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Breastfeeding in Public

Lora Reynolds
Trafford PA USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 18 No. 6, November-December 2001, p. 209

I'm not sure how it came about, but nursing in public has become almost as comfortable for me as nursing at home. I have certain situations I avoid, but that list has shortened as my confidence has grown. I've learned to ignore the comments and looks because I'm more focused on my children than I am on passing strangers. I'm less inclined these days to waste precious energy worrying about things like that. Strangers do not need my attention the way my daughters do.

I think I started by nursing in the car at the supermarket. Another time, I was in a friend's car. Later, I sat on a bench at an amusement park. Indeed, there have been many benchmarks, so to speak, in stores, in and out of restrooms. My babies have nursed in museums, sometimes in out of the way places, other times amongst a crowd as I kept an eye on my older daughter. Once, I had to put aside my fears to tandem nurse two tired little people in a busy lounge outside a restroom. I nursed while having my teeth cleaned.

Many of these situations developed not because I was trying to make a statement, but because I was taking care of my children. I've nursed in the shade and under a deep blue sky. My firstborn came to the hospital to nurse while I was preparing to birth my second child. Neither one of us wanted to be separated, but we made it through the best way we knew how.

I've been breastfeeding my children for more than four years now, and the changes have been gradual. At first, I was worried about public humiliation. I relaxed as I realized I was going to be all right; that I could handle this. Recently when someone had a negative reaction to my nursing, I was embarrassed for her sake, not my own. I let the appearance of my two beautiful girls speak for itself!

It's tricky balancing discretion and the needs of children, and somewhere in there I take into account my own comfort and the needs of the moment. It's fun reflecting on the places I've nursed, and it lets me realize how far I've come in this area of my parenting. It helps me strengthen my resolve and once in a while it gives me a good laugh. My dentist thinks I'm a nut! Come to think of it, my daughter calls me a nut, too, so maybe it isn't about the nursing after all!

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