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Momto6inIN

Breastfeeding in public question

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Today I was on a college visit with D'S and since the baby is still nursing, of course I took her along. Towards then end of the afternoon she was getting out of sorts, so I told DS to go on the last tour without me and I stayed behind at the Union to feed her and give her a break from being in her carrier. I found a fairly isolated area with comfy chairs, not empty but off the main drag, and fed her. I was very discreet, as I always am when nursing in public. An employee came by and smilingly told me that there was a room I could go to to breastfeed. I smiled back and told her there was no need, my son would be coming back and I wanted him to be able to find me. At that point, her smile wavered and she said ok in a kind of flustered way and left.

It occurred to me as she walked away that she possibly was telling me in a polite way that they didn't want me to nurse there, not asking me as a favor if I wanted more privacy. 

In any event, I finished feeding her within 5 minutes and it's not a big deal either way, I just wondered how the rest of you would interpret that conversation ...

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I guess I'd try not to overthink it.  I was always discreet, but sometimes had no choice but to breastfeed in public.  Maybe she meant to steer you to a more private area, possibly even for your own comfort, or who knows.  I think you handled it well.

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Same, but no need to move.  She probably meant well.......may have been thinking she would be uncomfortable so trying to help.

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I tend to think that people who are looking out for moms’ comfort use phrases like “If you are interested” or “If you would like”.  People who just mention that there’s a place for that *might still have mom’s comfort in mind, but some don’t.

All the moms I’ve ever known have been perfectly happy to nurse wherever they happen to be and aren’t looking to remove themselves from whatever situation they’re in, so I automatically question (in my head, unless they’re rude) why people think moms want to leave.

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She might have just been surprised you didn’t jump at the special nursing accommodations since they were offered.  When such a stink is made over the years for various accommodations it can seem unusual when someone *doesn’t* want to take advantage of them.  
 

Just a guess 🙂

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When I was nursing, I had that mentioned once or twice.  I just said "ok, thanks."  I never felt the need to explain.

 

Having said that, as the parent of someone who had both a nursing baby and a college student , the thing I found that flustered more people than nursing in public was the age difference between kids.  She may have been caught off guard by "my son is on his way back." She have thought that you were the spouse of a student, or a student yourself, or maybe a student's older sister or even perhaps a new faculty member.

 

Having a newborn and an 18 yr old really weirds people out.  

Edited by happysmileylady
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Remember that everyone is different.  Some nursing mothers would be thrilled to know there was a nursing room and others like me wouldn't be interested in one.  She may not have ever had anyone respond the way you did before.  She may have had someone respond the way you did, but doesn't approve of that response.  She may be the kind of personality type that may genuinely struggle with wrapping her brain around the idea that someone would respond to that offer differently than she would in their situation.  It could be any of those or other reasons for her response.

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I breastfed my baby wherever I happened to be when my baby was hungry, as many people in Australia do.  In all the years I breastfed I only ever had 2 comments. One   non Australian person asked me if I would be more comfortable feeding my baby in the toilet, whom I replied no to. And my sister in law when I was in Canada, who told me I was a pig. 

I get the impression from this forum that people in USA tend to not be as accepting of breastfeeding in public. 

 

Many years ago there was a really cool add on TV of a businessman sitting on a toilet eating his sandwich. The add said "would you be comfortable eating here? " Then switched to a mother feeding her baby at a park bench. 

Edited by Melissa in Australia
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Who knows what she was thinking. But I would have responded the same way. In my combined 9 years of breastfeeding, I have NIP in all sorts of places and I don't think anyone has ever said anything to me. Even in very public places, or squashed between strangers on a plane, etc. I think it helps to have a nice polite "I know what I am doing so don't bother me" smile or a resting b!tch face. Either one works well.

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I think I'm up to over a dozen years of nursing now, and the closest I came to a negative comment was in a fast food restaurant. A man walked in, headed right for me where I was sitting nursing my son, and said very abruptly, "Do you know where we are?!"

I got all flustered and was about to say something not polite about how I didn't care where we were, I was going to feed my son when I realized he was just lost, and had stopped at the restaurant to try and figure out where he was and how to get back to the highway🤣

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1 hour ago, Melissa in Australia said:

I breastfed my baby wherever I happened to be when my baby was hungry, as many people in Australia do.  In all the years I breastfed I only ever had 2 comments. One   non Australian person asked me if I would be more comfortable feeding my baby in the toilet, whom I replied no to. And my sister in law when I was in Canada, who told me I was a pig. 

