Megali - adjective, noun - adjective 1. great or big in Greek -noun 1.. A nickname derived from my first and middle names

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

World Breastfeeding Week: Celebrating Nursing in Public

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!  Twenty years ago, World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) was born!  As it states on their Facebook page it was "Launched by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) to focus and facilitate actions to protect, promote and support breastfeeding, [WBW] is officially celebrated annually from Aug 1-7."

In honor of WBW, I will be doing some breastfeeding themed posts on the blog.

First up, is one that I dredged from my old Myspace account.  I had to reset my password, but yup, mine still exists.  It's like an online time capsule!  Back in 2007, when Slim was six months old, we took a trip (my first! and only) to Disney World.  Really, Slim and I just tagged along during one of R's work conferences, but I couldn't pass up the chance to finally get to go.  I was the recipient of a comment while nursing in the park and follows is my recap of what happened.

In making the commitment to breastfeed, I have also known that I would need to nurse in public. Nursing in public has made the news a lot lately - from the incident on a Delta flight to a mother being accosted by a security guard in the Berkshire Mall to several more cases that I'm sure moms have suffered in silence without going to the media.  Slim's nursed nearly everywhere - restaurants, stores, people's homes, even on a steamboat at Disney and although the fear has never stopped me from feeding him wherever I am, I have to admit, I've always been worried that someone would make a rude comment about it.
Thankfully, my first comment was a positive one. Early into our day at Disney Slim got hungry. I sat down, got comfortable and nursed him. A woman with dyed red hair came up to me and said, "Thank you so much for breastfeeding in public!" I was flustered by someone approaching me while nursing and responded, "Oh my God, of course!" And away she walked. She made me so happy that it brought a tear to my eye. I asked R to take a picture of me nursing Slim right then to capture the moment. It's one I truly cherish.
Over the course of approximately four years of breastfeeding, I never once was on the end of a disparaging comment while my baby/toddler/child was at my breast.  The closest I got was while flying solo with Curly and my seatmate asked if I needed a blanket and she'd press the flight attendant button since my hands were full.  I responded with a polite, "no, thank you - we're good here!" and got a simple, "oh, ok" in turn.  I truly think she was genuinely trying to be helpful, but also felt slightly uncomfortable. The Disney experience was my only encouraging comment from a stranger though. 

In last month's La Leche League meeting, I paraphrased a quote (don't know to whom to attribute, but Google says Eleanor Roosevelt), "Other people aren't thinking about you as much as you think, so don't worry!"  It sounds negative, but I meant it to be freeing and supportive of nursing in public.  It's so easy to think that everyone is staring at you when you're latching your child on, but chances are, they don't notice.  Plus, if someone is looking at you, it may be a woman like me, who is fondly remembering her nursing days!  I've been known to give thank you comments of my own, but occasionally I just smile.

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