Before I became a mom, I didn’t really think about breastfeeding. It was just one of those things that went with motherhood. I didn’t know there was so much controversy around it. Really, it’s surprising how much controversy and opinions surround breastfeeding. (This post is not about any of those things. This is about the scary, somewhat intimidating, uncomfortable, and nerve-wracking experience that breastfeeding in public was for this conservative, modest woman.)
I am a girl who does her research. Preparing and planning are kind of my thing. So, when it came to breastfeeding, I had read a million books and talked to anyone who would give me information, including taking several breastfeeding classes. I even had a couple of beloved nurse friends who were lactation consultants ready to help me through any obstacles.
Thankfully, breastfeeding came pretty easily for me. Believe me, I’ve heard a lot of stories and I am thankful for the experiences I have had with my children so far. So, I felt like I had it down at home. I had my special place I liked to sit, surrounded by pillows and things to prop up my arms, and the perfect rocking chair. I had a routine and all the accessories, including my favorite shows, blogs, magazines, and books I enjoyed while my son ate.
But then we ventured out and I will never forget that first time I had to breastfeed in public.
We were at a sporting event. Sitting in a stadium. Surrounded by several hundred people. And of course, in my anxious mind, I was envisioning seeing myself up on a screen for the whole world to witness my panic.
My son started giving the hunger signs and I looked at my husband, waiting for him to get up so we could leave! The game had barely started but I was ready to go, or at least go sit in the car. But as my son’s cries got louder and more urgent, I realized that it would take us at least 20 minutes to get back to the car. I couldn’t handle hearing him cry for that long. Those new mom emotions are so strong. Practically every time he cried, I felt like crying; I would feel physical pain when I heard him cry.
It was in that moment that I had one of my first Mama Bear experiences. I knew that my son needed to eat and nursing him was the only way he would get food. It became about taking care of him instead of being about me. I was in awe that my body could provide nourishment for him. I also knew that I would have to be calm in order to provide enough milk to satisfy his hunger. So, with miracles and the power of Mama love, I set aside my fears and breastfed my son in public, in a stadium full of people, in a tiny chair with no pillows, and no comfortable rocking chair.
By the time he was done eating, I was so proud of myself I was practically giddy. I made my husband take a picture of us sitting there! I felt like I should put a plaque up on that seat to commemorate the event!
For awhile after that first feeding, I would take pictures in all the unusual places that I breastfed my son. But soon there were so many it wasn’t that big of a deal to me anymore. Somehow, I got comfortable with it and I am so glad I did.
If you’re new to breastfeeding or not quite comfortable in public yet, I’d like to encourage you. Although it might seem scary and uncomfortable, remember your purpose in breastfeeding: to nourish your child. Let those Mama instincts take over in the moment, stare at that sweet child’s face, and concentrate on taking care of them. We all know we will move mountains for our children. For me, one of my mountains was breastfeeding in public, and I’m so glad I conquered that fear.