Sunday, February 8, 2009

Adventures in Nursing in Public

I'm a pretty confident breastfeeding mama. I have no qualms about nursing anywhere. And I'm not brazen about it- I'm not out to offend anyone. I try to be as discreet as possible while breastfeeding. When my first was an infant, I used to practice nursing in front of a mirror to make sure I wasn't showing anyone anything. But when my babies are hungry, I'm going to nurse them, and I don't use a nursing cover. I don't have a problem when someone else does, but as a general rule, I'm pretty uncoordinated. Even if I tried, I don't know that I could manage getting my hungry baby latched on and covered up with a blanket. I've tried a couple of times, and I honestly think I need an extra set of hands to make that work. Plus, I don't see why a baby should have to be covered up to eat- my girls would never stand for it. And, I honestly think covering up draws more attention to what I'm doing than just tucking my baby in close, lifting up my shirt and latching him on. So there's the background that makes today's story even funnier.

Baby Max loves his afternoon nap. As in, he generally naps for at least three hours in the afternoons if not more, and is very cranky if he doesn't get his long afternoon nap. (Yes, I realize how fortunate I am, and all I have to say to that is I paid my dues with two girls who didn't sleep!) Enter one o'clock church, and you will understand why by the third hour of church today, I had a very cranky baby. So rather than leave Relief Society, trekking to the other side of the chirch to the mother's room for what I thought would be a short nursing session, I decided I was just going to nurse him there, figuring he would probably fall asleep quickly, and I could stay in the meeting.

I laid him across my lap, and he immediately started making the fussing/excited noise that little babies make when they know its time to eat. Enter a very nice woman from my ward, who we shall call J, to protect the innocent. She is a wonderful woman, who really does have a good heart. She genuinely cares about everyone, and always has something nice to say. So the meeting is about to start, and I have Max laying across my lap, and I'm trying to get ready to nurse. J sees me, and immediately rushes over. "Let me HELP you!" she loudly exclaims. (Umm, help me what?)

"I'm fine." I said, "I've gotten pretty good at this."

"Well, let me help you cover up," she says and grabs Max's blanket off my lap while I'm busy trying to unhook my nursing bra. She holds the blanket in front of me, like a screen, doing a good imitation of one of those spanish guys that wave a red cape in front of a charging bull.

"You know," I replied, feeling a little sheepish, "I'm okay." By this point I have my shirt up and am trying to latch Max on without flashing everyone in Relief Society. Max is now fussing louder.

"But let me HELP you," she insists. She puts down the blanket and starts pushing my baby towards me. I hem and haw for a minute.

"Now look," she says, "He's really hungry." (Well yes, that's why I'm trying to feed him.) At this point, half of the women in the Relief Society are looking at us. Max is almost frantic, rooting around. I'm trying to maintain some semblance of dignity by keeping covered up at least a little bit. "Oh look," J continued, "He's so hungry he's going to eat your shirt." (Well, really, I was just covered up. Which is the way I wanted it, and the way I'm sure everyone else in the room wanted it!) So then, she reached down and starts pulling my shirt up over my breast, thinking she's doing me and the baby some kind of favor! Really what's she's doing is exposing me to everyone in the room at this point.

By this time it was almost a comedy show, because here she is, insistent on helping me nurse, by shaking a blanket in front of me, shoving my baby into me, and lifting up my shirt. I kept trying to push my shirt back down, and she kept trying to life it up, and all the while, Max is spinning his head around watching the freak show. I was half expecting the lactation consultant treatment where they actually start grabbing your breast and shoving it in the baby's mouth for you. It was quite funny because it was so ridiculous. I mean, my baby is almost three months old. I've obvously learned how to breastfeed- he doubled his birthweight by two months old. And by "helping" me, she was really just drawing more attention to me in the first place. Luckily, the meeting started just then, and she walked back up to the front of the room, (she was conducting the meeting) and said loudly as she was walking back, "I just wanted to HELP you. Its a perfectly natural thing for you to do you know, I didn't want you to have to leave the meeting just so you could feed your baby."

Well, I tried to be discreet. Next time, I might just head to the mother's lounge.


  1. oh wow, I've never had anyone offer to help. Did she not notice you were doing it right there and weren't going to leave? You should probably mention something to her in privacy. That would get really old really fast and I agree, you shouldn't have to leave class.

  2. That's a hilarious story! You gotta love people who just want to "help." I'm glad to hear you're back to breastfeeding and done with the pumping and bottle feeding (what a nightmare!).


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