Every few months there’s another story in the media. Someone wants to breastfeed, and someone else says no.
This time, it was a Victoria’s Secret employee. Apparently, a young mother was shopping and as she was paying she asked if she could use a dressing room to nurse. An associate said no, and then suggested she use the alley out back.
Now, to be honest, I don’t care that she said no. It’s a place of business, and though the article did say there weren’t many customers in the store at the time, depending on the day of the week and the time, what if that had changed? As a customer, I would have been annoyed if I was told I had to wait because someone was nursing. (More on that later!)
What annoyed me was the suggestion that this mother nurse in an alley, as if nursing her child was on par with an illegal drug exchange, something to be done in the shadows, in secret.
I nursed all five of my boys, some more successfully than others, and I think much of that had to do with my own confidence as a mother. Establishing a nursing routine takes time, it takes patience, and as a new and very young mother, I lacked confidence and a good support system with Corey. I only nursed him for six weeks, the limited recommended amount of time for him to gain some of the important benefits I could pass along to him.
With Joe, I was going through a rough time, divorce, depression and just a very low self esteem-six weeks.
With Addi I was in a different place. I had a supportive and loving partner, I was older, more confident, I even had inlaws that offered love and support anyway they could. With Addi I did almost seven months.
And then with Hayden and Dean, I knew who I was as a mother. I was older, stronger, more self assured. I still had that same important support system in place, I even had the two older boys to help out with little things. I successfully nursed them for 14 and 13 months respectively, and I only stopped because they more or less weaned themselves.
BUT, when stories like this hit the airwaves we are treated to idgits coming out on both sides of the fence.
Many say nursing in public is gross, is classless, tacky.
Others say they would whip their breasts out right then and there and do what they want.
And yet, I have to say, both sides sound just as ridiculous!
I nursed my three younger boys successfully in public, and most of the time people didn’t even know what I was doing. Once I was out with the boys, and Hayden was nursing, an older woman came right up to me and tickled his feet, and had a five minute conversation with me before she even knew what I was doing! That’s usually how discreet mother’s are.
Because I have to ask-when did nursing become about proving a point? When did it stop being about feeding our babies?
It’s ignorant to say that a nursing mother should be shunned to a toilet stall or an alley. It’s ignorant to say she should stop what she’s doing and go to her car and nurse there. What if it’s 90 degrees outside? Our 9? We should sweat our asses off OR freeze them off?
On the other hand, it’s just as silly to say it’s cool to just rip your bra off and expose your breasts because that’s what their for.
My breasts, when I was nursing, weren’t there for everyone to see, they were for feeding my son. Nursing shouldn’t be about proving a point, it should be about nourishing our children.
People are saying this clerk should be fired…ok, should she be fired or should she be educated?
I nursed in crowded malls, and packed restaurants. I sat on a bench in the middle of Walmart and fed one of the boys. I nursed at parks, at home, at friends houses, etc…and never ONCE was I asked to leave. I’m guessing because I didn’t feel the need to make a spectacle of myself. I didn’t feel the need to ask, because I wouldn’t ask if I could feed the older boys, I just did it. If it was cold, I used a blanket, not only for discretion, but for warmth. But most of the time, I was just subtle about it.
If I was in a busy mall, oftentimes Roy would angle his body for me until I was situated, and then once the baby and I were, he sat back and we talked. We laughed, we drank our drinks, or ate our food and no one said a word.
I joke and call the overly zealous people the nipple nazis, and I’ve expressed my issues with them here before. I take issue with their pro breast stance, when in reality shouldn’t they have a pro Mom stance? Trying to guilt an overwhelmed, exhausted and unsure of mother into nursing isn’t doing her any good, but most importantly it’s doing her tiny baby a disservice. That baby isn’t going to get what they need, if Mom is too timid, scared, nervous whatever to learn the ins and outs of nursing-and believe me there are many! That baby is going to suffer if at the first sign of pain, and believe me there IS pain, she gives up.
Pro Mom, not Pro Breast.
But anyways, If you go into a store and ask for permission to buy your little one a happy meal, than I get why you feel the need to ask if you can nurse.
But, if your like me and you’ll buy that happy meal if you want too, why are you going to ask if you can nurse?
Some mother’s are shy, timid, whatever and prefer to nurse in a quiet environment, so then educate YOURSELF and learn where you can do so in your mall of choice. Even IF the store isn’t crowded, can you predict crowds? I can’t, and those dressing rooms are for just that. I would imagine most places would be fine with it, but there are so many options why should we take advantage of that?
And though it seems counter productive to my point here, yes I think we should think of others. NOT everyone is as progressive as a nursing mother, hell many nursing mothers aren’t even that progressive. Yes, some women that nurse (or claimed to) said they would NEVER nurse in public, I even read about one woman who said she stayed home for four months because nursing in public is tacky! Are they ridiculous? Of course, but the world doesn’t revolve around you and your milk supply, thinking of others doesn’t make you less of a mother.
Hell, Nordstrom and Macy’s at the mall I like have BEAUTIFUL lounges for nursing mothers. I would rather hang out in there anyways. Comfy chairs, ottomans to put your feet up, cable TV….smells good….
So, in the end, what is a nurse in going to accomplish? Is it going to prove your point? That you CAN and often do nurse in public with class and discretion? No, because by the very nature of what you are doing you are choosing to draw attention to the cause-in a negative and combative way. A few years ago, women staged a nurse in at H&M, blocking aisles, doorways and dressing rooms.
Had I been a customer, I wouldn’t have cheered them, I would have been upset they felt the need to impede my ability to shop at this store. Petty? Perhaps? But if the point is to prove that one CAN and does nurse in public without showing a breast, how is this helping the ‘cause?’
It isn’t. It’s making us women look like radicals that could care less how others think and feel.
Education isn’t always about hitting others over the head with a brick. In this case, I think we can all prove our points, and I did many times over, by simply going about our business, not asking to nurse and just…doing it.
With class and discretion.