Nursing Mothers Unite!

Last Friday, baby and I ventured out of our neighborhood into the ‘burbs of Northern Virginia to go to an inaugural get-together with this group called Bonjour Les Amis. A friend had sent me the link to the group’s Meet Up site, which was a new group that was forming to promote French learning for children (infants to five-year-olds).

This whole random mommy-and-me group thing is a new concept for me, but baby and I went despite my ridiculous cold. The whole experience is totally worth a separate blog post, which I promise I’ll get to soon enough, but I’ll just say it was pretty cool. Totally awkward at first, but a pretty positive experience overall.

But the best part… While I was there I met this woman with whom I had a lot in common. She was an American but had lived in France for a good amount of time and spoke excellent French. She was married to a Czech man and they have a seven-month-old son. As we were nearing the end of the play date, she whips out her nursing wrap and begins to nurse. All of the mothers in the room basically tell her that there’s no need for modesty with them.

She then begins to tell us about a woman from Rockville, Md., who was nearly kicked out of a museum in downtown D.C. for breastfeeding in public. The news of the incident spread like wildfire through D.C. metro mommy networks, spurring some mommies in the area to organize a “nurse-in.” This one particular woman was planning to go to show her support.

Hell no, we won't go!

This was all news to me, so of course I went home and at the first free moment started Google-ing the event. The story is that roughly 100 mommies showed up at the museum last Saturday morning with their wee ones and, at the stroke of 10 o’clock, executed a synchronized unsnapping of the nursing bra and latch on. The whole point being to remind the public of all mommies’ federally protected right to feed their children in public.

Now, as a breastfeeding mommy, I’m personally not all that comfortable with basically whipping out the boob in public–nursing wrap or not. That’s of course not to say that I wouldn’t ever if my kid was in full meltdown and I had no other option. But I just personally feel awkward. I think it’s because I like my nursing time with baby to quiet, relaxed, low key–pretty much just about me and baby. And that’s not exactly the environment you get when you’re out at some place like Buffalo Wild Wings, watching the football game with a bunch of friends on a Sunday afternoon. Even if all your friends have their own babies in tow.

Honestly, I think if I had been the woman at the museum to whom the security guard said she had to move her nursing to another area like the restroom, I probably would have complied with the request even if there wasn’t a convenient nursing area. I can so see myself contorting in a bathroom stall just so I can get a little privacy while I give my baby enough food to get him to stop crying. Oh wait, I’ve done that before. Foxy’s bathroom last summer. As we were waiting for our bill, baby went into a code red meltdown and it was the only option other than listening to him scream bloody murder from Fishers Landing to Clayton.

But I do think it’s awesome that there are women out there who feel so strongly about their right to feed anywhere, anyhow that they will make enough of a stink about it to remind the public of their legal mommy rights. Not only good for them, but good for me. I appreciate their “lactivism.” I mean, breastfeeding is hard enough–I’m still amazed I’ve gotten to this point–that it’s nice to know that other mommies have got my back (or chest, as it would seem) if and when I ever need it.

Photo: Courtesy of The Washington Post Online


Filed under babies, breastfeeding, feeding, infants, lactation, moms, nursing

2 responses to “Nursing Mothers Unite!

  1. Erin

    Love this post, and so timely!! nick and I were at a bday party this Sunday and little girl had a total melt-down. Wait, problem solved, I pumped before we left and had over a whole feeding for her. Oh no!!! The milk spilled. Seriously cannot plan for everything, but I just didn’t feel comfortable whipping it out around people I didn’t know. Sadly, I would probably have felt more comfortable if they were all strangers I would never see again, rather than friends of friends who I might run across down the road.
    I completely agree with our right to nurse in public, and wish I’d heard about this nurse-in sooner and would probably have gone down to unsnap with everyone.
    I think it’s such an American issue, and I am constantly suprised by how few people breastfeed in this country. I have unofficially taken it upon myself to educate people as casually as possible. Just b/c I don’t partake in public nursing doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s an issue that needs addressing. Even my little sister agreed with me when i said I didn’t want to nurse in public and thought it was “gross”, and I had to correct myself and more clearly explain that I think it’s not an issue at all. Just my own privacy issues. But if everyone was more open to it, and more people did nurse in public, maybe there would be increase in people who make it past 2 weeks, or 2 months, or the tough transition back to work.
    Sorry for the long ramble, just really on my mind right at this moment, so as I said, perfect timing! So glad I finally got caught up on your posts today.

  2. I think you’re right that it’s all sort of a vicious circle… if it were more “normal” to nurse in public maybe more people would nurse. But then if more mommies nursed in public, it would become more “normal.” It’s a total chicken-or-the-egg situation. I’m glad to hear breastfeeding is going so well for you. It’s been a great experience for me, although it hasn’t been without setbacks (mastitis) and screw ups (falling asleep while pumping sucks). But I know so many mommies who’ve had such a hard time with it and it’s tough to see them struggle. I think it’s especially hard if you (a) don’t have support and/or (b) don’t have the confidence that you can get through all the tough stuff, especially in the beginning. To me, breastfeeding is a lifestyle, like choosing to be a vegetarian or going to the gym. It requires a commitment and discipline. And, of course, it’s not for everyone.

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