Nursing in public is a big deal for some people, for me, it has become a part of my daily routine. So much that if my 7-month-old is hungry in the middle of out meal at a restaurant, I no longer bother to go to the car or to a “quieter” space in the establishment (which, by the way, many times in the restroom). I simply reach for my nursing cover and without thinking about it twice, I feed my baby.
My husband doesn’t really care about the, sometimes, weird looks we get from other people around us, so I feel extra comfortable knowing that he’s a nursing father too.
Lately, I have been paying attention to people around me when I nurse in public as some reactions are rather indiscreet and some are vocal about their disapproval (generally older men). You would think that at places such as Ikea’s dinning area -the uber kid friendly store -people would just be used to catching such a sight. However, last time we were there, I had to seat at the very crowded cafeteria to encounter a number of couples that seem to be in their 60’s, who couldn’t take their eyes of me (or my nursing cover, rather). I smiled at them and didn’t care of course, but that got me to start paying more attention to my surroundings.
The more I scrutinized the tables around me, the more I realized that a mom who nurses in public (with or without a cover) turns into the elephant in that room. I certainly cannot care less as it isn’t as if I was committing a crime but it does make me realize of how in certain aspects, our society has not evolved pass the Victorian Era.
Of course there are always advocates that take your side in every issue and those who plainly don’t care about what you do or don’t do with your child at a restaurant. But I have noticed that the closer one gets to the Down and Up Town Grand Rapids area, the more supporters for nursing in public that one finds. For example, I was having brunch about a month ago at a local restaurant -one of those where everything is made in house and locally grown -when the baby needed to eat. I fed him and our server, who happened to be a guy, didn’t even flinch when I gave him my order while still having a kid slurping under my nursing cover. If I got any looks that day they were because my toddler was screaming “hi” to every by-passer.
On the other hand, as one approaches the “burbs” and the numerous chain restaurants, the more that one feels the disapproving looks. Even servers act differently. I was quite shocked when I saw our waitress at an ethnic coffee shop gluing her eyes to her note pad when I was feeding the baby and my husband placed our order. She couldn’t look at me. It was as if she was embarrassed on my behalf.
I understand that nursing in public is not for everyone but if it is my choice to feed my baby wherever I am, why are others irritated about my decision? If they feel like I am exposing my body too much in public, then why don’t they just look away? In any case, I truly appreciate the servers and other restaurant staff that let’s me be a mother just the way I like it and don’t get uncomfortable in front of me. To all of them: thank you for not staring at my boobs.