I get the impression from this forum that people in USA tend to not be as accepting of breastfeeding in public. 

 

Many years ago there was a really cool add on TV of a businessman sitting on a toilet eatibg his sandwich. The add said "would you be comfortable eating here? " Then switched to a mother feeding her baby at a park bench. 

Holy crap! She told you you were a pig!   

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25 minutes ago, Ktgrok said:

I think I'm up to over a dozen years of nursing now, and the closest I came to a negative comment was in a fast food restaurant. A man walked in, headed right for me where I was sitting nursing my son, and said very abruptly, "Do you know where we are?!"

I got all flustered and was about to say something not polite about how I didn't care where we were, I was going to feed my son when I realized he was just lost, and had stopped at the restaurant to try and figure out where he was and how to get back to the highway🤣

This made me laugh so hard.  He probably did not even realize you were feeding babe. 

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1 hour ago, Melissa in Australia said:

Yes. she is a charming SIL. I am so glad she is on the other side of the world.


Your SIL and my MIL could be friends 🤣

As for OP’s question, I think it depends on what the staff are used to maybe. At a public university that has plenty of non students using the facilities including homeless people sleeping on campus, the staff aren’t going to care about anyone breastfeeding even if the person isn’t discreet. At another university, staff ask if we were lost just because they don’t have people using their facilities often and so they default to thinking we might be there for an event and are lost. 

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11 hours ago, Momto6inIN said:

Today I was on a college visit with D'S and since the baby is still nursing, of course I took her along. Towards then end of the afternoon she was getting out of sorts, so I told DS to go on the last tour without me and I stayed behind at the Union to feed her and give her a break from being in her carrier. I found a fairly isolated area with comfy chairs, not empty but off the main drag, and fed her. I was very discreet, as I always am when nursing in public. An employee came by and smilingly told me that there was a room I could go to to breastfeed. I smiled back and told her there was no need, my son would be coming back and I wanted him to be able to find me. At that point, her smile wavered and she said ok in a kind of flustered way and left.

It occurred to me as she walked away that she possibly was telling me in a polite way that they didn't want me to nurse there, not asking me as a favor if I wanted more privacy. 

In any event, I finished feeding her within 5 minutes and it's not a big deal either way, I just wondered how the rest of you would interpret that conversation ...

Something similar happened to me when I had a nursling and yes, I would interpret it the same way. (Also, my incident was around thirteen years ago, so - less progressive than now.) I was at a Disney theme park and, while I am aware that they have a wonderful “mother’s room” with gliders, cribs, dim lights, etc., it was on the other side of a giant park from where I was. So, that was a no-go. And it was a thousand degrees outside, so I nursed the baby in the air conditioned food court. But I was told twice by employees - smilingly, politely - there’s a mothers room for nursing babies; I didn’t “have” to nurse him there. I smilingly, politely told them that, while the mothers room is indeed lovely, my baby needs feeding now, not after I walk twenty minutes in the scorching heat to the other side of the park. 🙄

I seriously struggle to understand why anyone is bothered by discreet NIP. 

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11 hours ago, happysmileylady said:

When I was nursing, I had that mentioned once or twice.  I just said "ok, thanks."  I never felt the need to explain.

 

Having said that, as the parent of someone who had both a nursing baby and a college student , the thing I found that flustered more people than nursing in public was the age difference between kids.  She may have been caught off guard by "my son is on his way back." She have thought that you were the spouse of a student, or a student yourself, or maybe a student's older sister or even perhaps a new faculty member.

 

Having a newborn and an 18 yr old really weirds people out.  

LOL, yeah, we definitely got our share of strange looks and comments about the age difference. All the comments were nice, though - and one was even wistful and said she wished she'd had more. They were all even more surprised when I told them that this DS isn't even my oldest 🤣

And aaaaaaalllll the teen girls were in a swoon over how cute she is. DS could have had quite the chick magnet had he chosen to use her that way! 

10 hours ago, Melissa in Australia said:

And my sister in law when I was in Canada, who told me I was a pig. 

This seriously shocked me. I mean, even if I thought someone was a pig, surely the rules of civility would require me to keep my opinion to myself???? Your SIL must be quite the piece of work.

