Thursday, July 08, 2010

Becoming a mom changed my perspective

Welcome to the July 2010 Carnival of Nursing in Public

This post was written for inclusion in the NursingFreedom.org. All week, July 5-9, we will be featuring articles and posts about nursing in public ("NIP"). See the bottom of this post for more information.

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Growing up in the West, I thought of breasts as a sexual object. They weren't things that you flashed in public, unless you were that kind of girl. Before I became a mom, I knew I wanted to breastfeed my child, but I hadn't put much thought into nursing in public. Back then, nursing in restrooms sort of made sense because, well, breasts were private, and you do private things in restrooms.

Then I became a mom. The first time I took my baby out, and I heard him cry in hunger, any sort of cultural inhibitions I had flew out the window as I responded to the primal call of a child for his mother and nourishment. My baby needed me. Now.

As I learned more about breastfeeding, my views changed. I actually have a phobia of germs and toilets - the thought of me eating while on the toilet is absolutely abhorrent; how could I possibly feed my child there? Nursing covers seemed like a practical "discreet" option, until my curious baby took to grabbing it and waving it about like a flag: nursing baby here!

So now, I go out in public with my baby attired in my collection of nursing tops (purchased with some the money we have saved by breastfeeding) and feed him when he's hungry. So many people have commented on what a "good baby" he is, and I truly believe it's because there's no reason for him to put up a fuss: he knows he'll be responded to quickly when the need arises.

I'm lucky to live in a country (Taiwan) where I've never been made to feel uncomfortable nursing in public. On the other hand, I've only seen mothers nurse in public twice: once at a park, and once at a maternity/nursing wear store. The latter instance I witnessed when I was pregnant. While the sales clerk rang up my purchases, I overheard her quietly say to her baby who was in her sling, "oh you're hungry? Have some milk." If I hadn't overheard her, I would have never guessed she was nursing her child. She was an inspiration to me - nursing her child, answering product questions, and ringing up an order - all without skipping a beat!

Having seen it in action, I was confident that with a little practice, I could do it, too. And sure enough, as the weeks passed, my child and I became better at breastfeeding. Now he quickly latches on and it's so much more convenient to breastfeed than to bottle-feed. My son's meal is always available, ready to serve. No need to lug bottles, ice packs, worry about serving the expressed milk before it goes bad, stress about finding hot water to warm the milk, etc. Here, young children are always fascinated to see me nurse, leaning in closer to get a better look. Sometimes their parents shoo them away, so that I can have some privacy. I don't mind them looking. More often than I'd like to hear, moms ruefully tell me they wish they could have breastfed their child, but they "didn't have enough milk." I know that here, as in the U.S., there are a lot of booby traps against moms. The formula marketers are crazily intense, making repeated unwelcome direct calls. When moms strike up a conversation with me, I try to use it as an opportunity to clear away the misinformation.

My hope is that now, when I nurse in public, I am also a quiet inspiration to current and future moms and dads.

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Art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/

Welcome to the Carnival of Nursing in Public

Please join us all week, July 5-9, as we celebrate and support breastfeeding mothers. And visit NursingFreedom.org any time to connect with other breastfeeding supporters, learn more about your legal right to nurse in public, and read (and contribute!) articles about breastfeeding and N.I.P.

Do you support breastfeeding in public? Grab this badge for your blog or website to show your support and encourage others to educate themselves about the benefits of breastfeeding and the rights of breastfeeding mothers and children.


This post is just one of many being featured as part of the Carnival of Nursing in Public. Please visit our other writers each day of the Carnival. Click on the links below to see each day’s posts - new articles will be posted on the following days:
July 5 - Making Breastfeeding the Norm: Creating a Culture of Breastfeeding in a Hyper-Sexualized World
July 6 – Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers: the New, the Experienced, and the Mothers of More Than One Nursing Child
July 7 – Creating a Supportive Network: Your Stories and Celebrations of N.I.P.
July 8 – Breastfeeding: International and Religious Perspectives
July 9 – Your Legal Right to Nurse in Public, and How to Respond to Anyone Who Questions It

7 comments:

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

I love your description of a "quiet inspiration." If you haven't read Monday's guest post at DrMomma.org for the Carnival - check it out - it's by a mama who is the lone lactivist in her own community. Thank you for sharing!!

eidolons said...

This is a really great post. Thank you for sharing such a positive experience! (:

Lisa C said...

I love the story about the sales clerk. If only we could all see something like that on a regular basis!

Cahleen Hudson said...

It's interesting how quickly our perspective changes when we hear that first hungry cry! I was always very modest, but as soon as I went into labor all that went out the window, and now I nurse my little one wherever and whenever. Like you, I've never been made to feel uncomfortable. At the same time though, the booby traps are huge here (Taipei). So many women have said to me that they wish they could nurse like me but that they didn't have enough milk and had to supplement (and their milk ended up drying up of course). In most cases it was their old MIL pushing the formula, and a lot of these same "older" women have authoritatively told me that I don't have enough milk once they find out that at 4 months my baby still doesn't sleep through the night. Booby traps galore! Let's just keep NIPing and gently educating. Hopefully the old ladies will come around!

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