Before DD2 weaned, I had been breastfeeding for over 4 years straight. This has allowed me to nurse in a myriad of social situations (planes, weddings, homes, restaurants, to name a few.) Social breastfeeding seems to be a common issue and the cause of many a nurse-ins. Before we get into the different social breastfeeding situations, I want to make four things clear:
1) These are my opinions
2) I am trying to write these from a non-personal POV, because I will nurse anywhere. Kind of what would a regular mama do, not what would lactivist CCM do?
3) Research the nursing-in-public laws for your particular state
4) Follow your instinct
Without Further Ado:
In your home. It’s your home, you should breastfeed wherever you pretty much want to. If anyone has an objection? Show them the door. Or have them run or fold a load of laundry.
At a friend’s home. I would use the level of friendship as a gauge. Your BFF for 20 years may not have an issue… but then again, she might. You can’t go wrong with asking if she is OK with your nursing. Her answer may help you decide if you want to visit again with your nursling! (As an aside, if I know that a mom is a nursing mom and she comes to visit, I make a point of telling her that our home is breastfeeding friendly and that she should nurse in whatever manner is most comfortable to her.)
At a friend’s home… with other children present. Ehhh. This is where things can get a little hairy, especially if they are male children. We have to remember that breasts are so sexualized in our culture that children who have not been exposed to a nursing baby may stare and/ or ask a question or two. I hate to say that you should excuse yourself to nurse your child (because I sure as hell don’t) but at the same time, you don’t want to cause any drama within a friendship. In my book, etiquette is about making all people feel comfortable and so in this case, I’d make it clear to my friend that I am OK nursing in front of other children and am OK with answering questions if needed. And then apply the ideas in #2, if needed. Most kids will ask what you are doing and then move on.
In front of a male who is not a relative. Man, I am so the wrong person to be writing these particular Quick Takes, because here too, I would just nurse! OK, this one gets into the “custody of the eyes” issue that runs around in modesty circles, i.e. who’s job is it to make sure men are keeping chaste: the man, the woman or both? Ideally you’d say both in that woman should not go out of the way to “tempt” but man is held responsible for his own actions. So, depending on whose home it is, either check with the host if it’s OK, or just say, “Hey, I’m going to feed the baby.” If he has an issue, he might excuse himself. Who knows. (This sometimes becomes a “thing” with Father-In-Laws, especially.)
At a restaurant or store. Restaurants are public places and therefore are protected by most breastfeeding in public laws. But at the same time, restaurant owners do have the right to refuse service to anyone (and I don’t know how hard or easy it would be to prove that ‘breastfeeding’ as their cause, unless they flat out say, “I’m asking you to leave because you are breastfeeding.”) There was only one time that I ran into some trouble nursing at a restaurant. DD2 was a few months old and you can read it here (it’s one of my first posts!) Nursing at restaurants can be sticky because people tend to equate breast milk with other body fluids (the most common being urine.) The key to nursing at restaurants is really discretion (and there is nothing more subjective than that!) Basically, when I am nursing at a restaurant, I try to look for baby’s feeding cues thereby circumventing the hysterical screaming kid which draws attention to the situation. Then, I latch baby on quickly and that’s it. I’m a ninja like that.
At the beach or park. Really? There is more nakedness at the beach than anywhere else. Nurse at the beach. Parks, be aware that there may be creepos around and/or overzealous mothers who may give you the stink-eye, but nurse on.
At Church. I have written on breastfeeding in Church before. Jesus was breastfed. In fact, if you were born before 1867, you were breastfed (and dead. Or a zombie.) There are no guidelines, biblically or otherwise, for breastfeeding in church. Churches are one of those weird, limbo areas: They are public, but they aren’t, you know? I will say, it really burns my buttons when I hear about a church kicking a nursing mom out of the service (especially when it’s a Catholic Church!) It really depends on the culture of your church. And if you don’t like the breastfeeding culture there, work with the Pastor or Elder to change it! You might not be alone.
Do you nurse in public or in social situations? Have you had any issues doing so?
Coming up this week:
Tomorrow: Medical Advice?
Sunday: Breastfeeding in the Bible
Monday: Modesty and Breastfeeding (Guest Post over at Imperfect Kate)
Tuesday: Avoiding Bottle-feeding guilt
- WBW ’12: The Health Care Law and breastfeeding
- Things I love Thursday: Breastfeeding-friendly Children’s Books (WBW: Day 5)
- Top Ten Worst Things about Breastfeeding (WBW: Day 3)
- My Top Ten Reasons for Breastfeeding (WBW: Day 2)
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