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38 minutes ago, Quill said:

Something similar happened to me when I had a nursling and yes, I would interpret it the same way. (Also, my incident was around thirteen years ago, so - less progressive than now.) I was at a Disney theme park and, while I am aware that they have a wonderful “mother’s room” with gliders, cribs, dim lights, etc., it was on the other side of a giant park from where I was. So, that was a no-go. And it was a thousand degrees outside, so I nursed the baby in the air conditioned food court. But I was told twice by employees - smilingly, politely - there’s a mothers room for nursing babies; I didn’t “have” to nurse him there. I smilingly, politely told them that, while the mothers room is indeed lovely, my baby needs feeding now, not after I walk twenty minutes in the scorching heat to the other side of the park. 🙄

I seriously struggle to understand why anyone is bothered by discreet NIP. 

I am so practiced at it now after 6 kids that I was kind of surprised anybody even knew what we were doing! One time at the mall I was sitting on a bench feeding and a little old lady and her husband came by to coo over the baby and the lady was even stroking her head saying, "Look, honey, she's asleep!" to her husband. I didn't contradict her 😉

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1 minute ago, Momto6inIN said:

I am so practiced at it now after 6 kids that I was kind of surprised anybody even knew what we were doing! One time at the mall I was sitting on a bench feeding and a little old lady and her husband came by to coo over the baby and the lady was even stroking her head saying, "Look, honey, she's asleep!" to her husband. I didn't contradict her 😉

That’s a sweet story. 

One of my worst eye-daggers was from an elderly lady when I was nursing discreetly in the cafeteria at the fairgrounds. My baby was three-months old, my equipment was totally covered, and I was non-chalantly feeding myself with the non-baby-holding hand. Some older woman noticed I was nursing a baby and scowled at me so hard I thought her eyebrows would never return to the normal position on her face. 🙄 I was thinking, “Whatever, lady. My baby is hungry, too.” 

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The first time I nursed DD10 in public, I was at a McDs.  The place was full of teen boy employees.  And a large number of them were doing their best to make it look like they were NOT looking while also doing to best to try to catch any glimpse of boob that might accidentally happen lol. 

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2 hours ago, Quill said:

I seriously struggle to understand why anyone is bothered by discreet NIP. 

I am bothered by it in mixed company, but I would never say anything to anyone, unless perhaps I was *very* close to them and there was an actual reason to broach the subject. (For example, if a sister or close friend was unknowingly making an elderly grandparent very uncomfortable and he wasn't able to leave the room, or if a teenager was doing his best to ogle her whenever she fed the baby.)

To me, breastfeeding seems like a private thing, because it involves parts of the anatomy that are private. I'm trying to think of a good analogy but failing--basically, to me it's like any other private part of the body being used for something in public while being (sometimes) only loosely covered.

I know it's not progressive, but that's how I feel. 😬

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14 minutes ago, MercyA said:

I am bothered by it in mixed company, but I would never say anything to anyone, unless perhaps I was *very* close to them and there was an actual reason to broach the subject. (For example, if a sister or close friend was unknowingly making an elderly grandparent very uncomfortable and he wasn't able to leave the room, or if a teenager was doing his best to ogle her whenever she fed the baby.)

To me, breastfeeding seems like a private thing, because it involves parts of the anatomy that are private. I'm trying to think of a good analogy but failing--basically, to me it's like any other private part of the body being used for something in public while being (sometimes) only loosely covered.

I know it's not progressive, but that's how I feel. 😬

Well, that’s the means God gave mammals to nourish babies. I mean, I haven’t ever seen a person embarrassed at seeing a calf suckle or a mama cat suckling a litter. I *am* in favor of covering the equipment as well as possible, and I do agree there are some places it would be best to find a discreet location - I never felt comfortable sitting with my BILs and nephews at a family dinner and just nursing right there. I found a bedroom for nursing a baby in those situations. Or like, in the church sanctuary or something, I wouldn’t personally, though I have seen it done by bolder woman and I feel like, meh, not for me, but you do you! 

I think it is a net positive for society for us to normalize bfing babies. 

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I almost never fed one baby alone, so I always got looks if I fed in public. I probably would have taken the room, just because there was little way to be absolutely discreet with two. My most common way to feed in public was actually to open the back of the car. I actually kept a nursing pillow back there. And then I'd leave it open and just sit back there with babies.

I find it much weirder to be really private about it. Once when a friend had a newborn, I went to visit. She left to change and feed the baby. And then I finished whatever it was and unthinkingly tried to go join her upstairs. And when I got up there, she shrieked at me, "Don't come in! I'm breastfeeding!!!" The way she said it, you've have thought she was stark naked and I was a total stranger. Which I was like, holy crap, seriously? Of course I respected her wishes, but it was sort of the opposite of the time I breastfed my duo together on a bench in a shopping mall.

