Breastfeeding Blog Hop: NIP with a Toddler!

Hi, friends! This post is my contribution to Week 5 of the Breastfeeding Blog Hop, hosted by Life With Levi (@LifeWithLevi.) When you’re done reading, please visit the rest of the blogs on the link list and share the BF love! I can’t host the linky myself for technical reasons, but you can find it, along with the instructions for the hop, by clicking on the button here:

So there I was, in the mall on a snowy day in January, with a rambunctious 14-month-old who would not hold my hand or allow me to carry him. He wanted to run, and he let me know it. Rather than completely “abort mission,” I called my husband to come pick him up so I could finish my errands.

“I’ll be there in a half an hour.”

I figured I could kill that much time, but I was exhausted, and my son was getting hungry. Then, he pinched my nose – a sure sign he wanted to nurse. Now.

So, the answer was obviousJust sit down and nurse him, right? It would give me the chance to sit and relax, while reigning in the hungry monster and undoubtedly replacing his defiant mood with a much happier one.  (I’m always amazed at the magical effects a few minutes at the breast can have.)

Except that our mall doesn’t have a nursing room, and I haven’t nursed in public in a loooong time. It just doesn’t come up that often for us anymore, and this is no docile, cooing infant.

I’m now nursing a toddler, which is a whole different ballgame.

Why?

Because a toddler doesn’t just lay there in your lap and nurse like an infant does. Not in my experience, anyway. My son can start out being cradled in my arms, then turn in the complete opposite direction, get down off my lap, stand on the floor, grab a toy, and crawl back up on me, all without unlatching! And he does it often.

He also has a tendency to get my milk to let down, and then unlatch to yell “Dada!” or grab a cracker, leaving me spraying the room.

Or, he twiddles, or pats my breast, which he insists be bare. The very idea of a nursing cover is downright laughable at this point. When I nursed him as an infant, nobody even knew. But things are much different now….

None of this bodes well for a “discreet” nursing-in-public experience. But the question I asked myself that day myself was, why do I even feel like I need to be discreet?

It’s no secret that many people have a problem with women nursing in public. I see it on the social media sites I frequent, I hear it in the news, I feel it out in public. I experience it firsthand from people who know me personally and tell me that nursing my son is “disgusting.” (Notice I don’t refer to them as my friends.) When people aren’t telling you it’s downright weird to nurse your child, they’re usually telling you that they don’t mind what you do, as long as you’re discreet.

…as if giving you their conditional permission. :???:

First off,  “discreet” is a totally relative term, and frankly, I have to look at offensive indiscretions all the time (Hello butt-crack dude, I’m talking to you!) In my opinion, a statement like the one above does nothing but negate itself and cause nursing moms to know, without a doubt, that they are being judged.

Plus,  I’ve noticed a huge change in public perception since I’ve been nursing a toddler. Some many people get more than rude when they find out you’re nursing a child over a few months old.  I guess maybe it comes down to the inability to separate the sexual breast from the nourishing breast, but they think it’s just downright WRONG, and they are not afraid to speak their minds.

Now, I’m not a timid person, and I’m known to speak my mind when I don’t agree with the masses, which is often. But when it came time to nurse my son in public because he was acting out and obviously hungry, I couldn’t help but think about the anti-BFing hatred I’ve seen spewed on Twitter, and those moms I see in the news who are thrown out of public places for nursing. I will freely admit that there was a part of me that felt intimidated and scared without the safety of my home around me.  But then I thought of the many other groups who feel that way when they leave the house, those who are told, “I don’t care what you do in the privacy of your home, as long as nobody has to see it …” as if that remotely resembles acceptance.

….the same-sex couples who fear holding hands in public

…the interracial couples who have to stand up to disapproving glares in public

…those who do not fit traditional dichotomous gender roles who have to put on an armor of defenses just to step out into public

…It even reminded me of the young boy from my local area who recently walked 11 miles in the rain, and stepped out in front of a truck to end his life because he was sick of being scared and bullied every day.

Because that’s exactly what it is when you infringe upon someone’s legal rights, and belittle them or attack them or harass them because what they’re doing doesn’t fit your personal idea of what “should” be. It’s bullying. And it’s wrong.

Let me be clear before you think I’m the most dramatic woman on the planet: I wasn’t terrified of nursing my boy in public. It just really, really  bothered me that such a simple thing made me so uneasy, and stirred up so much emotion in me. It bothered me that our culture, as a whole, has made the climate such that I had to even think twice about meeting my son’s needs. So, when I was faced with the question  – To NIP or not to NIP – I thought about the kind of person I want my son to see when he looks at his mother. So I found a bench, and I put my walking, talking, mouth-full-of-teeth, “old enough to ask for it” toddler son to my breast, and I did it for everyone who ever felt singled out, discriminated against, judged, or harassed. I did it for the one young mama-to-be who might walk by and feel inspired. I did it for the children who need to see breastfeeding mothers in the mall more than they need to see 10-ft. Victoria’s Secret posters.

I did it for my son’s sons and daughters.

And I’ll do it again.

_______________________________

Thanks for sticking it out through my novel-length post. Have you ever nursed a toddler in public? I’d love to hear about it!

About me: I’m Wendy, the first-time breastfeeding mama of an almost 15-month-old little boy. I don’t know another BFing mom IRL, so I’m happy to meet you! I’ve been working full-time away from home for the past year, and we’re very proud to have made it this far – 18 months is our next goal! We are a cloth-diapering, bedsharing, AP-style parenting family, and we love to garden and learn about how to make our lives happier and healthier, day by day. Thanks for visiting ABCs and Garden Peas!

