfeeding with Love and Respect: November Carnival of Natural Parenting

Welcome to the November Carnival of Natural Parenting: What Is Natural Parenting?
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and
Code Name: Mama. This month our Carnival coincides with the launch of Natural Parents Network , a community of parents and parents-to-be who practice or are interested in attachment parenting and natural family living. Join us at Natural Parents Network to be informed, empowered, and inspired!

Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
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Breastfeeding with Love and Respect

Kieran was born at 37 1/2 weeks - just past the cutoff line for me to give birth at the birth center. After 31 hours of labor, Kieran was born sunnyside up. We were both tired, and our midwife insisted that we transfer Kieran to the hospital, because she thought he was having problems breathing. He spent his first five days in the NICU, but Tom and I were lucky enough to room in with him.
What we were not lucky enough to experience was an easy start to breastfeeding. Ironically enough, Kieran latched on with no problem less than an hour after birth while we were still warm and skin to skin at the birth center. Once we got to the NICU, once he was connected to machines and an IV and placed under bright lights for most of the day - separate from me - that's when our problems started.
He was diagnosed as a "lazy nurser" with a "bad latch," and my lactation consultant spent hours every day with me - soothing my frustrated tears and helping me position the tiny tube that dripped in the precious colostrum that I worked at endlessly to pump.
My milk didn't come in until day four; two days after Kieran's doctors started putting major pressure on me to supplement with formula. I held my own: we never supplemented, and by the time we were discharged and Kieran was nursing better, breastfeeding had become a symbol of perseverance for me - latching and relatching and pumping and tube-feeding and crying and standing up to the doctors, those things were all a part of me falling fiercely in love with my child.

Just as my body nourished him when he was in my womb, so my body continued to nourish him when he was in my arms. After we got out of the hospital, we finally got into our breastfeeding groove. Kieran loved nursing. He could - and did - nurse for hours at a time. He wasn't interested in anything else - bottle, pacifier, food.
And so I fed Kieran with love and respect.
Kieran nursed exclusively for 10 months, and he still nurses today at 35 months.
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Dionna is co-founder of NursingFreedom.org. She blogs about natural parenting and life with a toddler-almost-preschooler at Code Name: Mama. She also co-founded Natural Parents Network, a community of parents and parents-to-be who are interested in attachment parenting and natural family living.


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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaStop by Natural Parents Network today to see excerpts from everyone's posts, and please visit a few to read more! Visit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants. Three of the participants below will instead be featured on Natural Parents Network throughout the month, so check back at NPN!

This list will be updated by afternoon November 9 with all the carnival links. We've arranged it this month according to the categories of our NPN resource pages on "What Is Natural Parenting?"

Attachment/Responsive Parenting

Attachment/responsive parenting is generally considered to include the following (descriptions/lists are not exhaustive; please follow each link to learn more):
  1. PREPARE FOR PREGNANCY, BIRTH, AND PARENTING:
  2. FEED WITH LOVE AND RESPECT:
  3. RESPOND WITH SENSITIVITY:
    • "Attachment Parenting Chose Us" — For a child who is born "sensitive," attachment parenting is more a way of life than a parenting "choice." Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares her experiences. (@CodeNameMama)
    • "Parenting in the Present" — Acacia at Be Present Mama parents naturally by being fully present.
    • "Parenting With Heart" — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment parents naturally because healthy attachments early in life help our little ones grow into healthy, functioning adults.
  4. USE NURTURING TOUCH:
  5. ENSURE SAFE SLEEP:
    • "Sometimes I Wish We Coslept" — Sheila at A Gift Universe has started to add cosleeping into her sleep routines and has found frequently unspoken benefits. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 30. (@agiftuniverse)
  6. PROVIDE CONSISTENT AND LOVING CARE:
  7. PRACTICE GENTLE/POSITIVE DISCIPLINE:
    • "Unconditional Parenting" — The philosophy of Alfie Kohn resonates with Erin at Multiple Musings, who does not want to parent (or teach) using rewards and punishment. (@ErinLittle)
  8. STRIVE FOR BALANCE IN PERSONAL AND FAMILY LIFE:

Ecological Responsibility and Love of Nature

Holistic Health Practices

  • "Supporting Natural Immunity" — If you have decided against the traditional vaccination schedule, Starr at Earth Mama has some helpful tips for strengthening your children's immune systems naturally.

