• Public Breastfeeding...

    Public Breastfeeding...

    at a political rally.

    "I've always been supportive of mothers feeding their babies however they feel is best.

    Breastfeeding wasn't normal to me, I grew up around formula and bottles. The one time I remember seeing a mother nursing in public was when I was managing a retail store and one of my associates pointed it out. I told her to leave the mother alone and get to finish working .

    Fast forward a few years and I became that awkward new mother trying to feed her baby.

    Things were made more complicated than they needed to be with my first born. He had a short NICU stay, had a bottle preference, tongue/lip ties, and I didn't know where to look for help. I was too embarrassed to attempt to nurse him anywhere outside of my bedroom so I continued on to exclusively pump for him. My instincts told me that if I wanted to be successful in the future that I needed to arm myself with knowledge. So I spent the next two years learning as much as I could about breastfeeding and lactation. My youngest child is now fourteen months old. She was also tongue and lip tied which made our feeds more difficult in the beginning when paired with my forceful letdowns.

    I stayed home as much as possible until we had her revision due to such messy feeds. As spring rolled around my older boys needed to break out of the house. I was nervous again but knew I wasn't doing anything wrong. I did a lot of feeding in the car at first as I mastered the two-shirt method.

    My first official public nursing session was at eleven weeks, we were on a packed flight home from Austin. My anxiety was through the roof but nobody acknowledged our feeding sessions. I was told over and over how awesome it was to have a sleeping baby on the flight. After that I knew I had it down. That experience was the confidence boost I needed. I have been feeding my daughter with pride and not thinking twice about our surroundings ever since.

    I hope that by resuming my normal life it helps encourage others to do the same. Life doesn't have to stop just because we have children to tend to. We all start out by fumbling around and feeling nervous but if we stick together it will become easier for the mothers of the future.

    I was excited to add this event to our list of places I've nursed. Zoos, restaurants, beaches, airports, planes, and now a rally to support the candidate I align with the most?! Awesome!  

    Tuesday is voting day in Wisconsin which means we will be taking the kids with us to cast our votes. Even if they grow up and have different beliefs than us I hope they look back and remember us teaching them about the importance of voting. We hope that they continue to notice that our lives have continued on, and have been tailored to meet their needs along the way; which, includes nursing whenever and where ever it's needed." - Heather

  • Public Breastfeeding...

    Public Breastfeeding...

    at an elementary school. 

    "My Grandma and my Mother breastfed. I always knew I wanted to breastfeed when I had children. When I began nursing my first child we had a very rough beginning. It took a lot of hard work and perseverance to make it through the first month.

    I felt like quitting so many times. A lot of tears were shed.

    Once I felt ready to nurse outside of my house I always used a cover. I covered for the first six months of my child's life. After that, my child would no longer tolerate the cover. It became a constant battle to try to keep him covered. I finally started nursing without it. I still had my own hang ups though. I wouldn't nurse in front of certain people. I didn't feel comfortable nursing in front of my male friends. I began hiding in bedrooms to nurse or somewhere nearby but out of site.

    It felt so lonely. I would hear laughter from the other room while I was alone.

    I finally asked my friends if it was okay if I nursed my baby in front of them. They responded by telling me just to feed my baby. As simple as that. I am grateful that this was the response I got from them. It changed my mindset completely. Why was I asking permission to care for my child? My baby was hungry and I needed to care for him. I ditched the cover from then on.

    I gained so much confidence in my journey breastfeeding my older child. Now that I am nursing my second child, I have never used a cover. I nurse in front of anyone who happens to be around and wherever we happen to be when my child is hungry. I believe all women should be supported to feed their babies however works best for them. This just happens to be what works best for us. I think a lot about where my shame surrounding breastfeeding came from.

    Breastfeeding in my family was normal and I grew up seeing my mom nurse my younger sibling. I believe it has to do with media and society's views and portrayals of women.

    I grew up with the message that my breasts were not really mine. They are there for other people to look at and touch. To derive pleasure from. To sell things. To show them off but don't show too much.

    My breasts belong to me and they are for nourishing my children. By nursing in public I have reclaimed my body." - Kathryn

  • Public Breastfeeding...

    Public Breastfeeding...

    in a staff meeting.