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9 minutes ago, Farrar said:

I almost never fed one baby alone, so I always got looks if I fed in public. I probably would have taken the room, just because there was little way to be absolutely discreet with two. My most common way to feed in public was actually to open the back of the car. I actually kept a nursing pillow back there. And then I'd leave it open and just sit back there with babies.

I find it much weirder to be really private about it. Once when a friend had a newborn, I went to visit. She left to change and feed the baby. And then I finished whatever it was and unthinkingly tried to go join her upstairs. And when I got up there, she shrieked at me, "Don't come in! I'm breastfeeding!!!" The way she said it, you've have thought she was stark naked and I was a total stranger. Which I was like, holy crap, seriously? Of course I respected her wishes, but it was sort of the opposite of the time I breastfed my duo together on a bench in a shopping mall.

Lol! 

A friend of mine with twins said she never really figured out how to nurse twins together, so she said she always nursed one while feeding the other a bottle in a seat. Then she switched which baby got a bottle for the next feeding. 

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2 minutes ago, Quill said:

Lol! 

A friend of mine with twins said she never really figured out how to nurse twins together, so she said she always nursed one while feeding the other a bottle in a seat. Then she switched which baby got a bottle for the next feeding. 

Neither of mine would take a bottle. Like, at all. It was just more efficient and when they were tiny, I couldn't figure out how to keep one happy while the other fed. No matter how you do it, it's just a wild amount of work. My step-sis just had her first, and for the first time in awhile, I had someone saying, omg, I don't know how you did it. I was like, me neither. I sort of forget because of course now it's just no big deal. Meanwhile, my brother was chasing his toddlers around (age 1 and 3) and I was like, it was dramatically easier by that age because they kept each other busy and didn't pummel each other as his kids are wont to do.

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1 hour ago, Farrar said:

<snip>

I find it much weirder to be really private about it. Once when a friend had a newborn, I went to visit. She left to change and feed the baby. And then I finished whatever it was and unthinkingly tried to go join her upstairs. And when I got up there, she shrieked at me, "Don't come in! I'm breastfeeding!!!" The way she said it, you've have thought she was stark naked and I was a total stranger. Which I was like, holy crap, seriously? Of course I respected her wishes, but it was sort of the opposite of the time I breastfed my duo together on a bench in a shopping mall.

Most of my husband's family was like this.  Well, they wondered why I insisted on breastfeeding for so long - for crying out loud, the kid is 8 weeks old already! Give him some cereal in a bottle!  OK, digression. But they put me in a room alone and got annoyed at my husband when he protested that they didn't need to banish me, or at least someone - a female, of course - could go in and talk to me.

I also was very careful and discreet. Many times people thought the baby  was sleeping.  An aside, I am mystified that nursing women think putting a huge tent over the baby makes it more discreet. I mean, sure, it's a certainty  no one will get a peek at anything, but it is so much more obvious what's going on.  I can understand it if the baby is easily distracted and needs to be shut off from outside stimulation, but I don't see how it makes the act more discreet.  (And when I say I am mystified, I mean just that - that's not disapproval; if it makes a nursing mom more comfortable, go for it.)
 

ETA: OP, I think your response to the offer of a separate place was fine; I'm all for normalizing people feeding their babies in the same places they'd feed their toddlers, teens, themselves.... but really who  knows why she responded the way she did. 

ETA 2: weird random thought - was it a Christian college?  In my experience, Christians seem more likely than nonChristians to be weirded out by public nursing. (I am one, by the way, so don't think I'm Christian-bashing.)  Just my observation and I have no statistical data to back that up.  Maybe it's a modesty thing?

Edited by marbel
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I was always discreet breastfeeding.  Sounds like you were fine on the bench.   I think it's nice the woman offered the location.  I would go to a room except in your case I understand you were waiting.  They probably just don't have a large breastfeeding population on campus.

At a summer playgroup at the park, there were mothers seating in a circle in the grass.  I walked by and was horrified.  All I saw was 6" of crack with a lot of back exposed.  This woman had her shirt pulled up to breastfeed but apparently didn't realize that her shirt also comes up in the back and that she had low rise pants.  It looked like a big naked backside in the grass.  I had to steer my kids so they didn't get an eyeful and ask why that lady didn't have pants or underwear.  I didn't say anything but I dont know how anyone could be so unaware.  It was breezy,  how could she not notice?  I don't know this woman but saw her at the library another day using a very loud, non library voice with non stop talking.  I think she is a exhibitionist.  Anyway, it was the most inappropriate breastfeeding I've witnessed. 

