In honor of August being Breastfeeding Awareness month, I would like to share my story of the first time I nursed my daughter in public. As a first time mom, this whole world is new to me. My daughter was not the first baby to be breastfed, but she was the first baby in my world that I had the pleasure of experiencing that moment with. It was not my most graceful moment as a mother, but it was real.
My daughter and I were lucky to experience a somewhat smooth transition into breastfeeding. When she was born, she latched well and my milk came in within the next day. Maybe the positioning was a little off, but that was just because I was a zombie mom and I was exhausted. Due to my c-section, I had become accustomed to using a Boppy for her and pillows for me, although on occasion, I would stand and cradle her in my arms, rocking her while she nursed.
The first few times we went out in public, I made sure to time it properly so that she would not need to eat. I figured I could breastfeed her at home right before we left, and then once again right as we got back home. After her first doctors appointment though, we decided to be brave and ventured out as a family. We went out to Seaport Village, and decided to have lunch. Everything was going fine, and as a typical newborn, she was sound asleep.
I was enjoying my time being out in public, that I didn’t notice it was time for her to eat. She started to wake and fuss, because she was hungry. In a panic, I had offered her her pacifier, but that just upset her more. Out of the countless times I had breastfed my baby, I had never done it out of my comfort zone, let alone in public. I had never practiced using a nursing cover, or tried to discreetly latch my daughter on. At home, I was usually in a loose tank top or in just a nursing bra, giving me quick access to what my daughter needed.
Her crying got louder and louder in the restaurant, as she tried to communicate that she was hungry. As a new mom, I got flustered with what I thought was a calamity. I told my fiance to get our meals to go and pay, while I quickly collected myself and my daughter. We dashed out of the restaurant, looking for a quiet place to nurse. Mind you, we were at Seaport Village. Tourists and San Diegans alike, there was nowhere to go that didn’t have people there.
Her little newborn cries got louder, and I found myself sitting in the corner, trying to make a wall with the stroller and frantically searching for my nursing cover. I was in a sweat with panic. It felt like it took me hours to get my shirt unbuttoned. Finally, all was settled, and I got her in a position to latch and nurse. I saw people in the distance, and I was so worried someone was going to come over and say something. Did I have my counter-arguement ready? Was I mentally prepared to use my words in such a provoking moment? Better yet, was I emotionally ready?
No one came. No one even bothered to give me a second glance.
All of the fearful stories I’ve read online, or heard from a friend of a friend of a friend about getting bashed for breastfeeding were (so far) still just that-stories. We live in beautiful San Diego, and I’d like to believe our community is open-minded with open hearts. As I get deeper into motherhood, I’m finding more and more classes and support groups that help all aspects of parenting, including breastfeeding. As a first time mom, I’d say its fair to feel nervous, at least in the beginning. Everything is new for you too, mama.
Since that first time, I’ve breastfed my baby girl everywhere from Disneyland to breweries, parks and malls. Sometimes with a cover, and sometimes without. I’ve learned to breastfeed in public without fear, and I hope you all do too.