    "When I had my son 4 years ago, I did not know much about breastfeeding, but I knew it was something that I wanted to do for him. I was timid and self-conscious and often felt compelled to excuse myself to a different room or cover up. I used to try and plan our outings around his feedings so that I would not have to nurse in public. I planned to breastfeed for a year. That was my goal. Life had other plans for my breastfeeding journey!!

    My son Max, now 4 years old, has autism.

    His diet is limited and he is still very much into breastfeeding. When he turned 2 years old, we started intensive therapy in our home. I was STILL self-conscious especially due to his age and would feel out the therapists and social workers to see who I was comfortable nursing around and who I was not.

    The problem in that- If Max felt he could not nurse in front of a certain person, he would be extremely uneasy and visibly more stressed out in their presence.That is when my mindset began to change.

    It was OUR home.

    I went from timidly feeling people out and discretely nursing in front of them, to boldly explaining to anyone who came into our house that I will be breastfeeding my 2 year old son and that is just how it is. I was surprised with the positive response. We have had dozens of therapists and case workers in and out of our home and nobody has given me a hard time. They have all been very accepting.

    The second part of my breastfeeding journey began in August of 2014. I became pregnant with my second and nursed Max throughout my entire pregnancy. I had my daughter last April, and they have been tandem nursing ever since. Nursing has also been the connecting bridge between him and his baby sister.

    I am no longer shy about breastfeeding. I've gone from feeling self-conscious about breastfeeding a 2 year old, to tandem nursing a 10 month old and a 4 year old in front of others!

    I now openly tandem nurse in front of our family, our therapists, and friends. I can not tell you how many people have told me how impressive it is, how I am a supermom, how amazing it is that I can continue to help my son thrive and how they've never seen anything like it before.

    I believe we have opened the eyes of many and I feel like it's one of my best accomplishments in life. How many young therapists just out of highschool now look at the breast for what it is? I hope I have helped to normalize it for them so that some day when they are mothers, they will feel encouraged to do the same. I am thankful that our lifestyle has forced me to stand my ground, to be myself and to push me out of my comfort zone for the sake of what is best for my children. Stand for something, or you will fall for anything. That is my motto!

    Oh and I should mention that mama, baba and milk were my son's first words." - Jamie

          

  • Public Breastfeeding...

    Public Breastfeeding...

    at yoga.

    "The first time I nursed in public was at an Olive Garden. I’d wrapped my daughter into the moby wrap and as I tried to latch her, she screamed and I sweated and a stranger at that moment handed me the shoe she’d just kicked off. I was horrified that this stranger had seen my breast, and that someone would make a rude comment, but no one did.

    Over the last three years, I've gotten far more comfortable feeding my babies when we're out. My family wasn’t against breastfeeding, but none of them had done it for very long, and most hadn’t nursed at all. My biggest support was in the natural birthing community and my wonderful midwife. You find support where you can but trust me that it is out there. I’d been assisting at births for a few years when my daughter was born, and gotten to witness many wonderful nursing dyads. I knew that we would nurse, because I’d seen it be successful for so many women. I had a relatively easy go of nursing, especially with that constant support system.

    Within the natural parenting community, tandem nursing and full term (or extended) breastfeeding aren’t unheard of the way that they are among the general public. Once, a male car salesman asked me how much longer I would be nursing my then-13-month-old - as if it was any of his business, or I owed him an explanation of our plans! Family members who were supportive of my nursing a tiny baby, suddenly balked and even made rude comments once I was nursing a toddler. None of the negative comments stopped me, I was determined to keep doing what I thought was best for my babies. 

    While my daughter is three and typically just nurses before bed, my son is 12 months old now, and still nurses many times a day, regardless of where we are! Negative comments are pretty rare, but at this point, I'd rather a naysayer approach me than a new mama who might be less sure." - Jamie

  • Public Pumping...

    Public Pumping...

    while driving.

     

    "Sometimes breastfeeding looks like this.

     

    The journey to parenthood for my husband and I was long and sometimes it feels like we literally travelled to the ends of the earth before finally getting pregnant with our miracle baby.  After all the struggle and heartache that come along with infertility, I longed for as natural of a childbirth experience as possible.  I wanted to finally see my body do what I knew it was made to do.  I wanted to feel everything.  I wanted it to be real, primal, and beautiful.  I was ready to experience this major milestone that millions of women before me have experienced throughout human history.

