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Babies have to eat and, unless we never leave the house, breastfeeding in public is inevitable. Whether you throw a blanket over the top or just tuck that little one in, we should never feel ashamed or embarrassed for doing what is natural. It isn’t hard to give an encouraging smile or say a kind word to a fellow mom who is feeding her baby.
I have been lucky enough to be able to nurse all three of my children. With this decision to nurse my babies, I have had to bare all when out and about more than once in order to feed those little mouths. It has become easier with each child to feel more confident and comfortable to do so, mainly by having a great support system. That support system stems from family and friends and some instances, complete strangers.
A week after having my first baby, I attended a breastfeeding support group hosted by the hospital where she was born. There was a Lactation Consultant on hand and about 15 other new moms openly breastfeeding their babies. By sitting with those women, I gained the confidence and know-how to breastfeed my babies when they needed it, no matter where we were! That group changed my life.
>> Read more: Breastfeeding: A New Mama’s Guide
My husband and his complete acceptance, encouragement and understanding of my desire to nurse our children made my first experiences more relaxed. At our first dinner outing as a family of three, our precious baby became hungry midway through our meal. I carefully positioned her and got settled under the nursing cover and away we went. By his relaxed demeanor, I became less anxious and more at ease. Soon I realized that no one was even paying attention to us!
Another wonderful experience I had was while touring the Marine Corps Museum with my dad. First, my dad was/is completely understanding and encouraging of breastfeeding thanks to my mom nursing all of us kids (there are 5 of us siblings, so that’s a lot of lactating over the years!). As we checked out the museum, I ran into another mom who was wearing her baby in a carrier and I noticed a blanket carefully draped over the baby. I quietly asked the mom if she was nursing her baby while in the carrier and she confirmed that she was. Being a new mom, I hadn’t even thought of this ingenious way of feeding my baby! She walked over to a quiet section of the museum with me and showed me her best techniques for getting the baby to latch on while in the carrier. By the end of the day I felt like a pro. I’ll never forget this amazing stranger mom!
>> Read more: My Struggle to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding
One more occurrence came from friends who were experiencing motherhood for the first time just as I was having my second child. Five of us had babies within months of each other, so breastfeeding became a group activity! One mom told me that she felt much more comfortable nursing her baby in public from watching me. The fact that I had positively influenced her and helped her public nursing experiences gave me a sense of pride I hadn’t encountered before. I hadn’t realized that by simply doing what was natural for me, I empowered my friends to do the same, leading me to think, not for the first time, “Wow! Boobs are awesome!”
>> Read more: Post-Baby Boobies: 8 Things No One Told You
Breastfeeding impacts my life on a daily basis. It is so important to encourage one another and support each other to normalize breastfeeding. Just the other day I had stopped in a local coffee shop to feed my youngest, and a mom came up to me and said, “Thank you for nursing in public. It is so important for people to see.” Not only was I touched by her kind words, but I also vowed to pay it forward to the next nursing mom I see. So do the same, next time you see a mom breastfeeding her baby, give a smile, acknowledge her actions and let’s all work together to make many more women have positive experiences while breastfeeding in public.