This post was written for inclusion in the WBW 2013 Blog Carnival. Our participants will be writing and sharing their stories about community support and normalizing breastfeeding all week long. Find more participating sites in the list at the bottom of this post or at the main carnival page.
Continuing in NursingFreedom.org and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center's blog carnival for World Breastfeeding Week, I'm back to talk about normalizing breastfeeding. Being the baby of the family, I didn't get to see my mom nursing another baby, and I was young enough when my cousins were born that I don't remember if they nursed or not...so I have no real memories of nursing, but even so, it was normal for me. It was what I expected of myself when I had children.
How I normalize breastfeeding is pretty simple. I treat it as normal. When Munchkin was younger, I used a cover...but it wasn't too long before that made MORE of a scene, so we ditched it. I still carry it in the diaper bag as an impromptu blanket...last time it was used to sit in the seat of a shopping cart that had a little bit of rain in it so Munchkin's bum would stay dry, so it's come in handy! I used the cover for Lil Man when he was as teeny tiny as he was (which wasn't very teeny tiny!) but ditched it even sooner than I had with Munchkin. I've become very adept at latching without showing much skin. Munchkin tells me about how she'll feed her babies with her boobs someday, and even nurses her dolls and stuffed animals. I think the biggest part of nursing in public to help normalize it is to not make a show of it.
People throw around "discretion", and honestly, I think every nursing mother uses her own discretion. I don't know any nursing mom that wants to do anything other than feed her hungry child when she is nursing in public. I know I can't speak for every nursing mother in the world, but at least for me, I don't want my boobs on display. I'm not ripping my entire shirt off and baring my entire chest to the world to feed my baby. I'm a big fan of the t-shirt/tank combo (especially if that tank is an Undercover Mama tank..even easier!) so that everything can stay covered while still allowing Lil Man what he needs!
One of the big challenges I see to normalizing breastfeeding, especially in public is that some people are way too invested in what others are doing. I think that if you're offended by seeing someone breastfeed, you're looking too long. If you aren't part of the nursing dyad, then you're free to move on. No time to be offended!
Now, I have no experience with negative attitudes from strangers, I've never been asked to move, stop, or leave somewhere. I've never had someone say something rude, and if anyone has ever given me the stink-eye over it, I never noticed--I was too invested in my situation to worry about others around me. That, to me, is a step. At least in my area, breastfeeding is becoming normal. We're making progress. So for every nursing mother out there, just keep going. You don't have to stage a nurse-in to normalize breastfeeding. Just go about your daily lives, nurse when you need to, wherever you are. I think that if you go into this with a polite attitude, people will be more inclined to be polite back (hopefully by either saying something encouraging or ignoring it all together). If you have a defensive attitude, then you're more likely to catch some resistance.
I see a thousand tiny steps making a huge change in our culture. A persistence to the cause rather than a huge campaign all at once. If we help shape our children's view of breastfeeding as normal and they grow up expecting that, seeing that, understanding that, then that is what they will live. That is when we will truly see the change.
***Visit NursingFreedom.org and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center for more breastfeeding resources and WBW Carnival details!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants. Below are a list of links for today's participants; you can find a complete list of links (updated throughout the week) at our main carnival page:
(This list will be updated by afternoon August 3 with all the carnival links.)
- Breastfeeding and NIP: A Primer — Rachel Rainbolt of Sage Parenting, featured today at NursingFreedom.org, uses her informative and candid voice to share with you everything you need to know to breastfeed successfully in public, from the practical how-to's to handling the social stigma.
- Lactivist Ryan Gosling — Breastfeeding mamas, the time is long overdue for a Lactivist Ryan Gosling. Fortunately, Dionna of Code Name: Mama has created some for your viewing pleasure.
- In Defense of Formula — Amy of Mom2Mom KMC, guest blogging for Breastfeeding in Combat Boots, asserts that formula is a medical tool rather than a food. She examines how this perspective supports breastfeeding as normal and eliminates the negative tensions between breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding mothers.
- World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival - Breastfeeding Tips & Tricks — Throughout her breastfeeding journey (since March 2009), Jenny at I'm a full-time mummy has shared countless tips and tricks on the topic of breastfeeding.