     

    What I was not prepared for was prodromal labor, which basically means that you are stuck in early labor that does not progress.  After five days of labor, I went from wanting as intervention-free a birth experience as possible, to being wheeled off for an emergency c-section with just about every possible type of intervention you can have in-between!

     

    I was naive. I believed that once my sweet son was born, breastfeeding would just come naturally.  I neglected to do much research while I was pregnant because I assumed they would teach me what I needed to know about nursing at the hospital and thought that my son and I could figure the rest out together.

     

    Like so much else on this journey to motherhood, things did not go quite the way I had planned.  I was unable to bring my baby to breast immediately after his birth and when I finally did, he had trouble latching.  Before leaving the hospital, my son had lost 11% of his birth weight and the nurses wanted us to supplement with formula.  I was stubborn and felt that I had already missed out on so many female rites of passage, having been betrayed by my own body over and over again.  I refused to give up easily on what I saw as my last chance to do something “the way you’re supposed to.”  I was desperate to hold onto my goal of breastfeeding the baby I had waited so long for and worked so hard to bring into this world.

     

    Within a week he had lost over 13% of his birth weight and was only transferring a half ounce of my milk each nursing session.  The pediatrician wanted him topped off after every feeding with expressed breastmilk or formula.  I began the vicious triple-whammy cycle of nurse - bottle feed - pump - repeat every 3 hours.  Every time we attempted nursing he would cry, scream, arch his back and fight me until finally he would give up and try to suckle, only to soon fall asleep.  My husband and I would try to wake him with tickling, talking to him, putting cold wet washcloths on his back and this would start the whole process over again.  We would go on like that as a family for 45 minutes a session, but he still never seemed satisfied.

     

    I finally decided that what we were doing was not what was best for either of us.  He was unhappy and hungry, I was exhausted, frustrated and overwhelmed.  It was nearly preventing me from enjoying the baby whom I had wished for for so long.  So I decided to let go of my goal of nursing my baby and chose to try exclusively pumping for him.  That may be the moment that I truly became a mother.

     

    I think part of the reason that I fought so hard to breastfeed my son is because it was the last thing I was holding onto as part of my dream of what I thought motherhood should be and my identity as a woman.  Though it took me a while to mourn the loss of our nursing relationship, making the decision to exclusively pump finally gave me a sense of control over a larger situation that I had felt powerless in for a long time.  It was the right choice for our family and my son is now thriving.

     

    For nearly a year now, I have been a proud member of a quiet minority of mothers out there who for a variety of reasons were unable to or chose not to establish a direct nursing relationship.  Instead of turning to formula bottle feeding, they dedicate themselves to exclusively pumping for their babies to provide them with the ideal nutrition. These women are now my tribe.


    We are pumping up to twelve times a day sometimes for more than an hour at a time, around the clock.  We stay up after everyone has gone to bed, wake to pump in the middle of the night while our babies and partners sleep, and rise long before the rest of our house stirs in order to get our pumps in every day.  We pump while feeding and caring for our babies, we pump at family events,  we drive while we pump, we pump in public while shopping, at restaurants, while out for a walk with our families, mowing the lawn, at work, and while travelling.  We do whatever we need to do to provide breastmilk for our little pumplings and we often have to advocate for ourselves to get the same recognition and rights afforded to our direct nursing counterparts.  It is time to normalize breastfeeding in all of its forms."

    - Jessica

  • Public Breastfeeding...

    Public Breastfeeding...

    At the store.

    "From the moment I found out I was pregnant I knew I was going to breast feed.

    It's probably my favorite thing about having a baby. There's something fulfilling about a tiny human needing you, the bonding makes it worth the sore nipples and engorging pain. I found out I was pregnant at the end of May 2015, this was my third pregnancy and what I thought was going to be the 3rd child I was going to nurse.

    When I found out I was going to have three little ladies I still was sure I was going to nurse. Natural instinct, what's two more babies? On 12/22/15 the girls were born and taken to the NICU I was devastated, no skin to skin? No trying to make them latch? On top of that my blood pressure was too high so I couldn't see or hold them for 24hrs!

