Feed the Baby!

It seems like I’m always hearing appalling stories about women who are subjected to ridicule and cruelty while nursing their babies in a public setting. Stories like the woman who breastfed after graduating from college. Or, the women who staged a “nurse-in” at Target after employees shamed a mama. Sheesh, just how many prude a-holes are in this country?! Would a crying baby be preferable to seeing a woman discretely breastfeed?! Why is this such a big deal, anyway?!

While I certainly feel empathy for women who deal with such puritan nonsense, another part of me wants to ask them to just get over it and go about the business of feeding their babies.  I respect that they are trying to encourage folks to “get over it”, but I worry that they might actually be deterring new and nervous mothers from taking care of their babies in the most natural and convenient way.

I am in my 43rd month of breastfeeding, and not once has anyone made me feel uncomfortable. Of course I prefer to be comfortable while breastfeeding, so sometimes I’ll leave in search of a cozy chair or a shady spot. But, never once have I refrained from feeding my baby due to someone else’s problem with it.  When my baby is hungry, my mama bear instinct kicks in and I feed him. And, guess what: I DON’T CARE IF A STRANGER IS OFFENDED. It’s not my job to monitor everyone’s feelings on a subject that should be far from taboo.

I’ve respectfully breastfed all over this town.  While waiting to pick up my kids at the Lincoln Park Zoo:

While watching the kids play at a park on Lake Shore Drive:

While having lunch with Evie at a cafe on busy Wells St:

While watching my kids play at 63rd Street Beach:

Heck, one of my friends caught me doing it while pushing a stroller on the sidewalk! It just isn’t a big deal, and the only time it becomes a big deal is when we make it one. Let’s all just chill out about it, ok?!

On recent a hot and sunny Saturday we were all at the farmers market when Ben decided he was hungry. Rather than sit on the dirty curb, I stepped into a Jimmy John’s. The hipsters behind the counter didn’t mind that I wasn’t there to feed myself. I sat in the booth and wondered what I would say if someone had the nerve to voice a complaint. Probably something along the lines of “I am feeding my baby. Leave me alone. Get a life.”  I plan to feed Ben whenever and wherever he is hungry until he is on to (much) bigger and better things!

Here’s the breakdown: Forty-six states and the District of Columbia have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location. So, relax and feed the baby!

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4 Comments for this entry

  1. denise says:

    It probably all depends on where you live. Chicago is filled with much more diverse and educated people. Plus you mention a hipster! lol. He’s not going to bug you.
    I’ve found that there are pockets in the US of uneducated people who just aren’t familiar with it-because no one does/did it. And there’s a resurgence of breastfeeding since its decline in the 70’s/80’s/90’s… so then of course think of it is gross or crass,
    but I hear you. -with baby #1, i couldn’t do it in public – was awkward, needed my pillow, and just couldn’t get comfortable. Interestingly enough, i ducked into a victoria’s secret dressing room once to do it! With baby #2, i was much more comfortable, and really could care less as well if anyone were to say anything to me!

  2. Hear hear! I live in a very liberal place, and never once got the stink eye from nursing in public. I’m pretty busty, which makes being discreet a little harder, but we just nursed whenever she needed to. The only time I ever felt uncomfortable (which was me and not anyone else) was when we were traveling in Ireland. But truly, it was fine.

    The more women act like it is totally normal, the more it will become totally normal for everyone.

  3. Hannah says:

    I lived in upstate NY when I had my son, and I never once had anyone say anything negative to me about breastfeeding. In fact, I specifically remember sitting on a bench in the sunshine at an outlet mall and an older lady came by to tell me that I was doing a great job! 🙂 Of course, my son was happy to nurse under a nursing cover, so I was able to be quite modest. My 4-month old daughter hates being under the nursing cover (takes after her claustrophobic mama), so I just wear comfortable, stretchy clothing. She does like to cuddle with a muslin blankie while nursing, so that helps “hide” some skin. Oh, and we currently live in TX, and still, no negativity!

  4. Ashley Gross says:

    Right on, Maureen! And I love all your pics! I also was of the belief – just do it and don’t sweat it.

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