There are things we learn as we grow wiser as mothers. My first lesson was on what not to wear breastfeeding in public the first time. I chose an old pair of baggy denim overalls (think Dexy’s Midnight Runners). Negotiating straps, denim bibs, tank top underneath … it was stress provoking to say the least.
Most new mothers get anxious the first few times they have to nurse their baby in public. We all second guess ourselves, can I do this, am I in a place I feel safe, who might be looking at me, who might bother me, will any one care, am I wearing something conducive to easy breastfeeding, do I feel protected, comfortable … normal?
I am certain I didn’t give an ounce of thought to what I was wearing that day when I stepped out. And there I was, donned in overalls, sitting smack in the middle of a busy diner.
Planning in advance can make all the difference in your confidence and comfort level!
Back to the diner, my girlfriend and I had ordered our food and as we waited my sweet baby girl started to stir. I remember breaking into a cold sweat and looking around the restaurant for safe haven, hoping somewhere a Wise Crone would appear to usher me to some sacred, private nursing mother’s Red Tent. No such luck.
So, nervously I put my baby to my breast, latched her on and look around thinking surely half the diner guests must be staring at me disapprovingly.
To my wonderful surprise no one is paying me any attention, not even my girlfriend. Sure, she noticed it was time for my baby to eat, but that’s what we were all there for … lunch! Conversations kept going, the din of a busy diner continued, life was moving on as normal.
I felt triumphant, baby girl relaxing, nourished in my arms. Adrenaline lowering. Oxygen and prolactin flowing. Sweat diminishing … breathe, breathe, breathe. Yes!
My advice to all expectant and new mothers is know you may have a moment (or several) of fear and anxiety. It is normal to feel this way. Not everyone does, but for those who do, you are not alone!
Try sitting down in front of a full length mirror at home and practicing latch on. Look to see how your arm crosses & protects your chest from view. Try different positions to see if one brings you a greater sense of confidence.
Investing in a nursing wardrobe can cost a fortune. If you can, buy a few choice, key pieces like a tank top or two at least, that you can wear under other layers. Layers are great. Wearing (or carrying in your diaper bag) a button down shirt as a second layer will help protect any side/back skin that may be revealed when you raise a shirt to nurse.
Make your first few ventures out to places where you know you’ll be welcomed nursing in public. I recommend a first outing be to a local breastfeeding support group like La Leche League. Meeting other new breastfeeding mother’s brings wonderful solidarity and comfort to any new moms still getting her sea legs.
Know your routes – because if you get caught while travelling from point A to point B and baby needs to feed, know where breastfeeding moms are welcomed without question; a local coffee shop, children’s store, library, book store, baby store, yoga studio, etc.
Finally, with a lot of chatter in the media about breastfeeding activism, nursing in public and women being asked to stop feeding their baby (lest it offend, ugh!), a recent piece in Mother Magazine online by the wonderful Jake Aryeh Marcus (Sustainable Mothering) helps clear up the law … . Lactation and the Law.
So, how was your first time? I’d love to hear about it!
Breastfeeding Blessings to all ~