    So of course they bring me a pump, I've never been a "pumper" so this is new to me. Again I'm so sad because I'm only getting about 3mls, who can I feed with this drop of breast milk?!

    Come to find out it was actually enough.

    It's crazy how we think we need to pump and 9 ounces should come out right away, our bodies know better- they know what baby (or in my case babies) need.

    My ladies spent a little time in the NICU before coming home so I still had to continue this pumping journey and it was not fun! Who can remember to pump every two hours with a three year old and five year old on top of trying to go see the ladies in the hospital? I was pumping bout 6 ounces a day but I was hoping and praying for them to be released soon because I just wanted to nurse. I knew this is the only way my breast feeding journey would work. I needed them to get it straight from the tap! When two out of the three came home they nursed like champs! Tandem nursing was a bit of a challenge for me at first since I was not quite comfortable holding two at once, but I got it down.

    My body knew someone was still missing though. After I was done nursing those two I felt the tingly sensation of my breast starting to fill again. It was so amazing!

    It's still so crazy to me what our body's can do! Now that they're about 6 weeks old they are all almost exclusively breast fed. Because they are preemies they need some formula for the higher calories. So at feed times two nurse, one gets a bottle and then we rotate. Whoever got a bottle at the last feed gets the boob and then the one that got a boob gets a bottle. I'm hoping we can slowly start cutting this formula out soon! I truly don't think I'd have my sanity if I couldn't nurse though. The convenience of it alone saves me so much time! No need to pack bottles or formula for trips anywhere!

    I nurse in public, uncovered and NOT in a restroom. Actually if anyone asked me to go elsewhere to nurse I wouldn't. I have 3 babies and I'm trying to get things done. I can nurse and do dishes, I can nurse and shop as well!

    If I'm in public and someone is uncomfortable with it, well that's their own problem. I don't recall it being my job to make sure they are comfortable with how I feed my child. It is my job to make sure my child is comfortable and fed.

    What better way then breast feeding?! I hope more moms of multiples or moms in general, give nursing a try! It's so worth it and you'd be so surprised how incredibly awesome our bodies are and what they can do for our littles! Even if you can only stand to supplement, pump or even nurse for a little bit it truly goes a long way!"  - Dylan

     

  • Public Breastfeeding...

    Public Breastfeeding...

    at the public museum.

    "Breastfeeding is natural but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Just like anything in life, there are countless variables that come in to play that will increase or decrease success.

    In my opinion, women that exclusively breastfeed or pump have such an amazing determination that I find hard to put into words.

    A few that come to mind are, strong, incredible, committed, beautiful, love. For me, things were tough from the beginning. My son was born with a tongue tie that was remedied immediately after he was delivered by a simple snip of the skin. Little did I know that the inability for his tongue to leave his mouth for nine months in utero would cause so many breastfeeding hardships. His latch was horrible and it caused me pain (grip your boppy pillow kind of pain). He constantly sucked one of his lips in and he was ALWAYS falling asleep but if I moved at all he woke up and would attempt to nurse. I’m pretty sure I nursed him every hour on the hour for three weeks! Before he was born a friend told me to prepare to be sitting on my couch with my boobs out all day and never moving, I laughed then, but she wasn’t kidding.

    I cried a lot, I became upset with my significant other and most of my family and friends, their lives were just going on around me like it was no big deal that I was struggling to feed my baby.

    One night my significant other and I had an argument because nothing was working and I was stressed. Formula was mentioned, we had it in the house because they send you all kinds of free samples as a new mom and I freaked out even more about that suggestion because it was like admitting defeat to my stubborn self. After that episode, I turned to an online mom’s group for more advice and I met with a lactation consultant at the Columbia Center where he was delivered and then another lactation consultant at Columbia St. Mary’s on the lake. Still having troubles four weeks in I met with another lactation consultant at Well Rounded Maternity Center, continued to consult my notes from the ‘breastfeeding basics’ class we had taken before he was born and kept meeting with lactation consultants, oh and continued to be stressed for six weeks.

    It was incredibly hard to go out in public since I had to strategically time everything around him eating because I wasn’t confident in what I was doing and I had to be more uncovered than I liked so I could see what I was doing, not to mention milk spraying across the room, it just wasn’t the natural scene that I had previously envisioned. On my birthday of all days, 36 days after coming earth side and having his tongue tie clipped he latched perfectly.