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1 hour ago, marbel said:

ETA 2: weird random thought - was it a Christian college?  In my experience, Christians seem more likely than nonChristians to be weirded out by public nursing. (I am one, by the way, so don't think I'm Christian-bashing.)  Just my observation and I have no statistical data to back that up.  Maybe it's a modesty thing?

No, it was a large state school.

But I agree - I do think the Christians I know tend to be more private about nursing in public. IM(limited)E they are very pro breast feeding as a concept but also tend to think it should be private when it comes down to practice. And most other Christian women I know personally who nurse do try to find somewhere by themselves to do it, even if it's a toilet.

But that's not me. While I'm all for modesty and you won't see me with a boob hanging out anywhere or flaunting it, no way I'm sitting on a toilet to feed my kid!

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2 minutes ago, Momto6inIN said:

But that's not me. While I'm all for modesty and you won't see me with a boob hanging out anywhere or flaunting it, no way I'm sitting on a toilet to feed my kid!

I would look for privacy but never a toilet and I usually had a blanket or a baggy shirt to cover up.  Didnt like exposed breast or stomach for that matter

Edited by parent
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13 hours ago, Ktgrok said:

I think I'm up to over a dozen years of nursing now, and the closest I came to a negative comment was in a fast food restaurant. A man walked in, headed right for me where I was sitting nursing my son, and said very abruptly, "Do you know where we are?!"

I got all flustered and was about to say something not polite about how I didn't care where we were, I was going to feed my son when I realized he was just lost, and had stopped at the restaurant to try and figure out where he was and how to get back to the highway🤣

 

Oh, that's hilarious...and a good reminder that interpretation is key.

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I find the intolerance is at different ends. Yes, among some conservative Christians, I assume for modesty and separation of the sexes issues - but also among really professional types who clearly don't encounter anything "unprofessional" even at home. And among young people who are so unsure of their own bodies. I actually assumed this case might be that last one. I find that older teens and young adults are some of the least tolerant toward bodies across the board.

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2 hours ago, parent said:

At a summer playgroup at the park, there were mothers seating in a circle in the grass.  I walked by and was horrified.  All I saw was 6" of crack with a lot of back exposed.  This woman had her shirt pulled up to breastfeed but apparently didn't realize that her shirt also comes up in the back and that she had low rise pants.  It looked like a big naked backside in the grass.  I had to steer my kids so they didn't get an eyeful and ask why that lady didn't have pants or underwear.  I didn't say anything but I dont know how anyone could be so unaware.  It was breezy,  how could she not notice?  I don't know this woman but saw her at the library another day using a very loud, non library voice with non stop talking.  I think she is a exhibitionist.  Anyway, it was the most inappropriate breastfeeding I've witnessed. 

 

2 hours ago, parent said:

  Didnt like exposed breast or stomach for that matter

I actually feel less modest and more uncomfortable when my side or belly is showing than my breast. I found some nursing tank tops with a built in bra that are w.o.n.d.e.r.f.u.l. and keep all that stark white flesh from showing 🙂

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Actually, I have one story! A few weeks ago I was nursing in a church meeting of all women. I don't remember if I had a blanket or not, but it was discreet. I noticed an older woman staring at me. After the meeting she asked me if I had been nursing my baby.  I braced myself for a comment about the appropriateness of it, but then she asked me HOW I was breastfeeding in a dress. I excitedly told her it was a nursing dress. Lol. Here is my plug for latchedmama.com nursing clothes. I wish these had been a thing and that I had know about them before baby #7. 😄 I have a couple dresses and a couple of their shirts. They are convenient. Sometimes where I nurse depends on what I am wearing because shirts do ride up in the back when I nursing. But nursing shirts are awesome for that!

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I used to wear a camisole under a button up shirt.  I could unbutton from the bottom, then pull the cami down and nurse easily.   I'm not very large (probably a C while nursing) so being discreet wasn't that difficult.  Nobody ever said anything to me, but I also walked around a furniture store nursing ds once and dh didn't even realize I was nursing. 

