I'd Rather Nurse In Target

I've heard a lot in the last few days about the big Nurse-in at Target that happened because a mama at a Texas Target store was hassled for breastfeeding her baby on the premises and it has really bothered me. When I also saw a mama on Twitter who was upset at the judgment she's received from her own family about breastfeeding it upset me even more.

When I had my first child, I didn’t have much support for my choice to breastfeed. Hearing things like "Are you sure she is getting enough food?" "She looks hungry" and "She is fussy because she’s not eating enough" made my inexperienced mother’s heart hurt. I worried so much so I stopped. She’s now a 16-year-old honor roll student who is smart and sassy and beautiful and turned out wonderfully.

My second was breastfed for over a year with some formula supplementation at daycare. After I met and married the father of my two youngest, I was determined to do what I could to exclusively breastfeed for several reasons.

It was hard work but I have been successful and am very proud. I even produced enough milk to donate to a family who adopted a baby and feel so blessed that I was able to do so.

I’m sharing these details because I’ve been on both sides of the breastfeeding vs. formula debate and I want to be clear that this is not about judgment, it is one mom sharing her own perspective.

I know that I legally have the right to feed my baby wherever and whenever there is a need. According to the laws in my state: Minnesota Statute 145.905, "A mother may breast-feed in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breast-feeding."

Knowing that I am protected by law if I nurse my baby in public doesn’t keep me from worrying that I might make someone uncomfortable if I nurse in front of them. I want to do the right thing for everyone, but at the end of the day I need to what is right for my child. If she is hungry, I feed her. I don’t hide myself away in a dirty bathroom or try to get her to stay under a blanket. I feed her wherever we happen to be at the time in a way that is comfortable to us.

It took me years to get to a place where I could feel comfortable to just feed my babies whenever and wherever I needed. Having the strong support of my husband was the key to my success. He has been my biggest cheerleader, and I’m certain that I could not have done it without him.

When I gave birth to my fourth child, I got some unexpected opposition from my husband’s family. They were supportive when I breastfeed my third child. My father-in-law even joked about it, saying something like "it’s not like I haven’t seen breasts before" so I expected smooth sailing this time.

Not long after my daughter’s birth, a family member asked me to cover up at a family gathering because breastfeeding made certain people uncomfortable. I was hurt and angry. I thought that my breastfeeding in a family setting was not an issue, but I was wrong. I was so mad that I told my husband that I didn’t want to attend these gatherings if I couldn’t feed my baby however I needed to without being shamed for it.

This of course was not a practical solution. So now if I attend a gathering, I excuse myself to a quiet room and nurse alone. The feelings of anger have subsided but not gone away. I feel like we aren’t supported or loved unconditionally. Perhaps I’m being overly sensitive but I’m just plain hurt. Why should I be shamed when what I am doing is beautiful and natural and right for my baby? I’m not flaunting myself or going out of my way to make people feel uncomfortable. Why should I have to hide myself away when what I’m doing is the right thing to do?

I’m so torn on what to do about the situation. Should I refuse to go to family gatherings if I can’t go on our terms? Should I continue to segregate ourselves whenever the baby needs to eat? Should I try to talk to family members about how I feel, knowing that it will likely cause more issues?

I have breastfed in many places – standing in the ocean, at the Mall of America, in church, in a school and on an airplane – so why shouldn’t I be able to do it in front of my family?


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