    Maybe it was the one beer that I drank in hopes to have a happy birthday, maybe it was because we had learned together or because good things take time.

    After that day, he didn’t latch perfectly every time but we pushed forward and we both thrived. I was able to nurse him for 19 months and I probably could have gone longer had I not gotten pregnant with his sister and developed an aversion to nursing. But hey….now she’s here….and on her ultrasound I saw her stick her little tongue out at us. My breastfeeding journey with her hasn’t been as tough but I chalk a lot of that up to having done this once before.

    So, I guess if I could give some advice to new nursing mothers, it would be, don’t get discouraged, seek help and follow your instincts." - Crystal

      

  • Public Breastfeeding...

    Public Breastfeeding...

    on a hike.

    "About a week before Sky was born my husband and I hiked 6 miles at Lapham Peak to try and induce labor. It didn't work at all as she had to be induced in the hospital but she was born happy and healthy. After two days in the hospital, I was beginning to go stir crazy. We were finally released and that very day we started taking walks around the block. I needed the fresh air and Sky napped so well during our walks.As she grew, we started venturing out more and doing solo walks and hikes places.

    Babies nurse when they nurse so we often nursed on a walk or trail. I've become very proficient at nursing in the carrier and now that Sky is 15 months old, she's pro at it too. I was nervous in the beginning to nurse. I remember pumping and then bringing a bottle along just in case. I was worried about nursing in public, but I received a ton of support from friends and most importantly my husband.

    My husband supported us nursing whenever and wherever we needed to. I know without his support, we never would have made it this far with our nursing relationship.

    A few months ago, we helped launch Hike it Baby here in Milwaukee. I've been doing weekly hikes with them since July. I love the no judgement policy and how friendly it is towards families. If we need to stop to nurse a baby or a toddler is having a meltdown, we stop. What's even better is I've been able to help other moms learn to nurse on the trail as well. It's such a life changing moment when you learn how to nurse in a carrier." - Jessica

  • Public Breastfeeding...

    Public Breastfeeding...

    at a public monument.

     

    "When I realized I was having the first boy of my family, I had a moment of confusion. Girls run so prominently in my side of the family that I’d assumed I was having one, and so I was preparing to raise my little girl to be a strong, independent woman and feminist. I was ready to tell her she could do anything, be anything, that anyone suggesting her sex would hinder her dreams was wrong. When I found out I was having a boy, I figured I wouldn’t have to worry about that.

     

    I had no idea that having boys would bring feminist challenges I hadn’t contemplated. Having boys made me even more a feminist than before.

     

    My birth experience with my first boy was frustrating and ended up in an emergency C-section due to mistakes made by the hospital, so I was determined to have a successful breastfeeding experience. But it is hard, and emotionally harder than anyone can explain simply in words, even if your baby takes well to the breast.  So when you layer on the stigma of breastfeeding in our society, especially public breastfeeding, something that is supposed to be natural and positive gets mired in the shame and pressure of sexism.  

     

    I started out covering up - I didn’t want to be accused of exhibitionism. But I began to resent the fact that there was judgment all around about how and where and when I could feed my baby. The very idea that my feeding an infant could be equated with sexuality was offensive. And so when baby refused to let me cover up, I stopped trying to hide our feeding sessions and endured people looking askance or giving me side eye.

     

    I realized this was part of my path of making my sons feminists, of breaking through the shame around the human body. Covering up while breastfeeding was just another “maybe you shouldn’t wear that short skirt.”  We tell a woman to hide her body, to have ‘modesty’ - when she dresses, when she swims, when she bathes, around her children, when she moves, when feeding her children - solely based on the fact that men, even boys, may see her and be moved to lust. I saw that the shame I was supposed to feel for showing my breast while feeding my child was directly connected to the concept of the woman’s body existing as a sexual outlet for men, stripping her of ownership of her own body.