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I was told to leave once when I was bf'ing my youngest.  I was in an empty food court, on a military base, and the employee was adamant that I could not do that there and if so he had to be fully covered.  I was flustered, and unsure of what to do.  I sat there a while longer while ds finished and the rest of my family finished shopping in the bx.

The next day, though.............I ran into the base commander (our kids had activities together and I knew him pretty well) and politely asked if I could email him a question.  He was furious and made sure the base reviewed bfing policy at ALL buildings, not just work centers.  It was a firm "this will not happen again".

I also got out my frustration that day by making an adorable boobie hat with a large ruffle that hid his face and covered both of us. 😄  The crown of the cap looked just like a large breast.

I never had an issue anywhere else.  Even traveling through Europe, nobody even noticed ds nursing in his sling for the most part.

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My oldest child made me hide to nurse.  I was fine with nursing in public, but she was put out by the distractions of other people talking.  if I tried to talk, she'd try to put her hand over my mouth! This was from 3-8 months. It was ridiculous.  She was a little dictator.  This was the kid who couldn't nap if it was "too shiny" (not pitch black) and who asked to be moved away from the ticking clock during AP exams.  My son didn't care if I nursed him while hiking and talking.  I nursed him in public all the time.

I figure if someone has an issue with breastfeeding, then it's their problem to solve.  I won't leave for their comfort.  They do have the option of not looking even if they remain in the room.

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Impossible to know what she was thinking. Maybe the nursing room has a comfortable sofa or generally nicer situation and she was thinking you might enjoy that. She might be surprised to hear you interpreted her mannerisms as "flustered" 🙂

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7 hours ago, Quill said:

Well, that’s the means God gave mammals to nourish babies. I mean, I haven’t ever seen a person embarrassed at seeing a calf suckle or a mama cat suckling a litter.

Well...cows and cats run around stark naked, too, and that doesn't bother us, either. And I would not say there is anything sexual about a cow's udder or a momma cat's teats--unlike our breasts. So I don't think it's exactly apples to apples (books or books?). 😉 

Thanks for the food for thought, though! I will think more about it. 

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The only people here who cover up with blankets or wear nursing shirts are the Americans. In NZ, you don't even have to be that discreet. I've definitely seen a boob before, and I always see tummies and backs because women just wear regular clothes and feed anywhere they want.

The worst BF problem I had was when I was a bridesmaid in my sister's wedding in the USA, and she had us wear a dress that buttoned up the BACK. The only way to feed my ds was to take it all the way off with help!  Nothing discreet about that!  haha. Definitely had to find a room.

Ruth in NZ

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With 4 kids close in age, I feel like the last 2 have been nursed in every kind of place. I even nursed 1 in a toilet stall, interestingly enough. We were at my brother-in-law's fancy wedding. He was about 18 months, so he didn't need to nurse often, but we were there for a very long time (the other kids were in the wedding) I was in a non-nursing friendly dress so there was no way other than topless. Plus, it was a really nice toilet stall, haha. My favorite was settling into a nice, discrete corner of the science museum, just before the area was mobbed by a field trip of middle school boys. I don't think any of them paid attention to me and their chaperone avoided eye contact. They didn't have a chance to learn too much from the experience, but it made me giggle a little about learning science at the museum.

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22 minutes ago, MercyA said:

Well...cows and cats run around stark naked, too, and that doesn't bother us, either. And I would not say there is anything sexual about a cow's udder or a momma cat's teats--unlike our breasts. So I don't think it's exactly apples to apples (books or books?). 😉 

Thanks for the food for thought, though! I will think more about it. 

I don't really think there is anything sexual about feeding a baby either, even if it does involve books. Different contexts, kwim? I am going to keep myself mostly covered for my own comfort level, but I honestly think what rankles most people (not you,  obviously) about public bfing is that they think books should be sexy and functional books are icky. Otherwise you'd see a lot more people upset about low cut tops and bikinis and such...and they aren't upset about those things as a whole. I would much rather sacrifice a bit of modesty for the sake of normalizing using books to feed babies than worry about if someone thinks it's sexy. Like, some people have a thing for bare feet but that doesn't mean I shouldn't wear open toe shoes when the occasion calls for it. Some people might think bfing is sexy because books, but I really doubt that's the case for the majority or a reason to feed my baby in seclusion. But I'm also for people doing whatever they are comfortable with for themselves.

