Healthy Kids

Thank You For Nursing In Public

Last weekend, my husband and I went out on our third date since Penelope was born. We went to a lovely, outdoor, paella cooking demonstration with live flamenco music. We ate good food, drank wine and had a really nice time.

Except for one thing. We had to share tables with other guests we didn’t know, a la wedding seating style. We were sat next to an older couple, their son and his new wife, and two young men, who had just graduated from college.

To the table next to us was a sweet family (why didn’t we get to sit next to them!), an older couple and their daughter, her husband and their two kids, who looked to be an almost 2 year old and a 4 year old. The woman was nursing the 2 year old in plain view. She used her sweater to cover her skin, so absolutely no cleavage or nipple was showing at all. But it was clear as day that she was nursing.

The younger wife at our table, gasped in horror and announced to her husband and her in laws that woman was breastfeeding! Breastfeeding!! And she went on to say, that the kid had to be 3 years old, and oh my word, the kid should be cut off by now, that is ridiculous. The mother in law replied to these statements by saying, well, I never breastfed. As if she was too good to breastfeed.

I immediately looked over and gave the nursing mom a sweet smile, but then, very uncharacteristic of my personality, I just sat there eating my paella and drinking my wine.


Not my finest moment.

Part of me, did not want to start a fight and ruin our so rare date night. But mostly, I was afraid to speak up. ME! Who has been given a ceast and desist letter for my very vocal attempts of trying to get a local OB fired.

As we were walking out, I told Peter what happened (he was talking to another person and wasn’t paying attention and didn’t hear her say any of it.)  He couldn’t believe I didn’t say anything, he told me if I told him, or if he had heard, HE would have said something. Gotta love husbands that 100% support child led weaning.

The whole rest of the evening, I felt sick to my stomach with regret.

What I should have done, was say I too, am breastfeeding a toddler and that I will continue to breastfeed as long as she wants and that it is very normal in other countries to breastfeed a child past one year. It is only this country that we have such a prudish mentality about toddlers nursing.

Maybe, I could have planted some seeds in this woman’s pre-motherhood mind and begun to unravel the ideas she had in her head about what kind of mother she is going to be one day. Maybe, I could have planted seeds in the two young men minds for their future wives. One of them was going off to Med school in the fall, maybe I could have planted seeds in his mind about what kind of doctor he was going be, one that pushed formula or one that supported breastfeeding.

I should have gone over to the mother nursing and said thank you. Thank you for nursing in public and taking one small step in creating a world where it is not weird to nurse a toddler period, let alone in public.

So to the nursing in public mom that night, I thank you. Whoever you are. Your family and your boys are beautiful. You are an amazing mother. You are a million times better mother than that woman will ever be. How lucky your sweet boys are to have you as a mother! You are an inspiration and I thank you.

And I am so sorry for not sticking up for you.

As Mother’s Day nears, I want to also thank ALL mother’s, EVERYWHERE that nurse in public. Whether it was a 6 week old or a 3 year old, THANK YOU! You are awesome! You are making a huge difference.

Here are several pictures of me nursing Penelope during our recent trip to Disney and Miami Zoo. I got lots of looks, but I didn’t care. If someone were to say something about me nursing Penelope, I know the Mama Lion in me would have come and that person would have wished they were never born, but why, oh, why didn’t I say something at the table that night?!
Thank You For Nursing In Public
Checking out the elephants and getting some nuh-nuh.
Thank You For Nursing In Public
While in line at It’s a Small World, and we were very close to people in line, so I tried to cover Penelope up while she nursed. Penelope has never had a blanket cover her while she nursed in her life. She thought it was for a game of peek a boo.
Thank You For Nursing In Public
My sweet love.

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  • Anonymous
    May 5, 2011 at 7:12 PM

    While I completely support breast feeding children and all of the amazing nutritional benefits that come with, What are your thoughts on: out of respect for other people and other children, covering your self while you feed your child? She doesn't receive any less nutrients or bonding time, if your breast is not exposed for all of the restaurant while they eat or are having their date night?
    I read your blog regularly and while some things are far out for me, i like to see how other mommies do it. So im just wondering.

    • Np
      September 29, 2013 at 9:16 PM

      So funny how women can have nipples showing all over town in clothing ads on TV etc but all of a sudden a bfng mom needs to be more modest in public?! Give me a break .nurse freely and comfortably

  • Maia
    May 5, 2011 at 7:23 PM

    LOVE this post!! (and just found your blog) I recently stopped nursing my son (a few months ago now) when he was about 21 months 😉
    here's my post on {my} milk:

  • Crunchy Diva
    May 5, 2011 at 9:25 PM

    i too was a breast-feeding mom my little guy is now 10 years old so i no longer bf. don't beat yourself up over that night. next time you'll say something! i used to have women all the time come up & thank me for breast-feeding as i would do it anywhere & EVERYWHERE. it always made me feel good. the very least if you said thank you to her it might have made the people at your table think. you too are a great mom.

  • sk
    May 5, 2011 at 10:05 PM

    Awesome post! You are doing so much to promote breastfeeding– don't beat yourself up over one little thing. I'm glad it's turned into a "learning moment" for you, though! It's great to look on the bright side. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have said anything either (I'm really shy).
    Thank you for all you do!!

  • Cassandra
    May 6, 2011 at 4:19 AM

    I want to hear about the OB!!

