It’s a campaign we see everywhere. A hashtag, a movement. Why is it so important?
I have always known that I would breastfeed my children. I do not recall a specific time when I KNEW. I do know that I was exposed to it in adolescence, when my sisters were born. I watched and listened as my stepmother nursed both of my sisters at a time and in a town where breastfeeding wasn’t very common. I believe that it was her nursing relationships with my sisters which normalized breastfeeding for me.
Breastfeeding has always been synonymous with parenting in my brain. I had a healthy, successful nursing relationship with my daughter. I was proud to be a breastfeeding mother and determined to make it work. However, it wasn’t until my son was born that I truly understood why the #normalizebreastfeeding campaign was so incredible vital to mothers and babies everywhere.
You see, when I had my daughter, I still thought of breasts as something to be hidden. To “flash them around,” even while feeding my baby, was shameful. So we timed our outings around my daughters constant nursing sessions. My Imp hated being covered, so we nursed standing in bathrooms. We nursed on uncomfortable benches in changing rooms. When we had family get-togethers, I went and sat on the bed to nurse, alone and hidden.
I was lonely.
I was uncomfortable.
I was done.
Nearing the end of our 15 month nursing relationship, I realized how asinine it was to hide so much in order to feed my daughter. I was so proud of breastfeeding. So proud to give my daughter what she needed to thrive. Amazed at the “power” and incredible benefits that breastmilk provides. Why did I hide and cover? I vowed that with my next child, I would do differently.
Overcoming that feeling of being uncomfortable nursing in public wasn’t immediately cured when my son was born. I tried from the beginning, but it was surprisingly harder to nurse in front of family members and my friends spouses than it was complete strangers. (A special thank you to my father in law for never making it awkward for us.)
I am forever grateful to my husband, who never flinched and always supported me in the decisions I made breastfeeding our children. Breastfeeding was always normal for him. He would see moments of bonding with my son and I, when I was nursing and insist it was a wonderful photo opportunity, a moment to capture, instead of a moment to hide.
It was a mental push for me to learn to nurse in public. I loved the ease and simplicity of no longer rushing to feed the baby as we are already out the door. The first time I nursed in public, eating breakfast at a restaurant, all I did was look around to see if anyone was watching and silently judging me. A friend of the families was the hostess, and when I mentioned it later that day, she said she didn’t even notice.
The day that it all came together for me though, the day it clicked and I was no longer afraid, (although I had NIP many times leading up to it) was a sunny day when my kids were outside playing. O was hungry and we had JUST gotten outside, and I really didn’t want to bring them in just to feed him. So I sat on the blanket, lifted my shirt. And fed him.
It was this not so private moment when I realized why normalizing breastfeeding was so important. My hair was a mess, I had no make up on, but I felt free. I didn’t care what the neighbors thought. I cared that my baby was happy and fed.
Breastfeeding is natural. It is amazing. And it is HARD. Why make it more difficult for mothers struggling by ostracizing them, when all they want to do is feed their baby? The more mothers who nurse, who talk about it openly, who nurse freely, the more new and struggling mothers will feel that bond of sisterhood, of motherhood.
One of the things we nursing moms hear the most about keeping a good supply is to nurse frequently, feed the baby when baby is hungry. The problem is that for a mother with a busy lifestyle, particularly one who still feels the pressure for discretion, or whose baby hates being covered (and really, I don’t know a baby who LIKES being covered) is that nursing wherever, whenever, can be difficult.
So please, share this with your friends, with your family. Read our articles, post brelfies, and encourage yourself to nurse in public. It is our responsibility to raise the bar, lift the stigma for nursing moms everywhere. Get out of your comfort zone in order to help another mom feel more comfortable in hers. Every time I nurse in public I know I am setting the example for my sisters, my daughter, my son- that breastfeeding is NORMAL. It is wonderful. It is important.
It is our hope at breastfeeding world to lift the stigma that breasts are something that should be sexual, and instead to teach that they are for food.
So that mothers will read this and know that they shouldn’t be ashamed. So that grandparents can read this and support their children, their children’s children. So that husbands can read this and defend their wives.
So the world knows that breastfeeding is normal, natural, and nothing to hide under a cover.
What is your opinion about nursing in public? Do you feel that nursing mothers should hide or cover? Have you ever heard family or friends discuss positively or negatively breastfeeding? Tell us your story!
Be sure to join us in our social media accounts to be up to date with the progress of our project!
And… Don’t forget to share your brelfies using our HT #BreastfeedingWorld
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