I am a proud breastfeeder. I have breastfed all 3 of my kids. I breastfed Sydney (6) and Myles (4) until they were each 3 years old and I am currently breastfeeding Jude (9 months) and plan to let him self-wean. My kids have never had a drop of formula and I’m proud of that. Not because I think formula is “poison” or evil. But because breastfeeding is hard and it takes work and commitment and even then, it doesn’t always work out for every mom. So yes, I am PRO-breastfeeding.
Before I had kids, I always assumed I would breastfeed. I was breastfed, my mom was breastfed and in my world, that’s just what you did. But I also never saw anyone nurse in public. Whether it was because no one was doing it or because I just wasn’t aware, I’m not sure. But I never saw it. But if I had, I’m not sure how I would have reacted because I had never done it myself.
When I was pregnant, I received a nursing cover at one of my showers. Several nursing friends suggested practicing with the cover before I ventured out in public. So one afternoon, Sydney and I parked ourselves on the floor of her nursery and I whipped out the cover and prepared to feed my child. But she hated it. And so did I. She couldn’t see me and I couldn’t see her and I couldn’t tell what I was doing. She was screaming, I was flustered and we were both sweating … It was a nightmare. So I decided that nursing in public wasn’t for us and resigned myself to pumping and scheduling our lives around feedings.
It worked for a couple of months. I would nurse Sydney before we left the house to go somewhere and then I’d feed her in the car before we left to go home but then something happened. She grew. And she wanted more food. So I started pumping bottles. But here’s the thing about bottles. They usually need to be heated. And they can’t be heated in the microwave. And if you’re lucky enough that your baby will take a cold or room temperature bottle, they can’t be at room temperature for too long. And then if you’re me, your baby will go through 2 bottles while you’re on a play date at the rich people’s mall and then have a meltdown because she is HANGRY.
And that’s how I ended up nursing in public. My daughter was pissed and crying, I didn’t have any more bottles and we weren’t anywhere near the car. I was wearing a heavy sweater and jeans, (so not nursing friendly clothing) because I didn’t expect to have to feed her in front of everyone. But that’s what I did. I sat down on a bench in the middle of the rich people’s mall, pulled my diaper bag close to cover my mid-section (because I’m more concerned about people seeing that than my boobs!), lifted my sweater and fed my baby. And you know what. No one cared.
It always boggles my mind when people are all “holy crap she’s nursing in public!” Because it is normal and it is natural and babies have to be fed. You know what else boggles my mind. Women who are all “Nursing is normal and I’m going to prove it by gathering up 200 women to whip out their boobs and show you!” Guess what. That’s not normal. 200 women going out of their way to bare their breasts to prove a point is NOT normal. You know what is normal. Nursing at a restaurant. Or in a mall. Or at the library or the park or anywhere else that you might be in your day-to-day life.
I know Kellie Rasberry. Not the way most of you know her. I know her personally. We’re good friends and our kids are friends and we socialize together and I have been to her house countless times. And you know what I’ve done there. Nursed my babies. All of them. At some point in time, every single one of my kids has been breastfed at Kellie Rasberry’s house. And she’s never said a word.
I didn’t use a cover, go into another room, or give Kellie advance warning. I also didn’t take off my shirt or demand that she watch. I just fed my babies when they were hungry and shockingly (sarcasm), Kellie didn’t care. And neither did anyone else who was around. Because THAT is normal nursing. See what I did there?
This week, the Kidd Kraddick In the Morning show talked about Karlesha Thurman. If you haven’t seen the Internet this week, she’s the mom that breastfed her 3 month old at her college graduation. And of course the show talked about it.
Click the picture to hear the audio.
And then the Nursing In Public Crazies came out. Yep, I said it. Crazies. All of a sudden, the NIP Crazies (many who have never listened to KKITM a day in their life) are talking about the show being “insulting” and “degrading” and calling for a “public apology”. One woman even claimed that Kellie’s attitude toward breastfeeding contributed to her lack of success in breastfeeding her own child. SERIOUSLY?? It’s Kellie’s fault because you were unable to breastfeed your daughter? side-eye
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not supporting the show’s views on breastfeeding. I think all mamas should be able to feed their babies wherever, whenever and however they need. But I also think people need to cut the show some slack. You have 4 people who have little to no experience or knowledge of breastfeeding and you think the answer is to plant 200 breastfeeding women in their faces? Exactly how is that helpful?
I talked to Kellie today and she said that a listener was kind enough to email her and explain that pumping isn’t always as easy as “just pumping a bottle”. Pumping is time consuming, often painful and not all breastfeeding bodies respond to the pump. Kellie admitted she was wrong about pumping and apologized because she didn’t know. And why would she? Kellie didn’t breastfeed, she wasn’t breastfed and outside of me, she doesn’t really know anyone who breastfed for an extended amount of time. So why is she expected to know the ins and outs of nursing? To her breastfeeding isn’t “normal”. Just like formula feeding isn’t “normal” to me.
I didn’t hear the segment live but I “heard” plenty about how offensive it was. And then I listened to it. I didn’t find any of it to be offensive. Well, except for the part where Al talked about covering up with a tassel … but only because the joke failed miserably. Now the pun about “Lactate and Touche”? THAT was funny!
A nurse-in is now planned for this week and the Nursing In Public Crazies are headed down to the studio to prove their point. And you know what. Fine. I totally support your commitment to breastfeeding and your right to gather and protest. And y’all are certainly entitled to your opinions about the show and to be offended. But I ask you. What exactly do you hope to accomplish? No one on the show is anti-breastfeeding and they’re not opposed to breastfeeding in public. They all admitted that it makes them a little uncomfortable. So you’re going to sit outside and breastfeed to make them more comfortable?
If you truly want to normalize nursing, how about just nursing in public whenever you need to instead of making a spectacle of yourself? How about having an open dialogue to educate people instead of calling names and making threats. And lastly, how about lightening up? It’s a morning radio show, not CNN! I’ve been listening to this show for over 20 years and I worked there for 6. Trust me, when I say that WAY more offensive things have been said!
In closing, I’ll leave you with these words from the great big Al Mack, “Always Be Breastfeeding!” … In public! 😉