Natural Learning

  • "Acceptance as a Key to Natural Parenting" — Because Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog values accepting and responding to her daughter's needs, she was able to unravel the mystery of her daughter's learning "challenges." (@myzerowaste)
  • "Let Them Look" — Betsy at Honest 2 Betsy makes time to look at, to touch, and to drool on the pinecones.
  • "Why I Love Unschooling" — Unschooling isn't just about learning for Darcel at The Mahogany Way — it is a way of life. (@MahoganyWayMama)
  • "Is He Already Behind?"Ever worry that your baby or toddler is behind the curve? Danielle at born.in.japan will reassure you about the many ways your little one is learning — naturally — every day. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 16. (@borninjp)
  • "How to Help Your Child through Natural Learning" — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now offers tips on how to understand and nurture your child's natural learning style. (@DebChitwood)

Healthy Living

Parenting Philosophies

Political and Social Activism

Monday, November 8, 2010

Wander Over to Natural Parents Network!

Have you checked out Natural Parents Network yet? It's a new site co-founded by Dionna of Code Name: Mama and Lauren of Hobo Mama. November is our official "launch" month, and we are featuring incredibly talented authors, fun giveaways, insightful "ask the mentor" questions, and more. Take a few minutes to find out what's going on at NPN:
  • Natural Parenting Articles: Read one of the original articles submitted to NPN on a variety of natural parenting topics. Natural parenting = attachment parenting + natural family living, so there's something for everyone.
    *Acacia from Be Present Mama shares her wisdom and experiences in starting (and delaying) solid foods for breastfed babies;
    *Suchada from Mama Eve discusses homeopathics and the recent Hyland's Teething Tablets recall;
    *Later this week a mama who circumcised her son explains why she would not make the same choice again.
    *For you foodies out there, we have a new Cooking Naturally editor who is going to feature a bi-weekly (at least!) recipe that will be both tasty and healthy.
  • Ask the NP Mentor: We have a fantastic group of mamas on our "Ask the Natural Parenting Mentor" panel. The first "Ask the NP Mentor" question and answers published were about toddler mealtime struggles. We have more questions and answers coming soon on topics like transitioning to gentle discipline with a nine year old (and a stepfather); how unschooling works come high school graduation, toddlers who hit and kick while nursing to sleep, and more. Please stay tuned for the wisdom and experience from our panel: Acacia of Be Present Mama, Amy Phoenix of Innate Parenting, Charlie of Home’s Cool, Darcel of Mahogany Way, Jennifer Albin of Connected Mom, Joni Rae of Tales of a Kitchen Witch, Mandy O’Brien of Living Peacefully with Children, and Seonaid of The Practical Dilettante.
  • Giveaways: We currently have almost $200 worth of giveaways featured on NPN, and there are more to come! Stop by our giveaways list page to see what's up for grabs, and then click on the individual links to read reviews and details on the products.
  • Make a Connection: The NPN community is rapidly growing! We have over 800 parents participating in a wide variety of topics on our Facebook page, there are over 80 blogs listed on our member blogroll, and we are watching our Forums and Twitter community blossom.
  • Volunteer: There are a ton of ways to connect with like-minded parents on NPN. And if you want to get involved on another level with the natural parenting community, consider volunteering with us! We are still looking for several different volunteers to round out our team:
    1) Love giveaways? We know where to find them! We need someone to enter our giveaway links into "link-up" sites. Feel free to enter any/all of the giveaways you see on other sites!
    2) Itching to do some more NP research? Our Resources Editor would love for you to help her find quality articles/websites to add to our resource pages.
    3) Write, write, write! We want your quality original content to feature on NPN. Take your pick from one of the many natural parenting topics. Are you passionate about holistic health? Social activism? Ensuring safe sleep? Submit your article and get it noticed by the NP community.
    Our volunteers get the first pick at reviewing products for NPN giveaways, they (and their blogs) will be featured on the NPN front page in special "Featured Blogger" posts, they will connect with other natural parents, and they will have our undying love and gratitude. If you are interested in volunteering, contact me: Dionna {at} NaturalParentsNetwork {dot} com
  • Stay Tuned: There is more to come from NPN. We are working every day to bring you new content and features that will inform, empower, and inspire. Watch for new monthly features, including a "Papa's Perspective," a "Spirituality and Parenting" special, read about our "Featured Bloggers/Contributors," and join in our next online book discussion - we'll post about the book on NPN, and we'll discuss it in our Forums.
  • What Do You Want to See on NPN?: Natural Parents Network is your resource for natural parenting resources and content. What do you want to see us do with the site? Tell us, we are listening! You can email me and Lauren: Dionna {at} NaturalParentsNetwork {dot} com and Lauren {at} NaturalParentsNetwork {dot} com

