NIP: What’s Normal

Today on Natural Parenting’s facebook page a status topic was posted about a mom who participated in the Target nurse-in by posting pictures of herself nursing her child at a local Target. (To read about the Target nurse-in please visit PhD in Parenting’s blog post regarding the event. The gist is that a woman was wrongly humiliated and told to stop breastfeeding in a Target store by a Target employee. This was not only wrong to do to the mom on principal, but because it is illegal and against the company’s code.) The mom who posted her pics, Amy Keyishian, received a thorough comment-lashing on cafemom.com due to the nature of at least one of her pictures where she is obviously posing in a sort of silly and demonstative way, wheeling a cart and nursing her 16 month old who is sitting in the front seat of a store carriage. She was told that she is gross and extreme and that she is hurting, not supporting, those who advocate to normalize breastfeeding in public. Natural Parenting’s facebook status linked up to this article and asked for more opinions. Helpful or hurting? Here’s the comment that I left on the facebook status:

Normalizing breast feeding isn’t defined as nursing in public but covering up. Normalizing means that when you see a nursing mum in public you don’t bat an eye and move on with your own damn business. Because it’s normal. To breastfeed. This includes (but is not limited to) the mum who is sitting in a corner and has most of her breast covered but her little rascal gets distracted by oh, everything, and pops off every two seconds. If breastfeeding has indeed become the norm then you will think “whoa, nipple.” for half a second, and then you’re over it because, hey you happen to see nipples every day in the shower, or in an anatomy book, or on your girlfriend or for Pete’s sake they’re the catalyst to squirt milk into a baby’s mouth…get over it already.

So, that’s the reason that this picture does not hurt the normalizing of breastfeeding, because if it were the norm we’d say heh, she’s being silly while nursing her precious baby (who is well within the 2 years minimum recommended by WHO to breastfeed your child). And then you move on with your own damn business. xoxo, peace.

I’d like to continue here by saying that normalizing breastfeeding means that every mother chooses what her comfort level is. It doesn’t mean that every mother should pull up her shirt and nurse the child while strolling the cart down an aisle. Just keep in mind that your choice of coverage may differ from another mother’s…and that’s okay. THAT’S when breastfeeding becomes normal. The most important (can I stress this more?? MOST IMPORTANT) thing is that a breastfeeding mother feels comfortable leaving the house because she knows that she will not be humiliated, confronted, judged, or shamed for feeding her child. And whatever way she chooses to do this is what that mama knows is best for her babe.

I had the hardest time nursing for the first 8 months of Liam’s existence. We had thrush, Liam was tongue-tied, my nipples were open wounds, and the whole experience was extremely painful causing me to to clench teeth, swear, and cry. (This is NOT the norm!!) Having to deal with modesty on top of the killer latch was just another straw on the back. I had serious envy of the moms who walked around the store blissfully nursing their wee one snuggled close in a wrap. I did nurse Liam in public, though. Because I would have slit my wrists if I were stuck in my house all day and the baby must be fed regardless of whether you have your perfectly positioned Boppy, footstool, and APNO. My choice of coverage was slightly more modest than some, but much less than those who choose a titty tent (as one of my besties refers to it). If that’s what it takes to make you feel comfortable breastfeeding your child then please, by all means, use the cover/shawl-thingy. My only issue is that it appears to shame the act of breastfeeding, whether the mother intends this or not. My personal choice was to wear a nursing tank top and then layer another shirt over it. I felt more comfortable because my stomach was covered (I had MUCH more issue baring my stomach than my breasts-go figure) and the top shirt gave me a bit more coverage around the dominatrix style peep-hole tank. Liam also liked to grasp onto the bunched-up fabric of the top layer. This worked for me as far as coverage went, but with all of the latching issues and Liam getting distracted and popping off, I was bound to flash someone at some point. This was never my intention and I’m happy to report that I, personally, was never confronted by anyone, but my pleading goes for every mom out there…do not make a nursing mother feel ashamed by breastfeeding. It has nothing to do with you and it one million percent has nothing to do with exhibitionism.

If you happen to see a nursing mom in public just keep on your way and as I said in my facebook comment, mind your own damn business! I always feel the urge to go up and thank nursing moms for helping to normalize breastfeeding. I have always stopped myself thus far because I worry that that mom may be in a similar situation that I was, and if I distract the babe who comes unlatched then I will have caused the mom anguish with having to start the latch process over…but those are my own bfing issues. Here’s a virtual kudos to you all!

5 thoughts on “NIP: What’s Normal

  1. Well said! I completely agree. I do usually choose to use a cover or throw a blanket over us, but I also don’t own any nursing tops. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen another mom where I live breastfeeding in public. I look forward to the day when feeding your child wherever you may be is normal! Everyone should just mind their own business. Isn’t it easier to ignore a flash of a nipple than a SCREAMING baby?

    • Thank you for supporting normal breastfeeding!! :) I’m of the mind that whenever I hear a screaming baby I think, Jeez, would you give that kid a boob already??

  2. Love it, Katie. I’m with you on rather baring a boob that my stomach! One situation I haven’t braved: nursing in front of male coworkers in a social (out of work) setting. Thoughts?

    • If I was around people I knew, in a social situation, and I wasn’t sure of their comfort level I usually just announced that I was going to nurse Liam before we began. That way I wasn’t removing myself from the scenario (as you can certainly be social and breastfeed at the same time!) but if someone else was REALLY uncomfortable with me nursing in front of them then THEY could remove themselves or concentrate on not looking. When Liam got to the stage where he was super, duper distracted and would inevitably leave me exposed and leaking milk everywhere I would sometimes move myself or position myself turned more away, but for Liam’s sake, not anyone else’s.
      Good luck, Kathleen! xoxo

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