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Disclaimer: The information in this post is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.

Anti-Public Breastfeeding: Becoming Comfortable Nursing in a Culture that Isn’t

Anti-Public Breastfeeding: Becoming Comfortable in a Culture that Isn't Anti-public breastfeeding has been a hot button issue for years now. To be honest, sometimes I forget that public nursing is even a big deal to some people because nursing has been such a constant part of my life for nearly a decade and it just feels normal. However, just about the time I start to dismiss the idea that some people are actually still offended by women who nurse their children in public another story flashes across the news and women start flocking to nurse-ins across the country again.

While I do believe that the breastfeeding climate is becoming more favorable overall, the fact of the matter is that stigmas do still exist and there are many people who just aren’t educated about breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is still in the throws of trying to “make a comeback” in our culture which nearly eradicated it for a large portion of the last century. People aren’t comfortable with things they aren’t familiar with or they don’t understand, and many people in our culture just haven’t had enough exposure to breastfeeding to get past those social roadblocks.

If I’m being really honest, before I had kids I was just as ignorant as the rest. I didn’t look down on nursing mothers or become bothered by them. But being raised in a family who hadn’t nursed their children for at least three generations left me with no basis for feeling any of the importance of breastfeeding and no understanding for why it would need to be done in public. I had zero education on which to hang any sort of opinions.

How I Became Confident Nursing Publicly

So, how did I go from being a naive woman with no breastfeeding opinions to an ardent breastfeeding advocate comfortable nursing anywhere, whenever I pleased? Well, as I look back I can identify some benchmarks that got me there and I share them with you in hopes that you will come to the place of being as comfortable as I am publicly nursing in a sometimes not so nursing-friendly world.

  1. I got educated! When my first son was only 4 weeks old I joined a lactation support group led by an amazing International Board Certified Lactation Consultant who lit a fire under me for breastfeeding. She gave us articles to read, showed us studies and straight up taught us why breastfeeding was best and why we should be passionate about it. She supported us in overcoming challenges and turned us into confident nursing mothers.
  2. I surrounded myself with support. That same group gave me not only the support of a wonderful IBCLC but also helped me make friends with other nursing mamas who were just as passionate about feeding our babies naturally as I was. I dare say most of our initial public outings in which we first started nursing confidently were together. There is strength in numbers!
  3. I became proud of what I was doing. The above listed experiences had grown me to a place of being abundantly proud of what I was doing for my baby. When you are proud of what you are doing and believe it’s the best choice you naturally want to share it with others. Which leads me to the last benchmark…
  4. I wanted to be part of the change in the public breastfeeding climate. Now that I was educated and confident in my ability and my choice to breastfeed, I wanted to be a part of the movement to educate those who just don’t know! I knew my public breastfeeding presence was slowly helping to make public breastfeeding more normal and accepted.  It wasn’t about trying to get a rise out of people or make a big statement. By being discreet and normal, I would simply breastfeed my baby – because the more of us who act normal nursing in public the more normal it’ll become.

In addition, rather than fearing being confronted or looked upon sideways for breastfeeding in public, I welcomed the opportunities to tell people why I was and, if need be, that it was my right to do so. My motives were simple – I breastfed because it was the healthiest choice for my baby and I did so in public because it was just part of life moving forward (no different than handing my toddler a sippy cup when we were out). So, if my being normal should cause someone to… shall we say, enter into a “conversation” about the topic, great! I’d love to share a little bit of my evidence-based breastfeeding knowledge to help further educate!

You Can Do the Same!

If you’re feeling leery about breastfeeding in public, then work through some of the same steps I did. Be sure you give yourself time to become confident in what you know and even how you nurse. It is a very different thing to try to nurse a still-learning newborn in a public place than a 6 month old! Surround yourself with supportive friends and keep your eyes on what really matters – your baby!

Whether you want to become a lactavist or you want to nurse your baby where you want to because it is part of life, be confident. Hold your head high and take care of your baby!

Do you feel the anti-public breastfeeding climate shifting?

MacKenzie is a suburban gal living a country life and likes to think of herself as being a crunchy mama in disguise! As a mama to 3 (so far), writer, homeschooler, homemaker, crafter and doula, she always has a project and thrives on filling her days with her passions. She blogs about her natural-minded, counter-cultural life, and tries to encourage mamas to live both graciously and boldly, at
Bold Turquoise.


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