I was waiting for a potential client at a crowded coffee shop, when I saw a mom walk in carrying her beautiful, sleeping daughter in the car seat. Soon after the mother had ordered her drink, the baby woke up and began to loudly signal that it was time to eat! The mother quickly sat at a table near me and positioned her baby at her breast. Soon, the young one quieted and began to drink heartily. I had noticed that she was breastfeeding but didn't pay it much attention because I am quite literally always surrounded by newborns and toddlers alike who are nursing. It's just the norm in my life. She looked up from her baby once and our eyes met. I smiled and went back to my textbook (I was reading a about working with mothers who breastfeed, oddly enough).
As I looked up to take a sip of my passion fruit tea (no sweetener!), I noticed that there were two women sitting at a table near me who were eyeing the nursing mother. These were some of the things that I heard:
"She has no business doing that, there are men in here! I would lose my mind if she did that around MY husband!"
"She needs to take that kid to the bathroom and do that in private!"
I shot them a death stare and they seemed to quiet down for a few minutes, so I went back to my work. The woman I was meeting with had still not arrived so I was debating on leaving when I saw the women walk over to the nursing mother. She looked up and smiled at them. This was the conversation that took place:
Woman 1: Hi! Oh what a sweet baby you have there! She's beautiful!
Nursing Mom: Thank you! She's 2 weeks old. She IS pretty perfect."
Woman 2: She seems hungry! Didn't you feed her before you left the house!?
NM: Of course I did, but she is a newborn. She eats all the time!
W1: (Trying to sound sweet) Well, don't you think that you would be better off feeding her in the bathroom? I mean, this is no place to have your boob out."
W2: (Not so sweet) Yeah, that way other people don't have to watch. I totally support breastfeeding but not when someone does it like you're doing it. Why not give her formula when you're in public or pumped milk so that you don't have to expose yourself"
(At this point, I think the nursing mother was embarrassed and upset that these women had been so rude. She didn't say anything, just started to collect her things.)
THIS, my friends, is when I decided that I was just going to have to say something. I turned to the table where the nursing mother was and said, "Darling, don't you dare stop feeding your beautiful little girl! You have the legal right to feed her anywhere you have the right to be and if they have a problem with what you're doing...well, they have choices to make. If what you're doing offends them so much, they can leave. If they choose to stay, they can drink THEIR coffee in the bathroom or they can accept the beautiful gift that you are giving your daughter and they can keep their nasty, bulbous noses out of your business." Then I turned back to my book. Slack-jawed, all three women didn't move an inch. Then, I heard the nursing mother say, "Yeah! If you don't like it, go drink YOUR coffee in the damn bathroom!"
I have always been a supporter of breastfeeding and a child's right to eat wherever and whenever she and her mother feel is appropriate. I don't believe that a woman should have to sit in a dirty, cramped bathroom stall to feed her baby as I know that I don't want to eat my lunch in there! I don't believe that a woman should have to cover her child with a blanket for fear of people seeing her breasts either. When a woman is breastfeeding, you see about the same amount of skin that one would see when she is wearing a bathing suit....so what's the difference? Because there is a baby attached to her breast or because you MIGHT see a nipple, she is somehow doing something indecent or wrong? No no no... Breastfeeding could not be more natural and beautiful. I think that a baby receiving the gift of milk from her mother is something beautiful to watch. The love in the mother's eyes as she gently strokes her baby's arm. The way the baby reaches up to caress her mother's face. The palpable love that you can feel when a mother and child are connected in this most intimate way. Who could possibly have an objection to this sacred act?!
public or are yet to do so. Because of you, we will know that nursing is normal and healthy. We will know that we can do it because we have witnessed it being done! There may have been millions of mothers who have nursed before you but YOU are a trailblazer and an inspiration!
Next time you're out, if you see a woman feeding her baby (covered or uncovered!), smile at her. Don't make a show of it, but if you can, thank her for having the courage to do so. It could be her 264th time feeding her baby in public or it could be her very first time! Either way...I'm sure that you will make her day.
It is my sincere hope that if there is a debate that it is done with loving kindness and respect for each other. We are all entitled to our opinions but please express them respectfully.