GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV)- There are plenty of things to worry about as a new mom and endless decisions to make. When it comes to feeding your baby the choice is very personal. We asked breastfeeding mothers to share their views and experiences to help shed light on the issue of breastfeeding in public. Tiffany Hale, a West Michigan mom, shares her story:
My daughter is 13 months old, I’ve breastfed her since birth. I’ve nursed her whenever she needed me to whether we were at home or out in a public place. I’m happy and secure in my decision to breastfeed her and I see no reason to try and hide that decision. I feel no shame in mothering through breastfeeding, for us it’s just normal. Mostly nobody seems to notice or care, probably since at a glance I simply appear to be cuddling a contented baby! I’ve had a few positive responses from people which I really appreciate, and a couple negative responses which I truly do not understand.
Not every mother who is breastfeeding chooses to do so in public and that’s absolutely her decision to make. Some mothers may simply feel uncomfortable, some may have challenges they’re working to overcome, some may have religious or cultural reasons, or simply a wiggly easily distracted baby. But what is not fine is judging or shaming me for following my mothering journey in the way that’s right for me and my daughter.
“Breastfeeding is a mutually consensual relationship between mother and baby/toddler, it’s up to each duo to figure out what works for them.”
In the early weeks following the emergency c-section that brought her into the world my life was a blur of fatigue and pain. We didn’t go out much aside from doctor’s appointments and breastfeeding support groups to seek help for some initial issues we’ve since overcome. As the weather got nicer and I felt better we started getting out more and therefore nursing in public more. Initially I wanted to use a nursing cover but my baby had other ideas! She would cry and refuse to latch on if anything touched her face or obstructed her view of me at all! So I found other ways to nurse in public comfortably like layering shirts or wearing a scarf.
I see my breastfeeding journey as something to celebrate! My daughter and I have worked together along with an amazing support network to make our breastfeeding relationship work and I truly see that as an achievement for both of us, an achievement I’m very proud of!
“My daughter and I have worked together along with an amazing support network to make our breastfeeding relationship work and I truly see that as an achievement for both of us, an achievement I’m very proud of!”
It took a lot of determination and it was very humbling as a new mom to admit I needed help to simply do the most natural thing in the world. After overcoming a painful latch, mastitis, and supply issues I have become a huge advocate for supporting mothers in their journey whether they want to breastfeed a few hours or all the way through toddlerhood.
At the heart of it I see nursing in public as both a mothering issue and a feminist issue. Shaming women for feeding their babies is simply a form of body shaming. To say a woman is doing something wrong or “disgusting” is tantamount to saying her body is wrong or disgusting for simply operating normally! Mothers deserve better than that, all women deserve better. Ultimately we as a society need to stop judging mothers. I’m not asking everyone to love my decision or even to agree with it, but I am asking that my decision be respected.
Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of WOTV 4 Women, its staff and/or contributors to this site.