Feb 16 2012
Just wondering… I found/find Ottawa to be VERY pro-breastfeeding. From the time baby comes out (I never, ever heard the word “formula” from any nurse I dealt with, either time), right through the whole 14 months I breastfed. Everywhere I nursed in public I never thought twice about it, I also never got any of the “looks” I hear people talk about. Is it really that different outside Ottawa? Just a thought I had because I noticed at sign at the swimming pool where the kids take lessons that reads “This pool is breastfeeding friendly”. Never noticed it before, but had breastfed there many times before and see MANY women bf’ing there every class. No one bats an eye.
What a great discussion. Thank you, Cheryl for posting this and inspiring this blog post.
In case it wasn’t blatantly obvious, I am a HUGE advocate for breastfeeding in public. It is something I do regularly, not always because I’m trying to prove a point, but usually because sometimes when I’m out and about, my baby gets hungry.
Though she’s almost a year and eating solids, breastfeeding is the most nutritious and convenient thing I can offer her. She doesn’t always want to breastfeed when we are out, because there are usually more interesting things for her to do. But still, I offer.
I have run through (over and over) a fantasy dialogue of what I would say to someone who had the gall to tell me what I was doing was inappropriate. Or bad. Or dirty. Or wrong. My blood boils just thinking about it.
Realistically, however, (getting back to Cheryl’s question) no one has ever actually said anything to me. There are horror stories that prompt glorious nurse-ins like the one at Target stores and the one at Complexe Les Ailes here in Montreal. And I know there are scary attitudes out there.
Just this weekend I got into an annoying back-and-forth with a friend of a friend–on Facebook of course– who actually compared public breastfeeding to using the toilet in public and having sex in public. Oh, and smoking in public. I don’t really understand what this woman was talking about, but these people are out there. If you’re one of these people, grow up.
While we know the “public perception of breastfeeding in public is… fill in the blank)” I can’t say it’s something I have personally had to deal with. And I’m the breastfeed-wherever-you-are-type, too. I never reserved public breastfeeding for safe spots like swimming lessons or play group. I have breastfed openly at H&M, Ikea, coffee shops and every jazz club in Montreal.
While I believe a woman has the right to cover herself and her baby if that’s how she is comfortable, it’s not something I choose to do. I feel it’s unnecessary and that it helps perpetuate the idea that breastfeeding is weird or bad. Or dirty. I am not shy and do my best to normalize public breastfeeding in any way I can. One of those ways is refusing to cover up. But I also used to work as a nude art model, (for perspective on where my comfort level is with the human body.) Some people are so shy that it’s a miracle they’re breastfeeding in public at all. Let’s not give them grief for feeding their babies.
Seriously speaking the only time anyone ever questioned HOW I was feeding my baby was when I tried purchasing a bottle for my two-week-old. What’s more, I personally have judged women bottle-feeding in public with my eyes, not my speech. That’s me being honest…
So, mamas. Has anyone ever said anything to you or looked at you with hate in their eyes because they “caught” you breastfeeding in public? What did you say or do? Or, are you like me, with a speech prepared for that fateful day? What does your speech sound like?