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Circle of Support

The first few weeks of my son’s life, we lived in a cave. The couch was my little pod, our routine surrounded us and kept us planted. Nurse Jacob, watch TV, try to take a nap, nurse Jacob, go online, try to eat something, nurse Jacob, nurse Jacob . . .
I had unrealistic expectations of what it would be like to exclusively breastfeed my newborn. I didn’t realize that this was normal, that this feeling like I wasn’t a human being because I couldn’t do the simplest task was common, and my tiny little baby needed me to stay in our pod. My milk supply demanded that I stay as close to Jacob as possible, and my body still needed to rest after the delivery.
I didn’t understand how much I needed this time. How much I needed to sit in our cozy little space and cuddle my sweet new baby, gazing at his softening face as he snuggled my breast. I needed this time to rest, to surrender all of my “shoulds” and just be in the moment.
It wasn’t until I joined a playgroup in my hometown and met other new mothers that I began to realize how normal our routine was. I saw these other women nursing their babies in public while simultaneously venting about their struggles and I realized that I was not alone. In fact, I was part of a community, a very special group that I still treasure and credit with getting me off of the couch and into the world.
Because as much as we needed to stay in our cozy little space for those first few weeks, we also needed the support that those other mothers provided. I needed to go to La Leche and increase my awareness of my body and its ability to provide for my son. Jacob needed to interact with other babies and strengthen his social development. And I needed to hear those magical words, the words that are not an answer to the problem but validation that you are not the only one going through it; “I’ve been there.”
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We are proud to host a guest post today from Suzi. Suzi is the mother of one son and a Certified Lactation Counselor. She blogs at Attached at the Boob.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

