Written by Ashley Treadwell, IBCLC
So much of what we hear about feeding our babies in public is negative - stories from women being harassed and shamed for breastfeeding in public. While we believe that it is so important to respond to these incidents and educate people on the importance of normalizing breastfeeding, we also think that one of the best ways we can empower women is to share our positive experiences as well. Below is one of many examples of wonderful responses women receive while feeding their babies in public - meet Margaret!
I took five and a half months off after my baby was born in November 2014. She is our first, and after twelve weeks maternity leave, paid at 55% of my regular pay, I had another twelve-ish weeks of personal leave upaid. It was worth the financial sacrifice!
I made it a point to go out for lunch at Nordstrom (using a generous gift card) once a week. I was breastfeeding and extra-hungry, and I enjoyed soup, a sandwich, and dessert every time.
Usually, I visited the Ladies Lounge to nurse before or after lunch. My most-positive experience was at the Nordstrom in Westfield North County (Escondido) just before Christmas. One of the couches faces the door, so that other women going towards the bathroom stalls pass by and see you. So many people stopped to admire the baby and say a kind word. Older women in particular stopped to admire the ability of a breastfeeder to give her baby food anywhere, anytime. They regretted bottle-feeding their babies so many years ago. I made sure to say a kind word, like "you were a new mommy when 'bottle was best' back in the day - you were doing what you were told!" and we would chuckle about how silly doctor recommendations can sometimes be, and smile with the mutual generosity of mamas who are just trying to do what's best.
It was, needless to say, a very supportive and empowering experience.
As the baby got older, her sleep-wake cycle changed and it was impossible to predict when she would be hungry. A few times I fed her from the breast while eating at Nordstrom Cafe (in Fashion Valley). The staff were nothing but kind - going the extra mile to carry my things and being so kind.
I hope other San Diego mamas can build a routine of feeding baby out of the house. If they're feeling shy at first, Nordstrom Ladies Lounge is a great place to start.
Do you have a positive breastfeeding in public experience to share? Please send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org