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22 Tips For Breastfeeding In Public With Confidence

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Self-conscious much?

A recent Centers for Disease Control public opinion study found “only 43 percent of U.S. adults believed that women should have the right to breastfeed in public places.” Theoretically, every time I go out with my baby, I can count every two people we pass and justifiably assume the next three people do not approve of my child breastfeeding there.

With this in mind, in my early public nursing days I felt too embarrassed to be seen struggling to breastfeed my little baby, especially with postpartum depression at a high, an anxiety disorder, and being the first among all my friends to become a mother.

I wanted so badly to live in a part of the world that was acclimated to the sight of normal infant feeding.

The sprawling, diverse metropolitan area where I live isn’t even a major hotspot for public breastfeeding oppression. That’s the frightening part. A quick Google search will guide you through countless stories of mothers across the nation being harassed, shamed, bullied, and discriminated against by strangers, coworkers, relatives, acquaintances, anyone with an opinion… because they breastfed their children in public.

With my first baby I started out nursing in my car. At the time, to me it felt pretty ‘public.’ I quickly realized this could only be a temporary solution to calm my nerves. Not only was it terribly inconvenient to retreat to my car for privacy multiple times per excursion, but it was also completely unnecessary. (And far from foolproof! Do you know where we were the first time I was harassed for nursing? Sitting in the front seat of my parked car minding our own business).

Out of the car and into actual buildings I emerged. I only felt at ease enough in low-crowd places and often found the corner of rooms to nurse so I could have privacy. Then I felt like a professional NIPer after working my way up to nursing on-the-go while babywearing.

Things became easier when I expanded my potential nursing spots to, well, anywhere we happened to be. I wore covers at first (I ditched them for good after that car harassment incident, and life got less complicated when I put those annoying things in storage).

It didn’t take long before I wasn’t giving a second thought to when and where I’d nurse my child because it was not an isolated event — it was just part of the flow of life, which doesn’t stop when you become a mother.

Four and a half years later, through babyhood, toddlerhood, another pregnancy, and tandeming, I don’t think a week has gone by that I haven’t nursed in public, and it’s been nearly that long that I’ve done so confidently.

Twenty helpful tips I learned along the way, in no particular order:

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Reasons Why My 4-Year-Old Nurses (His Words & Mine)

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Reasons why my 4-year-old nurses — according to him:

1). “It’s delicious.”

Obviously, breast milk tastes good. I’ve heard some adults who breastfed until school age say they have no memories of actually breastfeeding, but they’ll never forget the sweet taste.

At more than 3 years old, MaiTai weaned briefly in the last trimester of my last pregnancy. I really thought he was done. Then my milk returned in full force after baby Julep’s birth and so did his remembrance of the sweet, sugary goodness.

Of course he wanted to test it out, see if it had changed.

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(Incorrectly) Assumed Reasons Why My 4-Year-Old Nurses

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I think by now we can all agree exclusive breastfeeding is the optimal method of infant feeding. Our society is slowly but surely becoming more accepting (even approving) of breastfeeding (the concept of it, if anything).

But, here’s the thing.

I notice many of us still seem a tad obsessed with HOW LONG  a woman and child should breastfeed.

Okay, so you get it, you get it. Breastfeeding is healthy, it’s both normal and best, and breastfeeding in public is perfectly appropriate.

But do you pause when the breastfeeding involves a child older than you’d expect? Do you question whether it’s still good or still appropriate? Do you already firmly believe it’s not? Have you ever uttered the phrase “I support breastfeeding, but…” and concluded with an opinion about upper age limits?

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Instead of Weaning With Hot Sauce or Nail Varnish on Your Nipples…

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So you want to wean.

You want to wean, and I hope someone in your support circle is listening. Breastfeeding unearths such strong emotions. That’s how it works, after all. And you feel strongly about this. So you’re weaning.

Did you know the verb ‘to wean’ originates from the Hebrew phrase meaning ‘to ripen’?  Presumably, the idea is when a child enters a state of readiness for being entirely weaned, he has ripened, and this itself is a significant milestone.

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22 Beautiful Images of Black Mothers Breastfeeding Their Babies

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Breastfeeding is normal, natural, wholesome, and beautiful. In honor of Black History Month, here are 22 stunning images of breastfeeding mothers and babies of color that prove it.

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Tandem Nursing Video: My 4-Year-Old & 9-Month Old

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Here we are simultaneously tandem nursing my 4-year-old and 9-month-old sons. I rarely nurse them together because it can be overwhelming and aggravating for me — I get touched out so easily.

My husband took a video and I wanted to share it because it is so sweet to watch siblings bond as they nurse together. Holding hands, laughing, stroking each other’s faces and hair…

It is a much different experience than you might believe if you weren’t acquainted with child-led weaning, breastfeeding beyond infancy, or tandem nursing.


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