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1 hour ago, DesertBlossom said:

Actually, I have one story! A few weeks ago I was nursing in a church meeting of all women. I don't remember if I had a blanket or not, but it was discreet. I noticed an older woman staring at me. After the meeting she asked me if I had been nursing my baby.  I braced myself for a comment about the appropriateness of it, but then she asked me HOW I was breastfeeding in a dress. I excitedly told her it was a nursing dress. Lol. Here is my plug for latchedmama.com nursing clothes. I wish these had been a thing and that I had know about them before baby #7. 😄 I have a couple dresses and a couple of their shirts. They are convenient. Sometimes where I nurse depends on what I am wearing because shirts do ride up in the back when I nursing. But nursing shirts are awesome for that!

For years I practically lived in maxi skirts partly because they are so easy to just pull up to cover belly/back when pulling a shirt up to nurse.

Also they are ridiculously comfortable.

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26 minutes ago, EmseB said:

I don't really think there is anything sexual about feeding a baby either, even if it does involve books. Different contexts, kwim? I am going to keep myself mostly covered for my own comfort level, but I honestly think what rankles most people (not you,  obviously) about public bfing is that they think books should be sexy and functional books are icky. Otherwise you'd see a lot more people upset about low cut tops and bikinis and such...and they aren't upset about those things as a whole. I would much rather sacrifice a bit of modesty for the sake of normalizing using books to feed babies than worry about if someone thinks it's sexy. Like, some people have a thing for bare feet but that doesn't mean I shouldn't wear open toe shoes when the occasion calls for it. Some people might think bfing is sexy because books, but I really doubt that's the case for the majority or a reason to feed my baby in seclusion. But I'm also for people doing whatever they are comfortable with for themselves.

Very interesting point. I can't imagine anyone thinking that functional breasts are icky (what in the world?) or that they are especially sexy while being used for feeding babies but people are weird. It's true that in the 1970's when my mom had her kids it wasn't considered modern (or classy, maybe?) to breastfeed but there were plenty of low cut tops and bikinis about. I'm not a fan of mixed company breastfeeding OR low cut tops or bikinis so at least I am consistent, I guess. 🙂

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3 hours ago, DesertBlossom said:

Actually, I have one story! A few weeks ago I was nursing in a church meeting of all women. I don't remember if I had a blanket or not, but it was discreet. I noticed an older woman staring at me. After the meeting she asked me if I had been nursing my baby.  I braced myself for a comment about the appropriateness of it, but then she asked me HOW I was breastfeeding in a dress. I excitedly told her it was a nursing dress. Lol. Here is my plug for latchedmama.com nursing clothes. I wish these had been a thing and that I had know about them before baby #7. 😄 I have a couple dresses and a couple of their shirts. They are convenient. Sometimes where I nurse depends on what I am wearing because shirts do ride up in the back when I nursing. But nursing shirts are awesome for that!

Yes! Where were these shirts for the first 5 of my kids???? I absolutely looooooove the nursing nightgowns and the shirts. Haven't tried the dresses because I'm more of a skirt/top person than a dress person.

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3 hours ago, GoodGrief1 said:

Impossible to know what she was thinking. Maybe the nursing room has a comfortable sofa or generally nicer situation and she was thinking you might enjoy that. She might be surprised to hear you interpreted her mannerisms as "flustered" 🙂

That's true. I shouldn't assume, I guess.

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1 hour ago, MercyA said:

Very interesting point. I can't imagine anyone thinking that functional breasts are icky (what in the world?) or that they are especially sexy while being used for feeding babies but people are weird. It's true that in the 1970's when my mom had her kids it wasn't considered modern (or classy, maybe?) to breastfeed but there were plenty of low cut tops and bikinis about. I'm not a fan of mixed company breastfeeding OR low cut tops or bikinis so at least I am consistent, I guess. 🙂

The reason I think this is because I can use a cover and be completely tented, effectively wearing a poncho or mumu, which is way more modest than even a regular shirt, but it's the fact that I'm bfing in public that gets people thinking I should be somewhere private or in a special room. Or I can be wearing two shirts, covered above and below my actual books while nursing and appear as though I'm just holding a sleeping baby, and no one would care. But if I'm bfing, *that's* the issue, not how much skin I'm showing. Like, if I was just wearing a poncho there's no discussion of "mixed company" or if I should be in a private room or make use of a special room for poncho wearers, right? But if I'm completely covered in the same way except I happen to be bfing my kiddo, then I should be somewhere more private? To me that's an issue with function rather than modesty, sexiness, or even who is around when it's happening. It's the act itself that must be bothersome.

