Feeding the Kid

I can’t say I put a lot of thought towards breastfeeding before I had Bitmap. I figured it was something I’d do, and didn’t really think about it beyond that.

I don’t consider myself an activist, and certainly don’t feel the need to participate in any nurse-ins at Target. But after spending the last 2 months with my life more or less revolving around feeding my kid, I’ve got a new perspective. Mostly it’s this: if you’ve got a problem with seeing women breastfeeding (or pumping, for that matter), get over it. It’s something we need to do, and it’s hard enough without having to worry what someone else will think.

Breastfeeding can be really isolating. Bitmap eats roughly every two hours when she’s awake, and feeding her takes about 15 minutes. If we’ve got friends over or want to go out, I’ve got two choices: leave the conversation and hide myself in a spare room, or feed her in front of other people. I spend enough time cooped up with the baby, it’s hard to convince myself to sequester myself for the sake of modesty.

I make what I think are reasonable accommodations while feeding Bitmap. I’ll pick a seat in the corner rather than the middle of the room. I choose tops that allow me to stay mostly covered. If it’s cool enough, I cover up with a blanket. Most of the time, you can’t see anything but the back of my baby’s head. Sometimes, you can. Sorry.

Pumping while out is definitely weirder, and I try to avoid it. The machine is noisy and requires considerably more set-up and tear-down.  I can usually plan things so I don’t have to pump when I’m out, but when I went to Brooklyn for the day last week I knew I was going to have to figure out something. Not only do I have to pump frequently to keep supply up, but it’s actually incredibly uncomfortable to go more than about 4 hours without feeding or pumping. There weren’t any private rooms I could sneak off to on Amtrak or at NYC Resistor (before you suggest “bathroom,” please tell me if you would like to spend 20 minutes sitting in the bathroom of an Amtrak train).

The good news is between the roar of the train and the fact that everyone else is on their iPhones, no one even noticed me sitting next to the outlet with a strategically placed blanket over my shoulder. And if anyone at NYCR had something to say, they kept it to themselves.

I’m not saying we need to get up in everyone’s face about breastfeeding in public, but I do think it needs to become a little more normal. A lot of my fears about doing so aren’t because anyone has ever said anything negative to me, but because it’s not something I’ve seen anyone else do. So it seems weird to me too. But I’ve already given up a lot of my flexibility and independence in order to meet the needs of my baby, I’m not giving up more just because people “don’t want to see that.”

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2 thoughts on “Feeding the Kid

  1. Beth says:

    De-lurking to let you know how awesome you are for realizing this early on!
    I struggle with nursing in public, usually ending up nursing in the car and feeling even more isolated out there. I think most of the negative attitudes come from people whose families didn’t nurse; I know that’s how my mom is. When I was young I remember her making snarky remarks about women nursing in restaurants – even when they were covered- and as a child I thought breast feeding was unnatural. Unnatural!
    I’m going to commit to breast feeding more in public now (modestly), to give more encouragement to other ladies. Also, I’ve never had any negative remarks/reactions when I HAVE stuck it out in a public place; the only weird/rude comments have come from family members (again, from family members who didn’t breast feed).
    We can doooo it! 😉
    BTW, your house is LOVELY! I’m envious in a non-negative way!

  2. Steph says:

    Hiya! I want to give you a thumbs up here. We differ in that I could definitely see myself participating in a nurse-in. Btw, it’s illegal to refuse to let a mother nurse in most states. I mean, breastfeeding is mammalian. It pre-dates human social convention by a lot. I also know that it’s really hard, though I don’t (yet) know for myself just how hard. So, definitely, kudos to you for sticking with it and doing what makes sense for you to feel comfortable. Anyone who gives you a questionable look can suck it. Well, maybe save that for Bitmap. 🙂

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