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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

My Year of Breastfeeding, Part 2: Out in Public

Continuing with posting for World Breastfeeding Week!

If you are looking for an excellent online resource for breasteeding, check out KellyMom.com. That site has been invaluable to me for the last 14 months, letting me know exactly what to expect at each stage of my breastfeeding journey.

There are a lot of different bits of advice out there about how to avoid postpartum depression. What did I find worked best for me? Leaving the house. Todd and I would take a walk or go to the grocery store, or go out somewhere for that first week that I was home with the baby. Then, he went back to work and I had to venture out on my own and it wasn't as hard as I was afraid it would be. One of the challenges, though, was breastfeeding.

Nothing obscene here...
Not that I think that breastfeeding is more difficult in public than formula. This is one of the big advantages to nursing - no formula to have with you, no bottles to deal with, no measuring or mixing. If I was caught out longer than expected, I didn't have to worry about being out of food. Diapers, yes, but food? No problem. What a pain it's been since Owen has started solids to worry about if he's going to get hungry while we're out! Of course, I'm still nursing him, so no biggie most of the time.

What was a pain was that at first, I was intimidated by the thought of nursing in public. I had a cover, and I used it. Even so, I really wanted to have privacy when I was nursing - especially right at first when I wasn't so good at it. A lot of times this meant nursing in the car with the air conditioning blasting, or nursing in a dressing room (NOTE: At Kohls, the lights are on a motion sensor activated timer and if you don't move around enough because you're nursing, the lights will go out). I learned what stores had great resources for nursing mothers. Shout out to Ikea and their baby care room - complete with a private bathroom, changing table, and comfortable chair and table for nursing. I LOVE Ikea for this. Ikea also happens to be the only place where I've ever seen a Koala Care Changing Table that actually contained supplies.

As time went on and I found myself needing to nurse in public more and more, I felt more and more comfortable with it. No one ever said anything to me (except the occasional "good for you" or something). Then came our trip to Disney in August. We were out in public a lot and it was hot. I breastfed all over that place - in the lounge of the Contemporary Resort, inside the Carousel of Progress, on Spaceship Earth, on the Monorail. Heck, on the Peoplemover, a Disney employee actually  told me to breasteed on the ride, and that I could stay on as long as Owen wanted to eat (this turned out to be twice). It's actually a little known secret among nursing mothers that the Peoplemover is the best ride in WDW to nurse on. Disney also has baby care centers in every park that include nice diaper changing tables and private nursing rooms with rocking chairs and individual dimming lights.

A funny thing happened at Disney. I stopped worrying so much about nursing in public. Sometime during that trip, I completely dropped the cover and haven't used it since. I don't even know where it is and Owen wouldn't tolerate it at this point anyway. I started noticing women nursing all over the place and realized that they'd been there all along and I hadn't seen them. So, if I hadn't noticed women nursing all this time, why in the world would people even be paying attention to me? The baby's head hides anything that I wouldn't want seen, and your shirt covers the top. I started nursing in front of people and I didn't care what they thought anymore.

The change to not caring about what people thought in public was wonderful. I am not sure I could have continued breastfeeding this long with all of that fear that I had at first.

Here's what you need to know as a breastfeeding mother -- most states, 46 of them, in fact, have laws allowing a mother to breastfeed in cover without a cover. Here's a list of breastfeeding laws. Do NOT let anyone tell you that must use a cover or that you cannot breastfeed your baby. Be aware of the laws of your state, and let people know if someone says anything to you. The good news is that I never experienced any backlash, although I admit I'm starting to get nervous as Owen gets older that I might start getting comments about nursing an older child. We shall see.

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