I have been nursing my children at work for the past four years, from the time they wake up until it’s time for dinner. My first daughter was nursed at my work from the time she was 12 months to 3 years, and my second daughter has been nursed at my work since she was 2 months old. Okay, okay, I work at home, and I don’t have to worry about any co-workers, but I do have clients who are here from 8:00 to 5:00 five days a week. Yes, they range in age from 12 months to 6 years, but I like to think that exposure to breastfeeding at an early age is having a healthy impact on their upbringing.
I have a “Breastfeeding Friendly. Anytime. Anywhere.” sticker at my front door to show my daycare parents that I am pro-breastfeeding. I also have it in my policies that if they want to come by during the day to breastfeed their child they are welcome to do so. I will also happily give their child their expressed breast milk, although no one has requested this yet. I want them to not only feel comfortable nursing their child in my home but also to realize that I nurse my child. In case they don’t see me nurse, I make a point to mention that I am still nursing. Usually it comes up when I talk to them about nap times, since I still nurse my toddler to sleep. I want them to know that their child gets put down first, in fact I usually make other people’s children’s naps a priority over my own because I know I can nurse my daughter to sleep in a chair if I need to and then snuggle her on my lap for an hour or so while the other kids play. Usually it works out that everyone naps around the same time and I can leave my daughter in her bed after she’s fallen asleep.
What I like most about being able to nurse at my job other than the obvious being able to nurse on demand regardless of the fact I am doing paid work, is normalizing breastfeeding around children who otherwise might not be exposed to it, and some adults too!
It is rare for a child to ask about it though. I think I have only been asked one question about breastfeeding, and it was by a child who had already been coming to my house several times a week for a year or so. It was almost as though he just suddenly noticed that something strange was going on, even though he’d been around it dozens of times before.
“What are you doing?” he asked one day.
“Oh,” he said, and went back to playing.
When you see something all the time, it’s normal. When the person doing the breastfeeding acts and talks about it as though it is normal, it makes it so. Young children are sponges for learning, and at my house they learn that it is normal for a baby or toddler to breastfeed.
Sometimes though, I think it’s hard on some children who might have just weaned or who just wish their mommy was there to nurse them. I remember a few years back how I would scoop up my one year old daughter to breastfeed her and this one little boy would look up at us with such longing I wouldn’t have been surprised if he made a play for my boob. He never did though. Sometimes if they are looking especially sad I will pick them up and snuggle them next to me. It usually helps.
I tend to attract like-minded parents. Sometimes when they come to pick up their little one at the end of the day we sit down together to chat and nurse. As soon as one child sees the other nursing and both moms are present, game over! And if a parent isn’t nursing or didn’t nurse, they have always been respectful of my choice to do so and have never questioned it happening around their kids.
Sometimes being constantly lept on and listening to a toddler’s demand to nurse when I am actually trying to do my job can drive me a bit batty. When my daughter sees me reading a book it’s her signal to breastfeed. Actually, anytime I sit down she thinks that means she can breastfeed, so there have been a few instances of very interesting circle times. (“When you’re happy and you know it [unlatch and] shout hooray!”) It is harder to draw nursing boundaries for a child who has always had her mommy available and continues to do so. Nothing is ever perfect, but it certainly makes my life easier in many ways to have a job that affords me the luxury to breastfeed my child. Anytime Anywhere.
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