- Nursing in the Wild — Meredith at Thank You Ma'am posts about how seeing other moms nurse can make all of us more comfortable with nursing in public.
- Normalizing Breastfeeding — Sara Stepford of The Stepford Sisters confronts the social stigma vs. the reality of breastfeeding and opens up about the steps she takes to make herself and others more comfortable with the process.
- Breastfeeding Alrik at two years old — This is where Lauren at Hobo Mama and her second-born are at in their nursing relationship, two years in.
- Perfectly Normal — Stephanie from Urban Hippie writes about the way she and her family have done their part to try and normalize breastfeeding in a society that doesn't get to see breastfeeding as often as they should.
- Diagnosis: Excess Lipase — Learn about excess lipase and how to test if your expressed milk has it. That Mama Gretchen shares her own experience.
- Redefining Normal — Diana at Munchkin's Mommy reflects on how we can normalize breastfeeding in our society.
- Nursing Openly and Honestly — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work feels that the most socially responsible thing she can do as a mother is to nurse and nurture her children openly, honestly, and with pride.
- Wet-nursing, Cross-nursing and Milk-sharing: Outdated? — Jamie Grumet of I Am Not the Babysitter shares a response to the Wendy Williams quote about milk sharing being akin to slavery, by giving a brief history of the wet nurse.
- Tackling Mastitis with an Older Nursling — Much of the advice available for supporting recovery from mastitis seems to be aimed at mamas with younger nurslings. Juliet of Twisting Vines, posting at Natural Parents Network shares tips for dealing with mastitis while breastfeeding a toddler.
- Milk in the eye — Gena from Nutrition Basics discusses how breastmilk cured her 3 year old's case of pink eye.
- Boobie Biter — Rachel Rainbolt at Sage Parenting offers guidance on how to survive and thrive a boobie biter with your breastfeeding relationship intact.
- My take on breastfeeding advice — Diana at Munchkin's Mommy shares her insights on nursing for both new moms and new dads.
- My Top Five Breastfeeding Tips for Delivery Day: Think "A-B-C-D-E" — Mothernova shares how her continued success at breastfeeding with her second child rests on a foundation of five key things she did to prepare for baby's arrival, along with things she did when she and baby first met. Easily enough, these tips can be categorized as "A-B-C-D-E": Access to lactation consultant, Baby-friendly hospital, Communicate your plan to breastfeed exclusively, Demand, and Expect to room in.
- Breastfeeding Buddies: Twin Brothers Nurse while Living in the NICU — Twintrospectives at How Do You Do It? shares her 5 tips for learning to breastfeed multiples while in the NICU.
- Breastfeeding on a Dairy-Free Diet: Our Journey and Our Tips — Finding herself nursing a baby with food allergies, Jenny at Spinning Jenny embarked upon a dairy-free journey with her son for eight months. Here she relates her reasons for making the decision to give up dairy in her diet, why it was worth it, and tips for moms on the same path.
- Normalizing Breastfeeding in my Home — Shannah at The Touch of Life shares how she plans to help keep breastfeeding normal for her own children, even when her breastfeeding years are over.
- A Year With My Nursling — The more you see and hear, the more normal it becomes, so That Mama Gretchen is sharing her heart on the last year of breastfeeding - the ups and downs, but mostly the joy of her priceless relationship with her son.
- From Covered to Confident — Krystyna at Sweet Pea Births shares her personal NIP evolution: she started by covering up from neck to ankle while nursing in public. Eight years later, she has gained confidence and the ability to nurse without stressing about flashing a little skin. She shares her views on normalizing breastfeeding - what influenced her and how she hopes to help others.
- Normalizing Breastfeeding for Older Kids — Sadia at How Do You Do It? hopes that openly discussing breastfeeding with her (now weaned) daughters will help her children feel comfortable with breastfeeding and their bodies in general as they grow.
- Nursing in Public — Listen up, mammas. Those other people around . . . they don’t matter. It’s not about them. It’s about you and that beautiful baby. Nurse on, says The Swaddled Sprout!
- How to Nurse a Teenager — Sarah at The Touch of Life declares: the purpose is to help normalize breastfeeding a toddler.