When I first started nursing Violet in public I felt a little self conscious. I worried that someone might be watching me and not in a good way…. I worried especially if there were too many men around. I used a cover when out in public and sometimes in my own home when I had guests over. The cover I used had a nice curve at the top and so I could still look into Violet’s eyes.
As I got more used to feeding her and more used to baring my breasts in public, I decided to try without the cover. She never really liked being behind the cover and I often felt like we were playing tug-o-war with the it. I felt like I was showing more using the cover because she would always pull it away and there would be my breast. Whereas, if I just pulled my shirt aside a little, her head alone would hide most of my breast.
The key to nursing in public with confidence for me is starting out by reminding myself that I am not doing anything wrong. Second, I try not to make eye contact with anyone other than my baby. That way if people are looking at me I don’t have to see their smirks or appalled looking eyes. When I feed my daughter the only thing that matters at that moment is her. And if I do happen to let curiosity get to me and take a peek up at the room around me, I make it quick. If I find disapproving eyes, I flash a quick confident smile. If I find smiles of encouragement, I sigh with a contended heart and imagine that maybe that person is recalling their nursing days.
Sometimes nursing in public can be a great source of laughs, if you aren’t the bashful type. Here’s my favorite comical NIP moment.
When my daughter was about 6 months old we were at a park having a picnic under the cherry trees. This called Hanami in Japan. When the blossoms are in full bloom the parks are flooded with people picnicking, singing, sleeping and taking pictures.
My husband and I were enjoying a nice little lunch and Violet decided she wanted some lunch too. So I pulled over the flap to my nursing shirt and let her nurse until she fell asleep. There was a middle aged couple sitting on a blanket across from us and they were smiling at Violet. They wife nodded approvingly at me as I started to nurse. When Violet had drifted off I let her rest on my lap in my arms and continued to eat my lunch. My husband and I were having a nice conversation about the beautiful trees and the fun we were having showing Violet her first cherry blossoms.
Suddenly, in my peripheral vision I noticed the couple across from us no longer looked so cheerful. Their smiles had turned to looks of shock complete with dropped jaws. I looked down at Violet to see if her head was tilted funny and then touched up to my nose (thinking maybe I needed a tissue). Everything seemed fine. The couple quickly began to gather up their things and started to walk away. It was then that a cool breeze began to blow and I felt a chill where I shouldn’t have felt one.
I looked down one more time and that’s when I saw it. My entire right breast was sticking out of my shirt. I don’t know how I didn’t notice it. I really don’t know how my husband didn’t notice it. But there it was for all the park to see. I quickly pulled my shirt up and giggled saying to my husband, oops, I left my boob out again! This was a common occurrence at home. All of you nursing mamas know what it’s like in the beginning when it’s just easier to leave it out than to keep putting them away and pulling them right back out again.
We still laugh about that story. And every year when we go for our cherry blossom viewing picnic and Violet wants a little milk , I always double check that both my girls are back inside my shirt after she finishes.
When you nurse in public something, some time, is bound to get exposed. Just try to look for the humor in it and keep going. At least you will have a funny story to share with your spouse and your child one day.
Happy breastfeeding and try to remember NIP is your right as a mother and it is your child’s right to eat in any place he or she is permitted to be.