NIP & Nursing Normalcy: Raising the Next Generation

My daughter, Mia (17 months), toddles over to me with a book in hand. I smile as I read the cover, “I’m Made of Mama’s Milk” by Mary Olsen (Review) One of my favorites. We sit down and I read it to her, letting her flip back and forth through the pages until we get to the end and she grins at her reflection.
I realize then that I really don’t have many pictures of her nursing, something that has been such a normal, regular part of our daily life together. I vow to remedy this, planning a special family photo shoot and asking in advance if the photographer will take some shots of her nursing. She should have more than the very few photos I have to look back on. She will see enough photos of babies with bottles throughout her youth, simply because that is what you see on the shelf or in most books. Part of the reason, in fact, why I bought the one we are reading now, was to let her know that nursing is a normal way to feed a baby.
My hope is that growing up, Mia will know that nursing is a wonderful, natural, normal part of life. Not some rare event or private act to be hidden away. Every time we see another mother nursing in public, I tell her: “look Mia, that baby is getting milkies like you get!” and I smile. I don’t point or call attention to the pair, but I do smile to myself and internally thank them. These mothers are doing what I do when I nurse in public: caring for their children, of course, but also (perhaps unknowingly on their part) lending another degree of normalcy to nursing, giving others a chance to reaffirm breastfeeding’s role in a child’s life.
Now that Mia has gotten older, I sometimes feel shy about nursing her in public. Lactivist that I may be, I know I have every right, know Mia has the right and know that it is important I don’t go “hide” (go somewhere else in seclusion) to nurse her when we are out. I tell myself, it is society that has made me feel this pang, and I am going to give my daughter and her generation a different way to think about nursing, I’m doing our part to change the world in our own little way. It isn’t often that she asks when we are out, she's too busy looking at everything going on around us. So when she does ask to nurse or shows signs that she is sleepy or irritated and needs nursing to comfort her, I oblige.
A lot of times when I nurse, I reflect upon the emotions, the stigmas, and the joys nursing entails. Sometimes, of course, I simply think about where we need to go next or how I wish she’d stop twiddiling that beauty mark, but at times I have some profound observations about breastfeeding in general. I think:
What if there is some other woman looking at me nursing my toddler who now realizes it’s as normal of an act as feeding an infant?
What if I affect the life of that pregnant woman that just walked by, give her an image of nursing that sparks her desire to nurse, perhaps full term?
Or on a sadder note: Did that person really just give me the “stink eye”?
Sometimes I catch myself wondering as babies of various ages roll by whether they are still nursing, looking for a common bond among other moms. I admit to feeling more magnetized towards another mom that is nursing her child. Feeling a connection; feeling less alone.
How we think about nursing and teach our children invariably plays a role in whether they go on to see nursing as normal and perhaps nurse their own child one day. When we nurse in public we teach our child it is an acceptable practice, we may even by extension be teaching another person that nursing is normal. When I take my daughter to La Leche League, or I choose not to buy that doll with the orange juice bottle for her, I send her messages about breastfeeding. I may not go explaining in the middle of the store “Mia, I don’t want you to think that all babies are fed bottles, I want you to know there are other options out there and they are normal,” but maybe I am subconsciously telling her that.
I have a friend whose older daughter is entering puberty, she told me her daughter sometimes acts bashful when her friends come over and my friend nurses either of her two nurslings (she’s tandem nursing). She said that telling her "I won't have that attitude in my house" isn't helping. Having grown up seeing her other siblings nursed, I’m sure her daughter knows it to be normal, at least in their house. Yet still she is influenced by the bombardment of opinions regarding a naked female breast. At her age, I’m guessing a bit of bashfulness about the body is normal, to some degree, but my friend asked me to explore this when I write about nursing normalcy. Because here is a girl whose mom has nursed each of her siblings around her, reacting in a way that indicates she has mixed feelings about nursing. The child of a self-proclaimed lactivist, I might add.
It seems to me that no matter how often you expose your children to something natural, normal and good you still have to consciously, actively combat the attitudes that would tear it down
So what can we do to make breastfeeding (in public or otherwise) normal for our children? You don’t have to still be nursing to be a part of making changes. I know many women who recount their stories of nursing their little ones and stand up to people who would make it seem socially unacceptable.  And sometimes, it’s as simple as that! You don’t have to make a big effort to make a difference.
If you are watching TV and you see a story about a nurse-in or a woman who was harassed about nursing in public, simply saying “that’s not right, nursing is normal and natural, that woman and her baby had every right to be there!” within earshot of your children conveys a strong message to them about breastfeeding in public and breastfeeding in general. Taking it further and writing a letter to an establishment or newspaper about an incident that wronged a nursing pair can have a positive impact on the community around you, possibly preventing another mother from being wronged.
Commenting on a breastfeeding mama and child while out and about in a positive subtle way (because making a big deal of it can be embarrassing to all involved) is another way to normalize breastfeeding. Books and photos in your home, of your own nursling or just some of the fantastic pieces of art I’ve seen around also help send messages that nursing is indeed normal and beautiful.
The chances are strong your child is already going to see magazine ads for formula or pictures of babies with bottles. (Let me add here that I am not anti-bottle, nor am I suggesting that breastfeeding must be exclusive of bottles or anything along those lines, merely that a bottle-centric approach to infant nutrition exists in our current society and it has been shown to undermine breastfeeding normalcy.) In order to normalize breastfeeding we either must insert our own images of what is normal or remove those that would undermine it.
I don’t think I can say enough about getting the image of a nursing mother out in the public eye and showing our children that it is normal. I myself may be guilty of not having many pictures throughout our nursing relationship for posterity, but I hope that when you consider how you want your child to view nursing, you think about maybe having a picture or two to share with them. When you nurse in public or see another mom nursing you may find yourself mentally photographing that instant and holding onto it, saying you aren’t alone, or telling your child “mommy did that too.” If we don’t see something often enough, we end up seeing it almost like a wildlife officer sees an endangered species, as a rarity.
We can’t let nursing become more of a rarity than it already appears. Images last on in our minds far longer than words. A woman nursing in public teaches the world that nursing is normal, a picture of a woman nursing her twin toddlers stays with us when we think about weaning due to societal pressure or if we can nurse two babies simultaneously. These sights lift us up, help us get through rough patches, stick around long enough that our children can also look at them and feel that same feeling.

