I consider myself a natural parenting, but I was ashamed to breastfed my child in public.
My experience with breastfeeding growing up was different than most. My mom nursed both my brother and I, and her friends nursed their babies, often and in public. I always saw women nursing growing up and never thought anything of it. Babies need to eat, simple as that.
After having my son, he latched pretty much perfectly and instantly and I was euphoric. There is really no other way to describe it...euphoric. It was an amazing feeling to provide for my child in such a way.
I wasn't ashamed to nurse at all. I was a bit concerned about doing it properly, as any new mom is, but I wasn't ashamed.
Till the comments started. People began "hinting" that I needed privacy, that it wasn't appropriate to nurse in public (covered or not)....if you've breastfed you know the comments. You know how people act. The whole "I fully support breastfeeding but....." line.
It was so discouraging. I cried a lot. And I began to feel ashamed. I briefly considered switching to using a bottle, but I wasn't an efficient pumper and I knew it'd lead to supplementing with formula, something I didn't want to do.
We nursed on demand and used no pacifiers. Andrew wouldn't take one and I didn't want to push it on him. But he nursed so frequently. Often every 45-60 minutes and he cluster-fed for several hours a day till he was around 13-14 weeks old. As a social person, I found it ridiculous to either "Stay home" or disappear to another room to nurse my baby. But the disapproving looks, stares and comments continued. So I found myself confused, frustrated and beginning to regret my decision to nurse on demand. I was lonely, I needed interaction, but suddenly with a baby, my decision to breastfeed made people treat me like a leper.
Then I hit a wall. While out to lunch with friends I spent the majority of the event in an overheating car (it was 100 + degrees outside and my son needed to nurse, so we needed A/C), because I wasn't about to nurse in a bathroom but we were in a restaurant and I knew if I attempted to nurse, it would cause a scene, given the company I was with.
I left lunch hungry, and with a very hot and frustrated baby. I was angry at myself, but mostly angry at society. What on earth was our culture's hang-up with breastfeeding?
Out of frustration, I reached out to fellow like-minded moms. (Why didn't I do that sooner?) I received some invaluable advice and support.
I was given a few tips:
-Nurse at home in front of a mirror. Watch how you latch your baby, what is covered and isn't covered. I prefer to stay pretty covered while nursing, so at first I practiced with a nursing cover. I was amazed at how much it helped. As I got more confident, I practiced with two shirts. A cami underneath and a t-shirt on top. I began to feel more confident with the ability to nurse in public and not expose myself in anyway.
-Nurse (when possible) next to a supportive family member or friend. My mom and husband were both willing to take this roll. They sat beside me at gatherings or in public and talked to me and helped me gain confidence in myself. My husband is a "big" guy. He's 6'4", with very broad shoulders and very well built. He would put his arm around me and act as a "shield" for my son and I.
-Practice. Nurse in public often and gain confidence. That's really how we become confident in anything, practicing and doing it often. So I did.
And lastly, remember that everyone has an "opinion" about what you should or shouldn't do. That doesn't make it fact. As a Christian I felt very compelled to make sure I was modestly covered while nursing, but other than that, my husband and I agreed it wasn't necessary for me to shut myself off separately. His support and encouragement was invaluable during my nursing years with Andrew.
I still get comments, even though I'm no longer nursing Andrew, but I'm pregnant and about to pop. People know I'm going to nurse another baby and they know I support a baby's right to eat anytime, anywhere, in any situation! But I'm three years into this and learning to take the comments with a head nod and move on. I decided I would no longer argue with those who didn't want me nursing in public.
My husband and I have made our decision and we are sticking by it. It is what is *best* for our family.
Have you had an experience that made you ashamed to care for your baby in a certain way? How did you overcome it?
***This carnival was created by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. We recognize that "natural parenting" means different things to different families, and we are dedicated to providing a safe place for all families, regardless of where they are in their parenting journeys.
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- I'm a Natural Parent, but...my kid loves a screen - Lyndsay owns her son's love for television programming, ipad and apps.
- Ashamed to Breastfeed - Kym at Our Crazy Corner of the World talks about how she was ashamed and intimidated to breastfeed in public.
- When they gotta go... - Jorje of Momma Jorje shares her EC weakness...
- Love For the Mainstream - Amy W. explains how letting a mainstream family into her life increased her self-awareness, and helps her to maintain balance while advocating for natural parenting.
- Weaning My Nursling - Alisha at Cinnamon&Sassafras reflects on her decision to wean her son, rather than waiting for him to decide.
- I'm a Natural Parent But...My Toddler is a Junk Food Junkie - Chanisa at City Girl Slash Hippie Mom talks about how she's trying to get her two year old to have healthier eating habits
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- Confessions of a mostly natural parent - Jessica of Crunchy Chewy Mama feels good about many of the choices she makes but there are things she wants her kids to do, practice, and believes that she is not modeling for them.