The rights of breastfeeding in public stir up feelings inside people, ugly emotions. So, back in 2014, there was a story circulating about a Starbucks employee and a Breastfeeding mother. The crazy story starts with a woman of all things. A woman, enjoying a cup of coffee, feels compelled to complain about the audacity of a new mother (who happens to be a midwife) breastfeeding her baby in the Starbucks store without a nursing cover.
Why I am here and who I am:
Hey mama, I am Trish— AKA Labor Nurse Mama. I am a labor and delivery nurse with over 15 years of high-risk OB experience. I am also a mama to 7 kids and have given birth to 6. This means I am quite familiar with the postpartum period and how to navigate it. I am the online birth class educator for Calm Labor Confident Birth and The VBAC Lab birth classes and the mama expert inside our Calm Mama Society, a pregnancy & postpartum membership community! I am passionate about your birth and motherhood journey! You can find me over on IG teaching over 230k mamas daily. I am passionate about your birth and motherhood journey!
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Watch out it is a cliffhanger….. You will have to read to find out the result of this story. Why? Because whether you are breastfeeding or not, I want you to leave this article empowered to defend the fundamental right of a human baby to receive nutrition from the source at any time and in any place. Breastfeeding is a choice made by each woman individually, as is her desire to breastfeed publicly or under a nursing cover (we are partial to this boho one).
I want you to think about a time you saw an animal in the wild, on a farm, or in a zoo. Do you remember the collective sigh the crowd makes when they see a mother with its child? A baby zebra drinking milk from its momma? A tiny little gorilla nestled in her giant mother's arms, hanging off her breast.
Tell me what you feel about seeing a mammal feeding it's young? Let me guess what you didn't feel. Repulsion Annoyance Confusion Anger Insulted Self-Righteousness Ah, breastfeeding in public brings out the monster lurking inside some people.
First off, I am way too self-conscious and picky about the ways my boobs looked and kept them mostly covered in public. This is a whole different personal beast for a later post. I always felt more comfortable using a nursing cover (which evolved to a more stylish look) However, I am all for those women who feel comfortable enough to whip a boob out and give it to a hungry baby. It's a fundamental human right to EAT! Breastmilk was made for our babies. It comes out of…wait for it….a breast.
If a mom feels comfortable to breastfeed openly, then let's support her. If you feel uncomfortable looking, then look away. Let face the facts; a new mom is already under a heavy load of pressure in public. You know that feeling of sweaty nervousness when your baby is screaming bloody murder, and everyone is politely assuring you that it's not bothering them. While you know dang well that it is bothering them. They cut those looks amongst one another that says; I wish that lady would shut that screaming newborn up. And chances are they are the same people who also give a dirty look when you shove a nipple in said screaming baby's mouth? (Well, you shut the baby up, right?)
You can be ready with a comeback. Now, these comebacks might be harsh for a Jesus believer like myself but…I think sometimes it is needed. Sorry. But not sorry. ~ When asked to cover up. How about saying, ” Oh, thank you, I'm not cold but thank you for your concern.” ~ After someone suggests you nurse in the bathroom, ask them if they want to bring their food and sit in the stall next to you.
~ Once asked to go somewhere private proudly exclaim you are people watching and ask if they want to join you. ~ If someone says, that's gross, say I know, they used to be nice and perky but sustaining the life of humans takes its toll. ~ When told that it's ridiculous to nurse without a cover (or with a cover in public), say, ” hmm, I wonder why they made it legal in all states?”. For more comebacks, check out a post with ten comebacks on scary mommy!
Photo by Seb [ P34K ] Hamel
Like mentioned before, just having an angry newborn can make you break into a sweat and the fight or flight instinct kicks in. You need to be prepared. When your little one is making a royal fuss, and you want to punt kick the diaper bag, don't. Stop! Take a deep breath, and know that most mothers around you aren't stressed about it, pity the people who are, and hone in on what your child needs. Listen to your instincts. Your baby is in tune with your state of mind. The calmer you remain, the more peaceful he remains. (This is true for children of all ages) If you feel your baby is hungry, feed her. It's ok. Whether you cover or not, is your legal right. The more you practice breastfeeding in public, the more adept you will become at doing it like a novice. After breastfeeding six children, I could pull it out and finish a feed sesh before anyone was the wiser — my first son, not so much. But by the time I had Greyson, my late in life joy, I was an expert. Breastfeeding Tips for The First Time Mom
Oh, new momma, this is the key to success. The same holds true for natural birth and choosing to vaccinate or not.
There will be naysayers surrounding you and ready to give you unsolicited advice. If they are making you less peaceful, kindly tell them, “Thank you, but no thank you.” In the first 6-8 weeks, purpose to spend quantity time with those who support the stand you are taking. Find a few friends and family members who have breastfed their babies (especially women who breastfed at least a year) and ask for their support. During the first few weeks and months of your child's life have a group text or WhatsApp group going for questions and advice. Don't wing it.
If you are a regular reader to my blog, then you know that my thing is education. Being educated is key to making informed decisions and not succumbing to pressure. I highly suggest reading books and more importantly taking a class like the one offered by Milkology. The breastfeeding class by Milkology is online. You can also check out the courses offered by your local birthing center. Either way, get yourself some much-needed education. Do not enter this challenging season without schooling. I'm telling ya, DON'T!
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Ok, I know you started reading this only to find out what happened at Starbucks. Hence, my story continues. An angry woman approached the young male barista and asked him to do something about the woman who was breastfeeding in public, gasp, without a cover. He informed the disgruntled customer that she would take care of it. (I'm sure she walked away smug!) He then took the breastfeeding mom a coffee, and told her it was for having to deal with the unpleasant woman! Way to go young man. (I imagine there is a lineage of breastfeeding boss babes in his life.) Come on, please, let's all do our part in standing up for the right of a mom to feed her child however she chooses, whenever you feel the needs to do so, and wherever she damn well wants to!