Nursing normalcy is about being the change we want to see, and changing the way the world sees things. If our children are the future, then changing the world is in OUR hands.
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We are proud to host a guest post today from Anna. Anna is an army wife, mother to a "spirited" toddler, fitness coach, future lactation consultant and advocate of natural, gentle parenting. She stays busy and occasionally blogs (or rants) about her ideas and interests at Life's A Salad Bar.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Joys of Nursing in Public #5

Today we are happy to host a guest post by Christiana. Christiana Dominguez's first daughter, Thomasina, was born March 1, 2010. She spent the first 10 weeks hating breastfeeding and every week since trying to prolong it through the trials of full-time work and boobs that hate the pump. She's an attorney by day and a former political blogger who now prefers to write about public policy, parenting, and whatever strikes her fancy at FidgetFace (her NIP posts are tagged LactationLocations). She lives in California with her daughter, husband, and two cats who are jerks. Here is her nursing in public guest post.
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Sometime during my daughter's second or third week of life, I was convinced I had developed a nasty yeast infection or a screaming case of mastitis or both - yes - preferably both. I sat in the examination room as the doctor examined me, nixed the notion of infection, and gave me some breastfeeding pointers. She told me it took her about six weeks to get in a groove with her daughter.

Six weeks. Six weeks?

I couldn't see past tomorrow and did my best to blink back hot, frustrated tears. It was the worst clean bill of health I'd ever received.

In the end, it took me a full ten weeks to hit my own breastfeeding groove with my daughter - to reach a place I never thought I'd find.

The Diction of Public Breastfeeding

Having decided to take advantage of the many baby-related coupons that magically appear in your mailbox after you give birth, my husband and I took our daughter to the mall for some department store portraits. On the way to the store, a rival company offered us a coupon and the promise of no-waiting, so we let them waste time trying to coax a smile out of her as well. The extra stop added unexpected time-away-from-home to our day. By the time we were reviewing proofs, my daughter began to demand some food - rendering me incapable of concentrating on the merits of 10x13s versus 8x10s.

We had the boppy with us as a prop for the photos because it matched her outfit, so I grabbed it and the baby and went to work.

The storefront happened to be a corner unit in the mall, and we happened to be viewing photos in the corner of that glass-enclosed fishbowl. I suppose I paused for a moment to consider that I couldn't have found a more public, "look at me!" place to feed my child as mall shoppers strolled past looking at the cute kids and photos on display, but her squawks and coos demanded attention.

I mentioned to the gal showing us our proofs that I hope she didn't mind. She said, no no, of course, she's not bothered, she'd just be concerned that I was embarrassed. And right then I realized "embarrassed" is probably the least applicable word for breastfeeding in public.

Self-conscious, sure, sometimes. Frustrated and fumbling trying to balance the kid and a privacy cover or a blanket, yeah. But I think I'd only feel embarrassed if someone else said something to make me so. Her comment also did - just by implying that I should be or might be embarrassed. To be fair, she didn't imply that I should be. But there must be that presumption in the premise of the comment, you know? Like, who wouldn't be embarrassed?

It was actually the most comfortable public feed I've done yet because I had that stupid boppy with me. Usually I'm wadding up blankets and shoving them under her head and then doubling-over and trying to grow a third hand to hold everything. I never would've thought I would be so, uh, free and easy with my boob. I think a large part of my comfort comes from the sheer joy of escaping the house and being out in the world after those intense, cloistered first weeks of motherhood. I'm also just too tired to move somewhere else to feed in most cases.

I don't necessarily advocate that every mom whip it out all over town if that's beyond her comfort level. Nor am I looking for some kind of breastfeeding extra credit. That morning at the mall, however, was just another quiet reminder of how different my world is now. To me, it's the power of biology requiring that I attend to my child's needs trumping the societal construct that breasts are inherently sexual and meant to be covered in all contexts, always. It's a special kind of liberty that we should - if we could - all enjoy, especially considering that some women in other countries can't even show their faces, let alone a quick flash of breast, in public.

Perhaps most notably, during any of my daughter's public meals, I have yet to receive a single negative comment from a stranger, nor really so much as a sideways glance that I've noticed.

I'm sure that has to do with me simply not looking.

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Despite the fact that negative nursing in public experiences get the publicity, more women receive the kindness and thanks from strangers for making breastfeeding a normal sight.
We want to share your positive stories so that other breastfeeding mothers and mothers-to-be will be inspired and encouraged to N.I.P. If you have a positive N.I.P. story, please contact us. We will include them in the series and credit you, your site, or post it anonymously if you so desire.