Breast Feeding at Home and in Public
Breast feeding ...
... is essential for a healthy start. In addition to providing essential fats and nutrients that a newborn cannot get from formula, nursing nurtures the primary bond on which all other relationships are based—the mother-child bond.
This bond is essential to a child's ability to thrive and cannot be underestimated. Unfortunately in our society, a mother who nurses in public is often scorned. When I was nursing, I acknowledged the puritanical roots of our society and did my best to anticipate my child's needs and feed him before I left the house. However, there were times I had to breastfeed in public. When I did, I learned quickly that people generally reacted in three ways: some people flashed me a knowing smile, some pretended I wasn't there and others curled their lips in disgust as though had personally offended them.
People react to nursing in different ways, depending on their upbringing and their tendency to confuse intimacy with sexuality. I remember a friend who had her first baby two weeks after I had mine and refused to nurse because she insisted it was "gross." Although she didn't realize it, she had revealed her fear of intimacy and her hang-ups about sex. It's tragic that some people (even mothers) confuse nursing with sexuality. Breastfeeding is about responding to a child's dependency needs—the need for a satisfied tummy and the need for physical and emotional closeness in a loud, over-stimulating and often frightening world.
Although the rare woman may take advantage of newly swollen breasts and flaunt them in way that makes even the most accepting among us feel uncomfortable, most nursing mothers are discreet.
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Breast Feeding in Public - Important Tips
- Take some deep breaths and relax. When you are relaxed, your milk flows readily and your baby is able to relax and feed. (Babies will often mirror their mother's physical/emotional state. A tense mother makes for a tense baby which can cause indigestion.)
- Find a spot to nurse that affords you the most privacy. Do not attempt to nurse in high traffic areas where people are rushing by. Do your best to find a place that allows you to create a mini sanctuary, even if you have to nurse in your car.
- Use a nursing pillow. Find one that is inflatable and can be taken with you anywhere.
- Buy a nursing blanket that is easy to use and allows you to drape yourself and your baby for privacy. A good nursing blanket will give you and your child some privacy and shield your child from harsh lights, sounds and the reactions of others.
- If someone scowls at you, do not respond to them. Doing so will only upset you and your baby. If someone makes a comment, do your best to leave the comment hanging in the air. If you must reply, say something like, "Breast feeding is natural and it is in the best interests of the baby." Say it as though you were simply stating a fact.
- After this person has left the scene, take deep belly breaths to calm your nerves. People can be very opinionated when it comes to breast feeding in public. Remind yourself that you are not going to let an ignorant or insensitive person ruin your day or spoil your child's feeding. Think of all the people in your life who support your choice to nurse and let it go.
- For mothers who suffer from tender nipples, I recommend nipple conditioning cream which prevents damage and infection and is specially formulated to encourage healing of any cracks in the nipple.
- If you tend to be an anxious person, but want to give your baby the best start possible, I highly recommend MindStill Flower Essence which will help you center your mind and body naturally and help you form a deeper connection with your infant.
- If you simply don't feel comfortable nursing in public, pump your milk with the Lansinoh Double Electric Breast Pump, BPA Free (which is our favorite because it saves time and makes sure both breasts get pumped equally) and take bottles of your breast milk with you when you go out in public. Although bottle feeding lacks the intimate connection that breastfeeding affords, your baby is still getting Mother Nature's best. When you return home, make sure your baby's next feeding is at the breast.
- Stand by your baby. By breast feeding, you are providing your infant with the best possible nutrition and emotional closeness you can give. Nursing is good for you too—it helps bond you to your child, encourages weight loss and prevents postpartum depression.
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Laura Ramirez is the author of the award-winning parenting book,Keepers of the Children
The book combines ancient native concepts (like stewardship) with developmental psychology to show parents how to raise children to develop their natural strengths and become more of who they already are. Unlike other parenting books, this book will teach you everything you need to know to create a healthy and loving relationship with your child based on love and mutual respect.
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