20 Comments

Filed under Breastfeeding, Green Living, Parenting & Family

20 Responses to Breastfeeding Blog Hop: NIP with a Toddler!

  1. Wow! If I could applaud in the comments of a post I would. Thank you for sharing. That was like a pep talk for breastfeeding moms everywhere. I feel like I could go on and on because you really inspired me and I appreciate it! Great post!

  2. Amy

    I totally agree with Jamie. Good for you! I have always been to afraid to nurse in public. I am even afraid to nurse around my family (beyond hubs and my Mom) because of all the comments. Like, Has he bitten you yet? How long are you gooooooing to nurse him? Accusatory. Funny thing is not one of them has nursed a child. They are full of “helpful” comments though. I am proud that Little Bit and I have nursed for a whole year. He is currently self-weaning and that makes me sad. I like our nursing sessions and I am happy that he will be healthier and have a higher I.Q. because Momma took the time and energy to commit to nursing him. Sorry for the epic length of this comment but I know you know my struggles. I’m so glad I found this blog hop to find other nursing Momma’s. Have a terrific week!

    Blessings,
    Amy
    http://socialstudiesmomma.blogspot.com/

    • Hi Amy!

      I know those comments all too well. Sometimes I get so worked up I just sit there, silent. I wish I had snappier comebacks…

      Good for you for making it to one year! I’m sure it’s hard to watch your son start to wean if you’re not ready, but you’ve given him such a wonderful gift! Congrats! and thanks for stopping by :)

  3. Robin

    Thanks for being vulnerable enough to admit your fears and BRAVO on persevering through the fear! Little Man is very lucky to have you as a mama! Unfortunately, my toddler has been on a nursing strike for about a month now and I fear we are at our end, but if I were in a NIP situation, I’d like to think I would have your same courage. Great post mama!

  4. Robin

    PS- after contemplating, it’s so sad that I even have to use the word “brave” in a conversation about Breast feeding. Breast feeding is a right of every mother and child and it’s so disgusting that America makes a woman feel awkward about something that’s so normal.

  5. MJ

    I love your post! You are too funny and brave. My first stopped, just stopped nursing when he was 8 months and refused… my daughter on the other hand, I may be nursing her when she is in kindergarten the way she is going now lol. Thank you for sharing this and I found you on the breastfeeding blog hop.

  6. I’m so glad you linked up. I love this post. I thought that I preferred “discreet” nursing in public, but what I really prefer is modesty, no matter what form that takes. For plumbers, it means wearing a shirt long enough that I don’t see your ass hanging out of your pants. For oversexualized teenage girls, it means not showing more cleavage than Pam Anderson.

    For breastfeeding, it means a mom doing whatever it is she normally does. I don’t really see how feeding your child is immodest (is that a word?).

    • Hi Jen! I agree 100%…breastfeeding and modesty can go hand in hand, but it’s such a gray area because modesty differs from one person to another. Some people find the very act immodest, regardless of whether any skin show. Yet, they seem to be OK with T&A showing on other people and on TV. I just don’t get it.

      After all, how many moms out there really nurse with the intent of showing a lot of boob? I’d guess the number is very low. I say live and let live, especially when good-not harm- is being done.

  7. Yeah for nursing your child wherever and whenver it’s necessary! I had some nervousness with NIP for the same reasons you posted, plus we didn’t have a great latch and some other business at first; but I kept telling myself that I needed to do it. I needed to do it to make sure the world knows it’s the norm and to give others confidence to do so. I loved the day a mom in my group shared that she also “forced” (for lack of remembering the right word) herself to NIP and that she kept telling herself she could because I had listed all of the public places I had nursed in. I want to be that kind of role model and I think you are too!

    • Hi Katie! Thanks so much…that is the kind of role model I aspire to be! Good for you for being the inspiration that mom needed!

      It’s pretty sad that NIP is even a topic, isn’t it? But it’s just one more way that we, as women, can empower ourselves and break down barriers for our daughters. Sometimes it seems neverending…

      Thanks for your comment!

  8. great post!

    i agree, nursing a toddler is WAY different than a baby!

    i hope you come back and link up again next week.

  9. Tat

    Wow! Your post completely reflects how I feel about nursing a toddler, but you’ve said it all much better than I could. Thank you for stopping by my blog and for your supportive comment.

  10. Pingback: Breastfeeding blog hop | Mum in search

  11. Love this post! I also support NIP but you are so right when you say it is a different animal when doing it with a toddler. I struggle with the same things you mentioned.

    I love that paragraph where you mention the 10 ft. Victory Secret poster. :)

    (I found you through the blog-hop.)

  12. I’m still making my way through to read all the posts on the hop.

    I say, good for you! I don’t have a toddler yet..we’ll see how I’m doing in another 9 months :)

  13. Megan

    I also give you a virtual standing ovation! :) This is the way I feel about our coming arrival…I was so nervous about NIP with my son that it led to a lot of stressful outings…this time around I want to be more comfortable with it both for my sake and for the sake of everyone else you mentioned. :)

  14. Thank you. As one of those new mothers who sometimes gets nervous out in public, seeing people be COMFORTABLE feeding their children is wonderful!

  15. Great post. I laughed out loud about your son causing a milk let down only to get distracted and let go. My son does that all the time! It’s messy. Also, nursing covers went out the window for us at about 3 months. Those things are useless.

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