     

    Further, demanding a woman cover up creates the very allure we are purportedly supposed to avoid. Boys who are allowed to see the body in a natural state are not indoctrinated into believing it is a hidden prize - it is just a body, doing what bodies do. On the contrary, labeling the sight of flesh as forbidden but also desirable creates the very intrigue that leads to the dangerous place of men believing they have to ‘steal’ opportunities to obtain it. When we tell a mother to cover up her chest when breastfeeding, we are feeding that cycle of framing women as sexual objects that are tantalizingly out of reach.

     

    It isn’t just women who are demeaned by this; the upbringing of our boys is undermined as well. If a woman must hide herself because a man’s lusts could be incited, this suggests men cannot control themselves, that they are beasts - and somehow that is acceptable. These sorts of uncontrolled behaviours are subtly reinforced and encouraged throughout our culture. Those that heed this call to aggression are ‘winners’ and awarded accolades; those that do not are ‘losers’, ‘weak’, or ‘girls’.

     

    We tell men that they are like women: that they are not actors, but acted upon, and therefore lesser.

    We are building a game of power and control.

     

    This is what we teach our children.

     

    We are teaching rape culture.


    The breast’s first function is to feed young; it is a secondary sexual characteristic. Our society has built breasts into a fetishized plaything, all but discarding the natural, beautiful purpose of a woman’s body that isn’t directly related to pleasing the male gaze or desires.  Now that I have two boys, I am eager to keep their eyes and ears and hearts open to both the beautiful and terrible truths, to teach them respect and appreciation of the human body through familiarity and understanding. I will not hide my breast feeding from them or the world, because the more everyone becomes comfortable with the human body as natural and beautiful for all its facets, the more equal - and more happy, I believe - we all will become." - Lane Burns

      

  • Public Breastfeeding...

    Public Breastfeeding...

    while shopping.

    "I thought it was okay, I could understand the reasons

    They said, “There might be a man or a nervous child seeing this small piece of flesh that they weren’t quite expecting.”

    So I whispered and tip-toed with nervous discretion But after six months of her life sat sitting on lids, sipping on milk, nostrils sniffing on piss

    Trying not to bang her head on toilet roll dispensers I wonder whether these public loo feeds offend HER...

    So no more will I sit on these cold toilet lids

    No matter how embarrassed I feel as she sips

    Because in this country of billboards, covered in tits I think we should try to get used to this" -excerpt from Hollie McNish's poem 'Embarrassed'

    (Full spoken word poem here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KiS8q_fifa0)

    "This poem sums up the Normalize Breastfeeding movement to me. It puts into words what I wasn't brave enough to say nor tough enough to defend as a new mom. It validates and supports my choice to breastfeed in a culture that says breasts are for show.

    This poem gives me the confidence to go out in the world and feed my baby like I was born to do. I have breastfed two different babies, for 25 out of the last 35 months, and oh my, it is so hard. Improper latch, plugged ducts, cracked nipples, engorgement, oversupply, undersupply, tongue/lip ties, building my freezer stash, and pumping at work are just a few of the struggles we've overcome. Working through all of that, plus the never-ending insecurities that new moms face, I felt unprepared adding breastfeeding in public to the list of hardships.

    I was aware upon having my first baby that WI law states that wherever a woman is allowed to be, she is allowed to breastfeed. But I was also aware that our society doesn't support that law, and that I may not get the high-fives I felt I deserved.

    Living in a city, I breastfeed in public a lot; with a cover, without a cover, on walks, at the dog park, at playgrounds, on the beach, at farmer's markets, in coffeeshops, in grocery stores, in restaurants, and the list goes on. But this took time. I started out breastfeeding in the car, behind buildings, and on so many public toilet seats. (I am ashamed to even admit this. Yuck. Oh, the guilt for putting my baby through that.) When my confidence in my new role as a mom grew, I became braver and braver, and started nursing wherever I was, and in front of whomever was around. I realized quickly that I didn't care what anyone else thought. If my baby is hungry, I need to feed her at OUR convenience, not anybody else's.

    One day, my breastfeeding journey will come to an end, and this will all seem like a tiny blip in time. I want to set a good example for my kids, my sisters, my friends, and my neighbors. So many women struggle to breastfeed their babies at all, and we need not make it any harder on them. It is a shame that our culture doesn't see breastfeeding as publicly appropriate, and it is time to change. It is time to grow up, society. It is time to normalize breastfeeding." - Emily