  • Stephanie
    May 6, 2011 at 5:37 PM

    @Anonymous…I don't really have any issues with a mom covering up if she wants to. But if someone were to ask me to cover up I would be upset. Because will not nurse with a cover, and so that person would be getting in the way of Penelope getting her emotional and nutritional needs met. However, I always try to be very discrete if people are around, and be as aware
    as I can about showing skin.
    @Maia…great post, thanks so much for sharing! And welcome to our blog, so happy to have you here!
    @Crunchy Diva…thanks for your kind words. 🙂
    @sk…thanks! you always have such encouraging words, I really appreciate it.
    @Cassandra…oh Lord, it a long story. But basically there was once a horrible, grouchy, mean ole bully of an OB here in town. He was up for a job for teaching at the,brand new at the time, medical school here. and I FREAKED my FREAK and got very vocal about how horrible the possibility of him teaching a new generation of OB's and passing on his birth belief system. He has retired soon after and did not get the job. Minor victory, considering the OB's that have since replaced him are all the same, just not as openly violent and rude.

  • Anonymous
    May 7, 2011 at 10:25 AM

    Oh I can TOTALLY relate to the way you feel about that night but maybe it just wasn't meant to be that night. 🙂 I so very often bight my tongue around the discussion of controlled crying and CIO methods. I am passionately, with every tiny cell in my body, against the use of these techniques, for anyone, anywhere, at any time. HOWEVER, I also respect that a mama has to do what they feel is right for them and their family and I know that I don't have the right to assume I know what's best for someone else let alone tell them. It's a really tricky position to be in. When I am feeling really calm and balanced I may gently share our story in the hope of illustrating that there are other option out there, but so often i feel just so emotionally charged that I keep quiet for fear of slamming another Mama who is just trying to do her thing. I think you do a great job to promte BF the way you do!!!

  • Stephanie
    May 7, 2011 at 2:47 PM

    @Anonymous…yes, that stuff is tricky too! Such a fine line to walk. I have been at play groups were everyone is discussing their cry it out technique of choice and I have just been like, uh oh, time for nap, gotta go!

  • She's crafty, and she's just my type.
    May 17, 2011 at 6:50 PM

    Hello! I just found your blog from Prudent Baby. I love this post. I totally understand the feeling of "oh I should have said something…" but what can you do? live and learn. I too nursed my 1 year old at Disney and got some strange looks – the only words of encouragement I got were from a man (and not your typical crunchy birkenstocks dad… ) and that was great. I have convinced myself he wasn't just a perv trying to get a look at the goods.
    I live in the SF bay area so am used to a kind "good for you!" when another mom spots a boob, so its hard when we travel other places that aren't so nursing-friendly.

    May 30, 2011 at 6:33 AM

    Those pictures are so sweet! Aren't there the sweetest moments breastfeeding?

    It's hard to say something and hard not to. Can't fight every battle for everyone. Seems like you're doing a great job of working at it, though!

    Thanks for the support to do what I do in public. As she gets closer and closer to 2 I'll need it!

  • Megan
    December 12, 2011 at 4:00 AM

    My first one started weaning at one and was done by 14 months. I was ready, he was ready. I worried so much of how it would go, but it as no big deal. I was of course kind of saddened, because he didn't "need" me anymore. Now I have a seven month old and she refuses to eat solids. I feel like she might need to nurse longer, since she has no interest in food. We will see. My goal is always a year. After that I don't know. I am a huge proponent of nursing too. Always surprises me how many people don't even try. Anyways…Just stumbled upon this post through Pinterest crockpot meals. Random!

  • Jennifer
    February 4, 2012 at 2:58 AM

    Love it. I breast fed both of mine and in public (hey, I eat in public – right). Let’s see: church (almost every sunday), movies, resturants, mall, car (pumped many times in my car too – but that is another story). I remeber seeing this woman walking around in Target and thinking, “wow, that baby is in the perfect position for breast feeding.” She was holding the child with one hand and shopping with other. Then I saw her descreetly pull the child off as if she was adjusting her blouse – I was amazed. I always needed both hands to feed.

    As for the toddler feeding – hey to each their own. The world-wide average for breastfeeding is until 5 years of age. Americans are actually behind on breast feeding.

    Most likely the mother-in-law was discourged from breast feeding with her babies (it was chic and trendy and “rich” to give your baby formula when our parents had us). In addition, some people are uncomfortable with what they dont understand. Any woman who can give her child that gift (breast milk) is doing an amazing job. Any amount of time on the breast is a good thing. I was able to do it for 9 months with my first and my 2nd weaned himself at 14 months (I cried).

    Here, here to all my kindred breastfeeders!

  • Krystal
    September 20, 2012 at 1:54 AM

    Hello I just found your site tonight and I want to say “Thank you for breastfeeding in public.” I am the proud mother of two wonderful kids ages 6 and 2. Both of whom I breastfed (2 year old is still nursing every once in a while) IN PUBLIC. Once someone tried to kick me out of a Wal-Mart for nursing my 3 month old daughter (the 6 year old now). I made a very big scene about how this MAN was trying to starve my daughter who was solely on breastmilk at the time. I found out a few months later he was fired. Oh and I’d like to point out that I am 25 now, was 19 when my daughter was born. I feel more mothers should at least try to breastfeed in public at least once. My son still loves to try and stare at everything around him while talking and nursing at the same time- no covering for him!