Feed Your Baby on Demand and without Apology

My friend and I recently had an exciting adventure: the Korean spa in the suburbs of Chicago. Sharing a parking lot with the other local attraction, the mega Korean supermarket, was this beige warehouse that, save for the concrete lions flanking the entrance, gave no hint of the amazing world inside.

That world held a revelation. Pools of different temperatures where naked women of all ages and sizes soaked comfortably among each other, seeking relaxation and cleansing. Grandmothers scrubbing mothers scrubbing daughters and sisters scrubbing sisters with scouring mitts to a new pink sheen. The revelation was that bodies among strangers can be normal. Healthy, even. Beautiful as is.

Breastfeeding in public has been challenging for me. When I first started, I’d position myself with my back to a wall and a shawl over any portion of my body where there was even a remote chance that flesh could see daylight. Underneath the shawl I would be wearing ‘nursingwear,’ clothing with stragically-placed openings to give my baby access to my body while exposing the least amount of myself as possible. But after spending a few hours this past weekend in the company of naked strangers, I’m ready for a new approach: prioritizing feeding my hungry child without worrying about a stranger seeing a patch of skin.

We live in a funny world. It seems that we’ve built our communities to make the healthiest practices the most difficult to do. Eat healthy foods, though candy and junk food are present nearly everywhere. Be active, but please sit most of your day.

Breastfeeding is no different. We’re told that breast is best, but when you go out in the world to feed your baby you learn that others do not want to see it and that breasts are indecent.

We all have a role in normalizing healthy behaviors. Breastfeeding moms need your supportive smile or a simple “Great job, mama!” Offer a chair or a quiet place to nurse. Bring her a glass of water or a snack. And if you’re a breastfeeding mom, by all means, do it in public! Feeding your babe in public gives another mom the courage to do it herself. And that, friends, is how we start a movement.

How else can we support breastfeeding? If you’re a nursing mom, what would help you? 

Andrea Lee is a mom who’s winging it, just like everyone else. 

Tags: This Week in Moms, Mom, Mothers, Parents, child, baby, parenting, breastfeeding

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