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9 hours ago, MercyA said:

I am bothered by it in mixed company, but I would never say anything to anyone, unless perhaps I was *very* close to them and there was an actual reason to broach the subject. (For example, if a sister or close friend was unknowingly making an elderly grandparent very uncomfortable and he wasn't able to leave the room, or if a teenager was doing his best to ogle her whenever she fed the baby.)

To me, breastfeeding seems like a private thing, because it involves parts of the anatomy that are private. I'm trying to think of a good analogy but failing--basically, to me it's like any other private part of the body being used for something in public while being (sometimes) only loosely covered.

I know it's not progressive, but that's how I feel. 😬

I am typically a very modest person, and I do understand where you're coming from. Most of the people I know IRL who breastfeed feel similarly to you, including people in my own family.

I do feel uncomfortable when I see someone in public just letting it all hang out. It's just not typically necessary to bare it all to breastfeed successfully and I don't think it's prudish or weird to expect people to keep their private parts covered. 

But I don't see feeding my baby as an inherently private act. It's providing her sustenance in the way God designed, and I don't think of eating as a private act. Meal times are in many ways a social act, and I think it's normal and natural to feed my baby wherever my life happens to take me.

Some people (not directed at you necessarily) seem to think it's inappropriate just to look at someone and be aware that they are bf'ing even if they are covered, which doesn't make sense to me. If they can't see it, why does it bother them just to know it's happening in their vicinity? Usually people who use this argument are trying to lump bf'ing in with bodily functions like using the bathroom, as if bf'ing is gross, and that attitude does really bother me. I don't think the fact that breast milk is leaking out of my body is any grosser or more private than having watery eyes, and nobody expects me to hide myself in a bathroom for that. Again, not saying you think that, MercyA 🙂

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On 10/18/2019 at 7:59 PM, happysmileylady said:

When I was nursing, I had that mentioned once or twice.  I just said "ok, thanks."  I never felt the need to explain.

 

Having said that, as the parent of someone who had both a nursing baby and a college student , the thing I found that flustered more people than nursing in public was the age difference between kids.  She may have been caught off guard by "my son is on his way back." She have thought that you were the spouse of a student, or a student yourself, or maybe a student's older sister or even perhaps a new faculty member.

 

Having a newborn and an 18 yr old really weirds people out.  


more btdt that to say this is true..  People act weirded out every time it’s just me with the 3 yr old and any of my 18+yr old kids. And that’s without me even mentioning I have 9 other kids. LOL

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1 hour ago, EmseB said:

The reason I think this is because I can use a cover and be completely tented, effectively wearing a poncho or mumu, which is way more modest than even a regular shirt, but it's the fact that I'm bfing in public that gets people thinking I should be somewhere private or in a special room. Or I can be wearing two shirts, covered above and below my actual books while nursing and appear as though I'm just holding a sleeping baby, and no one would care. But if I'm bfing, *that's* the issue, not how much skin I'm showing. Like, if I was just wearing a poncho there's no discussion of "mixed company" or if I should be in a private room or make use of a special room for poncho wearers, right? But if I'm completely covered in the same way except I happen to be bfing my kiddo, then I should be somewhere more private? To me that's an issue with function rather than modesty, sexiness, or even who is around when it's happening. It's the act itself that must be bothersome.

Yes, I understand what you're saying. Most of the breastfeeding moms I've been around do not fully cover in that way. They might just have their shirt covering baby a little, or throw a light blanket on, which babies tend to yank off. I don't think it's modest with men or boys in the room to possibly expose breasts--just like I wouldn't be comfortable changing in front of men even if I was trying to do it under another layer of clothing, KWIM?

Again, in a group of just women, I have no objection. Don't cover up at all if you don't want.

Then, there is the issue of making others uncomfortable. I know people have said, "That's their problem...they should deal with it." Okay. But I personally think it's kind not to knowingly make others uncomfortable if there is a good alternative. (I am NOT talking about public bathrooms--I am talking about comfortable spaces.) Virtually all of the men I know would be uncomfortable with someone other than their wife breastfeeding in front of them.

Someone might say, "Well, what about MY comfort?" I think--if possible--it's kind and honorable to put others before ourselves. Ideally the men would remember this, put the bf-ing mom's needs first, and leave the room themselves if they are uncomfortable. But if they can't leave for some reason and the bf-ing woman can, and she knows she is making others uncomfortable, I can't see staying just for the sake of principle. 

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