Breastfeeding in Public
Boob it up
If I did not hesitate jumping out of a plane on my first skydive, why did I hesitate the first time my baby was hungry in public? Because it honestly feels scarier - it’s one thing to support breastfeeding in theory, but another thing entirely to pop your boob out in public during an already vulnerable time.
Picture this: I had just had a baby, a profoundly surreal life event, and I’m just trying to go about my normal day as if I didn’t just spend 32 painful hours in a hospital and an 8lb person didn’t just emerge from my body. I am still exhausted, but it has been a week and I finally feel capable of walking a few blocks to get a much needed coffee. I order the largest hot whole milk latte and take a seat at my favorite coffee shop. My baby quietly snoozes against my chest, tucked comfortably into my Boba Wrap.
Uh oh, baby starts fussing. I realize that this is the moment when I have to put my vocal support of breastfeeding to practice. My mind races through every scenario as I scan the face of every stranger in the coffee shop and wonder how they will react. Will someone angrily tell me to cover up? To leave? Confrontations that I would have easily handled before seem too big all of a sudden. I’m too tired, too weak, and too new to all of this.
Baby crying is imminent. I take a deep breath and tuck away away into a corner seat and gather the courage to lower my top and pop the fussy baby onto the boob. It takes several tries before I finally get her to latch on. I am still learning how to breastfeed and it doesn’t feel natural or easy. I feel like everyone is staring at me. Finally, I get it right and she starts to drink with enthusiasm. I sigh and remember that this is what is important, knowing that she’s comforted and fed. Moments pass. I nurse my baby as I sip my latte. No one says anything. I feel better. I feel normal.
That was the first time I had to breastfeed in public. The next time was easier, and then one day, I was comfortable feeding my baby anywhere and anytime. I now realize that being able to do so freely and comfortably is a human right.
Postpartum recovery can feel like falling off the face of the earth. It’s hard to go outside while you’re bleeding, hurting, and profoundly sleep deprived, but it’s important. Those first few outings made me feel like I was still part of the world during my recovery. Someone’s discomfort at seeing my body feeding my child is not my problem. I have enough to worry about. I will go out, I will feed my baby when she is hungry, and I will not separate myself from society. I will be seen, and I will be part of normalizing breastfeeding anywhere a mother and child would want to go.
I shouldn’t have to hide or cover up when I feed my baby.
Boob it up, ladies. I am.