Welcome to June’s Breastfeeding Carnival on Nursing In Public. This post coincidentally is doubling as my regular Monday Musing, so make sure you leave a comment so we can get the discussion going! And then check out the other blogs below for more great reads on this subject.
I am going to share with you a fresh perspective on nurse-in’s. You know, those protests nursing moms take part in outside or inside an establishment that has scorned a breastfeeding mom, causing her to go to the media, creating a fury of other angry breastfeeding moms, who to avenge their breastfeeding sister, go, and sit, and nurse their babies and toddlers, sometimes with protest signs in hand? Yeah, those.
The well known breastfeeding blogger, The Lactivist wrote a terrific article called Nurse-Ins are NOT the First Line of Defense (Or Why Men Run The World) and I hope you’ll go and read it. I love her thoughtful level-headedness about how to approach planning a nurse-in. It’s true that we don’t need to be seen as a group of “shrill, ranting women that gather a few minutes of publicity but ultimately get written off as ‘those crazy hormonal moms that want to cause a ruckus.’” So how can we ensure that we get taken seriously, make the press and change policy? Reading her article will help you get started.
But here is my own two cents and here is my fresh perspective. Think of the good you do, the inspiration you are, and the information you spread, in just nursing your baby or toddler in public. Whether you use a cover or not, and whether you get negative feedback, positive feedback or none at all, nursing in public makes a statement and young girls seeing you take away the message that it is okay to breastfeed. Even if they don’t think that at the time. Even if they say “Ew, gross” to their friends, their subconscience has received a message. Now think of how much extra good you could do nursing in public with a friend, or two, or three!
I am a fan of the nurse-in that isn’t a response to a public breastfeeding incident, but is instead a physical social commentary on celebrating breastfeeding. What would happen if a group of breastfeeding moms gathered in one place and began breastfeeding their children all at the same time? Without protest signs?
I have been a part of one of these demonstrations, albeit a highly organized international “nurse-in” of sorts. The Quintessence Foundation sponsors an annual Global Breastfeeding Challenge. The purpose is to highlight the benefits and value of breastfeeding, while having fun, as well as to promote friendly competition and inclusion between participating sites and countries. And while this project is a great way to support breastfeeding moms and their families, I tend to think the education that goes along with it preaches to the choir and fails to reach the masses outside.
One of the years that I participated we held the challenge in our town square. The breastfeeding exposure we received from the media was much more than the other years I participated and while I didn’t personally talk to any of the citizens who just happened to be walking by while the event was taking place, I believe that that year made a particular difference in normalizing and celebrating breastfeeding, at least in our town, than any other year when it was held at the local public health center or in a room at the Community Center, away from the public eye.
Breastfeeding in the public eye can only do society good. Last year my core group of girlfriends were all breastfeeding and we used to meet every Wednesday evening at the local coffee shop to eat desserts and catch up with each other. Of course at some point we all had to nurse our wee ones and often we’d do so in tandem. I know people noticed. High school kids and hipster college kids love this coffee shop. Likely a few of them twittered evil messages about us or assumed we all had obscene pictures posted on Facebook, but regardless of these possible reactions, I know subliminal messages were received.
So I leave you with this challenge. Or call it a dare if you will.
Gather up some breastfeeding friends (the more the better) and your nursing babies or toddlers and go to a busy public place. Maybe a mall, maybe a city square, maybe a park, a subway station or even a coffee shop. When everyone is ready start breastfeeding your children. Observe the responses of passersby. Feel the strength in numbers. What happens when you stage a nurse-in with celebration instead of picket signs? If you do this let me know what happens.
Then do it again.
Now do yourself a favour and check out these other posts on the Nursing in Public theme (to be updated throughout the day).
(Boobs) Out and Proud at Lucy and Ethel Have a Baby
Would you, Could You, Nurse in Public? at PhD in Parenting
Breastfeeding in Public Talents I Haz It at Dirty Diaper Laundry
Here? At The Restaurant? at Kim Through The Looking Glass
Nursing in a Room Full of People You Know at Grudgemom
Aww, Is He Sleeping? at Mum Unplugged
Nursing in Public, Chinatown, The Subway, The Vatican and More at Massachusetts Friends of Midwives
Breastfeeding in Public at Mother Mary’s Soapbox
Nursing in Public as an Immigrant at Tiny Grass
Breastfeeding in Public at Mommy News
Planes, Trains and Automobiles – We’ve Breastfed in Them All at Tales of Life with a Girl on the Go
We NIP in Park at BabyREADY
Products That Can Help You Breastfeed in Public at Mama Knows Breast
Get Kicked Off a Bus for Nursing in Public? Here’s How to Respond at Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog
Nursing in Public or NIP as It’s Known at Doudou Bebe
Thank You for Nursing in Public at Blacktating
Why Worry about NIP? at Chronicles of a Nursing Mother
Little Old Men…& Nursing in Public at Stork Stories
Nursing in Public: To Cover or Not to Cover at Breastfeeding 1-2-3
Breastfeeding Hats? YES! Nursing Covers? Uh… Not So Much at Never A Dull Moment…
Nursing in Public – What’s a Breastfeeding Mother to do? at Breastfeeding Mums
Easy Discreet Way to Breastfeed a Toddler at Hobo Mama